6 Iconic Monuments That Almost Looked Completely Insane
When you think about it, most monuments are really fucking insane. We've carved human heads into mountains, put a robed giantess holding a torch outside New York, and erected all manner of metal and cement dongs in every major city -- but that's tiddlywinks compared to the daffy shit that almost adorned the metropolises around the globe. We're talking about stuff like ...
The Arc De Triomphe Could've Been A Freaking Elephant
One of the most famous monuments in all of France, the Arc De Triomphe was built to honor the fallen soldiers of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (and not the host of L'Apprentice, Donald Triomphe). It's an impressive, Roman-inspired architectural marvel with an opening large enough for a suicidal idiot to barnstorm an airplane through.
Beneath the Arc is a WWI tomb for unknown soldiers, whose ghosts probably feel pretty thankful that they weren't forced to spend eternity underneath another of the proposed designs for the monument: a monstrous, water-spewing circus elephant.
At least it's on a slope, so the massive piles of shit would simply slide into a nearby river.
The idea of installing an obnoxiously prodigious pachyderm in the middle of downtown Paris traffic came about as the result of a design competition in 1758. The designer, one Charles Ribart, conceived the L'Elephant Triomphal: Grand Kiosque A La Gloire Du Roi as a three-story, zoomorphic structure where fancy banquets and balls could be held within the belly of the beast, like a chichi version of the rhino scene from Ace Ventura 2. The "Triumphant Elephant" would have been equipped with hi-tech innovations such as air-conditioning, wall-folding furniture, and a drainage system in the trunk, "from which water would gush out into a decorative trough."
"Decorative troughs" having been previously enjoyed only by the wealthiest of French livestock.
Sadly, the French government declined to turn the city center into a sumptuous facsimile of a Ringling Bros. parade, opting instead to go with the monument we know today. Napoleon did attempt to build a giant bronze elephant on the ruins of the Bastille, but the project didn't prosper. Yet Ribart's vision lives on to this day, and his dream of a gargantuan, peanut-loving quadruped-inspired structure may have been most effectively realized in ... New Jersey. Just south of Atlantic City is where architecture enthusiasts can come to find Lucy The Elephant, a six-story leviathan made of wood and tin sheeting, created to "sell real estate and attract tourists" to the Garden State. So, the exact opposite of "honoring dead soldiers" in terms of admirableness.
Sure, the French might think it's gauche, but at least we got ours fucking built.
The Statue Of Liberty Was Almost A Huge, Glowing Egyptian Woman
While it wasn't exactly the gift of friendship from the people of France that many people think, the Statue Of Liberty is hands-down America's most iconic inanimate object, after Chuck Norris' face. It's hard to imagine anything or anyone occupying that particular bit of real estate but Lady Liberty, with her robe, and her torch, and the lights shooting out of her hijab, and ... wait, what?
If this made you think of a badass guitar riff, here's why.
Originally, instead of the Roman goddess theme that we're familiar with, the statue was just a tad more ... Middle Eastern slave. To understand why, we have no choice but to talk about the statue's designer, French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. Bartholdi didn't like America very much, so it may come as a surprise to you that he was a bit of an insufferable douchespigot: "The Americans believe that it is liberty that illumines the world, but, in reality, it is my genius." In fact, he originally wanted his masterpiece to stand a bit further away from the New York harbor than we're used to: all the way in the Suez Canal, in Egypt. Oh, and at this point, the future Lady Liberty went by the modest name of Egypt (Or Progress) Enlightening The World.
But, in a lucky break for Americans, Egypt decided not to pony up the cash for the statue. Whether or not that was due to the prospect of certain masculine insecurity issues that may have been caused by a 300-foot lady colossus dominating the harbor remains unclear. Luckily, there was a nice little spot in Manhattan that seemed to be just perfect for Bartholdi's creation -- just so long as he changed "Progress" to "Liberty" and toned down that whole "Arab-looking" thing a skootch.
The "Maid Marian Of Liberty" doesn't have quite the same ring.
So Lady Liberty's creator may have been an opportunistic asshole who was peddling miniature replicas of the thing before it even existed, but it all worked out for the best, as the statue allowed us to defeat Vigo The Carpathian's ghostly invasion in 1989. Thanks, guy.
The Golden Gate Bridge Was Almost An Underwater Tunnel
The Golden Gate Bridge is San Francisco's most recognizable landmark, long treasured by California residents for its beauty (and the fact that it's destroyed in every single damn action movie nowadays). So, wouldn't it be weird if it was painted any other color than its present shade of glorious orange? And also, if instead of a suspended bridge, it was an underwater tunnel?
In this reality's opening credits, Danny Tanner's car careens into the ocean and the series
is canceled when the theme song ends.
Or a boat tunnel, to be more precise, since one of the original plans called for the center of the structure to be "submerged in the San Francisco Bay so ships could pass above." Basically, for anyone with a fear of going through tunnels in the first place, there would have also been the added concern regarding how much Scotch the captain of the oil tanker passing overhead happened to have had for breakfast. The man behind this plan was local inventor/potential Batman rogue Cleve F. Shaffer, who, according to his obituary, "foresaw the tank, the bazooka, and the moving sidewalk, though he failed to win fame from any of them." Our kinda maniac.
Although incorporating any or all of those things into a bridge design would certainly justify the expensive toll.
Unfortunately, Shaffer was not destined to win any fame for this particular brainchild either, even though city officials initially found the idea quite attractive (mainly due to the fact that it would have been a whole lot cheaper than building something, y'know, safe). Considering that people would most likely be braking in abject terror upon encountering the ramps descending underneath an incoming freighter, gridlock was a potential concern. That, plus the fact that the treacherous current of the bay would make navigating the thing a recipe for a Roland Emmerich movie.
But while Shaffer's bridge scheme never got off the ground, he continued to earn his reputation as a "prophet of the future" by coming up with all sorts of big ideas that he never earned a cent for.
Which probably explains why he spent his remaining years firing off rockets
in his backyard to piss off the neighbors.
The Teddy Roosevelt Memorial Was Almost A 200-Foot Geyser
Cracked's rootin', tootin', patron saint of awesomeness, Theodore Roosevelt, has a number of monuments to his kickassery across America. In Washington, D.C., for instance, his terrifyingly visaged statue is kept on an island in the middle of the Potomac so that the sheer intensity of his fearsome gaze won't cause lesser beings to urinate uncontrollably out of terrorespect.
One of only a few statues on Earth that will actually slap approaching pigeons to death.
The original vision for this memorial had some noticeable differences compared to the statue we know -- starting with the fact that it wasn't a statue but a froth-spewing, 200-foot geyser that would have been more appropriate to celebrate the sexual prowess of a certain future president.
We mean Clinton. For Kennedy, you'd need a full volcano.
A ridiculous, Bellagio-style ego-fountain doesn't really seem like the sort of thing that the Hero Of San Juan Hill would have appreciated much, considering that one of the things he's best known for is his conservation efforts. Still, just a year after his death, it was one of the proposals put forward by architect John Russell Pope, the man also responsible for designing other D.C. fixtures, such as the National Archives and the West Building of the National Gallery Of Art (we have to assume now that he also attempted to build those in geyser form).
Then again, seeing as how Pope also designed the Alpha Delta Phi chapter house at Cornell University, maybe his plan to erect a "shaft of water rising 200 feet in the air" in the middle of the Potomac was just a part of some drunken fraternity prank.
"To the south, I shall erect a prodigious marble keg, surrounded by concentric pools filled
with Meisterbrau, in which naked babes may frolic."
Actually, Pope's reasoning behind the preposterously ostentatious gush-fest was sound, in that he felt it would symbolize the "inexhaustible energy" of the 26th president -- a man whose "spirit sprang out of the deep sources of the nation's history and sank back in them only to rise anew, cleansing the air and inspiring his countrymen with its power, its sparkle."
Historians are still debating whether that sentence counts as the first presidential erotic fanfic.
Well, at any rate, the site was turned into a public park instead, thus eliminating the possibility of Roosevelt crawling out from the dirt to big-stick Pope to death for talking like such a Nancy Boy.
Trafalgar Square's Gigantic Pyramid, And The Primrose Hill Jumbo Mausoleum
Trafalgar Square and Primrose Hill are both located in London, and while the former is more of a touristy destination and the latter is an upscale residential district, they're both very nice places to walk around. Another thing they have in common: Neither is currently decorated with a big-ass pyramid, but both almost were. And one would have been filled with dead people.
Just imagine how much cooler 28 Days Later would have been with this thing.
The version that almost went up in Trafalgar Square was the "grand scheme" of Sir Frederick William Trench, a member of Parliament in the early 1800s who wanted a 22-story pharaoh-pleasing monstrosity that would honor Napoleonic War veterans. Though he claimed the 1 million pound price tag would be an "expense not burthensome to the nation," the project never got off the ground, presumably because investors were wary of trusting a man who couldn't even lisp correctly. (And of curses. Don't forget the curses.)
"I fear no fire, water, or pethtilenth."
But remember: This is the same century in which British people held mummy-unwrapping parties. Egypt fever would not die, and so over in Primrose Hill, an architect named Thomas Willson planned an even more spectacular way to honor the fallen via pyramid -- by putting them on full display in an above-ground mausoleum. Willson's version was to be a staggering 94 stories tall and cover an area of 18 death-filled acres. Unfortunately, despite the convenience of not having to travel all the way to the cemetery to see grandma, public opinion didn't seem to favor turning one of the most scenic areas of the city into a fancy storage area for 5 million corpses.
Seriously, London would be so fucked by zombies.
So, much like Sir Trench's ill-fated enterprise, the Metropolitan Sepulchre never came to be, and London was left to somehow manage without a single giant pyramid. It's probably for the best, though, since chances are they would have been repurposed as the sets for Britain's Got Talent and Dancing With The Stars by now.
The National Mall's "Slavery Wasn't So Bad" Memorial
From the Woman Suffrage Parade to Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech, a whole bunch of important shit has gone down at the National Mall in Washington, D.C., forever making that place a national source of introspection and pride. The overall atmosphere might have been undermined a bit, however, if someone had smacked a statue that looked like it came straight off an old Aunt Jemima syrup bottle in the middle of it:
Can't imagine Ethel faced much in the way of stiff competition for that copyright there.
The Mammy Memorial (seriously, that's what it was going to be called) was almost an actual thing that happened in 1923, thanks to a congressman from North Carolina named Charles Stedman (presumably no relation to Oprah's life partner/golem). His motivation was to honor "the faithful slave mammies of the South" ... and how they "desired no change in their condition of life," looking back on their time in bondage as the "happy golden hours of their lives." In other words, slavery totally wasn't so bad, you guys.
"But lynching black kids isn't about hate! It's about lynching heritage!"
That very same year, Senator John Sharp Williams of Oregon ... just kidding, Mississippi, introduced a similar bill that called for a monument to be built in recognition of all those "faithful slave mammies." Soon thereafter, craftsmen began submitting proposals for the perfect artistic embodiment of those slaves who "remained faithful out of love of masters, mistresses, and their children." Included among these tasteful prototypes was a statue of a slave nanny holding a white baby, while two other babies (these ones being black) tugged away at her skirt, "trying to have their mother pay attention to them instead of devoting all her time to the white children." Sort of like Diff'rent Strokes, just in reverse. Except in the show it was a rich, wealthy widower, and the kids were orphans. And ... never mind. It's nothing like Diff'rent Strokes.
More like The Fact That A Black Guy Sculpted This Is Giving Us A Stroke.
Even back then, people were pretty much "You gotta be fucking kidding me" about the whole thing. After outraged protests from the black community, the idea of an "I don't know nothin' 'bout birthin' no babies" monument was eventually scuttled. Which is a shame for Redskins fans, since they'd pretty much have nothing to worry about from protesters as long as they shared the same city with crazy bullshit like that.
"Curious Figure In American Romance"? Fuck you and your euphemisms, past.