5 World-Famous Landmarks That Have Totally Weirdo Secrets
We've talked about how movies and TV shows are filled with weird things going on in the background, but it turns out that real life is full of these quirky extras as well. If you know what to look for, just about any building you walk into has a cool little secret hidden away somewhere. Even our most solemn and serious places can have some really strange Easter eggs in them -- the kinds that vibrate and don't taste like chocolate at all.
There Is A Hidden Graffiti Cave Under The Lincoln Memorial
To us, the Lincoln Memorial always looks like it's hiding something -- like you could tap the right bit of the massive statue and Lincoln's hat will pop up, revealing a map to George Washington's magical wooden teeth. And we were right (not about the magical teeth bit). The Lincoln Memorial does have an awesome secret. If you enter through a barely noticeable side door and climb down a series of staircases, you can find yourself in the Abandoned Lair of the Ice King.
It's another universe, where Abraham Stark led the North against the Slave-Walkers.
Underneath the monument stand all the support beams holding aloft Lincoln's big marble butt. These pillars reside in an impressive underground hall, and the area smells and feels like a real cavern. So what can you find underneath the beautifully crafted memorial to one of our greatest historical figures? Dust, debris, stalactites, and graffiti. Lots and lots of graffiti.
"And if you go right, you'll find the hall of dick drawings and your-mom jokes."
Making a building can get really boring, it seems, as many of the construction workers spent their breaks making doodles on the concrete columns. The National Park Service refers to these drawings as "historical graffiti" -- a tactful choice, considering that some of these drawings are straight-up pornographic.
Wait, why are light bulbs suddenly erotic?
Not one but two cooters are permanently etched into the supports of the Lincoln Memorial. Could the people working these hallowed patriotic grounds get any more immature? The answer, obviously, is yes.
OK, now that's an erotic light bulb.
We don't know about you, but when we learned that the word "boobies" is spray-painted underneath the Lincoln Memorial, the world suddenly seemed like a happier place again.
There's A Terrifying Staircase Inside Christ The Redeemer
If you watched the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, you probably saw hundreds of shots of the giant Christ the Redeemer statue. From all those helicopter shots, Christ looks like a daunting, distant colossus, standing there like a divine scarecrow to keep Godzillas at bay. But that's because you probably never saw it from this angle:
He fell off three seconds later, but Jesus saves.
That's photographer Lee Thompson taking a selfie while hanging out on the arm of the statue a good 100 feet off the ground, basically asking to be smote with lightning. How the hell did he get up there? The rope makes it look like he rappelled up, as if he was participating in the world's heaviest heist, but there is a much simpler way: He took the stairs.
OK, so maybe "simpler" is the wrong word.
This confusing Escher staircase runs up the entire inside of the statue, allowing workers to make it to the top in case of damage from lightning strikes or really ambitious taggers. It took Thompson 25 minutes to climb 12 flights of stairs, partly because of the crisscrossing concrete beams slowing him down, but mostly because these are the only stairs in the world that require parkour training not to get killed by:
And they make you carry a large wooden cross on your back, which seems like overkill.
Once you climb high enough, a ladder leads up into the statue's arm, and you can climb through some holes to the outside. A bit lower, though, you can see a stone mosaic of Jesus Christ's beating heart looking down at you, reminding you that you haven't yet gone to confession this week. Don't think just anyone can get all up in the Holy Son, though; Thompson had to get permission from Brazil's tourism board to enter Christ.
The Capitol Is Topped By Three Mini Flagpoles
If you're feeling extra patriotic, then your run-of-the-mill American flag won't do. You need a flag that has been imbued with the twin American essences of freedom and capitalism. You need a flag that has been flown over the United States Capitol, preferably one that was flown while Congress was increasing the defense budget. America!
The Capitol Flag Program has been in place since 1937, and the demand for its official flags has ballooned ever since. In 1994, the program dispensed 134,105 of them, which experts agree is a pretty large number. If you flew one flag over the Capitol a day, you'd hit 134,105 flags in about 367 years. So how does the Flag Office get so many flags to sell? The answer, disappointingly, is industrialism.
By the only industrious people in the building.
Because everything in D.C. is quantity over quality, they've turned official Capitol-flown flags into a factory enterprise. If you thought you were getting a flag like the one above, you're mistaken. The Capitol has three tiny flagpoles on its roof, and they grind through as many flags as they can, like they're trying to level up a bunch of characters in World Of Warcraft. Each of the 900 flags picked daily only flies for 30 seconds before being boxed up and shipped off -- even battery chickens get to see more sunlight than these patriot pom-poms. They even have a special service elevator leading to the roof specifically for the purpose of harvesting the flags. So why even bother flying these things for a paltry 30 seconds? Shut your commie mouth, that's why! There are even security cameras to ensure that the flags are being flown, because of an actual scandal in which workers were caught flapping some flags around in the air for a few seconds instead of flying them for a glorious, Uncle-Sam-lovin' half of a minute. That's just disrespectful.
His beard has spent more time near the flag pole.
So the reality of certified flags is a lot less glamorous when you learn that they're the patriotism equivalent of chicken nuggets. Face it, if you really want a flag that has been properly flown over the Capitol, you'll have to go and overthrow the government and plant one there yourself. You know, like a real patriot would.
There Is A Tiny Washington Monument Buried Near The Real One
The Washington Monument was the world's tallest structure when it officially opened in 1888, but since then, it has been surpassed both in that record and as the biggest dick in Washington, D.C. It is, however, currently one of the less depressing buildings to visit in the capital. Except that you can't visit it at all. The monument is closed until 2019 for elevator repairs. Don't worry, though. You can still go and visit the tiny, hidden Washington Monument that's buried in the ground.
It's the Martha Washington monument.
If you open up the right manhole near the monument, you'll be able to find a 12-foot-tall replica buried located entirely underground, secretly controlling the real monument's every move. This structure is officially named "Bench Mark A," and is known as a Geodetic Control Point. It's one of a million points dotted across the nation used to monitor landmass, synchronize the government's official maps, and make sure that California doesn't try to make a run for it.
Bench Mark B is in your toilet and has a 4K camera.
The Washington Monu-mini dates back to the 1880s, when it was placed as part of a transcontinental leveling program, because trains and hills don't mix well. It was above ground at that time, since the ground was a lot lower back then, and was eventually buried and forgotten about, like that RealDoll you broke and was too ashamed to bring in for repair. It's currently sinking into the ground at a rate of about 0.5 millimeters a year. After a few million years it should eventually reach the center of the Earth, whereupon the spirit of Washington will take control and steer the entire planet into the Sun.
The Supreme Court Has A Secret Basketball Court
Of all the jobs in the world, "United States Supreme Court Justice" has to be one with the most qualifications, barely beating out "Bjork's hair wrangler." You have numerous responsibilities that will ultimately decide the fate of the entire planet. Can you objectively judge whether or not laws obey the intent of the Constitution? Can you bear the weight of decades of policy direction on your shoulders? And most importantly, CAN YOU BALL?!
Here, a clerk shows petitioners what it's like to get served.
Few people know that being a Supreme Court Justice means you rule ALL the courts, not just the legal ones. Known as "the Highest Court in the Land," there is a basketball court stationed right above the legal court. It used to be for storage, but was converted to an exercise facility in the 1940s in an attempt to lengthen the average SCOTUS lifespan to more than a couple of weeks. Sandra Day O'Connor organizes yoga classes there, John Roberts used to play against William Rehnquist, and Clarence Thomas once damaged his Achilles tendon there, causing him to miss a full season of court cases, really hurting his draft chances. But the justices know not to mix business and pleasure. There are signs all over warning people not to play when the court is in session, because when ruling on cases that could irrevocably change the face of the American legal system, it's best not to be interrupted by someone yelling "BOOYAH! NOTHING BUT NET!"
This isn't the only hidden court worth mentioning, however. The famous Matterhorn ride at Disneyland holds a secret basketball court as well, in case you ever wanted to ball while the world felt like it was shaking apart. When the Matterhorn was finished in 1959, Disney noticed that the top third of it was pointlessly empty, and after asking the staff what they'd like to see in there, the answer was a basketball court -- or half of one, at least. There were rumors that Disney did it in order to get around a height restriction law that didn't apply to sports facilities, but that isn't true. Like any man, he saw the value of getting to dunk on a guy in a Goofy costume.
A lot more impressive than schooling the seven dwarves.
There are even secrets tucked away inside one of the most trafficked locations on the planet: Grand Central Station. The fourth floor used to house a 65-foot indoor ski slope, so commuters could experience all the fun of skiing while gazing at the beautiful vistas of an industrial warehouse
Were there real snow, it would be yellow through and through.
It was later turned into an exclusive tennis club run by Donald Trump, but when his lease, like his soul, expired, the courts finally became open to all who could find it. It's still pretty secretive, though, so merely by telling you this, we risk execution by ball machine.
We'll be honest, it's not as painful as it sounds.
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