Hot Potato: Food for Thought
The Built Environment
Singular Monuments
1997 October 15

Some cities have singular monuments which stand as a symbol for that city. Some examples are the Eiffel Tower; the Statue of Liberty; (both French in origin); the World Trade Center towers; Big Ben and Parliament; Piazza San Marco in Venice; Brandenburg Gate; the Golden Gate Bridge; the Transamerica building; the statue of Jesus on Corecovado Mountain (Rio); the Sydney Opera House and bridge; the giant Ferris wheel (Vienna); the Kremlin; the Pioneer Arch, the Acropolis; the Roman Forum; the Washington and Lincoln monuments; and the White House. Lucky indeed is the city with such a dramatic symbol. New York has two, Washington three. Los Angeles has only a billboard ("Hollywood"). You didn't even need to be told where most of these places are, did you?

But what of the many cities, some large indeed, which have no significant monuments, and thus no trademark? These cities don't live in the minds of most people. There is no visual shorthand with which to refer to them. The city fathers in these unfortunate places should think about putting their towns on the map.

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