I'm Faith Lapidus.
I'm Steve Ember with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. There are many
natural wonders in the United States. Today, we take you to seven man-made
wonders in America.
Against the city's gleaming spires,
Above the ships that ply the stream,
A bridge of haunting beauty stands –
Fulfillment of an artist's dream.
That poem is about our first man-made wonder -- the
Brooklyn Bridge in New York City. It
extends more than four hundred eighty meters over the East River to connect the
areas of Brooklyn and Manhattan. A
famous bridge builder David B. Steinman wrote the poem. But he did not build the Brooklyn Bridge.
was the dream of another man, John A. Roebling.
He was a member of the design team and became chief engineer of the
building project in eighteen sixty-seven.
Sadly, he became sick and died before work even started. He had an accident when visiting the area
where the bridge was to be built.
Building began in eighteen seventy. It was very
dangerous. Few records were kept on such
events. But, historians say between
twenty and thirty men died as a result of the building project. Some died from falling off the bridge or from
being struck by equipment.
Others died or were injured from working in the
structures called caissons. These lay
deep below the surface of the Earth. The
workers would get a pressure sickness called the bends.
John Roebling's son, Washington, was severely disabled
by the bends. He had been named chief engineer of the Brooklyn Bridge project
soon after his father died. Washington Roebling continued the work from his
home after he was disabled.
Brooklyn Bridge opened on May twenty-fourth, eighteen eighty-three. At the
time, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. It is still a beautiful structure. The bridge has tens of thousands of
suspension wires that spread many meters across and up and down to towers on
each side. From a distance the many
wires look like the stringed musical instrument called the harp. The center of the Brooklyn Bridge rises
almost forty meters above the East River.
It is one of the most famous and beloved New York City landmarks.
bridge makes our list of the seven man-made wonders. This one is in northern California.
The Golden Gate Bridge is named after the waterway it
crosses. The Golden Gate Strait lies
between the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay. The bridge over it links the city of San
Francisco with Marin County.
Strauss was the chief engineer of the Golden Gate Bridge. Building began in
nineteen thirty-three. The bridge opened
in nineteen thirty-seven. It is almost
one thousand three hundred meters long.
It was the longest suspension bridge in the world for almost thirty
years. Then, in nineteen sixty-four, the
larger Verrazano Narrows bridge opened in New York City.
Joseph Strauss used newly developed protective
equipment for the men who worked on the bridge.
These included a special safety net under the bridge. But still, eleven
men were killed during construction.
color of the bridge, International Orange, is very important. It was chosen partly because it is easier to
see through the heavy fog that often covers San Francisco. Many people consider
the Golden Gate Bridge the most beautiful bridge structure in the world.
Strauss wrote a poem about his bridge when the work was done. Here is a part of "The Mighty Task is Done":
At last the mighty task is done;
Resplendent in the western sun
The Bridge looms mountain high;
Its titan piers grip ocean floor,
Its great steel arms link shore with shore,
Its towers pierce the sky.
Our next man-made wonder is as famous a
landmark in the Midwest United States as the first two are on the East and West
Coasts. The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis,
Missouri is the tallest freestanding monument in the nation. The shiny, steel curve rises to almost two
hundred meters. Below, the arch is exactly
as wide as it is tall.
famous Finnish American building designer, Eero Saarinen, designed the Gateway
Arch during a national competition in the late nineteen forties. However, building did not begin until
February, nineteen sixty-three. It was completed in October, nineteen sixty-five. Later a transport system was added to permit
people to visit an observation area inside the top of the arch.
Gateway Arch rises above the Mississippi River.
It was named in honor of Saint Louis, which was historically called "The
Gateway to the West."
There is one place in America that
almost everyone agrees is a man-made wonder:
South Dakota's Mount Rushmore.
Giant faces of four great American presidents are cut
into the rock near the top of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills. Each face is
about eighteen meters high.
Gutzon Borglum was chosen to create the Mount Rushmore memorial. It was
completed in nineteen forty-one, after fourteen years.
represents important values in America.
George Washington led the cause for independence. Thomas Jefferson represented the belief in
equality. Abraham Lincoln ended slavery
and saved the Union. And Theodore Roosevelt was a conservationist and symbol of
the progressive spirit of America.
go next to one of the largest and most difficult structures ever built in the
United States: Hoover Dam. The dam is in
the Black Canyon, near Las Vegas, Nevada.
It controls the water of the Colorado River and produces electric power.
began to build Hoover Dam in nineteen thirty-one. They finished in just five years.
More than twenty thousand men worked on the
project. It was very dangerous. Ninety-six workers were killed. Many others
The Hoover Dam
is two hundred twenty-one meters tall. It weighs more than six and one half
million tons. At the time, it was the
largest and tallest dam in the world. And it was one of the largest producers
of electric power ever built.
Hoover Dam also created Lake Mead, the largest
man-made lake in America.
Another man-made wonder of the United States was built
long before the nation was established.
About nine hundred years ago, the Ancestral Puebloan people built
villages high in the walls of canyons in Mesa Verde, Colorado. Six hundred
cliff dwellings are now part of the Mesa Verde National Park.
Visitors can stand at the top of the mesas and look into
the dwellings almost hidden in openings of the rock walls. The Puebloan people cut small steps into the
rock. A series of such steps connected
buildings containing hundreds of rooms.
The rock walls have protected the buildings from severe
weather in the area.
So they remain
mostly unchanged in the hundreds of years since they were built.
man-made wonder is in the northwestern city of Seattle, Washington. The Space Needle was built as the central
structure for the nineteen sixty-two World's Fair.
Edward Carlson designed the one hundred eighty-four meter
tall structure. The Space Needle has a
wide base on the ground. It is narrow in the middle. On top is a large ring-like structure.
structure was meant to look like a "flying saucer," a vehicle that was popular
in science fiction space travel stories.
The saucer includes an observation area and eating place. The restaurant slowly turns to provide
visitors with a three hundred sixty degree view of Seattle.
Space Needle was not very costly. The
building project cost about four million five hundred thousand dollars. It was designed and completed in about a year
and opened on the first day of the World's Fair.
Today, the Space
Needle is the most popular place for visitors to Seattle. And it remains the
internationally known symbol of the city.
This program was
written and produced by Caty Weaver. I'm
I'm Steve Ember. You can read and listen
to this program on our Web site, voaspecialenglish.com. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in
VOA Special English.