5 of the World’s Greatest Structural Feats

Innovations in structural engineering have led to unbelievable buildings, highways, canals, and even islands throughout time. With the constant need for bettering means of transportation, housing, and construction, it’s no wonder this field has developed countless breakthroughs. Below are just a few of many of the world’s greatest accomplishments in structure, varying in use.

Palm Islands, Dubai

Just off the coast of the United Arab Emirates lies three incredible man-made islands which form a palm tree surrounded by a crescent. Built with 5.5 million cubic meters of rock and 94 million cubic meters of sand, this tourist destination ordered by the Prince of Dubai is home to residential properties, beaches, and many other forms of entertainment. Construction began in June of 2001, and the Palm Islands have since become one of the many marvels the world has to offer.

Hoover Dam

Rising 221 meters above the Colorado River, this dam has created the largest man-made lake in the Western Hemisphere, known as Lake Mead. At its strongest points, the Hoover Dam is 210 meters thick with concrete. Since it is a “gravity dam,” its foundations rely entirely on gravity to keep it from collapsing.

International Space Station

With a final bill of $100 million in its construction, The International Space Station required the work of 100,000 people from 15 different countries, and demands maintenance year round. After its first component was launched in 1998, additions to the ISS have now made it visible from Earth with the naked eye. Being located 220 miles above the earth’s surface however, makes this structure particularly difficult to build and repair.

White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad, Canada

Providing one of the most scenic routes available through Canada’s coastal mountains, this railroad was built during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s, and was completed in just over two years. Perhaps the most amazing aspect of this structural feat is the continued use of vintage cars, with the oldest dating back to 1881.

Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Japan

Built over the course of 10 years, this 1,991-meter-long structure is the longest suspension bridge in the world, connecting the city of Kobe with Awaji Island. It took the efforts of 2 million workers to complete the bridge beginning in 1988, and cost 500 billion Yen. Before its construction, the only means of transportation between Kobe and Awaji Island was by ferry through the Akashi Strait, which was prone to severe weather. After the sinking of two ferries in 1955 from such weather, killing 168 people, public outrage was met with the blueprints for this monstrous bridge. Finally completed in 1998, the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge is now used by approximately 23,000 cars per day.

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The Best Christmas Travel Destinations

If you and your family are planning a holiday vacation, the process of deciding where to go can be a difficult one. If you’re traveling alone however, refer back to my previous blog post here. There are countless destinations around the world that can enhance your Christmas experience, and those listed below are just a few of many.

Prague

The gothic and baroque architecture in this beautiful country can set the scene for a winter wonderland when covered in a light dusting of snow. Both Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square host holiday markets around this time of year, while also providing luxury housing with Hotel Josef; a massive 109-room hotel with 24-hour concierge service. Additionally, both the State Opera and National Theater have a variety holiday shows and ballets.

Boston, Massachusetts

One of the most popular New England cities, Boston embodies the seasonal ambience with snowy conditions, cobblestone streets, and holiday decorations lining several neighborhoods. At the Sanders Theatre in Harvard, shows like Christmas Revels, detailing the ghosts of Christmases past, will surely put any visitor in the holiday spirit. Restaurants like No. 9 Park offer holiday lunches with French and Italian influences, and several desserts.

Sweden

In the city of Malmö, the tradition of leaving Santa Claus milk and cookies has a bit of a twist. Rather, locals leave a meal of aquavit and herring by the fireplace, showcasing their flare for large helpings and buffets. The Grand Hotel Garden Malmö serves traditional Swedish Christmas dishes on Christmas day, which are part of an all-you-can-eat buffet. Decorations, lights, and Christmas trees line the city, with ice skating rinks to match.

Key West, Florida

For those seeking warmer climates during the holiday season, Key West offers palm trees covered in Christmas lights, historic inns and hotels, and plenty of restaurants offering holiday dishes. Perhaps one of the more unique celebrations during this time of year is the city’s “Bight Before Christmas.” This includes covering boats in Christmas lights, lining harbors with trees and decorations, holiday parades, and even classic car shows.

Quebec City, Canada

Yet another European-esque city lining cobblestone streets with Christmas lights, Quebec offers a truly ideal holiday atmosphere during this time of year. With French restaurants serving seasonal dishes and traditional Québécois cuisine, places like the Aux Anciens Canadiens are open Christmas day. It would be difficult not to embrace the holiday season with 17th-century inspired meals like grilled pheasant breast, much like what characters ate in Charles Dickens’ piece A Christmas Carol.

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