exhibit in the nation's capital showcases some of civil engineering's
is based on the work of the Historic American Engineering Record,
which over the past three decades has been collecting documentary
evidence, including photoraphs and drawings, of the nation's
engineering marvels and industrial icons. The organization was established
in 1969 when a small group of architects, engineers, and historians
began examining major American industrial and engineering sites that
were in danger of being destroyed.
Engineering is finally getting some long-overdue recognition for
the important contributions it has made to the nation. First, the
PBS series Building Big, which extolled the marvels
of engineers, aired in October and attracted millions of viewers.
Now, an exhibit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C.,
is featuring fascinating examples of historically significant engineering
and industrial works in the United States. Among the important subjects
in Monuments, Mills, and Missile Sites: Thirty Years of the
Historical American Engineering Record, are the Statue of
Liberty, the platform from which the world's first manned Moon
mission was launched, the site where the atomic bomb was successfully
tested, and suspension bridges, canals, sugar plantations, ships,
In the 1980s,
during an extensive renovation of the Statue of Liberty, HAER began
creating a historical record of how Frederic Bartholdi's 151-foot-high
sculpture was originally constructed. They
recorded information about the sculpture's surprisingly thin
exterior skin, which consists of pounded copper sheetsno thicker
than coinsand the iron armature supporting them. The armature
was designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel, previously known for his
iron bridges. The monument that bears his name, the Eiffel Tower,
didn't open until 1889, five years after the Statue of Liberty.
which closes in Washington on May 20, is scheduled to visit various
other cities, beginning with Houston.
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