Some of the most famous buildings in the USA are cultural icons that were often some of the most ground breaking architectural works of their time.
America can be considered the birth place of the modern skyscraper, which has resulted in some truly unique skylines in it’s largest cities.
The term “American architecture” refers to structures built in the territory that is now the United States.
The America’s being colonized in the 17th century marks the official beginning of the architectural history of the United States.
Here are ten of the most famous buildings in America that are worth the time and effort to visit at least once in our lifetime.
Famous Buildings in America
1. Empire State Building
On March 17, 1930, work began on what would become the Empire State Building, the world’s first skyscraper with 100 or more stories.
It took a record-breaking one year and 45 days to finish construction. From this vantage point, six different American states are visible. The building has its ZIP code (10118) due to its enormous size (more than 2.8 million leasable square feet).
The Empire State Building is 380 meters (almost 1,250 feet) tall at its peak. The total height of the structure, including the spire plus antenna, is 1,454 feet (443 meters).
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Now, it stands as the city’s fourth-tallest structure, the sixth-tallest in America, as well as the globe’s 43rd-tallest skyscraper.
There are 1,872 steps leading up to their observatory on the 102nd floor. Now you’re talking about some major labor!
The Empire State Building is equipped with 73 Otis elevators, so you won’t have to work up a sweat just to see the sights.
2. Chrysler Building
Shining and art deco, this 1930 skyscraper was once the tallest structure in the world thanks to its spire. It may be found in Midtown Manhattan on the East Side of Manhattan at the corner of Lexington Avenue and 42nd Street.
After its completion in 1930, it held the title of the tallest building in the world for 11 months. At 1,046 ft, it’s the tallest brick structure on earth with a steel framework. The Chrysler is currently the city’s 11th-tallest structure, matching the height of The NY Times Tower in 2019.
When it debuted, the Chrysler Building was met with a wide range of reactions, but today it is universally hailed as a pinnacle of Art Deco designed buildings.
In 1978, the building was officially recognized as a New York City landmark, and in 1976, it was listed as a National Historic Landmark.
3. Gateway Arch
The Gateway Arch National Park extends from the Old Courthouse towards the steps that overlook the Mississippi River. In this gap, you can see the Gateway Arch, a towering tribute to the pioneering soul.
In 1935, work started on what would become today’s monument. In 1948, the Memorial’s final form was chosen through a nationwide design competition, and in 1963, designer Eero Saarinen’s layout for a stainless steel arch was put into motion.
After its completion, the Gateway Arch quickly became a symbol of American pride and a symbol for the modernist style of architecture that it represented in 1965.
The Old Courthouse, built in 1839, a fine specimen of federal architecture from the middle of the nineteenth century, serves as the park’s western focal point.
4. Willis Tower
Formerly known as the Sears Tower, Chicago’s Willis Tower now stands at 108 stories and is 1,451 feet tall.
Standard methods of counting indicate 108 floors in the tower, but the owners of the building consider the main roof to be 109 and the roof above the mechanical penthouse to be 110.
After its construction in 1974, it immediately eclipsed New York’s World Trade Center and became the tallest skyscraper in the world, a record it would hold for nearly 25 years
The structure was built by Bruce Graham and Fazlur Khan as a cluster of nine square “tubes,” each measuring 225 feet on a side.
The technique would prove pivotal in the development of skyscraper design, and it is now standard in the construction of most ultra-tall structures, including the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.
5. Walt Disney Concert Hall
The Los Angeles Philharmonic performs at Walt Disney Concert Hall (WDCH), which also hosts the finest in jazz, current music, and music from throughout the world.
One of the world’s most acoustically advanced concert halls, Walt Disney Concert Hall, was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.
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The 3.6-acre building, with its arresting stainless steel curves plus top-notch audio in its hardwood-paneled grand hall, represents the distinctive vitality and creative genius of Los Angeles as well as its orchestra.
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, Los Angeles Master Chorale, and countless other musical organizations can perform for the city of Los Angeles thanks to the foresight and charity of Lillian Disney and numerous other individual and business contributors.
In 1935, the Kaufmann family, proprietors of Pittsburgh’s biggest department store, commissioned Fallingwater, a home built by famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959).
Fallingwater, among Wright’s most celebrated masterpieces, exhibits his theory of organic architecture, which emphasizes creating a space where human creativity and natural beauty can coexist in perfect harmony.
About seventy miles southeast of Pittsburgh, in Mill Run, Fayette County, you’ll find this renowned architectural masterpiece.
This area of Southwestern Pennsylvania is home to the Laurel Highlands. Wright aimed to have Fallingwater look like it was floating above the waterfall by placing it on a cliff.
The main building, guest house, and service wing were all built on the site in 1939 using materials culled from the land itself, such as natural sandstone.
In 2019, Fallingwater, together with seven more Frank Lloyd Wright creations, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List.
7. Biltmore Estate
In Asheville, North Carolina, you can visit the Biltmore Estate, a museum and historic home. From 1889-95, the main house, known as Biltmore House or Biltmore Mansion, was constructed in a Châteauesque style for George Washington Vanderbilt II.
At 178,926 square feet, it is the biggest privately owned house in America. It is still among the most famous Gilded Age houses, and it is still held by George Vanderbilt’s family.
Richard Morris, a famous New York architect, who had once constructed residences for other Vanderbilt family members, was commissioned by Vanderbilt to create the Châteauesque mansion.
Hunt found architectural inspiration in French Renaissance châteaux. During the first several months of 1889, Vanderbilt and Hunt toured several European chateaux, including the Châteaux de Blois, Chenonceau, and Chambord, as well as the English Waddesdon Manor.
All of these manors had towers, turrets, and sculptural embellishments on their roofs.
8. White House
Both the president’s office and his residence are located in the White House. Since 1800, each U.S. president has lived in this house on Pennsylvania Avenue NW in Washington, D.C. The president and his cabinet are commonly referred to collectively as the “White House.”
James Hoban, an Irish architect, created the home in the neoclassical style. Hoban based the structure on Dublin’s Leinster House, where the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) is now located.
Between the years 1792 and 1800, whitewashed Aquia Creek sandstone was used in the building’s construction. It took several presidents to finish the building, and each made changes and improvements.
Blair House serves as a guesthouse for visitors to the current White House, which also features the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, the east and west wings, and the Executive Residence.
There are a total of six levels in The Executive Residence, including a two-story basement, third floor, second floor, ground floor, and state floor. The land is a part of President’s Park and a National Heritage Site owned by the National Park Service.
On the American Institute of Architects’ 2007 “America’s Favorite Architecture” list, it came in at number two.
9. United States Capitol
The United States Capitol serves as the national gathering place for the Congress of the United States as well as the headquarters of the US Federal Government’s Legislative Branch.
It may be found on Capitol Hill, off the eastern edge of the National Mall in the nation’s capital. The Capitol is not at the absolute center of the federal district anymore, but it is the starting point for the area’s four corners and its street numbering mechanism.
In 1800, construction was finished on the main body of the current structure. After being partially damaged in the Washington fire of 1814, these were completely rebuilt in the subsequent five years.
There was a later expansion that made room for the Senate chamber in the north wing and the House of Representatives chamber inside the south wing of the bicameral legislature’s edifice.
It was shortly after the end of the American Civil War, in 1866, that construction on the enormous dome was finally completed. The Capitol, like the other main government buildings (the Supreme Court and the Executive Office Building), is a white neoclassical structure.
Although both the east and west facades are alluded to formally, only its east front was designed to welcome guests and dignitaries.
10. Washington Monument
Washington’s exemplary presidency, in the beginning, set the bar very high for all subsequent chief executives.
Above the city that carries his name, the Washington Monument stands as a majestic tribute to George Washington. There is no one to hide behind for either the man or his memorial.
The Washington Monument stands as a landmark and commemoration of George Washington in the heart of the country’s capital.
It was developed by Robert Mills and finished by Thomas Casey as well as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Both the private (between 1848 and 1854) and public (between 1854 and 1954) sections of the building’s construction are considered to be complete (between 1876 and 1884).
The Washington Monument was designed like an Egyptian obelisk to show how much reverence and gratitude the American people had for their most pivotal Founding Father.
In its finished state, the Washington Monument stood at a height of 555 feet, 5 inches, making it the highest structure in the world.