This 50-foot statue of Lady Liberty’s Inner M is located at the M&M’s World in NYC. The largest “realistic” US replica of The Statue of Liberty is the 36-foot-tall one in Liberty Park in Birmingham, Alabama, at 1/5 the size of the original. Even taller are the 39 and 37 ft 9 in. replicas in Paris. Hundreds more can be seen here.
The United Sates of America offers such a diverse collection of attractions. While every major city may each have a great art museum or two, fantastic zoos/aquariums, monuments, historical sites and theme parks of some sort or another – they each differ in their own special way and it never fails to leave me feeling inspired and motivated to dig a little deeper into finding out how things got to where they are today. It’s always fun to take a step back and see how the city is set up and take a visit to those iconic picture-perfect spots that we’ve always seen across the media. Get ready to learn about everything from a word being misspelled on the Liberty Bell to finding out which major American city does not have any cemeteries. So here it is folks, starting with my all-time favorite fact about the third most populous country in the world.
1. The Statue of Liberty is associated with New York City, but it is actually physically located in New Jersey! Jersey City, New Jersey to be exact. Another fun fact: The seven rays on the crown of the Statue of Liberty represent the seven continents; each measures up to 9 feet in length and weighs as much as 150 pounds.
2. The tallest mountain in the world is actually located in the United States. It is actually taller than Mount Everest (more than twice Mt. Everest’s base-to-peak height) when measured from the seafloor. It’s called Mauna Kea and it’s located in Hawaii. While it is only 13,796 feet in altitude above sea level, when measured from the seafloor it is over 32,000 feet high, while Mount Everest is 29,028 feet high.
3. The Liberty Bell was last rung on George Washington’s Birthday in 1846. It received its fatal crack a few hours later. Look closely and you will see that the word “Pennsylvania” is mispelled as “Pensylvania.” They must not have had spell check back in those days! The bell is said to have been built for $225.50 USD and it was rung on July 8, 1776 for the first public reading of The Declaration of Independence. Today it is officially owned by the city of Philadelphia, while the National Park Service maintains it’s state-of-the-art facilities, where it has been housed since 2003, nearby Independence Hall and visiting is free of charge. I suppose it didn’t take too long to recoup their $225.50 investment!
4. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is the most-visited museum in the U.S. It gets over 9 million visitors a year and is second only to the Louvre in attendance worldwide. It maintains the largest collection of historic air and spacecraft in the world. All of the aircraft and spacecraft on display in the Air and Space Museum were actually flown or were used as backup vehicles. The 23 exhibits in the museum house artifacts including airplanes & spacecraft, missiles & rockets, engines, propellers, models, uniforms, instruments, and flight equipment. While at the museum, tourists can see the Wright Brothers’ original 1903 Flyer, the Apollo Lunar module, Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, the moon rock, as well as aircraft from World War I, World War II, and Vietnam. Here’s 6 more fun facts.
The Smithsonian Institution is comprised of 19 various museums. The National Zoological Park actually has a Panda Cam for those who can’t make it to see giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian in person. They are two of just over 300 other pandas who reside at zoos and research centers across the world, but only 15 of which live in America.
5. Americans eat about 100 acres of pizza each day, with about 3 billion pizzas sold annually in the USA. 93% of Americans are said to have eaten pizza in the last month. Delivery sales of pizza spike the most during close Super Bowl games. There are over 60,000 pizzerias in the USA and America’s oldest pizzeria opened in 1905 and it’s called Lambardi’s and it is located in NYC (though there is a little controversy over that title). Chicago-style deep dish favorites are Giordano’s or Lou Malnati’s. There is a Pizza Expo held every year in Las Vegas. The world’s largest pizza was actually built in Italy. With October being the US national pizza month, I figured it was a perfect time to share all of these amazing pizza facts with you.
Pizza lovers will want to be sure to check out Today’s listing of the 25 best pizzas around the country.
6. There are 182 places in the U.S. that have the word “Christmas” in their names. They range from towns such as Christmas, Ariz., and Christmas Valley, Ore., to islands like Christmas Island in Florida and even some lakes (such as Christmas Lake in Washington).
Of course there is a variety of year-round Christmas themed places in Alaska (such as the world’s largest fiberglass Santa at the Santa Claus House in North Pole, Alaska) but there’s also plenty closer to home, for many of us, such as the New York Santa’s workshop, a mini theme park in the Adirondacks. But my favorite is a family owned and operated theme park called Holiday World that is located in Santa Claud, Indiana – the park is technically considered to be the oldest theme park in the world (1946) and it is divided into four sections that celebrate Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween and the Fourth of July. Holiday World is also home to a water park with the world’s two longest water coasters, the world’s tallest water ride, which is called Giraffica (originally Pilgrims Plunge), The Voyager receives the most air-time of any wooden roller coaster in the world, and ZOOmbabwe is the world’s largest enclosed water slide! In 2000 this park was the first in the world to offer free unlimited soft drinks to its guests. It has also been ranked #1 for cleanliness and friendliness! The only downside is that this park is closed on Christmas! Santa Claus, Indiana’s post office (which makes a great photo op) receives a half-million holiday cards and roughly 10,000 letters from children each year. It is also home to a Santa Claus Museum, a local hotel called Santa’s Lodge and the world’s oldest Santa statue (1935).
7. Chicago is the birthplace of the first ever ferris wheel, which was 264-feet tall and debuted in the 1893 World’s Fair and was demolished shortly after in 1906. Today the 150-foot tall (15 story high) one at Navy Pier is modeled after the original one. Also housed at Navy Pier is a children’s museum, an IMAX and the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. A record was broken there earlier this year, as a manager rode this ferris wheel for more than two days, at more that 384 times around. Since 2008, the world’s largest ferris wheel has been the Singapore Flyer, at 541 feet tall. This record is about to be surpassed with the next world’s tallest being The High Roller in Las Vegas (set to be complete in early 2014; built behind the Flamingo and will feature 28 glass-enclosed cabins that each hold 40 passengers; 550 feet), followed by the New York Wheel (set to be completed in 2016; roughly 60-stories high; 630 feet) and then the new world’s tallest will cost $1.6 billion and will be the Dubai Eye (opening is yet to be projected; 689 feet).
Other large-scale American ferris wheels that are currently under construction include the Orlando Eye (Projected to open in late 2014; 425 feet) and Skyvuue Las Vegas will bring Las Vegas a second new ferris wheel, which will be across from the Mandalay Bay resort and will have the largest outdoor LCD screen in the world (Construction has halted; 500 feet).
The new Dubai Eye is set to be four times larger than Chicago’s Navy Pier Ferris wheel (pictured above).
8. Georgia is the birthplace of miniature golf. More specifically, at Lookout Mountain’s Rock City, which is located right outside of Chattanooga, TN. While the Tom Thumb course itself no longer exists, Rock City gardens remains one of the areas most popular attractions to this day, mainly thanks to their famous “See Rock City” marketing campaign, which was painted on barns across the region. It once hosted America’s first mini-golf competition, the National Tom Thumb Open. Tennessee is home to the steepest passenger incline railway in the U.S. Today, Myrtle Beach holds the title as “Mini Golf Capital of the World,” as it is home to over 50 courses throughout town. National Miniature Golf Day was held a month ago from today, on September 21. Travel and Leisure lists some of America’s wackiest golf courses. Here’s some more favorites.
9. San Francisco hardy has any cemeteries. There a ton of other weird U.S.A. laws out there. So in 1937, residents passed a law that said that cemeteries can no longer be built within city limits, simply because they considered their land to be too valuable. Today there are only three cemeteries within city limits. Perhaps the most disturbing is that many of the early cemeteries were actually dug up and moved to various places farther West. There were many expulsions until almost all cemeteries were eliminated, as unclaimed headstones were recycled for building seawalls, landfills and park gutters. There are a few exceptions, but for the most part, no one is allowed to be buried or even cremated within the city limits. Many new cemeteries were created in the nearby town of Colma, which is known for having more dead residents than live ones (around 4 million dead with only about 1500 alive!). Their motto, which is on the cities website, reads that “it’s great to be alive in Colma.” Today, these beautiful cemeteries are often a popular destination for tourists.
10. New Jersey is home to the world’s highest roller coaster. Kingda Ka, at Six Flags Great Adventure in N.J. stands a whopping 45 stories tall, plummeting 456 feet and reaching speeds up to 126 mph. Also read about the Top 10 Most Overrated Roller Coasters in North America (See why Kingda Ka made the list!). Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA has 18 roller coasters, with most roller coasters than any other theme/amusement park in the world. The runner up would be Cedar Point (their newest coaster, which is called the Gatekeeper, recently broke seven world records), in Sandusky, Ohio, with 16 roller coasters. King’s Dominion, Carowinds and Kings Island all come shortly behind.
I thought the Mall of America’s Rock Bottom Plunge was pretty wicked until I heard about these rides!
11. The world’s tallest battle monument is found in Houston. It’s called the San Jacinto Monument and it was dedicated in 1939 and stands 570-feet high, 15-feet above the Washington monument. Ride the elevator to the observation deck to get a view of the site of one of the biggest battles in our nation’s history. They also have a museum on-site; it’s located 20-minutes from downtown Houston. It’s actually the second tallest monument in the country, right after the 630-foot Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Also look into the tallest statues (these might really surprise you) and the tallest lighthouses in America, many of which are open to the public.
12. Atlantic City is home to longest boardwalk in the world and it’s often considered to be the best. It was America’s first boardwalk, built in 1870 to limit the amount of sand that beach-goers tracked into the train and hotel lobbies. Today this 4.5 mile (in 1889 it was nearly double this size at 7-miles long, but was destroyed by a storm) wooden walkway winds past a variety of casinos, hotels, and plenty of shops and eateries. Fishing piers include The Garden Pier (home to the Atlantic City Historical Museum and Art Center), and of course their famous Steel Pier (a beachside amusement park). You may know about all the damage and devastation that Hurricane Sandy recently did here but I decided to dig a little deeper and see what really happened. It turns out that the actual historic part of Atlantic City’s boardwalk was not really devastated at all. The section that was damaged was actually slated for demolition any way. Atlantic City really didn’t suffer in any meaningful way, despite much of what was seen on the media. All in all, Sandy racked up nearly $70 billion in damages and killed nearly 300 people. NBC recently reported on how things are looking a year after Sandy.
The Mayor of Myrtle Beach plans on expanding their boardwalk from 1.2 miles to 4.6, which would make it just long enough to claim the title of being the world’s longest. Another of America’s favorites is the Coney Island Boardwalk, where it’s Luna Park amusement park was recently given a reopening ceremony with 19 new rides, helping to bring Coney Island back to it’s glory days.
13. Women got the right to vote in the United States in 1920, thanks to the 19th amendment. There is actually a Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, NY. It tells the story of the first Women’s Rights Convention, which was held in this very spot in 1848. Some of the best Women’s history museums in DC include the Sewell-Belmont House (which has held a presence on Capitol Hill for over 200 years and also serves as headquarters for the National Women’s Party), the National Women’s History Museum (once completed, it will be the first museum of the National Mall to be designed by a woman), Hillwood Museum Estate & Gardens (it’s housed on a gorgeous estate and home to an extensive art collection), and the National Museum of Women in the Arts (featuring over 3,000 works of art).
14. The grizzly bear is the official state animal of California. But no grizzly bears have been seen there since 1922. Though you can still see them at at a few of the California zoos. Thousands of grizzlies flourished across California until the mid-1800s, when speculators began to arrive for the state’s gold rush. Between that time and 1922, every living grizzly in the state was either captured or killed. Most zoos don’t have enough space for grizzlies, which are tough to manage in captivity because they are often smart enough to use tools and outwit locks. Grizzly bears generally live about 30 years in captivity but only about 1,000 grizzly bears live in the Lower 48 states, mostly in Montana. They typically grow to be eight feet tall and weigh from 400 to 1,000 pounds.
15. Alaska has a longer coastline than all of the other 49 U.S. states put together. True story. Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area (more than twice the size of Texas, the next the largest state) the 4th least populous and the least densely populated of the 50 states. About half of their population resides within the Anchorage metropolitan area. The US actually purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million (equivalent to $120 million in today’s dollars). That means ABC’s Shark Tank‘s billionaire investor and Dallas Mavericks owner Marc Cuban could buy Alaska like it was water off of a duck’s back. And in case you’re wondering, Alaska isn’t really known for their ducks but they are pretty well known for their bears. Kodiak island, Alaska’s largest island, is home to the world’s largest bear species, called the Kodiak brown bears. But Alaska actually wasn’t admitted as the 49th state of the US until 1959. Alaska is also home to 17 of the tallest 20 mountains in the US, including Mt. McKInley (also known as Denali) which is the highest peak in the US. Only 20 percent of Alaska is accessible by road so you may have to borrow Santa’s sleigh if you want ot go out in the Alaskan wild wild west. Those looking for something really bizarre to do in Alaska will want to head to their unique Hammer Museum (in Haines), which showcases over 1,500 hammers. Last but not least, Alaska actually has the lowest individual tax burden in the US, collecting neither state sales tax nor personal income tax
16. The Pentagon is the largest office building in the world by area, with 17 miles of corridors. The US Capitol could fit into just one of the buildings five sides. It actually has twice the space as the Empire State Building. It was built in Arlington, Virginia in 1943 at a cost of $83 million (equivalent to $1.32 billion in todays dollars) as the headquarters of the US Department of Defense. It has 5 sides, 5 floors above ground, 5 ring corridors per floor and a 5-acre central plaza that is known as “ground zero.” Hence the name “penta,” which means five. It would have been built higher but they did not want to block the scenic views of the area and the also had a steel shortage which prevented them. On 9/11, the 60th anniversary of the groundbreaking, I’m sure the people who managed to escape were thrilled that it wasn’t built any higher, as it was hijacked along with the World Trade Center, killing 189 people. It was reconstructed shortly afterwards, as the $5 billion (about 5 times the cost of the original building) Phoenix Project was completed in 2003. Just try and hijack us now and see what happens.
They actually have twice as many bathrooms as necessary because it was built in a time of segregation, where they felt the need to build separate facilities for black and white employees. But during construction, laws were changed and it ended up opening as the only non-segregated building in Virginia.
17. The United States outlawed alcohol in 1919 with the 18th amendment. It was legalized again in 1933 with the 21st amendment. The oldest bar in America was built in 1668 and is located just north of NYC in the small town of Tappan, NY and it is called the ’76 House. The structure today is very much the type of tavern it was over 300 years ago. They continue to have a fully stocked bar and live music every night, with a random soloist manning the baby grand piano, while a crowd of locals and rowdy tourists can be seen crowded around the fire. Here’s an interview with the owner. You may also want to check out the world’s largest permanent bar at Beer Barrel Saloon in Ohio. Also see where Food & Wine ranks the 50 Best Bars in America.
Beer fans in Las Vegas who are looking for something a little more extravagant will want to head to Aureole at the Mandalay Bay, featuring a 4-story wine tower, which is the largest wine tower in the world, which holds nearly 10,000 bottles. It features an elaborate pully system with “flying wine angels” who manage this intricate system. Each table is given an electronic tablet to help you find the perfect wine. It’s been a huge hit since it opened in 1999, as it currently is ranked 4.5 stars on popular review sites.
18. 32% of all land in the US is owned by the federal government, as they own about 650 million acres. The Federal Government actually owns 84.5% of Nevada, 69.1% of Alaska and 57.4% of Utah. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest-percentage states are mainly in the East, including the Federal Government only owning 0.4% of Connecticut, 0.4% of Rhode Island and 0.8% of Iowa. This land is called “public land” and the majority is used as national and state parks, other parts are used for grazing by cattle or sheep.
See this map on Federal land as a Percentage of Total State Land Area
19. The original capital of the United States was Philadelphia. Other than Philadelphia, Congress met in a number of locations from 1774 to 1790, meaning that each of the following cities were considered US Capitals at one time: Baltimore, Lancaster, PA, York, PA, Princeton, NJ, Annapolis, Annapolis, MD, Trenton, NJ, and of course Hawaii and Texas were each independent nations at one time and therefore had a variety of capitals of their own. Washington D.C. became the capital in 1790. See the list of the Best Historical Destinations in the USA. Some of my favorite historical sites include the National Museum of American History, the nation’s largest institution devoted to American history, where you can see the original Star-Spangled Banner, the desk on which Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s gold pocket watch and even Dorothy’s ruby slippers.
20. Harvard was the first university in the United States and was founded in 1636 and is located in Cambridge, MA (a 10 minute drive outside of Boston). It’s considered to be the second best university in the world, right after MIT. The Harvard Museum of Natural History is a popular tourist spot, featuring the universities items and artifacts that relate to the natural world. Objects on display include the largest turtle shell in the world, a 42-foot-long prehistoric marine reptile skeleton, and over 3,000 Glass Flowers (which model over 840 plant species). At the heart of this university, you will find Harvard Yard, where you can get a picture taken with the John Harvard statue. They also offer free walking tours of the campus, with former students including: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Conan O’Brien, former President George W. Bush and President Obama.
21. Manhattan’s Chinatown has the most Chinese residents in the Western Hemisphere. It is the oldest of at least 9 Chinatowns in the New York Metropolitan area. Here you will find the Museum of Chinese in America, the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory and the Music From China ensemble.
This was taken in NYC’s Hop Kee Restaurant. Yumm!
San Francisco has the oldest Chinatown in North America, which was established in the 1850s in the wake of the California Gold Rush. San Francisco is said to be the birthplace of several American Chinese food traditions including Chop Suey and Fortune Cookies. This neighborhood hosts the country’s largest Chinese New Year festival, which is a month-long celebration around January or February, where they have dragon parades, fireworks, beauty pageants, and street fairs. The recent recession caused the downturn of American Chinatowns, as the migration trends return to China for better opportunities. Consider visiting the Eastern Bakery, which serves delicious mooncakes, the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, and also try Empress of China, offering gourmet chinese food and featuring a rooftop garden that offers great views of the city skyline. Here’s some more great American Chinatowns.
22. The United States debt per person is $54,000 USD. In fact, approximately 48 percent of all Americans are currently either considered to be “low income” or are living in poverty. 46 million people of the United States live on food stamps and there is one child out of every four children live in food stamps. In Cleveland, Ohio’s 52% of children live in poverty. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York approximates 167,000 Americans have more than $200,000 student loan. Even if Bill Gates gave up every single penny of his fortune, he would have taken care of only 15 days’ deficit of America. During President Barack Obama’s first term, the federal government accumulated more debt than it did under the prior 42 U.S presidents combined (you probably knew that one already). The median price of a home in the city of Detroit is now about $6000. Back in 1950, more than 80 percent of all men in the United States had jobs, while today, less than 65 percent of all men in the United States have jobs. Fox has listed a ton of other surprising facts about the US economy.
23. The world’s largest amphitheater is The Hollywood Bowl in LA. It opened in 1922 and holds a capacity of nearly 18,000. The famous band shell is featured in front of a backdrop of the Hollywood sign and the Hollywood Hills. It’s the summer home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has been featured on The Beverly Hillbillies, The Simpsons and CSI: Miami. 2013 performers included Tony Bennett, Queen Latifah, Steven Tyler and a production of Chicago: The Musical.
New York’s Radio City Music Hall opened in 1932 and remains the largest indoor theatre in the world, with over 300 million visitors and it has hosted the Grammy’s and Tony’s and welcomed performers including Frank Sinatra, Liza Minnelli and The Radio City Rocketts. New York’s Madison Square Garden is the busiest music arena in America and the third busiest in the world (right after the Q2 Arena and Manchester Arena, both in England). Madison Sq. Garden was built at a cost of $1.07 billion in 2013 dollars (the current structure opened in 1968) and has a capacity of 20,000; it’s the oldest NHL arena and the second oldest NBA area (after the Oracle Arena in Oakland). The first artificial ice rink was opened at the Garden in 1879. Justin Bieber sold out all of the entire place in 22 seconds at age 16, Britney Spears took 43 seconds, and One Direction and Taylor Swift both took a minute! Elton John has played the all-time greatest number of shows there at 62 times! Check out the Forbes article on 10 US Movie Theaters Worth Traveling For.
See The NYC Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
24. Pensacola, Florida is actually the oldest city in the US. It was settled in 1559 by Don Tristan de Luna. They actually have a restaurant there that is called McGuire Irish Pub, which has over 550,000 worth of $ bills hanging throughout the walls (I’m surprised they haven’t had any break-ins). Attractions include their snowy white beaches and gorgeous emerald green ocean. the Historic Pensacola Village Florida State Museum, the National Museum of Naval Aviation (with over 100 aircrafts that are as old as the 1920s; they also house a torpedo bomber flown by former US president George H.W. Bush) and a waterpark called Sam’s Surf City.
25. The longest stone arch bridge in the world is the Rockville Bridge in Marysville, Pennsylvania, which was completed in 1902 and spans a total length of 3,820 feet. The bridge is currently used by the Norfolk Southern Railway and Amtrak. The world’s longest pedestrian bridge is 120 years old and located in Poughkeepsie, NY; it’s 1.25 miles long. The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is considered to be the most famous bridge in America, as it was completed in 1937 as the longest suspension bridge in the world (it held that title for nearly 30 years; the span length has since been surpassed by 8 other bridges). Learn about the 15 Most Famous Bridges in the World.
St. Louis bridges are pictured above, as seen from atop of the Gateway Arch.
26. The United States is the fattest country in the world, with 33% of the population being obese and 66% considered to be overweight. Foodies may also find it fascinating that Subway recently passed McDonalds as the world’s largest restaurant chain. The Highest-Grossing Restaurants in America include Tao Las Vegas at number 1 (raking in $60 million annually), Miami’s Joe’s Stone Crab at #2 (raking in $26 million) and New York’s Smith & Wollensky at #3 ($25 million). Whoever said that restaurants weren’t profitable hasn’t met these entrepreneurs. Also see Zagat’s list of the Top 40 Restaurants in the US.
27. The first zoo in America was opened in Philadelphia in 1874. About half of America’s population visit’s a zoo or aquarium each year (according to AZA). See the list of America’s 21 Most-Visited Zoos, with the San Diego Zoo receiving the most annual visitors (3.2 million), followed by Chicago’s Lincoln Park Zoo at #2 (3 million; free admission), followed by The St. Louis Zoo at #3 (2.9 million; free admission).
I actually included a lot more facts than I said I would but those are just a few of the more interesting ones but I really hoped you enjoyed them! Which fact did you find the most intriguing? Are there any great facts that I left out? We would love to hear from you in the comments.