When we visit one of our nearly 400 national landmarks and parks, we enjoy various benefits, including gorgeous scenery, fresh air and exercise, new knowledge and perspectives, history, majestic animals, and the list goes on.
While it’s controversial whether our national parks can be valued, there’s no denying that they are invaluable resources for Americans.
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According to 2016 research released by the National Park Foundation, our national parks and programs are worth $92 billion in total economic value, including $28.5 billion in recreation use value for federal parklands, seas, and sites.
However, the recreational value of our parks and national landmarksis only the beginning. For the first time, this analysis shows that the public’s knowledge that the parks and their assets are safeguarded for current and future generations, regardless of whether they visit, accounts for more than half of the parks’ overall economic worth. This indicates that more than half of the entire financial cost of our national parks is unconnected to direct tourist benefits.
This non-use value can be divided into options, existence, and bequest. While some Americans choose to spend their time elsewhere, they still appreciate the opportunity to visit our national parks in the future.
They might also sense “existence value,” as defined by the study’s authors, which is just knowing that the parks exist to tell our country’s story, even if they don’t visit them.
Finally, the national landmarks survey discovered that 95% of American households prioritize the preservation of national parks so that future generations might enjoy them – a concept is known as bequest value.
The option, existence, and bequest values, which account for more than half of the overall economic worth of our national parks, present a compelling case for their sustained protection and stewardship.
They testify to the importance of our iconic landscapes, cultural and historical sites, and their place in our nation’s history. These conceptions of worth are crucial as we assess the value of national parks not only in terms of individuals who visit them, but also in terms of those who do not.
From the Statue of Liberty to the Rocky Mountains to Yosemite’s giant sequoias, America’s national parks contain some of the country’s most iconic views.
These and other natural wonders—the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone—are indelible emblems of a vast, untouched legacy spanning 84 million acres for people worldwide.
As the National Park Service (NPS) celebrates its centennial this year, there’s an implicit notion that the parks have always been there and always will be—guardianship for future generations is part of the NPS’s mission.
To date, the typical method for gauging economic impact has been revenue earned by park visitation fees and tourism spending.
One unexpected result of current research on national parks is that the public is very interested in the National Park Service’s programs, such as teaching children about nature, providing teacher curriculum materials, and interpreting historical events. In recent years, the National Park Service has spent a significant amount of time and resources to educational initiatives. The National Park Service is also expanding its historical interpretation services to represent the variety of our community and the perspectives of people of color, Latinos/Latinas, and women.
National Landmarks and Parks in the U.S. and Beyond
National landmarks and parks continue to capture the Imagination wherever we may be. Below are just some of the most well-known ones in the United States and other countries.
Big Ben is arguably the most famous clock in the world and one of the most notable national landmarks in the United Kingdom. One of the most Instagrammed sites in the planet, that unique silhouette is instantly recognized. Since the bells originally tolled their now-familiar symphony across Westminster, six kings and 41 prime ministers have come and gone.
The Elizabeth Tower is a symbol of democracy as well as the United Kingdom. Despite the impacts of bombing during World War II and weather and pollution, the bells of Big Ben have kept ringing for nearly 160 years.
The Victorians built the clock tower to the highest reasonable standards, employing the finest craftsman and materials. However, the Elizabeth Tower, like other buildings of similar age, has issues that must be addressed. The clock tower will be able to tell time for generations after the restoration is completed.
The conservation project involves hundreds of professional craftspeople from all around the U.K. Stonemasonry, gilding, glass cutting, and horology are among the traditional trades they employ to portray our historic architectural past. This £79.7 million investment will ensure Elizabeth Tower’s survival for 160 years. It’s also a bet on our established industries.
A competition for designs for a suitable monument was established when the French government organized the International Exposition of 1889 to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. More than 100 proposals were submitted, and the Centennial Committee chose Gustave Eiffel’s famous design. When completed, the Eiffel Tower served as the exposition’s main entrance.
The Eiffel Tower was initially constructed as a gateway to the 1889 International Exposition and a symbol of French industrial innovation. It is among the best national landmarks. However, since it has come to symbolize Paris’ particular personality, its lights are frequently turned on and off to reflect significant world events.
The Eiffel Tower is almost entirely built of wrought iron with open lattices. Gustave Eiffel designed a light and airy yet sturdy structure that foreshadowed a revolution in civil engineering and architectural design, based on his extensive knowledge of the behavior of metal arch and metal truss shapes under loading.
The Eiffel Tower is located at 5 Avenue Anatole France in the 7th arrondissement of Paris, on the Champs de Mars. The storied 7th arrondissement neighborhood of Paris, which is located on the “Left Bank,” or to the south of the Seine River, is home to many other notable tourist attractions, including the Musée d’Orsay and the Rodin Museum.
The Eiffel Tower sparkles for five minutes every hour, at the exact start of the hour, every night. The current lighting system dates from 1985, however the tower has been lit in various ways since its debut in 1889 for the International Exposition, when gaslights were utilized.
The Mother of National Landmarks: Statue of Liberty
The Statue of Liberty is a 305-foot (93-metre) statue off the coast of New York City that stands on Liberty Island in Upper New York Bay. The figure depicts a woman as a personification of liberty. She has a light raised in her right hand, and a tablet clutched in her left.
The Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues globally, and it is frequently used as a symbol of both New York City and the United States. The statue is also close to Ellis Island, where millions of immigrants were welcomed until 1943. As a result, the Statue of Liberty is also associated with hope, liberty, and justice.
Between 1875 and 1884, France constructed the Statue of Liberty. In 1885, it was dismantled and moved to New York City. Although the torch has been changed or rebuilt multiple times since its placement, the statue was reconstructed on Liberty Island in 1886.
The Statue of Liberty was sculpted between 1875 and 1884 by Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi, a French artist who began drawing plans in 1870. Bartholdi and his team hammered around 31 tons of copper sheets onto a steel frame. The statue stood over 151 feet (46 meters) tall and weighed 225 tons before being placed on its current pedestal.
The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of American liberty and is one of the most famous sculptures in the Western world. France gifted this massive statue to the United States in 1875 to honor their cooperation during the American Revolution.
Emma Lazarus refers to her as the “Mother of Exiles” in “The New Colossus,” and her image has become one of the most famous for both new and old Americans. But what do we know about Lady Liberty’s real-life inspiration?
This question may only be answered by looking through Bartholdi’s writings and sketches—not of the Statue of Liberty but an earlier statue is a striking resemblance to his American monument. In the late 1850s, about 30 years before the Statue of Liberty was constructed, Bartholdi began dabbling in gigantic statues.
Classical monuments, such as the Colossus of Rhodes, influenced his fascination with massive statuary.
Around 1856, Bartholdi visited Egypt and was amazed by the Colossi of Memnon, two statues of Pharaoh Amenhotep III. They have towered over the ruins of ancient Thebes for nearly 3,200 years, at 70 feet (21 meters) tall.
The White House is the president of the United States’ official office and residence. In Washington, D.C., it is located at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W. The White House and its grounds are 18 acres in size (7.2 hectares). The White House is the president of the United States’ home and workplace, as well as the headquarters of the president’s primary staff members.
On November 1, 1800, John Adams, the second president of the United States, moved into the still-unfinished presidential residence. There are around 130 rooms in the White House compound. The White House is a Palladian-style Georgian home.
Every American president has lived in the White House since George Washington (1789–97), who held presidential homes in New York and Philadelphia.
The building was initially known as the “President’s Palace” on early maps, but it was renamed the Executive Mansion in 1810 to eliminate the implications of the monarchy.
Although the term “White House” was popular at the same period (due to the mansion’s white-gray sandstone’s remarkable contrast with the red brick of adjacent structures), it was not officially adopted until 1901, when President Theodore Roosevelt (1901–09) did so. The White House is the nation’s capital’s oldest federal structure.
The building’s history dates to 1792, when a public competition was launched to select a design for the new capital city of Washington’s presidential house. Even though Thomas Jefferson, the country’s third president (1801–09), submitted sketches under the pseudonymous letters “A.Z.,” Irish American architect James Hoban won the commission (and a $500 prize) with his concept for a Georgian palace in the Palladian style.
The building would be made of sandstone brought from quarries along Aquia Creek in Virginia and would have three stories and over 100 rooms.
On October 13, 1792, the cornerstone was laid. Temporary huts were built on the north side of the property to house laborers, including local enslaved people. In 1793, expert stonemasons from Edinburgh, Scotland, joined them.
Yellowstone National Park is the United States’ oldest, largest, and possibly most well-known of all national landmarks. It is located primarily in northwest Wyoming and southern Montana, and eastern Idaho and contains the world’s highest concentration of hydrothermal characteristics.
On March 1, 1872, the United States Congress established the park as the country’s first national park. It is also often regarded as the world’s first national park, while some naturalists and others have contended that evidence suggests that the foundation of Yellowstone was predated by the creation of Bogd Khan Mountain National Park in Mongolia, which may date back to 1778.
Yellowstone became a UNESCO biosphere reserve in 1976 and a World Heritage site in 1978. The park, which is 63 miles (101 kilometers) long and 54 miles (87 kilometers) wide at its widest point and covers 3,472 square miles, is shaped like a square with an uneven eastern edge (8,992 square km).
The John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, which opened in 1972 and runs for 80 miles (130 kilometers), connects Yellowstone with Grand Teton National Park to the south.
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge in California that connects San Francisco to Marin County to the north. It was the world’s highest and longest suspension bridge when it was completed in 1937 making it one of the more amazing and substantial national landmarks.
The Golden Gate Bridge became known as a symbol of American power and progress, and it established the standard for suspension bridge design around the world. Although other bridges have subsequently exceeded their size, it is said to be the most photographed bridge in the world because of the beauty of its environment.
The bridge’s orange vermilion tint, chosen by consulting architect Irving Morrow, has a dual purpose: it blends in with the natural surroundings while making the bridge visible to ships in fog.
The bridge is floodlit at night and glows with a golden radiance that reflects off the bay’s waters, creating a magnificent effect.
Its construction, overseen by principal engineer Joseph B. Strauss, began in January 1933 and was fraught with difficulties. Construction was complicated due to the strait’s fast-moving tides, severe storms, and fogs. On August 14, 1933, a cargo vessel collided with the access trestle during one of these fogs, causing significant damage.
Workers also had to deal with blasting rock beneath deep water to lay earthquake-resistant foundations. During construction, a movable safety net invented by Strauss saved 19 men from plummeting to their deaths.
The Lincoln Memorial is a majestic monument in Washington, D.C. dedicated to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, and “the human spirit’s characteristics of tolerance, honesty, and steadfastness.” The memorial was built on reclaimed marshland near the Potomac River and was designed by Henry Bacon on a plan comparable to the Parthenon in Athens.
The site selection sparked debate; House Speaker Joseph Cannon advocated for a more prominent location across the Potomac.
The cornerstone was laid in 1915, and the memorial was dedicated to a crowd of over 50,000 on May 30, 1922. Robert Todd Lincoln attended the ceremony.
President Warren G. Harding and former president and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Howard Taft gave speeches.
Despite Lincoln’s reputation as the “Great Emancipator,” the dedication ceremonies were rigidly segregated; even Robert Moton, head of Tuskegee Institute, who spoke at the ceremony, was forced to sit in a section reserved for African Americans.
The United States Marine Corps War Memorial honors Marines and those fighting beside them in combat. While the memorial is dedicated to all Marines who have lost their lives in defense of the United States since 1775, the statue portrays one of WWII’s most iconic occurrences. Iwo Jima is a small island 660 kilometers south of Tokyo. This is one of the most important of national landmarks.
Mount Suribachi, an extinct volcano that dominates the ocean around it and forms the island’s short southern edge, rises 550 feet. Most of the other Pacific islands that the Japanese had occupied in 1941 and 1942 had been regained by U.S. soldiers. As a result, Iwo Jima became a top priority in American preparations to bring the Pacific campaign to a triumphant finish in 1945.
After an ineffectual 72-hour bombardment, the 4th and 5th Marine Divisions landed on Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945.
Mount Suribachi was assigned to the 28th Regiment of the 5th Division. They arrived at the mountain’s base on February 21 in the afternoon and had almost wholly encircled it by dark the next day.
On February 23, Marines from Company E, 2nd Battalion, began the arduous ascent to the summit. Men all across the island were ecstatic to see a small American flag fluttering from Mount Suribachi at 10:30 a.m. A second, enormous flag was raised in the same spot when the slopes were clear of German opposition later that afternoon.