Even the most beautiful buildings don’t always stand the test of time. Sometimes they’re torn down due to mounting maintenance costs after falling into disrepair, and sometimes they will fall prey to natural disasters. It is why the US has a list of historical places and landmarks that must be preserved no matter what.
HomeAdvisor has chosen seven iconic US buildings and recreated them to show what they would look like today, as well as what’s actually standing (or not standing) in their place now.
Keep scrolling to see what some of these lost” buildings looked like.
Penn Station in New York City is a staple of the city — 650,000 people go through it daily. The original Pennsylvania Station was built in 1910, and looked like it was straight out of Rome with its columns and stonework.
Penn Station used to be a lot grander.
Now, it’s been moved entirely underground. The new Penn Station is a result of the astronomical costs of the original building’s upkeep — it was demolished in 1963.
It was such a travesty to New Yorkers to tear down Penn Station that it jump-started the historical preservation movement in the US. Just two years later, the Landmarks Preservation Commission was formed in New York City. And one year after that, the National Historic Preservation Act was signed into federal law.
The present-day Penn Station is completely underground. It sits underneath two skyscrapers and Madison Square Garden.
The Singer Building was built in 1908, and was at one point the tallest building in the world.
The Singer Building was doomed by its own iconic design – the architect behind it believed that buildings higher than 10 to 15 stories should be set back from the footpath. Thus, he built the Singer Building to have its first 12 floors take up an entire city block, but had it become a narrow tower at the top.
Once the Singer Manufacturing Company moved out in 1961, no one knew what was to become of the Singer Building. Its unusual floorplan made it unattractive to big companies.
It still holds a tallest building record — in 1968, it became the tallest building to be purposefully demolished. It’s now home to the 57-story One Liberty Plaza.
The building was sold to US Steel, who demolished it after a failed attempt to preserve the building’s original lobby, which was described as having a “celestial radiance.”
The building, now called One Liberty Plaza, is 743-feet-high, and has 54 floors.
Midway Gardens was built in 1914 by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. It was a “concert garden with space for year-round dining, drinking, and performances.”
Midway Gardens was huge – it took up two city blocks – and Wright designed the entire thing, right down to the napkin rings. It encompassed both the Summer and Winter Gardens, which were spaces for the public to congregate, and a band shell.
But sadly, the effects of both Prohibition and World War I combined were too much for Midway Gardens, and the structure was demolished in 1929.
Now, the space where Midway Gardens used to be is empty.
Now, the Midway Plaisance (known colloquially as Midway), is a giant park in the heart of Chicago – it’s still in use, but it’s hard not to think about what might have been.
Mark Hopkins, one of the founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, built himself a giant mansion in Nob Hill, one of San Francisco’s most affluent neighbourhoods. It was completed in 1878 — a few months after his death.
Hopkins started building a mansion for him and his wife in 1875. It took three years to complete – and he would pass away before its completion – but the enormous home was truly a sight to see.
It was located at the top of Nob Hill in San Francisco, close to the homes of the other three founders of the railroad.
Unfortunately, it burned down during the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. The InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco now stands in its place, which opened in 1926.
The InterContinental was, when it opened, was allegedly called “architecturally perfect, flawless in its erection, comprehensive in its accommodations… strikingly representative of the best there is in modern hostelry.” So, it’s not a total tragedy that it was built.
Birmingham Terminal Station was built in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1909, and was the city’s main train station.
Birmingham Terminal was the biggest train station in the Birmingham area, lit with a giant sign that welcomed travellers to Birmingham – “The Magic City.”
The Byzantine building featured a domed waiting room with a skylight with a 130-foot tower on either side.
The site is a tad bleak now — the station was demolished in 1969 after rail travel declined substantially.
The place where the station used to stand is now just an intersection of a few different highways. But the people of Alabama aren’t exactly over the loss of the Birmingham Terminal – it made the list of most beautiful buildings we’ve torn down.
The Beach Hotel was located on Galveston Island in Texas. The gorgeous hotel was built in 1882.
The hotel was designed by Nicholas J. Clayton, a prominent Texan architect at the time. It was considered the “finest and best regulated hotel on the coast” during its short existence in the 1800s.
The hotel was found to be dumping sewage into the Gulf of Mexico, and mysteriously burned down after only being open for 16 years in 1898.
A newspaper article at the time claimed that the hotel had been set on fire: “The hotel was set on fire,” said a witness, “I have no doubt whatever about it. They tried to set it on fire two weeks ago, but made a fizzle out of it.”
Why was it burned down? Perhaps because the hotel was found to be dumping their sewage into the Gulf of Mexico – and the city closed them down because of it.
Now, the former site of the hotel is just beach.
At one point in history, the Hippodrome was the largest theatre in the world, and the pride of New York City. It opened its doors for the first time in 1905.
The Hippodrome, described as “sort of an Eighth Wonder of the World” by the New York Times, was the grandest theatre New York City had ever seen – Harry Houdini performed there, and made an elephant disappear.
Although the theatre was successful, the production costs of the shows were astronomical. Plus, as time went on, people began going to the movies in place of watching a show at the Hippodrome.
It was torn down in 1939, just 34 years after it was built. The new property was built in 1952.
The new building was built in 1952. It was bought by Edison Properties in 1978, who redid the building, adding the iconic glass walls that are still part of the building today.
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