Major Landmarks


  • About this Collection

    Some buildings and structures are famous from the moment they are built, and become known worldwide as symbols of a particular place or time.

    Many of these buildings, such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the Alhambra in Granada, and the Athenian Acropolis have been carefully documented and illustrated in grand, beautifully produced books.

    Rome’s Colosseum and Pantheon have inspired and influenced architects, artists, and writers for many centuries, while skyscrapers such as the Woolworth and Chrysler Buildings in New York amazed the world in the early 20th century.

  • The Colosseum in Rome as it appeared in 1791

    The Colosseum in Rome as it appeared in 1791.

    This image is from a lovely compendium of delicately tinted aquatints produced by J. Merigot in 1791. Entitled The Ruins of Rome, it depicts ancient Roman structures as seen by travelers on the Grand Tour.

  • Chrysler Building in New York City drawn by Hugh Ferriss

    Hugh Ferriss' rendition of the Chrysler Building in New York, one of the icons of skyscraper Art Deco architecture. Construction of the building was not yet completed, as indicated by the scaffolding and construction cranes visible at the top. This building overtook the Woolworth Building as the world's tallest when it was completed in 1930, but relinquished that crown four months later to the Empire State Building.

    Image from The Metropolis of Tomorrow, Ferriss' atmospheric and visionary book of 1929.

  • Cross section of St. Paul's Cathedral in London

    Cross section looking east of St. Paul's Cathedral in London, delineated in Arthur F. E. Poley's book on the cathedral published in 1927.

  • In December, 1888, the Eiffel Tower was almost completed

    Photograph taken on December 26, 1888, showing the progress of construction. 

  • Night view of the Woolworth Building in New York City

    Photograph from a promotional booklet published in 1918 by the Woolworth company. Besides being its headquarters, the company hoped to attract tenants and customers by showcasing the building's up-to-date amenities and beauty.

    Architect Cass Gilbert (1859 - 1934) designed the Woolworth Building in New York City, completed in 1913. It was famous as the tallest building in the world until the Chrysler building came along in 1930. He used the relatively new form of skyscraper, but embellished it with gothic ornamentation, hence its nickname 'The Cathedral of Commerce'.

    Gilbert's work is known to St. Louisans through his designs for the St. Louis Art Museum and the St. Louis Public Library's downtown central library. Today he is probably best known for designing the Supreme Court of the United States building in Washington, DC.

  • Portico of the Parthenon from The Antiquities of Athens

    James Stuart and Nicholas Revett's meticulously researched and executed elevation drawing of the original appearance of the Parthenon. 

    Image from volume one of their The Antiquities of Athens of 1762. 

  • Side elevation of the Erechtheion on the Athenian Acropolis

    Side elevation of the Erechtheion, a small temple on the acropolis comprising several shrines to Athenian heroes and gods. At the left the Caryatid porch can be seen.

    Illustration from Stuart and Revett's The Antiquities of Athens of 1762.

  • The actual colors of the Alhambra as they appeared in the 1830s

    Owen Jones (1809 - 1874) , though a professional architect, is best remembered today as an influential recorder and originator of design patterns.  After his apprenticeship in London,  he made the Grand Tour of Europe and the Middle East, recording his travels in watercolor.  In 1834 he visited Spain, where he was captivated by the Alhambra, the citadel and palace of the rulers of Moorish Spain, built in the 13th and 14th centuries in Granada.  Along with his friend Jules Goury, he surveyed the palace and documented its many intricate Moorish decorations.  This resulted in the publication of Plans, Elevations, Sections and Details of the Alhambra in 1842.  Jones could not find a printer skilled or advanced enough to produce the sumptious publication to his high standards, so he tackled the project himself.  These volumes are considered to be the earliest British examples of a fine chromolithographic publication. 

    The explanatory text for this image declares, 'an attempt has been made to render the effect which the ornaments produce at the present day, with their colours partly effaced.'  Many of the other plates are Jones' educated guesses as to the original appearance of the designs. 

    Jones became so prominent a designer that he was appointed Superintendent of the Works for London's Great Exhibition in 1851, and subsequently designed historically themed rooms for the Crystal Palace when it was moved in 1854. 

  • The obelisk cradled in a double tower of massive timbers, ready to be raised in St. Peter's Square

    Image from Carlo Fontana's Templum Vaticanum of 1694.  A massive volume, it was printed in Latin and Italian to appeal to an international audience. In it, he covered the history of St. Peter's.

    He also described and illustrated his distant relative Domenico's great achievement, in 1586, of moving an Egyptian obelisk to a place of prominence in the then-new St. Peter's Square of Bernini.

    This obelisk stood in the center of Nero's Circus in ancient Rome, and by the 16th century was at the side of St. Peter's basilica in the Vatican. A succession of Popes had considered various proposals for moving it into a place of prominence in front of the church, until at last Pope Sixtus V commissioned the move in 1585. The proposal of Domenico Fontana, a distant relative of Carlo, was accepted.

    This massive logistical and engineering project took a year to complete, from groundbreaking to final removal of all scaffolding. On the day of the actual raising of the obelisk at its new site, a large crowd of spectators was cordoned off around the work area and warned to be silent on pain of death while bells and trumpets signalled the complex maneuvers of over 800 men and 140 horses.

    Pictured here is the obelisk cradled in a double tower of massive timbers, ready to be raised and secured with countless ropes, windlasses, pulleys, and capstans.

  • The Pantheon in 1791, bearing two Baroque bell towers that had been added in the mid-17th century

    In 1791, the Pantheon still bore two Baroque  bell towers that were added to it in the mid-17th century.  These were removed in 1883.

    This image is from a lovely compendium of delicately tinted aquatints produced by J. Merigot in 1791.  Entitled The Ruins of Rome, it depicts ancient Roman structures as seen by travelers on the Grand Tour.

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