Five Iconic Landmarks That Have Somehow Never Been Destroyed in Film

Trouble never truly arrives in a disaster flick until a recognizable landmark is ravaged. But for once, let’s leave the White House alone and try fictionally destroying these five iconic landmarks.

Every Friday, I’m compiling a list of five things that meet one criterion. “What is that criterion,” you ask? Well, it’s going to change every week and you’re just going to have to try and keep up.

This week…

Five Iconic Landmarks That Have Somehow Never Been Destroyed in Film

With the recent opening of the comically tall Burj Dubai Tower, you know disaster movie writers around the world suddenly stopped trying to think of even more methods by which to wreck the White House and/or the Hollywood sign and instead rushed to sell one-note scripts featuring “the destruction of that one giant landmark in Dubai — the one that nobody’s taken out, yet.

But why are they chasing this brand new brass ring when there is a perfectly good collection of never-been-destroyed-on-film iconic landmarks just sitting there, on the shelf?

5. The Gateway Arch

Admittedly, whatever we could think to do with the giant metal arch outside of St. Louis would probably yield more “symbolism of an overwhelming fictional invasion of the continental United States” than “serious blockbuster destruction” but still, the 45-year-old Gateway to the West needs to go down in a big bad way. If our attackers had any sense of humor, they would play giant-sized croquet on it with a boulder.

4. The Parthenon

This one is rather inexcusable – the thing’s already partly destroyed! Come on, malevolent forces! By reducing the meager scraps of the most important civilization in our world’s history to rubble, you would effectively shame us in a way we couldn’t imagine! No matter the fashion of destruction that befalls this giant Greek edifice, we are really asking for it.

3. Stonehenge

While this is another landmark (like the Arch) whose destruction wouldn’t be all that extended or visually impressive, the weight of seeing such a visually striking and powerful part of human history knocked down like a clumsy infant’s building blocks would be rather demoralizing, in my opinion.

Also: if you got all those rocks out of the way, then you’d have some pretty great English real estate on your hands. Think ahead, attacking alien forces – you could make some serious money if you play this right.

2. The Grand Canyon

Truthfully, I don’t really know how one would go about “destroying” a giant rock chasm but… I’d say one of the “Earth starts getting buckwild” Roland Emmerich pictures should have at least partially indulged us, by now. Maybe the Hoover Dam melts as a result of an ocean of lava erupting from beneath the Colorado River? And then the molten rock fills up the entire canyon and then cools and then the whole canyon is suddenly just desert? I don’t know; just spitballin’ here.

1. The Space Needle

I had to check and re-check several times to make sure that this was actually true. How is it that something that is both visually distinctive and the most definitive landmark in an entire region of the county has never been attacked by aliens or the Reds or an angry Mother Earth? I can’t believe or understand it.

It’s called THE SPACE NEEDLE. Why wouldn’t the inexplicably hostile extraterrestrials or scorned surviving Space Race Soviet sympathizers first fly to Seattle and send a very clear message about just who is in control of everything outside of Earth’s atmosphere? As penance for overlooking the Space Needle for so long, I think the Space Needle should now officially serve as the most important structure in all disaster and sci-fi movies — like the most coveted item in an intergalactic game of Capture The Flag.

Justin Brown is a writer and artist living in Virginia. He channels most of his mind's molten river of creativity into his blog Esteban Was Eaten!. For even more information about him, check out his website.

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  • Speezy

    Unfortunately, you got one wrong. Stonehenge has been destroyed in at least one movie. In National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Clark Griswold (as played by Chevy Chase) backs his car into one of the great monoliths, and the whole ring goes down like so many dominoes. So sorry to rain on your parade there, but I remember the scene quite well.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown

    I didn’t think accidental comedic destruction really qualified.

  • Kevin

    I don’t think putting the Grand Canyon is really legit since it isn’t man made. That’s like saying “Why hasn’t anyone destroyed the Himalayan Mountains?”

    Also, I think the reason the St. Louis Arch is never included is because it has about zero recognition outside of the U.S. People watching the movie in Europe would be like, “What’s that? Where is this happening?”

  • jcard21

    In the Men in Black movie, wasn’t The Space Needle actually an alien spaceship, and it took off/broke away?

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com Justin

    Kevin: I know the Grand Canyon isn’t man-made but it is a very visually distinct natural wonder that some disaster film should have utilized. As for the “un-recognizability” of the Arch, I don’t think that’s any excuse to leave it out there, unscathed. The US Bank Tower in Los Angeles is not world-famous at all yet that was the epicenter of the LA destruction in Independence Day.

    JCard: No, the alien spaceship in Men In Black was a part of the Unisphere Observatory Towers originally from the 1964 World’s Fair, in Queens, NY.

  • Jay Brune

    Due to the fact that you have 2 out of the 5 wrong, (previously commented on) this article can only be called a waste of time. Bickering about the validity of these inane observations would only waste valuable seconds. If someone paid you for this article, they should demand there money back. Somebody should destroy your article on film to scare future english majors into studying harder.

    • http://www.primermagazine.com Andrew

      Wow Jay, harsh. In any case, thanks for stopping by.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown

    Thanks for wasting some of your valuable seconds on Primer. We all appreciate it!

  • Jeff Barnett

    I think it’s interesting food for thought on why movies have chosen to destroy some landmarks and not others. Whether it has happened just once or not is somewhat irrelevant. The point is that the White House gets nuked every other summer in Hollywood yet I’ve never seen Stonehenge seriously dismantled. To get hung up on trivialities and launch personal attacks because of something like this shows some serious immaturity. We’re discussing movies, on an online magazine, on the internet. A penis measuring contest was never won or lost in such a forum.

  • http://estebanwaseaten.tumblr.com/ Justin Brown

    I suppose a verbatim repeated question begets a verbatim repeated answer: no, the alien spaceship in Men In Black was a part of the Unisphere Observatory Towers originally from the 1964 World’s Fair, in Queens, NY.

  • Dan Kappes

    You idiot! The Seattle Space Needle was destroyed in “Life After People” and “10.5″! The Gateway Arch was destroyed in “Category 6″, “Supernova”, and “The Black Hole”!

  • connorlangille1

    Parthenon was it ever destoryed