Famous Landmarks Like You’ve Never Seen Them Before — Unfinished

Published June 27, 2017
Updated April 22, 2019

Rare photographs of the world's most famous landmarks when they were still under construction.

The Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Under Construction
Paris, France. 1888.Wikimedia Commons

The Empire State Building

Empire State Building Construction
New York, New York. 1930.Wikimedia Commons

The Empire State Building

Empire State Building Girder
New York, New York. 1930.Wikimedia Commons

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore Plan
Sculptor Gutzon Borglum's model of Mount Rushmore.

Location unspecified. Circa 1936.
Library of Congress

Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore Being Built
Keystone, South Dakota. 1932.Wikimedia Commons

The Statue of Liberty

Face People In Front
The statue's unboxed head not long after its arrival in America.

New York, New York. 1885.
Wikimedia Commons

The Statue of Liberty

Liberty Being Built
Paris, France. 1883.Wikimedia Commons

The Statue of Liberty

Statue Of Liberty Skeleton
Paris, France. 1883.Wikimedia Commons

The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall Construction Workers
Berlin, Germany. 1961.Wikimedia Commons

The Berlin Wall

Berlin Wall Soviet Tanks
Tanks stand guard while the wall is completed.

Berlin, Germany. 1961.
Wikimedia Commons

Times Square

One Times Square Construction
One Times Square, the former headquarters of The New York Times.

New York, New York. 1903.
Wikimedia Commons


Disneyland Sleeping Beauty
Walt Disney watches the construction of The Sleeping Beauty Castle.

Anaheim, California. 1955.
Tom Simpson/Flickr


Neuschwanstein Construction
Neuschwanstein, the German castle that inspired the homes of Disney princesses.

Hohenschwangau, Germany. 1886.
Wikimedia Commons


Neuschwanstein Under Construction
Hohenschwangau, Germany. 1886.Wikimedia Commons

The Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge Being Built
New York, New York. Circa 1872-1883.Wikimedia Commons

Christ the Redeemer

Christ The Redeemer
Rio de Janiero, Brazil. Circa 1930-1931.RV1864/Flickr

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam Form
Boulder City, Nevada. 1932.Wikimedia Commons

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam Construction
Boulder City, Nevada. 1932.Wikimedia Commons

The Louvre Pyramid

Louvre Pyramid Wireframe
The wireframe that will become the Louvre Pyramid.

Paris, France. 1985.
Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Capitol Building

Us Capitol Building Workers
Washington, D.C. 1857.The U.S. National Archives

The Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial Building
Washington, D.C. 1920.Wikimedia Commons

The Sydney Opera House

Famous Landmarks Opera House
Sydney, Australia. 1966.Wikimedia Commons

The Sydney Opera House

Famous Landmarks Sydney
Sydney, Australia. 1968.Wikimedia Commons

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge Under Construction
London, England. 1892.Wikimedia Commons

Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge Nearing Completion
London, England. 1892.Wikimedia Commons

The Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge Construction
San Francisco, California. 1933.Wikimedia Commons

The World Trade Center

World Trade Center
New York, New York. 1971.Wikimedia Commons

The Burj Khalifa

Burj Khalifa Dubai Construction
Dubai, United Arab Emirates. 2008.Wikimedia Commons

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Harbour Bridge Construction
Sydney, Australia. 1932.Wikimedia Commons

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Habour Bridge Joint
Sydney, Australia. 1932.Wikimedia Commons

The Freedom Tower

Freedom Tower Construction
New York, New York. 2011.Wikimedia Commons

There are some landmarks that it’s hard to imagine the world without. These are buildings and monuments so iconic that, today, it's easier to think of them as an eternal part of our world rather than anything that was made by mere human beings.

There was a time, though, when these famous landmarks were nothing more than an idea in their creators' minds, nothing more than plans and scaffolds created by people who had no way of knowing whether their work would last forever or whether it would be forgotten tomorrow.

After the plans were set, then came construction, which called for strength, creativity, and incredibly hard work. Teams of workers climbed up scaffolding and girders hundreds, if not thousands, of feet into the air, putting together what would soon become the Empire State Building or Mount Rushmore.

Aside from their construction alone, some of these famous landmarks went through incredible journeys. The Statue of Liberty was built in Paris, where its head was put on exhibition as a work of art on its own before making the long journey across the ocean to America. Other landmarks saw horrible tragedies, like the Hoover Dam, the perilous construction of which took the lives of more than 100 workers.

Here, in tribute to the architects and laborers who created the famous landmarks that would be permanently etched onto the face of the world, are some incredible photographs of these landmarks under construction. These photos provide a glimpse of these landmarks as they once were, before completion; when human mind and muscle were put to the task of creating something that would far outlive the people who made it.

Next, check out some fascinating Eiffel Tower facts and see the famous landmark under construction. Then, have a look at the abandoned communist monuments of the USSR.

Mark Oliver
Mark Oliver is a writer, teacher, and father whose work has appeared on The Onion's StarWipe, Yahoo, and Cracked, and can be found on his website.