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Lincoln Memorial: The Latest Architecture and News

Status, Statues, and Statutes: The Issue With Monuments to Flawed Men

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Monuments, as Alois Riegl pointed out a century ago, are aids to memory. “In memoriam,” the carvings cry out. Though they are almost always tainted with political ideologies and social values, they can stand on their own as works of art, absorbing meanings over millennia. Many that we continue to treasure were once associated with events and practices antithetical to modern mores and taboos: Greek temples were founded on the altars of animal—and, earlier, human—sacrifice; the pyramids were made by slaves; market crosses may have served as flogging posts. There really are no innocent human artifacts dedicated to remembering human acts, as fact or fiction.

The Arc de Triomphe as an Elephant?! These Illustrations Reveal What Famous Monuments Could Have Been

A city’s monuments are integral parts of its metropolitan identity. They stand proud and tall and are often the subject of a few of your vacation photos. It is their form and design which makes them instantly recognizable, but what if their design had turned out differently?

Paris’ iconic and stunning Arc de Triomphe could have been a giant elephant, large enough to hold banquets and balls, and the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. could have featured an impressive pyramid.

GoCompare has compiled and illustrated a series of rejected designs for monuments and placed them in a modern context to commemorate what could have been. Here are a few of our favorites: