April 15, 2002
1:11 PM   Subscribe

Nearly everyone is familiar with the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Now Swiss adventurer Bernard Weber wants us to think about the new seven wonders - the wonders of the modern world. His website, new7wonders.org, allows you to peruse a list of around two dozen "modern wonders" ("modern" being a relative term - most date back hundreds or thousands of years) and vote on your seven favorites. Even if you don't vote, this is a great way to learn about astonishing places (like the old city of Sana'a in Yemen or Machu Picchu in Peru) that you might not have otherwise heard of.
Note: I found this site via a recent New York Times article about the efforts to rebuild and restore Taliban-destroyed cultural artifacts in Afghanistan. Apparently Mr Weber is also backing a plan to rebuild the Bamiyan Buddhas.
posted by anastasiav (20 comments total)
Sounds like a great way to harvest e-mail addresses to me.
posted by ebarker at 1:36 PM on April 15, 2002

This is too cool. Anybody else think that the selections that date withing the last couple hundred years are a couple orders of magnitude less impressive than the really really old ones? The Empire State Building vs. Angkor Wat? Hm.

How do we rate these, anyhow? The Sidney Opera House was an architectural breakthrough, but the Colosseum was a triumph of human labor. Hell, even the Empire State Building was wondrous in its time, both aesthetically and as a symbol of American workmanship and tenacity. But will we still look at it centuries down the line and go "wow!" like we do with say, the Great Pyramid? Staying power seems to be the biggest criterion here; it just seems too soon to be able to reasonably judge humankind's most recent accomplishments.

Blinking text! Typography run amok! Eek!
posted by andnbsp at 1:49 PM on April 15, 2002

All snarkyness aside, you cannot vote for the Statue of Liberty.

Because as we all know, it will be found in ruins on a beach in the future.

By Charlton Heston.
posted by ebarker at 1:57 PM on April 15, 2002

Is the Whopper not one of the wonders of the modern world? What about Velcro?
posted by uftheory at 2:22 PM on April 15, 2002

Hmm. Let's see. The second highest number of voters are from Mexico? (following Peru??)

And the monument with the second-highest number of votes is Chichen Itza? (which is in Mexico, fyi)

This smacks of provincialism already. C'mon everybody! Promote your home country by voting for its monuments!
posted by vacapinta at 2:41 PM on April 15, 2002

I wondered about the Peru thing too. But then I wondered what kind of Peruvian bias there could possibly be on a thing like this and that calmed me down a lot. Now I just can't remember what I voted for so I'm hoping they do a Seven Wonders of the World 2003 so I can have another go. I do think the pyramids are cool enough to get another go though, if only for longevity.
posted by vbfg at 3:03 PM on April 15, 2002

All snarkyness aside, you cannot vote for the Statue of Liberty.

Because as we all know, it will be found in ruins on a beach in the future.

By Charlton Heston.

Good point. Also it was made by the French. That's another good reason.
posted by Summer at 3:18 PM on April 15, 2002

I didn't see the Millenium Dome in the list. very odd...
posted by selton at 3:57 PM on April 15, 2002

Nice post! I wonder if the criteria should be historical value or engineering feat, or like the pyramids it should have high value in both areas? While something like the Grand Coulee dam or the G. Gate bridge were major feats at the time, they have been surpassed in sheer size many times. Machu Picchu, Ankhor Wat, Easter Island, Petra, Timbuktu,
Taj Mahal and the Great Wall get my vote.
posted by Mack Twain at 4:18 PM on April 15, 2002

Weren't the Taj and the Great Wall already two of the modern seven wonders of the world?
posted by riffola at 4:27 PM on April 15, 2002

If we lived in a slightly different alternate universe, I might have suggested the twin World Trade Center Towers... but, we aren't.
posted by kokogiak at 4:50 PM on April 15, 2002

here's another list of the "new" wonders of the world
posted by jmd82 at 4:51 PM on April 15, 2002

I got a chain mail about this from some Chilean friends who were trying to bump up Easter Island. My response to them was "who gives a fuck?".

I remain un-impressed. What sort of validity or resonance will this have?
posted by signal at 5:17 PM on April 15, 2002

That was interesting. Thanks, anastasiav. Of course the mother of all these lists is the Unesco World Heritage list, which actually protects and contributes towards the places it chooses.

My dream holiday, not at all impractical, would be to visit all these sites from A to Z. :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:25 PM on April 15, 2002

I'd say the birth control pill and the transistor both need to be on some list of modern world wonders.

Slightly more on topic: the May 2002 issue of National Geographic (arrived today - the online link, though, is as of now still to the April issue about the green-eyed Afghani woman) has a nice map insert on Machu Picchu, which may only boost its stats once Americans are made aware of it too.
posted by yhbc at 6:22 PM on April 15, 2002

Since when is the leaning tower of Pisa a wonder?? There are taller towers all over Italy which don't lean. Sydney Opera house? I'd say the Opera is Paris or La Scala is more impressive. Or precolonial Mexico City.

I get a bad feeling about this site. The typography..the tone....the lack of a good reason to do this other than to harvest email addresses.

And puh-leaze we all know that all of the non-european "wonders" were built by mythical god-giants from another planets for use as intergalactic beacons.
posted by Settle at 7:14 PM on April 15, 2002

Also, unless I am sadly mistaken, the statue of Zeus on the Ancient list was built in the temple of Zeus at Olympia (the primary classical site for the worship of Zeus), not in the Parthenon. The Parthenon A. being in *Athens*, and B. containing a famous (now disappeared) statue of *Athena*. So uh someone didn't do quite enough homework.
posted by Pyth at 9:25 PM on April 15, 2002

Since when is the leaning tower of Pisa a wonder??

If we can nominate large, historical leaning buildings, I nominate Mexico City's Basilica de la Virgen de Guadalupe!
posted by vacapinta at 12:05 AM on April 16, 2002

So uh someone didn't do quite enough homework.

< letterman>
Yes, pyth....
*rubs chin, stares upward and left*
It seems like only yesterday...
*slow dissolve*...
< /letterman>
posted by y2karl at 2:29 AM on April 16, 2002

*votes for enormous studio which houses Truman, which, other than the Great Wall of China, is the only man-made structure visible from space*
posted by j.edwards at 3:36 AM on April 16, 2002

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