The 100 Most Endangered Monuments in the World
November 7, 2002 2:15 PM   Subscribe

A few faves:

The 19th-century palaces at Tarim in Yemen, "among the most intricate and technologically sophisticated mud-brick structures in the world"
Peru's 4600-year-old city of Caral, where "a collection of 32 flutes fashioned out of condor and pelican wing bones" was found
Constantin Brancusi's dazzling Endless Column, installed in Romania in 1937-8
posted by mediareport at 2:23 PM on November 7, 2002

Miscellaneous endangered psuedo things. These items are carelessly being destroyed by "scientific evidence", "facts", "fears" and "progress". Act now to preserve them forever:
the face on Mars, fake moon landing, hoaxes in general, freedom, fair use
Ponies that like Pancakes. Hurry before all is lost!
posted by blue_beetle at 2:45 PM on November 7, 2002

This is a neat link, mediareport. I immediately looked for and found one of my own favorites, the city of Petra in Jordan. There are lots of places I'd like to see, but Petra is very high on my list. My father was there for a day or so and was awed by it, and he's not easily awed.

Google image search on Petra, for those so inclined. Just magnificent.
posted by swerve at 3:04 PM on November 7, 2002

So many, so undisputedly worth keeping - shocking! Just one sad case among many, probably a victim of shifting borders: the Alvar Aalto Library in Vyborg, Russia.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2002

Very interesting web site, Mediareport, with lots to think about. For example, I enjoyed tracking the money -- where the grants come from and where they are being applied.

There is also some question in my mind as to the worthiness of some of these sites. should the Greenock Sugar Warehouses be saved by hard-to-come-by donations and grants? Wouldn't it be better if somebody in private industry could take them over, renovate them, and open them up as tea shops and art galleries? As it is they are described as " a blight on the waterfront."

And what about all these masterpieces of early modern architecture? Don't we have enough of this preserved already?

Finally, poor old San Juan Capistrano. After two hundred years of earthquakes, she is a fragile ruin. Unless the Catholic church wants to ante up, maybe it would be best to raze the church to the ground and just keep the lovely gardens as a monument.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:11 PM on November 7, 2002

(somewhat tangentially) This reminded me of the buried monuments made by Jochen Gerz.
posted by richardm at 3:17 PM on November 7, 2002

They could have saved space by saying:
Iraq: Pretty much the wh0ole damn country.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:29 PM on November 7, 2002

The early history is pretty interesting, too, Miguel (Thor Heyerdahl was involved in its first Easter Island efforts). I think their work shows them to be a practical, hands-on organization not given to silly alarms about, oh, say, the surface of Mars. (where the hell did *that* come from?)

Secret Life of Gravy, I had the same reaction you did to a few of the sites, but figured I'd chalk it up to taste, so long as we get to save riveting stuff like the Bahamas' Whylly Plantation. Still, having just read about those sugar warehouses and thought about the tobacco warehouses a few miles up the road from me in Durham, I'll vote to save those, too. They seem like valuable bits of history.
posted by mediareport at 3:36 PM on November 7, 2002

Despite undeniable charm, Greenock Sugar warehouses don't sit comfortably in the list, do they?
posted by nthdegx at 3:41 PM on November 7, 2002

A potential candidate for the list, if it really exists: Bamiyan's third Buddha statue.
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on November 7, 2002

I think their work shows them to be a practical, hands-on organization not given to silly alarms

That's my firm impression too, mediareport - and good on them. They're certainly very respected here in Portugal, I'd say as much as the UNESCO World Heritage List. This is because they turn down the great majority of applications - but only after taking the time to have each proposal checked by experts; mostly local.

Thanks for the early history prompt - I have a congenital anti-historical bias, arising from my training in philosophy but, every time I'm tempted, I'm rewarded. Guess those professors knew the power of what they were warning me against. ;)

P.S. And for the great post - but you knew that already. I put it up, with plep's Donald Hall postage stamp and y2karl's Collected Yeats recent offerings, as an outstanding example of the single-link; single-descriptor post. (Technically, the list of favourites is not, imo, a "More Inside".)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 3:52 PM on November 7, 2002

Despite undeniable charm, Greenock Sugar warehouses don't sit comfortably in the list, do they?

I dunno, nthdegx. I'm a great sucker for undeniable charm and I think the selection procedure shouldn't just focus on the obviously monumental. That said, doesn't monument mean (I can't be bothered to look it up) anything that reminds one of something deemed important? So it could be something apparently unassuming and ugly. I tend to blindly trust that the warehouses must be important beyond the general "industrial archaeology" frame.

I was reminded of the controversy surrounding the recent acquisition by the UK's National Trust of The house Paul McCartney was born in. Though I see they charge £6 for admission...
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:05 PM on November 7, 2002

Oop, Secret Life of Gravy, looks like I blurred your points about the warehouses and modern architecture sites. Yes, private folks restoring the facades and renting the warehouses out seems like a fine solution (if you have preservation groups working with a landlord who cares about history, of course). That's what's happening in downtown Durham, actually; beautiful brick tobacco warehouses are becoming lofts and stores that the city hopes will anchor a revival.

Greenock Sugar warehouses don't sit comfortably in the list, do they?

[laughs] I guess I'm the only one who thinks those damn sugar warehouses sound fascinating. "Vast cast-iron windows...a rare, early example of structural cast iron externally expressed..." A few years back, I did a walking tour of NYC that included SoHo's cast-iron building district; it was pretty stunning.

On preview, what Miguel said. And the site does mention that the Greenock warehouses were innovative structures that served as "secular monuments to industry."
posted by mediareport at 4:12 PM on November 7, 2002

Only tangentially related, but I wish someone would rebuild a modern day Colossus of Rhodes, perhaps astride the SF Bay, or in Baltimore, bridging Fell's Point and the Inner Harbor. Why doesn't any one build cool huge statues any more?
posted by jonson at 4:13 PM on November 7, 2002

Hopefully the Russians will get their act together, and not only for the monument's sake. Vyborg was Finland's second largest city before WWII and there are a lot of other functionalistic buildings there. It is remarkable that they survived through the last 60 years.
posted by lazy-ville at 4:18 PM on November 7, 2002

Wow, lazy-ville, that site's got so much great info and so many neat images it's worthy of a front-page post itself. Thanks for introducing me to that. My dilletante's education in architecture is crawling along nicely. :)
posted by mediareport at 5:09 PM on November 7, 2002

Er, so's my dilettante's education in spelling.
posted by mediareport at 5:13 PM on November 7, 2002

beautiful brick tobacco warehouses are becoming lofts and stores that the city hopes will anchor a revival.

Yes, I've seen them, and they are very striking.

I'm wondering how much should be saved using non-profit funding. Is there a saturation point where too many old monuments become an albatross around the neck of a vibrant city?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:21 PM on November 7, 2002

From lazy-ville's marvellous link: photographs of Alvar Aalto's amazing Paimio Sanatorium. Sort of makes the reactionary in me wish there'd be a two year moratorium on new buildings so that some of these could be restored, rebuilt or just downright copied.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:26 PM on November 7, 2002

Architecture is indeed highly subjective, because that building Miguel linked to reminds me of your average ugly 1960's-era American condominium. But hey, I like Sant'Elia / Ferriss style futurism, and I think I'm probably alone as far as that's concerned.
posted by Kevs at 5:41 PM on November 7, 2002

Kevs: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially when talking about Paimio Sanatorium. Definitely an opinion-splitter. The Viipuri functionalism page was found using this incredible method. Still, maybe I should've put that on the frontpage insted of this poorly camouflaged newsfilter post which I am however pervertedly proud of since it has neither been deleted nor commented on.
posted by lazy-ville at 5:56 PM on November 7, 2002

Hey, that was a good post too! ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:25 PM on November 7, 2002

Seems odd to me that the Statue of Liberty is considered endangered, according to this report. The idea that dam construction will destroy it seems a bit farfetched.

But in general New York is hardly the place to have a monument of any kind. All sorts of new apartment buildings are going up in my dear old Greenwich Village.

The Italian ones are really sad. Venice, for example, is in serious danger, and thus far efforts to save it have only led to further problems. And they're right to include the centro storico of Naples and other cities there. They're in big trouble.
posted by lackutrol at 11:16 PM on November 7, 2002

lackutrol, I don't see the Statue of Liberty on the WMF list at all. I see the buildings on Ellis Island listed on the older, 1996-2000 list. Can you help me find what you're referring to?
posted by mediareport at 11:25 PM on November 7, 2002

Believe me, I get the appeal of the Greenock Sugar warehouses - it just struck me as an odd choice for top 100 in the world - but then I guess these are the most endagered monuments, and not the grandest most worthy monuments. After all, no one is seeking to demolish Stone Henge. I... don't... think.
posted by nthdegx at 11:47 PM on November 7, 2002

What a great post (and thread)!
posted by hama7 at 2:17 AM on November 8, 2002

Just the fact that in five minutes I learned that China had a Jewish tradition for 13 centuries and a Christian tradition from the 7th century makes this site utterly fantastic -- everything else is icing on the cake.

Secret Life Of Gravy: I would say that we have more than enough Georgian/Baroque/Neo-Classical buildings saved and that we should be saving the Early Modern because they're usually the first to go when Mr. & Mrs. Nouveau Millionaires decide that their faux Neo-Classical mansion should go there.

Of course, I'm kinda biased, since my father lives in a 1920s Southern Californian Spanish-style bungalow -- one of the few left in the area since most of them were renovated into your standard WWII boom suburban tract housing. We can't afford to have it listed, but there's an apartment building in the same general area that's a few years younger and it's listed... For me, it's not about the age, it's about the rarity...
posted by Katemonkey at 3:01 AM on November 8, 2002

nthdegx: Believe it or not, it almost happened during WWI! From a history of Stonehenge (here's the original pdf file): "In the Great War, the Air Ministry wanted to demolish Stonehenge much to the dismay of many dedicated researchers. The reason given is that its height poses a threat to the low-flying aircrafts. Luckily, there were some wiser counsels around and they prevailed."

And the idea has cropped up more recently, though less seriously. From the Mu Mu site: "We also have sketchy plans to demolish Stonehenge for the Millennium via K2 Plan Hire." But I guess they didn't get around to it.
posted by languagehat at 8:37 AM on November 8, 2002

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