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 The Seven Wonders of The Modern World

 1. The Empire State Building, New York City
Construction of the Empire State Building began in March of 1930 on the site of the old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel at 350 Fifth Avenue at 34th Street. It was completed 14 months later in May, 1931. Designed by the architectural firm of Shreve, Lamb, & Harmon Associates, the Empire State Building, at 102 stories, was the tallest building in the world until the completion of the first tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan in 1972.

350 Fifth Avenue, between 33rd and 34th Streets, New York, NY 10001


Architects: Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates.
Builders: Starrett Brothers & Eken, Inc.

Height: 1,472 feet (448 meters) to top of antennae. 1,250 feet (391 meters) to 102nd floor observatory. 1,050 feet (320 meters) to 86th floor observatory.
Volume: 37 million cubic feet.

Area of Site: 83,860 square feet.

Cost including land: $40,948,900. (451,173,508 in today's money)

Cost of building alone: $24,718,000 (272,342,000 in today's money)

Construction schedule:
Excavation: Begun January 22, 1930, before demolition of old Waldorf-Astoria Hotel completed.
Construction: Begun March 17, 1930. Framework rose at the rate of 4.5 stories per week.
Cornerstone: Laid by Alfred E. Smith, former governor of New York, September 17, 1930.

Masonry completed: November 13, 1930.

Official opening: May 1, 1931, by President Herbert Hoover, who pressed a button in Washington, D.C. to turn on the building's lights.

Total time: 7 million man hours, 1 year and 45 days work, including Sundays and holidays.

Work Force: 3,400 during peak periods.

Building Materials:
Exterior: Indiana limestone and granite, trimmed with aluminum and chrome-nickel steel from the 6th floor to the top.
Interior lobby: Ceiling high marble, imported from France, Italy, Belgium and Germany.

 2. The Itaipu Dam, Paraná River
The Itaipú hydroelectric power plant is the largest development of its kind in operation in the world. Built from 1975 to 1991, in a binational development on the Paraná River, Itaipú represents the efforts and accomplishments of two neighboring countries, Brazil and Paraguay. The power plant's 18 generating units add up to a total production capacity of 12,600 MW (megawatts) and a reliable output of 75 million MWh a year. Itaipú's energy production has broken several records over the recent years, after the last generating unit was commissioned in 1991. The generation of 77.212.396 MWh a year in 1995 will again be surpassed in 1996, and the new record will be around the 80 million MWh a year mark.

The magnitude of the project can also be demonstrated by the fact that in 1995 Itaipú alone responded for 25% of the energy supply in Brazil and 78% in Paraguay. The power plant is also a major tourism attraction in the Foz do Iguaçú area, having received around 9 million visitors from 162 countries. The Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu, also home of the famous Iguaçú Falls, is located at the Western tip of Paraná State, right by the border with Paraguay and Argentina.

 General Outline of the Project
The Itaipú hydroelectric power plant, located 14 kilometers North of the International Bridge linking the cities of Foz do Iguaçú, Brazil, and Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, consists of a series of various types of dams a total distance of 7,744 meters with a crest elevation of 225 meters. The Powerhouse is located at the toe of the main Dam, most of it on the river bed and the rest on the Diversion Channel. The nominal power of the plant is 12,600 MW, divided between 18 generating units of 700 MW each, 15 of which are located in the main Powerhouse and the remaining three on the Diversion Channel. The Spillway is located on the right bank, and it has 14 segmented sluice-gates with a total discharge rate of 62,200 cubic meters per second (twice that of the highest flood- level on record). The Concrete Main Dam is of the hollow gravity type and is connected to the Spillway by a concrete buttress-type Wing Dam which continues thereon as a small Cardhfill dike. On the left bank a Rockfill Dam is linked to the Main Dam and at the other end to an Earthfill Dam. In order to build the main dam wall and the Powerhouse, the river was diverted through a Diversion Channel on the left bank.

The volumes of construction in Itaipú are also impressive. The volume of iron and steel utilized in the Dam structure would be enough to build 380 Eiffel Towers, and the volume of concrete used in Itaipú represents 15 times the volume utilized to build the Channel Tunnel between France and England. Itaipú is one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, according to a worldwide survey conducted by the American Society of civil Engineers (ASCE).To build the Itaipú Dam, workers reenacted a labor of Hercules: they shifted the course of the seventh biggest river in the world (Paraná River, at the Brazil/Paraguay border) and removed more than 50 million tons of earth and rock. The true marvel of Itaipú, though, is its powerhouse ... a single building that puts out 12,600 megawatts -- enough to power most of California".

 3. The CN Tower, Toronto
It is fitting that television, the technological wonder that profoundly changed life in the 20th century, spurred the building of the era's tallest freestanding structure. In the late 1960's, Toronto's soaring skyline began to play havoc with signals from conventional transmission towers. Signals bouncing off the city's skyscrapers produced a number of problems, including the annoying phenomenon of "ghosting" on television sets. Weaker signals competed with stronger ones, giving viewers the effects of watching two programs at once. To improve the situation, Canadian National Railways, or CN, proposed building a transmission tower that would stand head and shoulders - and then some - above Toronto's tallest buildings.

A Toronto firm prepared the initial design, enlisting the aid of engineering experts the world over. Their original plan showed three towers linked by structural bridges. Gradually the design evolved into a single 1,815.5-foot-tall tower comprised of three hollow "legs." Foundation work began in 1973. Giant backhoes excavated more than 62,000 tons of earth and shale to a depth of 50 feet from a along the shore of Lake Ontario in Toronto harbour. Next, prestressed concrete and reinforced steel were arranged in a Y-shaped pattern 22 feet thick. Each hollow leg of the Y would carry its fair share of the tower's 130,000-ton burden.

The foundation took only four months to complete. The tower itself presented a challenge of height never before met by the technique of poured concrete. To meet that challenge, engineers designed a huge mold known as a slip form. Concrete was poured 24 hours a day, five days a week, and as it hardened, the mold moved upward by means of a ring of hydraulic jacks. The ascending slip form gradually decreased in girth to give the tower its tapering shape. When the tower reached the 1,100-foot mark, the builders made preparations for the SkyPod, a seven-story structure housing two observation decks, a revolving restaurant, a nightclub, and broadcasting equipment. The SkyPod is anchored by 12 steel-and-wooden brackets that were slowly pushed up the tower by 45 hydraulic jacks. Concrete formed the SkyPod's "walls," and a doughnut-shaped ring, called a radome, was added to its base to protect the delicate microwave dishes receiving radio and television transmissions. The SkyPod is reached by four high-speed, glass-fronted elevators whose rapid rise simulates a jetliner's takeoff, unless weather conditions call for a much slower ascent.

The concrete tower continues above the SkyPod, ending at the Space Deck 1,465 feet up. The Space Deck receives support from cantilevers extending out of the concrete section beneath it. After a 58-second elevator ride from the SkyPod below, visitors can enjoy breathtaking vistas from a glass-enclosed balcony. On a clear day they might be able to glimpse sites 75 miles away. For the last phase of construction, a Sikorsky Skycrane helicopter arrived to install the tower's 335-foot communications mast. One by one the helicopter lifted about 40 seven-ton sections of the mast to the top of the tower, where workers braved blustery March winds to receive them. When the sections were in place, they were secured by a total of 40,000 bolts. Afterward, the entire mast was covered by a fiberglass-reinforced sheathing to prevent icing.

Of interest to Torontonians since construction began, the CN tower gained additional fans with the arrival of the helicopter. Nicknamed Olga, its daily schedule was printed in newspapers, and changes were announced as breaking news on radio and television. With Olga, the mast assembly took a little longer than three weeks; without Olga, the job would have lasted six months. Completed in 1975, the tower had cost $57 million (236,216,000 in today's money) to build, a bargain compared with other modern wonders. It also boasted incredible statistics of precision and safety. During construction, surveyors' transits up to a thousand feet away focused on optical plumbs mounted on the slip-form base. The constant surveillance kept the structure an incredible 1.1 inches within plumb.

Engineers established a wind-tolerance standard for the tower of 260 miles an hour, a level well above nature's most extreme demands. Counterweights on the antenna correct for wobble in high winds. Because the tower is an easy target for lightning, copper grounding wires were installed. As a result, visitors can safely view some 75 spectacular strikes a year. The CN Tower is a work in progress. In recent years the tower gained two new elevators to accommodate an increase in visitors. To accomplish this, the 2,579-step metal staircase was moved to the interior of the structure. In addition, a glass floor was added to the SkyPod's observation deck. Brave visitors, the majority not surprisingly children, inch out over the visual void. More often than not the experience is pronounced, "Awesome!" Almost twice as tall as the Eiffel Tower and more than three times the height of the Washington Monument, the CN Tower has taken proud ownership of Toronto's skyline, while exorcising the ghosts from its TV sets.

 4. The Panama Canal, Panama
Among the great peaceful endeavors of mankind that have contributed significantly to progress in the world, the construction of the Canal stands as an awe-inspiring achievement. The unparalled engineering triumph was made possible by an international work force under the leadership of American visionaries, who made the centuries-old dream of uniting the two great oceans a reality. In 1534, Charles I of Spain ordered the first survey of a proposed canal route through the Isthmus of Panama. More than three centuries passed before the first construction was started. The French labored 20 years, beginning in 1880, but disease and financial problems defeated them.

In 1903, Panama and the United States signed a treaty by which the United States undertook to construct an inter-oceanic ship canal across the Isthmus of Panama. The following year, the United States purchased from the French Canal Company its rights and properties for $40 million and began construction. The monumental project was completed in ten years at a cost of about $387 million (7,192,727,272 in today's money).. Since 1903 the United States has invested about $3 billion in the Canal enterprise, approximately two-thirds of which has been recovered. The building of the Panama Canal involved three main problems -- engineering, sanitation, and organization. Its successful completion was due principally to the engineering and administrative skills of such men as John F. Stevens and Col. George W. Goethals, and to the solution of extensive health problems by Col. William C. Gorgas. The engineering problems involved digging through the Continental Divide; constructing the largest earth dam ever built up to that time; designing and building the most massive canal locks ever envisioned; constructing the largest gates ever swung; and solving environmental problems of enormous proportions.

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