The most dangerous structures on earth

The abundance of hard news (really depressing stuff) has really scared me away from writing about anything important.  I’m not the type to publicly display my views on such controversial issues such as the Ferguson protests, the ruling in the choking case, or Kanye West’s daughter.  In lieu of some awesome insight on the happenings of today, I figured I would get my Pinterest on (or Cracked) and write a list of stuff.  Perhaps you may find this list helpful and even learn some things to one day reign supreme in a family game of Trivial Pursuit.

In this world, right now, you might not be surprised to know there are many man-made structures that are failing.  Not all are crumbling into pieces like the Sphinx or all those naked people at the Acropolis, but some exist for no other purpose than to provide terror and unrest.  Whether the potential threat of falling over looms heavy, or the engineers who designed the structure just kind of phoned it in that day at work, these five structures are places you probably won’t want to visit anytime soon.

Lichtenstein Castle – Germany

This Skyrim-esque masterpiece was erected back in 1200 by “The Masters of Lichtenstein”, a royal family from Reutlingen, (located in current day Germany) who sought to flaunt their awesome architectural prowess in the form of a mighty, precarious evil lair.  The castle was destroyed by the citizens of Reutlingen in the 1300’s during “The War of the Cities”, where the ruins of the once mighty castle sat for hundreds of years.  However, in 1837, Count Wilhelm of Wurttemberg decided he need a cozy hunting shack in the mountains, so he bought the property, and restored the grounds to the majestic work of medieval wonder you see there above.  Today, Lichtenstein Castle is open for tours, it holds an on grounds museum, and there’s even a photographer to take pictures of the kiddos while the feign horror as they are trapped in an Iron Maiden or threatened with the Pear of Anguish.

This castle sits several hundred feet above a tiny German town, perched ever so gently on the tip of a cliff.  The location of the cliff made for a great defense system, although apparently several hundred filthy, oppressed villagers were able to penetrate the castle’s defense, so maybe the architect was a distant relative of Harland and Wolff.  That’s a Titanic joke if you aren’t following.  Anyway, it should go without saying that an old, brick castle 500 years older than the United States that sits atop of steep, harrowing cliff might not be the safest place to take the family.

Ryugyong Hotel – North Korea

In 1987, the North Korean government was not happy.  You see, their rival, South Korea, had just completed the Weston Stamford Hotel in Singapore, which at the time was the tallest hotel in the world.  It’s kind of like when your neighbor gets a brand new lawnmower, so you feel compelled to get a new lawnmower to “compete” with this neighbor, even though no one is really paying attention.  Only instead of lawnmowers, we are talking about multi-million dollar real estate.  With no real plans in mind, North Korea’s leader presumably threw down blueprints written in crayon and told engineers “to built that”.  Construction began in 1987, going up until 1992 when suddenly everything halted.  In 1992, the fall of the Soviet Union meant North Korea was about to face some financial hardships.  At the time of the halt, North Korea had poured $750 million into this hotel, which was estimated to be 2% of their entire gross domestic product.  For perspective, this would be numerically equivalent to the United States building a $340 billion (yes, with a B) baseball stadium.  Construction finally resumed in 2008, when the outside of the hotel was completed, but no officially opening has been set.

The towering building, standing over 1000 feet tall, is currently the 49th tallest building in the world.  It’s also been a work in progress for 27 years.  The tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, took just under six years to build.  The Egyptian company that was hired to help build the hotel claimed “there aren’t too many problems with the hotel..”, which is possibly the most foreboding, ominous sentence possible in that scenario.

Mackinac Bridge – Michigan 

If anyone reading this isn’t a Great Lakes Region geography expert, you might be aware the great state of Michigan is split into two parts: the upper and lower peninsula.  The lower peninsula has all the cool stuff like Detroit, Flint, Ann Arbor, and …. actually I guess that’s it.  The upper peninsula contains nothing, expert a lot of cold air, weird accents, and a lot of angry people complaining about maps continuing to ignore them.  In 1957, the Mackinac Bridge was built to connect the upper and lower Michigan peninsulas, bringing harmonious joy to the grand state of Michigan.  The bridge is over five miles long and is one of the largest suspension bridges in the world.  It’s also one of the busiest, as over 11,000 cars travel over this bridge daily.

The bridge itself is considered safe as can be.  However, high winds, lack of visibility, and being 200 feet above a cold, watery death have been enough to scare drivers.  Although the bridge has been relatively free of any major accidents, the looming threat of a rogue wind gust or scared driver plunging over the guide rail have had a mental effect on drivers.  In fact, the bridge authority actually offers a service in which they will drive your car over the bridge for you if it’s determined you are too much of a sissy to cross the bridge yourself.  Fortunately, since 1957, only about a dozen suicides have occurred on the Mackinac Bridge, which is typically a slow month of the Golden Gate Bridge.  Speaking of which…

The Golden Gate Bridge – San Francisco

By the way, I was barely kidding about the total number of suicides which have occurred on this bridge.  The current total of people estimated to have committed suicide by jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge is suggested to be around 1600.  So, in addition to the bridge presumably being haunted, it also suffers from low visibility in the crippling Northern California fog.  The bridge is also know as “not the one that goes to Oakland”, so it’s pretty popular with motorists.  In fact, the popularity of the bridge coupled with the convenient toll booths at either side make for some pretty congested highways, so at least people get to enjoy the view.  You might also recognize the “San Andreas fault”, which is the 800 mile, growling fault line where tectonic plates shift underneath San Francisco like an awkward teenager trying to hold in a fart on his first movie date.  The bridge spans this fault, and although the bridge is “earthquake safe”, I’m pretty sure an 8.0 could disrupt one or two things.  At the very least someone will spill coffee on themselves during that God-awful commute.

I feel it’s also worth mentioning the potential of the bridge to be spectacularly destroyed at some point.  Hollywood has made it very clear that if Russians, aliens, mutants, or the Avengers ever show up, that bridge is doomed.  Just pray you called in sick the day Magneto comes in and moves the bridge over to Alcatraz.

Mosul Dam – Iraq

Another project that was completed just to satisfy some power hungry regime.  In the 80’s, Saddam Hussein was very much the opposite of Tupac in 1993, meaning he had little street cred, and also could not rhythm “Wild West” with “Elliott Ness”.  Needing to bolster his dictator resume, he figured the best way to complete this mighty task was by constructing a dam.  Why he felt this was the way to go is inconclusive, but you can’t argue with a dead man.  Anyway, Saddam, apparently in a hurry to get the show on the road, threw money at some company from Italy until his dam magically appeared on the Tigris River.  So the dam was built on top of a foundation of gypsum.  You aren’t a geologist, and neither am I, so trust me when I say experts claimed this was “probably not a great idea” (i paraphrased a bit) since water basically turns gypsum into chalk.  To counteract this not so great idea, the engineers installed a system that would continually grout leaking parts of the dam.  Since constantly plugging a leaking wall holding back millions of tons of water is sort of the literal definition of putting a band-aid on a hemorrhaging wound, engineers who don’t suck at their job have literally described the dam as “the most dangerous structure on earth.”

The main danger, other than the Tim the Tool man Taylor approach to long-term problem-solving, is the towns not far from the dam.  A US inspector in charge of determining just how awful this dam has claimed “it could give way at any moment”, meaning over 500,000 people in Mosul and Baghdad would probably be killed if this damn ever broke, which would be on of the worst disasters in history, by death toll.  So, yeah, let’s maybe work on that.


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