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What are the Seven Wonders of the Modern World?

Mary Elizabeth
Updated May 23, 2024
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As a counterpoint to the seven wonders of the Ancient world — feats of architecture and sculpture from Ancient times — the American Society of Civil Engineers created a list of seven wonders of the modern world in 1994. Each structure was chosen based on its function, design, and engineering achievement at the time it was built. In a certain way, these wonders are more diverse, each representing a distinct type of structure: a tunnel, a tower, a skyscraper, a bridge, a dam, a dike, and a canal.

Channel TunneltunnelEnglish Channel1987-1994twin tunnels, 31 mi (50 km) long and 24 ft (7.3 m) in diameter; 130 ft (40 m) below the seabed
CN TowertowerToronto, Canada1973-19761815 feet (554 m) high
Empire State BuildingskyscraperNew York City1930-19311250 feet (381 m) high
Golden Gate BridgebridgeSan Francisco Bay1933-1937overall length 9,266 ft (2,824 m); 4,200 ft (1,280 m)
Itaipu DamdamBrazil/Paraguay border1975-19915 mi (8 km) wide
Netherlands North Sea Protection WorksdikeNorth Sea1927-1932; 1957-198119-mi (31-km) long enclosure dam; 2-mi (3-km) barrier
Panama CanalcanalPanama1881-1889; 1904-191450-mi (80 km) long

Interesting facts about the seven wonders of the modern world:

  • Five have a close connection with bodies of water, whereas only two of the wonders of the Ancient world — the Pharos and the Colossus — do.

  • Various wonders of the modern world go through the water, under the water, and over the water.

  • Whereas two of the ancient wonders were in Africa, two in Asia Minor, two in Europe, and one in the Middle East; the modern wonders include three in North America, two in Western Europe, and one each in Central and South America.

  • The Itaipu Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric plant.

  • When it was built, the Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge in the world. The cables used to hold up the bridge are long enough to circle the globe three times. Although there are many stories as to how often the bridge is painted, since 1995 it has only required touch-up work on areas suffering from environmental corrosion.

  • The Channel Tunnel is nicknamed the Chunnel and includes over 300 miles (482.8 km) of cold water piping, designed to offset the heat caused by the speed of the train in the enclosed tunnel.

  • The CN Tower in Toronto is the tallest free-standing structure on the planet, and is actually three times taller than Seattle's Space Needle.

  • The Empire State Building was the world’s tallest building from 1931 until 1972, when the first tower of the World Trade Center was completed. Though it is not known for this, one of the most impressive things about the Empire State Building is that it took just 13 months to complete, without overtime.

  • The American Society of Civil Engineers asked for people around the world to submit nominations for worthy contenders for the seven wonders of the modern world./li
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Mary Elizabeth
By Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the Internet. In addition to writing articles on art, literature, and music for CulturalWorld.org, Mary works as a teacher, composer, and author who has written books, study guides, and teaching materials. Mary has also created music composition content for Sibelius Software. She earned her B.A. from University of Chicago's writing program and an M.A. from the University of Vermont.
Discussion Comments
By Foofie — On Apr 08, 2009

The internet is not a wonder of the modern world? We never had the entire world connected, where folks at home can communicate to literal strangers on the other side of the planet in real time. If this was not included, I have to doubt the accuracy of the votes obtained. Were any voters voting for something that related to their respective country? The internet is global. It is a wonder of the modern civilization.

By anon29801 — On Apr 08, 2009

Yeah, but the Space Needle is cooler looking than the CN Tower.

By ellefagan — On Apr 08, 2009

That was a very good one for us!

Your article on the the Ancient Wonders made a fine companion to this one on the Modern Wonders to save for my reference.

Thanks WiseGeek!

By anon29754 — On Apr 08, 2009

What about the Three Gorges Dam in China? Is it one of the wonders to be included in this modern world?

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
Passionate about reading, writing, and research, Mary Elizabeth is dedicated to correcting misinformation on the...
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