1937 "Pleasure Tower" shows how devoted we were (and are) to cars

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Phare du monde

credit: Modern Mechanix

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This image of a tower, proposed for the 1937 Paris Exhibition, is fascinating; just the idea that one would build a spiral ramp so that people could actually drive to the top instead of taking an elevator. I would imagine that it would actually be a really boring drive. One commenter on Modern Mechanix calculated that "If the picture is to scale the diameter of the base is 1/5 the height of the beacon. That puts the circumference at about 1445 feet or .27 miles. There are 29 turns of the ramp so a rough estimate would be a little less than 7.5 miles to the top or a half hour drive at 15 miles per hour."

Cars may have taken over the world, and may even have their own elevators in some buildings, but I am relieved that this did not become a thing.

Towering almost half a mile above the ground, dwarfing such gigantic structures as the Empire State Building and the Eiffel tower, a huge concrete tower 2300 feet high, surmounted with a beacon and built with a spiral ramp for autos to climb up its sides, stuns the imagination with its vastness. It is the design of the French engineer, M. Freyssinet, intended for the 1937 Paris Exhibition. He estimates the cost at less than half the Eiffel Tower, or in the neighborhood of $2,500,000. It will be called the “Phare du Monde,” or Lighthouse of the World- The project appears far removed from the visionary and a new all-time “high” in buildings seems in a fair way to being achieved.

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