Can You Identify These Landmarks That Were Made During the 1950s?


By: Bambi Turner

7 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay by superdirk

About This Quiz

Buildings designed in the '50s have a signature style. Engineers and architects of the period might have called the style modern, and it was at the time, but today, it's anything but. Sure, those mid-century creations were much less fussy than the Gothic or Renaissance structures of earlier eras, but their clean lines and simple finishes scream 1950s. Of course, that's not necessarily a bad thing. This mod, futuristic design is impressive in its own right, and there's no shortage of landmarks around the globe that help to preserve that '50s fashion we now see as retro or vintage. 

The booming U.S. economy in this post-war period led to the U.S. Interstate Highway system, allowing Americans to travel more easily from coast to coast, and providing plenty of room for new attractions and landmarks to draw in those tourist dollars. Over in Europe, nations finally recovering from WWII were ready to rebuild and thrive, investing in new cultural institutions and buildings that would go on to become iconic symbols of cities and communities. Events like the Olympics or the World's Fair brought visitors from around the world to new corners of the globe, and many of the symbols and venues made for these events still stand to this day.

Do you think you can name the skyscrapers, statues, infrastructures and landmarks made in the fabulous '50s? Prove it with this quiz!

It marks the official southern end of the Vegas Strip, but can you name this Sin City landmark made in the '50s?

The iconic Welcome to Las Vegas sign is one of the biggest attractions on the Vegas Strip, and the perfect place to stop for a selfie. Located at 5100 Las Vegas Blvd, the 25-foot tall sign was designed by Betty Willis, who declined to trademark the image because she considered it her gift to the city.


Name this NYC museum, which opened in 1959 and features an iconic design by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Built using classic reinforced concrete like so many '50s landmarks, the Guggenheim Museum on the Upper East Side of Manhattan was one of Frank Lloyd Wright's final big designs. It features a spiraling structure, allowing visitors to wander along arcing ramps through impressionist, contemporary and modern works.


Though it didn't open until 1973, construction of this structure actually began in the '50s. Name this landmark from Down Under.

Despite its 1973 grand opening, the iconic Sydney Opera House was designed during the '50s, with construction getting underway in March 1959. The creation of a Danish architect, it utilizes precast shells that appear plain white from a distance, but consist of alternating stripes of gloss and matte arranged in a chevron pattern.


The sixth resort to open on the Vegas Strip, name this Vegas landmark completed in 1952.

Designed with an African theme, the Sahara opened on the northern end of the Strip on October 7, 1952, making it the sixth major resort on this famous length of Las Vegas Blvd. The landmark spot got even bigger with the addition of a 14-story hotel in 1960. Interestingly enough, The Sands Hotel and Casino resort opened just down the road in '52, but it was torn down in 1996 to make way for The Venetian.


Do you want fries with this landmark, which can be found on Lakewood Blvd. in Downey, CA?

The earliest-built McDonald's still standing today is located in Downey, California. Opened August 18, 1953, it features classic '50s styling with the famous Golden Arches positioned at either end of the building in a giant, graceful arc.


Sure, this landmark was built in the '30s, but it got a 200-foot antenna in the '50s. Do you know its name?

The design of the Empire State Building is pure '30s Art Deco, but the 1950s also influenced this NYC landmark. The tallest building in the world at the time — 1,250 feet — it gained additional height with the addition of a TV antenna in 1950. It was during this period that the building began to generate a profit for its owners for the first time.


Belgium is home to this oh-so-'50s landmark, the symbol of the 1958 Brussels World Expo.

Completed just in time for the 1958 Brussels World Expo, the stainless steel structure known as Atomium is pure mid-century in its form. It measures 335 feet tall, with stainless steel balls used to hold exhibit spaces, their connecting tubes holding elevators, stairs and hallways.


Do you know the name of this major sports venue, which hosted its first big event in 1959?

Start your engines! After years of hosting speed races along coastal roads and the hard-packed beaches on the Florida coast, Daytona opened its famous International Speedway in 1959, hosting 42,000 visitors for the first Daytona 500 event that February.


What is the name of this building, which has been the tallest structure in Poland since it opened in 1955?

Combining Art Deco style with traditional Polish design, the 778-foot Palace of Culture and Science has been Poland's tallest building since it opened in Warsaw in 1955. Today it houses a huge variety of venues, from theaters and exhibition spaces to offices and a university.


The July 17, 1955, opening day at this SoCal spot was broadcast live on ABC. Do you think you can ID it?

Walt's dream came true when Disneyland theme park opened in Anaheim, California, on July 17, 1955. More than half a century later, it remains one of the busiest amusement parks on the planet, and the property has expanded to include a second park and a series of hotels and resorts.


Pedro hopes you can name this landmark located along I-95 about halfway between New York and Florida.

For hundreds of miles approaching Dillon, South Carolina, from either direction along I-95, drivers will notice hundreds of billboards starring a bandito caricature named Pedro. These signs direct tourists to South of the Border, a 350-acre attraction that opened in 1950. A 200-foot sombrero-shaped lookout tower sits alongside souvenir shops, motels and a series of amusement rides.


Which stone memorial in a remote part of South Dakota has welcomed visitors since 1953?

Famous for uniting the Sioux tribes to defend their lands against gold-seeking invaders, Sitting Bull was killed in a battle with U.S. soldiers in 1890. A memorial sculpture in his honor was unveiled in 1953 on the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. It stands proudly along the Missouri River in the area where his remains are believed to have been buried.


Which organization's headquarters was constructed in NYC's Turtle Bay at the start of the '50s?

Built in the '50s in a class of architecture known as International Style, the United Nations Headquarters sits in an area called Turtle Bay along the East River in New York City. At its opening in 1952, the site included the 39-story Secretariat Building alongside the General Assembly and Conference Buildings. U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld is seen here in front of the General Assembly Building shortly after its opening.


A Cardinal from Lisbon was so impressed by Rio's Christ the Redeemer that he inspired the construction of this statue, which was finished in 1959.

After viewing the majestic Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, a Cardinal from Lisbon was determined to build a similar landmark in his own city. Construction took a decade, but the 92-foot Cristo Rei, or Christ the King, statue has sat atop a 269-foot pedestal along the Tagus River since 1959.


Located 26 miles west of downtown Washington D.C., which airport features a terminal designed by Eero Saarinen?

Designed in 1958 and completed in 1962, the main terminal building at Dulles International Airport has a sleek style thanks to architect Eero Saarinen, who's also known for creating the St. Louis Gateway Arch. Many thought Dulles would be a flop because it was situated far outside Washington, D.C., but it quickly became a major travel hub, particularly for those flying internationally.


Before the construction of the Wynn and Encore, their land on the Las Vegas Strip was occupied by this iconic Sin City landmark.

The Desert Inn had just 300 rooms when it opened in 1950 as the fifth resort on the stretch of neon we now know as the Vegas Strip. Home to the largest casino in the area at the time, as well as the iconic Sky Room Restaurant, the Desert Inn stood at the corner of Sands Avenue until it was demolished in 2000 to clear a spot for the Wynn.


Can you name this tower that is the second tallest structure in Japan more than half a century after its 1957 opening?

The orange and white latticework of the Tokyo Tower dominates the skyline in the Japanese capital. The 1,092 foot communications tower took just over a year to build before its grand opening two days before Christmas in 1958.


In the Flatiron District of NYC sits this Madison Avenue landmark, but do you know what it's called?

It's a gorgeous example of Art Deco standing 451 feet tall near Madison Square Park, but the Metropolitan Life North Building (also known as 11 Madison) was actually a product of the '50s. Construction began in 1932, hence the Art Deco styling, but was interrupted because of the Great Depression, so this limestone and marble structure wasn't completed until 1950.


Japan found beauty in tragedy in 1954, transforming a structure demolished by the Enola Gay's bomb into this landmark.

During WWII, the Enola Gay dropped the first nuclear bomb onto the city of Hiroshima, Japan. While the attack killed an estimated 140,000 people and flattened much of the city, the stone frame of the Product Exhibit Hall near the epicenter of the blast survived. In 1954, the skeletal structure became the centerpiece of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, a major landmark in the once-ruined city.


Built as the headquarters of "The Financial Times," what is this London building, whose pink stone resembles the hue of the paper it houses?

Situated at 10 Cannon St. in the heart of London, Bracken House features an iconic modern classical design. It was built between 1955 and 1958 to serve as the headquarters of The Financial Times. It's one of the most celebrated bits of post-war architecture in the city thanks to its pink sandstone, copper roof and bronze windows.


This skyscraper opened in Chicago in 1955 to house a major financial firm. Can you ID it?

Build to house the financial firm's mid-America offices, One Prudential Plaza was completed in 1955. At 601 feet minus its 300-foot spire, it was Chicago's first skyscraper since before the Great Depression. The landmark got a neighbor in 1990 with the completion of Two Prudential Plaza next door.


One of the "Ten Great Buildings" plan, what is this structure completed in 1959 at the edge of Tienanmen Square?

China went on a massive building spree in the '50s to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. One lofty goal, known as the Ten Great Buildings, resulted in the construction of 10 major structures throughout Beijing, including the National Museum of China. Opened in 1959, it's now the most-visited museum in the world other than the Louvre.


Situated on the South Bank of the Thames, name this landmark that was Britain's first Grade 1 protected building constructed after WWII.

By the dawn of the 1950s, London had largely rebuilt buildings bombed in WWII. To welcome in a new decade, the city hosted the Festival of Britain. The London Royal Festival Hall, a modern reinforced concrete structure on the South Bank, opened in 1951 as a venue for the event. Today, it's home to the London Philharmonic and many major arts events.


Built to hold 50,000 football fans, name this stadium known for its simple, mid-century style.

Rice University went all out when it was time to construct a new football stadium in 1950. The Houston institution stuck with clean, mid-century style but included seating for 50,000 cheering fans. The stadium is so massive that it's hosted other events, including JFK's 1962 "We choose to go to the moon" speech as ell as Super Bowl VIII.


One of Barcelona's biggest landmarks has been under construction since the 1880s! Do you know what it is called?

Construction of the massive and elaborate La Sagrada Familia, a church in Barcelona, began with grandiose plans in the 1880s. After the death of its designer, fires, war and a serious case of vandalism prevented much progress from being made, construction got underway in earnest in the 1950s. As of 2020, the building is around 70% complete, but you can still tour the nave and other areas.


Named for the Patron Saint of Gardeners, what is the name of this tower that was the tallest structure in Germany when it was completed in 1959?

The 700-foot tall Florianturm has towered over Dortmund, Germany, since 1959. This reinforced concrete structure hosts an operations room for transmitting television shows as well as a rotating restaurant with spectacular views.


Built in the Georgian Revival style, what Little Rock, Arkansas, landmark was completed in 1950 to usher in the new decade?

You may remember this 1950 landmark from the show, "Designing Women." It's where Suzanne Sugarbaker lived! Made of brick with grand entrance columns, the Arkansas Governor's Mansion sits within a gorgeous historic district in the capital city of Little Rock. For another '50s landmark, check out the Georgian Colonial design of the Nebraska Governor's Mansion, which was completed in 1957.


An Oscar Niemeyer design, this 1957 structure is a quintessential example of modernist architecture. Name this Brazilian landmark.

It's hard to imagine a more perfect example of mid-century modernist architecture than the Palacio da Alvorada, the official residence of the Brazilian President. The three-story structure was built between 1957 and 1958 and is famous not only for its clean, minimal lines but also for its sweeping columns and large number of water features.


This landmark is one of the most popular attractions in Malta's capital, Valletta. Name this structure named for a god of the sea.

Named for Triton, a Greek god of the sea, to emphasize the importance of the sea to the people of Malta, Tritons' Fountain was completed in 1959. Made of stone and concrete, it features three bronze statues of Triton at the center, and today it's a major landmark within the city of Valletta.


Built to host basketball games during the 1960 Olympics in Rome, what is this landmark still being used today?

Rome's PalaLottomatica, or the Palazzo dello Sport as it was formerly known, is one of many modern landmarks that was initially built to serve as a venue for Olympic events. Opened just in time for the 1960 Rome games, the building is made from prefabbed concrete and topped with a ribbed concrete dome, but what really makes it stand out are the flying buttresses, which are made of modern materials but look just like the supports found in old Gothic churches.


Can you identify this building, which opened in Paris in 1958 and is shaped like a three-pointed star?

Before this Y-shaped structure was completed on the Place de Fontenoy in 1958, the members of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization met at a Paris hotel. Today their iconic headquarters building is a stunning example of '50s design and sits on a large number of columns instead of resting on the ground.


What major Irish airport shown in this image got a classic mid-century terminal building in 1959?

To be fair, the original terminal at Ireland's Dublin Airport was built in the '30s in the International Style of design. When the structure became too small to serve the airport's passengers, a new North Terminal was added in 1959. This new building features a mid-century modern design with an arcing sculpted roof.


Choose the correct name for this tower that was the tallest building in Fort Worth, Texas, from 1957 through the mid-'70s.

Built in 1957, Fort Worth's Landmark Tower featured 30 floors spread over 420 feet, making it the tallest building in the city at the time. The aluminum-clad skyscraper was abandoned in the '90s and finally torn down in 2006, making it one of the tallest buildings in the world to be intentionally demolished.


Many call it the 59th Street Bridge, but what is the actual name of this landmark that spans the East River near Manhattan?

The Queensboro Bridge was built in 1909, connecting Long Island City in Queens to the area around 59th Street in Manhattan. In the '50s, this landmark got a major overhaul as its trolley lines were totally demolished to make room for a whopping 11 lanes of traffic. A cantilever bridge made of steel, the structure famously appears in Woody Allen's 1979 flick, "Manhattan." In March 2011, the bridge was officially renamed the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to honor former NYC Mayor Ed Koch.


Located in Milan, Italy, what is the name of this landmark that looks like a mid-century take on a medieval stronghold?

Milan's Torre Velasca has been the subject of controversy ever since it was completed in 1958. Its designers wanted to create a skyscraper that fit in with Milan's historic structures, resulting in a 328-foot modernist tower that is wider at the top than at the bottom, and supported by external struts like those on a medieval lookout tower.


A marvel of infrastructure, which of these tunnels named for a president got a huge overhaul in the '50s.

The Lincoln Tunnel has allowed vehicles to travel under the Hudson River between Manhattan and New Jersey since the 1930s. Increasing traffic and constant congestion led the city to add a south tube to the tunnel. Construction lasted from 1954 to 1957. This decade also saw the construction of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, which connected Battery Park in lower Manhattan to Red Hook in Brooklyn.


It's only fitting that this L.A. landmark resembles records stacked on a turntable. Do you think you know its name?

Designed to serve as the head of West Coast operations for the iconic recording company, the circular tower known as the Capitol Records Building opened in 1956. Nestled in the heart of Hollywood, this unique structure houses offices and a recording studio. Although the interior is closed to the general public, its round design and classic '50s styling make it worth a visit.


This landmark united northern and southern Michigan when it was completed in 1957. Do you know its name?

A deep straight separated Michigan into two peninsulas until the iconic Mackinac Bridge opened on November 1, 1957. At nearly 5 miles, the steel and concrete landmark is one of the longest suspension bridges on the globe. Plenty of people drive across, but the bridge also closes to traffic every Labor Day so pedestrians can travel across by foot.


The Vegas scenes in "The Godfather" took place in this landmark, which was completed in 1957. Do you know its name?

The street once called Bond Road was renamed Tropicana Avenue when the massive Tropicana Resort opened on the Las Vegas Strip on April 14, 1957. Designed with a Cuban flair, it survived mob ties in the '70s and has nearly 1,500 rooms and a casino stretching across 50,000 square feet as of 2020.


Located on the Plaza de Espana, name this landmark that became the tallest in Madrid when it was completed in 1957.

Torre de Madrid became the tallest building in the Spanish capital upon its completion in 1957, a title it held all the way through the '80s. Today, the 466-foot, 36-story modernist structure houses residences and office space, as well as a hotel for visitors looking to stay inside this '50s landmark.


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