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Check out these links to read more about the real places:

Farnsworth House

Visiting info for tours of the Farnsworth House

Blair Kamin discovers some little-known secrets of the house

Philip Johnson's Glass House was built at the same time period and is similar in design

Twelve of the many buildings inspired by the Farnsworth House

Yet another building inspired by the house is the glass garage pavilion from Ferris Bueller's Day Off

Mies van der Rohe: Farnsworth House, by Werner Blaser, Birkhäuser (1999)

Foshay Tower

The Foshay Museum and Observation Deck displays artifacts related to the building, and a great view

The Foshay Tower now houses the W Minneapolis hotel

James Lileks' history tour of the Foshay through old postcards

Sousa's Foshay Tower Washington Memorial March performed by several bands

Gateway Arch

The official National Park Service website with ticket info and history of Gateway Arch

Facts about the construction of the arch

A detailed history of the downtown St. Louis site and building the arch

Biography of architect Eero Saarinen

IDS Center

Official site of the IDS Center

StarTribune facts about the tower

A critical look at the Crystal Court atrium

50th anniversary history of the Minneapolis Skyway system

The IDS Center featured prominently in the opening of the Mary Tyler Moore Show, and a statue now marks the place where she famously tossed her hat in the air

Split Rock Lighthouse

Minnesota Historical Society visitor info for the lighthouse

History of Split Rock on

Fiddlers Green also offers a paper model of the light

Split Rock Lighthouse, by Stephen P. Hall, Minnesota Historical Society Press (1993)

San Francisco  

Alcatraz Island

National Park Service history of Alcatraz and ticket info for visiting

Alcatraz History features photos and tales of life at the prison

The island has been the setting for many dramatic films such as Birdman of Alcatraz (1962), Escape from Alcatraz (1972), and The Rock (1996)

A large 1:87 scale model of Alcatraz is on display at the Alcatraz Cruises ticketing area on Pier 33

A visitor to Alcatraz questions prison tourism

The 1969 occupation galvanized the Native American civil rights movement

Alcatraz: A Definitive History of the Penitentiary Years, by Michael Esslinger, Ocean View Publishing (2011)

Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz), by Gennifer Choldenko, Puffin Books (2006)

BART Train

Official site of Bay Area Rapid Transit

BART celebrated 40 years of service in 2012 with a look back at the uniforms of 1972

New train cars for the BART system are planned by 2019

Inside the Operations Control Center in Oakland, which operates all the BART trains

A recording of the BART train for armchair riders

San Francisco Cable Car

The Cable Car Museum is a must-see in San Francisco

A chronology of cable car history

Timetables and fare info for riding the cars, from the SFMTA

Extensive info on cable cars in other cities from the Cable Car Guy, including "How do cable cars work?"

The Cable Car in America, by George Hilton, Stanford University Press (1997)

Cliff House

Official site of the Cliff House with history and visitor info

The Cliff House Project collects photos and ephemera related to Sutro's Cliff House

The dreamy Camera Obscura has been entertaining visitors since 1946

The Golden Gate National Recreation Area includes the Cliff House and ruins of the Sutro Baths

The San Francisco Cliff House, by Mary Germain Hountalas, Ten Speed Press (2009)

Coit Tower

A biography of Lillie Hitchcock Coit on the Museum of San Francisco

A history of the painting of the murals at the tower

The story of Coit Tower on FoundSF

SFGTV film showing the history and murals of Coit Tower

The 2003 documentaryThe Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill chronicles musician Mark Bittner's relationship with the colorful birds living near the tower

Ferry Building

Official website of the Ferry Building Marketplace shops

Golden Gate Ferry and San Francisco Bay Ferry boats depart from the pier behind the Ferry Building

Radio story about the 2003 reopening of the Ferry Building after restoration

The Ferry Building Marketplace has become a local food resource and foodie mecca

Photos of the Embarcadero Freeway and a history of its construction and removal

A Trip Down Market Street heading toward the Ferry Building, filmed shortly before the 1906 earthquake

Golden Gate Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge celebrated its 75th Anniversary in 2012

Official website of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway & Transportation District

The Story Behind the Construction of the Span, one of many articles about the bridge on the Virtual Museum of San Francisco

The Golden Gate has become notorious as a location for suicide, as documented in the 2006 film The Bridge

Mission Dolores

Mission Dolores Basilica mass schedule and open hours at the Old Mission

The dedication of the mission and founding of San Francisco

The bell in front of the mission marks the early El Camino Real auto route following the old Spanish trail connecting the missions of California

Mission Dolores was located next to a spring-fed creek and possibly a lake which have long been covered over by urban development

Tribal history of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe at Mission San Francisco de Asis

Sutro Tower

Official website of San Francisco's Sutro Tower

Lots of technical info about the tower on

Critical reception of the tower has changed over the years

Many devoted fans of the tower have tattooed its image on themselves

Metropolitan Craft sells several beautiful wood models of the tower

Transamerica Pyramid

There is no public access to the Transamerica Pyramid, but the building's website provides a virtual visitor center with a webcam at the top of the tower

Transamerica Insurance info about the pyramid

Pyramid facts from A View on Cities

The pyramid survived the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake without damage

A list of other modern pyramids

Philadelphia & Washington DC  

Independence Hall

National Park Service visitor info for Independence Hall

Tidbits about the history of Independence Hall

The Independence Hall Organization has an extensive list of interesting links about the building

The Liberty Bell has a complex history as a symbol of freedom and independence

J. Edgar Hoover FBI Headquarters

FBI website history of the building

The building will be vacated once the FBI completes a new headquarters

Some have called the building the world's ugliest and many are happy to see it demolished


Jefferson Memorial

National Park Service vistor info about the Thomas Jefferson Memorial

Quotations on the walls of the memorial

The memorial's neoclassical design was controversial in the early years of modernist architecture

The National Cherry Blossom Festival brings over 700,000 visitors to the Tidal Basin to see the cherry trees

Lincoln Memorial

The official National Park Service website for the Lincoln Memorial

Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech from the east steps of the Memorial in 1963, where Marian Anderson sang in 1939

The history of the memorial's construction

The Lincoln Memorial and American Life, by Christopher Thomas, Princeton University Press (2002)

Mount Vernon

Official Mount Vernon website with visitor info and online exhibits about Washington

The house was saved from ruin by Ann Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association in 1858

A 1:12 scale miniature dollhouse model is on view at Mount Vernon

Mount Vernon's iconic design has inspired many imitations

George Washington's Mount Vernon, by Robert F. & Lee Baldwin Dalzell, Oxford University Press (1998)

National Building Museum

Visiting hours and exhibits at the National Building Museum

NPS history of the Pension Building

Streets of Washington shares photos and stories about the building

National Building Museum: Art Spaces, by Laura Burd Schiavo, Scala Publishers (2007)

The Old Post Office

The 315-foot Old Post Office Tower provides a wonderful view over Washington

The building was redeveloped from 2013-2016 into a luxury Trump hotel

A detailed history of the Old Post Office including the story of its preservation

A beautiful wooden scale model of the post office built by Nathan Rubinton in 1909

The Pentagon

The offical Pentagon website has an in-depth architectural history and info about tours

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial commemorates those killed in the 2001 attack and details reconstruction of the building

The Pentagon's labyrinth of hallways is notoriously confusing

The Pentagon: A History, by Steve Vogel, Random House (2007)

Author Steve Vogel tells NPR about the unusual story of the building

Supreme Court Building

Biographies of the current Supreme Court justices

Supreme Court Review summarizes recent court decisions with stats and info

WNYC's More Perfect podcast tells unusual and influential stories from the court's history

A history of Cass Gilbert's design from the Architect of the Capitol

An appreciation of the court entry stairs which are now off-limits to visitors

The sculptural details of the building's pediments and interior have caused false assumptions about their symbolism

United States Capitol

U.S. Capitol Visitors Center has tours and info about Congress

The Architect of the Capitol oversees the building and grounds

The Capitol dome restoration will be complete by the 2017 inauguration

A timeline of the Capitol's construction and modifications since 1793

C-Span tours the many rooms and stories of the Capitol's interior

A tiny subway system connects the Capitol to Congressional office buildings

Freedom's Cap: The United States Capitol and the Coming of the Civil War, by Guy Gugliotta, Hill & Wang (2012)

Washington Monument

The official National Park Service website for the Washington Monument

The history of the monument's construction

An article about the difficulty of engineering the aluminum pyramidion which caps the monument

How the Know Nothings stopped construction of the monument

The Flying Cat and Other Amazing Stories of the Washington Monument, by Jim Berard, EPM Publications (2000)

The White House

The official website of the White House

A history of the building on

The White House Historical Association

A list of other buildings modeled on the White House

The White House in Miniature, a 1:12 scale model which has toured the US numerous times since 1962

The White House in Miniature, by Gail Buckland & John Zweifel, WW Norton (1994)

The President's House: 1800 to the Present, by Margaret Truman, Ballantine Books (2005)