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Empire State Building-1931

One of the reasons why great architecture is so much more than a work of art you can walk through: it’s awfully complicated to create. Explaining the poetic importance of the field, Frank Lloyd Wright, the greatest American architect of all time, made a lofty statement, claiming that “the mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”

If there’s one thing that these photos of grand buildings and bridges under construction confirms, it’s that being defined as the soul of humanity is well deserved. From the seemingly magical emergence of the Eiffel Tower to the eerie drama of an incomplete Brooklyn Bridge, take a look at the fascinating documentation of some of the world’s most famous designs as they’re being built.

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