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Interesting Things About Arches

You find them featured in a certain science fiction franchise. They are a key detail in ancient Roman architecture, and they occur in nature on shores and in the mountains. Today we are talking about arches. You would be surprised what I found on this random topic.



Missouri’s most famous landmark is an arch.


This well-known stainless steel structure is known as the Gateway Arch. The 630-foot arch was constructed between February 12th, 1963 and October 28th, 1965, opening to the public in 1967. It has been built to withstand both earthquakes and high winds, as well as millions of visitors every year. The arch was constructed as a monument to the spirit of the western pioneers, and it is now part of the Gateway Arch National Park.


The McDonald’s arches have more meaning than you think.


In the 1960s the corporation was considering ditching the famous golden arches for a new logo. They ended up consulting a psychologist about the problem and he advised them to keep the original logo. He claimed that the arches were associated with a mother’s “nourishing breasts.” After this recommendation, the famous symbol of McDonald’s was there to stay and is still used today.


Natural arches occur on the coast.


Called sea arches, they are formed by the erosional forces of wind, wave, and water erosion. Usually this occurs when an overlying layer of rock is more resistant to these forces than the softer rock below it. After the less resistant layer is worn away, the stronger layer is left and forms an arch. These formations are often short-lived in the geological time scale because they are not very stable. Eventually the forces of nature bring the upper layer tumbling down as the lower layer is completely eroded away.


There is an Arches National Park in Utah.


This desert park contains the largest concentration of natural arches in the world with over 2,000 documented formations. They were created when ancient desert sand dunes hardened into two separate layers of sandstone and sandstone with clay. The less stable layers were eroded away by a steady and balanced amount of rainfall. Working with the salt contained in the lower layers, the rain created the arches that are seen today.


Ancient Romans used arches everywhere.


Yes, arches were used in various building situations in ancient Roman, owing to their stability. They were used in construction of the extensive aqueducts used by the civilization. You can also see them in old buildings from that era. The employment of arches allowed the Romans to build huge, stable structures that still survive today, including the famous Roman Colosseum.


Trekies have their own meaning for “arch.”


Yes, anyone who is familiar with any Star Trek series from the Next Generation onward knows about the “arch” of the holodeck. This computer console is frequently called up in the midst of a holodeck simulation for various purposes. Often it is used when the holodeck malfunctions, which is pretty much every episode that uses the holodeck on TNG.


Victory arches are an ancient tradition that still survives today.


These free-standing archways are often designed to span a road or highway. The structures were first built in ancient Rome to celebrate important victories. However, they are still used in modern day as war memorials and tributes to certain leaders. Probably the most famous of these arches is the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, France. This particular arch was built in the early nineteenth century and honors those who fought in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars.


Arches are used to stabilize buildings.


As stated in the ancient Roman entry, arches are very stable structures. They are self-supporting, being stabilized by the gravity that compresses them together. They will support far greater loads than horizontal beams. This is why they are seen in large, heavy buildings like cathedrals and castles. If you want to build something big and bulky, your best bet is to use an arch or two.


Arches have religious meaning.


As stated elsewhere in this article, they represent victory, but there is other symbolism involved with arches as well. They are said to represent rebirth, the exiting of the old and the entrance into the new. They are also a Muslim symbol of faith. Other religions and traditions link arches to holy places, Heaven, and sanctuary.


The word archenemy has nothing to do with physical arches.


The word “arch” is related to a similar ancient Greek word meaning “to lead.” It also means “chief” or “first.” It essentially means that this antagonist is a character’s lead or main enemy. Just in case you’ve ever wondered where that word came from.


I once had a Chihuahua who was a little architect. Her building materials were the blankets on my bed, where she discovered that if she built a tunnel going upward into a raised chamber she could take advantage of trapped heat in wintertime. Her constructions always included a small arched doorway at the entrance to the cave, which allowed for maximum heat capture. Alas, she’s gone on to the doggy bed in the sky, but I will always remember her cave construction projects whenever I see an arch.


SOURCES


National Park Service- www.nps.gov

Snopes- www.snopes.com

All Things Nature- www.allthingsnature.org

Empire Rome- www.empirerome.com

Britannica- www.britannica.com

Designing Buildings- www.designingbuildings.co.uk

University of Michigan- www.umich.edu

Online Etymology Dictionary- www.etymonline.com

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