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Postcards from the States

The US has fascinated NCE's editor Mike Winney since he first spent a summer there as a student in the 1960s. Here he describes the appeal of some of the country's engineering icons and environmental wonders.

The massive redbrick Dallas book repository from which Lee Harvey Oswald is alleged to have shot President Kennedy. JFK's motorcade was passing along the road in the foreground. Photographed here, 25 years after the event, it was about to be turned into the, inevitable, visitor center.

New York City's Empire State Building may have been surpassed in height by other skyscrapers on Manhattan, and in Chicago and Kuala Lumpur but its open air viewing deck remains the best lookout point.

Meteor Crater, Arizona is a stark reminder that there are still some very large chunks of material out there which may sooner or later be down here. Avoid the tacky visitor center, take a sun hat and large bottle of water and trek round the rim to see the shattered and fused rocks splattered across the plain - and remnants of crude early 20th century efforts to drill down and find the asteroid.

Alcatraz island prison in San Francisco Bay proved invulnerable to all but the most determined escapees. Now on view to tourists the reinforced concrete framed maximum security cells at the heart of the notorious prison form a remarkably compact structure.

San Francisco's Bay Bridge always plays second fiddle to the Golden Gate which has a longer main span and is incomparably prettier. But the double deck, twin span on common central anchorage structure stepping out across the bay towards Oakland is a massive feat of engineering and carries far more traffic.

Intrepid Europeans taking a ride on Anaheim's Disneyland monorail in the 1960s found that the view over the fence at the urban landscape of Los Angeles was more curious than anything inside one of the earliest theme parks.

Hoover Dam braces itself across the Colorado River canyon marking the border between Nevada and Arizona and standing as one of the great American engineering icons of the 1930s.

Four tracks and fags monopolise the popular image of Monument Valley, Utah. The reality is that even in this incredibly beautiful desert landscape of mesas and buttes someone has come along before you and trashed the place, in this case with wrecked cars.

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