A fun part of traveling is finally seeing the landmarks that appear in Instagram shots, travel magazines, and history books. Whether it’s the Statue of Liberty or the Golden Gate Bridge, the United States is peppered with landmarks that attract both domestic and international travelers. We all love training our eyes (and our smartphone cameras) on a sight that’s been on our personal bucket list.
But what you might not know is many of the United States’ famous landmarks actually have a surprisingly unsavory history. There are numerous racist monuments in towns and cities across the country. And racist public symbols beyond the Confederate flag are common. But it’s not just local statues, place names, and street names that evoke America’s discriminatory past. Some of our country’s most famous monuments and landmarks remind those in the know of parts of American history none of us should be proud of.
The upshot is there might be more of a backstory than you think behind that historic site on your itinerary. And you might not like everything that’s lurking in its history. Is that a good reason to skip seeing a landmark you were previously excited to visit? That’s up to you. But it’s wise to educate yourself and your family on the whole history of the sites you plan to visit.
After all, the adage that history repeats itself might be a cliche. But it’s extremely important for us to know the history of our nation, so we don’t repeat previous generations’ mistakes or uphold the flawed portions of our forefathers’ legislation. It’s OK if learning that history leaves you feeling conflicted about a landmark or two. Read on to check out some famous landmarks that have some surprisingly negative history behind them.