Discover 6 of the Biggest Construction Projects in History
Humans have always been builders. It’s one of the biggest things we do. It might have started with simply stacking one rock on top of another, but as technology grew so did what we built. We’ve built cities and bridges and the machines that have changed this world. If you’re reading this, it’s a good bet you’re into building things yourself — whether that means rolling up your sleeves with a shovel in your hand, dusting off your drafting table, or fueling up your dozer, you build.
You’re not a member of “Team Stand and Watch” or “Team Somebody Else’ll Do It” or “Team Constant Complain.” You’re a member of what we call “Team Build.” There’s a lot of members of Team Build and they do a lot of different things, but one thing is the same for all of them — if you hand them a block of wood and a butter knife an hour later you’ll bet your bottom dollar they’ll have something to show you. Like a beaver in the desert. They build. And we think that’s worth celebrating. In that vein, we bring you the first article in our Celebrate Construction series: A look at some of the biggest feats in construction history.
Even Team Build needs a break now and then. Take a few and catch up on some of the biggest stuff we (human-kind) did. It’s pretty neat.
What Are the Biggest Construction Projects in History?
Big is a relative term. It can mean size, expense, or pure man-power. For this article, we’re simply highlighting some of the most impressive and awe-inspiring feats of engineering. Many of these projects took decades to complete and required the labor of thousands of people.
In no particular order, here are some of the biggest construction projects in history:
The Great Wall of China
The Great Wall of China is over 13,000 miles long and stretches from the Gobi Desert in the west to the Yellow Sea in the east. One of the Seven Wonders of the World, the Great Wall of China was built over a period of 2,000 years by different dynasties and emperors. The first sections of the wall were built as early as the 7th century BC, and the most recent sections were built in the 17th century AD. The Great Wall was built to protect China from invaders but also doubled as a way to transport goods and people across Asia.
The Panama Canal
The Panama Canal is a 48-mile man-made canal that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The canal was built by the United States between 1904 and 1914, and is one of the most important waterways in the world since it allows navigating ships to avoid going around South America during their trips. The canal cost the lives of over 25,000 workers during its construction.
The Channel Tunnel
The 31-mile long Channel Tunnel connects England and France under the English Channel, and is the longest undersea tunnel in the world. First proposed in the 18th Century, construction of the tunnel began in 1988 and was completed in 1994. Carrying both passenger and freight trains, the tunnel is used by over 20 million people each year. A marvel of engineering, the Channel Tunnel used the largest and most powerful tunnel boring machines of the time.
The Burj Khalifa
The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is the tallest building in the world, standing at 2,722 feet and consisting of 163 floors used for both residential and commercial purposes. It took over six years to build and was completed in 2010. At a cost of $1.5 billion, measuring the “bigness” of the building is high on the economic scale, as well as the overall scope of the project. If the building looks familiar, but you’re not sure where you’ve seen it, it could be from the multiple movies it’s featured in.
The International Space Station
We said “largest construction projects in history,” not “largest construction projects on Earth.” For this one, we’ve left the planet, but when it comes to marvels of construction the International Space Station deserves to make every list.
A product of collaboration between 15 countries, the International Space Station is the largest artificial object in space. The first component of the ISS was launched in 1998 and the station was completed in 2011. Consisting of different modules and powered by a large solar array, the station holds all the life-support for the astronauts that live on board, as well as, scientific equipment for studies and testing, large robotic arms for maintenance and moving heavy objects, and docking points for the spacecraft that service it, including the SpaceX Dragon.
America’s Interstate Highway System
Judging by pure actual size, economics, and downright giant logistics it took to make it all work, no list of largest construction projects in history would be complete without America’s Interstate System. First proposed in 1916 but not actually begun until 1956 with the Federal-Aid Highway Act, the initial construction of 41,000 miles of highways was completed in 1975.
The construction of the Interstate System was a massive undertaking and required states to work together, 1000s of people and businesses to be relocated, and billions of dollars to be spent, but no one can underestimate its worth today.
Consisting of over 47,000 miles of highways and used by over 400M people each day, the Interstate Highway System connects the country and brings a consistent economic boon to all communities it touches.
Hopefully, you found this quick look at some of the biggest construction projects in history as entertaining as we did. At H&R Construction Equipment Parts, we think every construction project – big or small – deserves some celebration. Whether you’re building the next skyscraper or just digging a ditch, we’re proud to be your parts partner and to keep you up and running or get you back to work fast when a problem arises.
Next time, maybe we’ll see your project on this list. In the meantime, our Parts Specialists are always here to help.