In fact, two of the six tallest pyramids on the planet are in the U.S.
I recently saw an article about the Pyramid Arena in Memphis which caught my eye, because I had a brief love affair with the Pyramid in the early ’90s. Back then, it was the home of Memphis State University (now known as University of Memphis) and their star player, Anfernee Hardaway (now known as “Oh yeah, I kinda remember him”). I loved watching them/him play and I loved the concept of this giant pyramid of an arena.
Turns out the Pyramid stopped being used for basketball in 2004, concerts in 2007 and anything else shortly after that. It had become another arena dinosaur, too big to be particularly practical but too flawed to serve as a modern sports complex, joining the likes of the Pontiac Silverdome, Houston Astrodome and Great Western Forum.
Fast forward to last week. The Pyramid in Memphis reopened — as a giant Bass Pro Shop.
As I was reading about the metamorphosis, I saw an incredible fact (beyond that Bass Pro Shops are popular enough to occupy and monetize such a gigantic space): The Pyramid in Memphis is one of the largest pyramids in the world.
That’s some paradigm shifting knowledge right there. Until that moment, my mental picture of a great pyramid was, well, the Great Pyramid. But really, why wouldn’t the one in Tennessee count? After all, it’s manmade, just like the others; there are no natural pyramids. Just because it was made in modern times, there’s no Pharaoh entombed inside, and my people didn’t unleash locusts and boils and such on the Egyptians after building it doesn’t preclude its viability as a pyramid.
Then I started researching all the pyramids of the world — and found the one in Memphis isn’t the U.S.’s only giant entry. Two of the six tallest pyramids on the planet are in this country.
The Pyramid in Memphis is sixth tallest, at 321 feet… and the Luxor Hotel and Casino Las Vegas is third, at 348 feet.
The Great Pyramid of Giza is first, at 456 feet. Another pyramid in Giza is second.
Only they are taller than the Luxor. Home of long check-in lines, rooms accessible by inclination, the passed-its-prime LAX nightclub, gambling limits somewhere between the adjacent Mandalay Bay and adjacent Excalibur… and Criss Angel. Who knew we could also add “borderline wonder of the world” to its list of accolades?
And that’s the highest quality architectural trivia I can provide and may be the only architecture-themed post that will ever be on this website. At least until I go through my inevitable early 40s buttress phase, or I can draw a parallel between the cola wars and doric vs. ionic columns.