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Happy Independence Day weekend! As you kick back and relax to celebrate the ol' red, white, and blue, take a look at our pieces celebrating the weird and wonderful corners of America's landscape and history. From fireworks to dead eagles to Jefferson's obsession with mastodon's we are here for all of your oddly patriotic needs. Have a great weekend! 

13 EXTRAORDINARY ILLUSTRATIONS OF FIREWORKS DISPLAYS FROM DAYS OF YORE

 

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Newspaper publisher James Gordon Bennett Jr. was obsessed with owls. Sculptor Greg Lefevre created a bronze owl sculpture for him in Herald Square. (Photo: Laura/flickr)

In 1906, one of New York’s premier architects, Stanford White, received an unusual commission. The request came from his friend James Gordon Bennett Jr., the publisher of one of America’s most circulated daily newspapers, the New York Herald.

The media tycoon asked White to design and build his tomb. But this was to be no ordinary mausoleum. Bennett Jr. had something fantastic in mind for his final resting place: a sarcophagus soaring 200 feet into the New York skyline in the form of an owl. Furthermore, Bennett wanted the owl to be hollow, and for his coffin to be suspended midway inside the owl’s body by iron chains.

This enormous owl mausoleum was to be situated in Washington Heights, on a plot of land owned by the Bennett family. Still there today on 183rd Street, the area now known as Bennett Park comprises the highest point of land in Manhattan, 265 feet above sea level.

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An example of an 18th century Qing dynasty coin (Photo: Jean-Michel Moullec/Flickr)

In Seattle, archaeologists working under a bridge have found 2,600 or so artifacts from Seattle history—everything from depression-era shoes and dolls to a Chinese coin that was minted in the 1700s, during the Qing Dynasty, KOMO News reports.

The site, where construction workers were installing a water tank, was once called Finntown. The community was most active during Prohibition and the Great Depression, but the archaeologists have also found artifacts dating back further, like a chisel made from the femur of (most likely) an elk.

Other finds include:

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Satellite dishes in New York City. (Photo: Alexis Lê-Quôc/Flickr)

Right now, two major satellite television providers in the U.S., DirecTV and Dish, are both embroiled in merger talks with telecommunications giants. The former is nearly finished with an elaborate merger with AT&T, and earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal reported that Dish TV is in talks with T-Mobile. While both DirecTV and Dish are very successful companies, it will come as no surprise that the days of mounting a satellite dish on your house are waning.

But tell that to the thousands of satellite dishes hanging around on the rooftops of America’s houses. Installed and now abandoned, they spring from the sides of buildings like oyster mushrooms. It turns out that the responsibility for removing these eyesores doesn’t land on DirecTV and Dish—it’s up to individual renters and homeowners. Which might be news to satellite TV subscribers.

There’s a name for this growing eyesore: dish blight.

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