Hoover Dam - Long Term Art

I was reminded the other day by a visitor here at Long Now that the Hoover Dam has one of the more astonishing pieces of long term art embedded into its torrazzo floor. This is one of a very few installations in the world that reference the earth’s ~26,000 year precessional cycle to pre-date a long term artifact. Very cool.


photo by Pinelife

From the Bureau of Land Reclamation‘s web page on the work:

“Surrounding the base is a terrazzo floor, inlaid with a star chart, or celestial map. The chart preserves for future generations the date on which President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated Hoover Dam, September 30, 1935.

Photo with all jet flow gates open.The apparent magnitudes of stars on the chart are shown as they would appear to the naked eye at a distance of about 190 trillion miles from earth. In reality, the distance to most of the stars is more than 950 trillion miles.

In this celestial map, the bodies of the solar system are placed so exactly that those versed in astronomy could calculate the precession (progressively earlier occurrence) of the Pole Star for approximately the next 14,000 years. Conversely, future generations could look upon this monument and determine, if no other means were available, the exact date on which Hoover Dam was dedicated.”

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter

More from Art

What is the long now?

The Long Now Foundation is a nonprofit established in 01996 to foster long-term thinking. Our work encourages imagination at the timescale of civilization — the next and last 10,000 years — a timespan we call the long now.

Learn more

Long Now's website is changing...