We all know a football field is 100 yards and an Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters, but exactly how big are the buildings we pass by every day or the sites we learn about in school? Here’s how everything measures up—in terms that are easy to understand (but may boggle your mind just the same).
1. Pencil; 7.5 inches
A standard No. 2 pencil measures 7.5 inches in length, from the end of the eraser to the unsharpened tip. This just so happens to also be the average size of the human, adult male hand (from the wrist to the tip of the longest finger).
2. Mailbox; 3.75 feet
A standard mailbox, as dictated by the United States Postal Service, is 45 inches—or 3.75 feet—tall. That’s six pencils (or hands) stacked one on top of another.
3. Elephant; 8.2 to 13 feet
From the shoulder to the toe, the average African elephant (which is larger than its Asian counterpart) stands approximately 8.2 to 13 feet tall—or 2.2 to 3.5 mailboxes. Measured from the tip of the trunk to the end of the tail, however, the African elephant is approximately 23 to 29 feet long. That’s 276 to 348 inches, or 37 to 46 pencils.
4. Washington’s Nose on Mount Rushmore; 21 feet
Talk about a schnoz! At 21 feet long, the largest nose on Mount Rushmore belongs to the very first president of the United States, George Washington. (The noses of Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are each about a foot shorter.) For those keeping track, that’s roughly the same as a small African elephant with its trunk (but maybe not its tail) fully extended.
5. Yellow School Bus; 36 feet
Your average yellow school bus is 36 feet long. Or, in keeping with the educational theme, 57.6 pencils laid end-to-end.
6. The White House; 70 feet
Three and one third of Washington’s noses could fit inside the presidential residence. So could seven medium-sized elephants stacked one on top of another.
7. Niagara Falls; 167 feet
The combined elevation of the three drops that comprise Niagara Falls is 167 feet—or almost eight of Washington’s gigantic proboscises. That’s 19 elephants or 44-and-a-half mailboxes. Meanwhile, the highest waterfall in the world, Angel Falls in Venezuela, is 2,647 feet tall, or just shy of 706 mailboxes.
8. Eiffel Tower; 986 feet
The City of Light’s pride and joy is almost six times as tall as Niagara Falls.
9. Empire State Building; 1,250 feet
Taller still is New York’s shining beacon, the Empire State Building. The apple of the Big Apple’s eye is as tall as almost 18 White Houses. You could also measure the Empire State Building with 2,000 No. 2 pencils.
10. Grand Canyon; 8,000 feet
Leave it to Mother Nature to dwarf even the most iconic of man-made landmarks. It would take a tower of six and a half Empire State Buildings or over eight Eiffel Towers to match the Grand Canyon’s elevation at the North Rim. What’s that in elephants, you ask? Approximately 889 stacked atop one another.
11. Golden Gate Bridge; 8,980 feet
It would be quite a traffic jam, but 249 school buses could fit—bumper-to-bumper—on San Francisco’s great suspension bridge. Lay the Eiffel Tower on its side, and 9.1 of them could fit on the Golden Gate Bridge. Lay pencils end-to-end and you could make a trail of 14,368.
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