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Rome was, too, built in a day!
May 27, 2011 7:03 PM   Subscribe

Examples of impressive projects, done impressively fast? Looking for a snappy retort to the commonplace "Rome wasn't built in a day."

Would love to motivate and entertain (but mostly entertain), mates in the middle of ambitious projects.

Bonus points for cleverness. Fictional accomplishments not out of place, but real world feats of engineering/artistry preferred. Speed, speed, speed! Thanks.
posted by mahorn to Grab Bag (38 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
The Great Gauge Change.
posted by jedicus at 7:08 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Empire State Building was completed in 410 days.
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:10 PM on May 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Liberty Ships. 3 launched per day in 1943.
posted by Chrischris at 7:13 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The URL pretty much says it all.

http://www.quora.com/World-War-II/How-did-the-USS-Yorktown-carrier-get-repaired-sufficiently-in-48-hours-before-the-Battle-of-Midway-after-being-nearly-crippled-in-the-Battle-of-the-Coral-Sea-a-month-earlier-when-estimates-called-for-a-three-month-repair-period
posted by cali59 at 7:17 PM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Penobscott River Bridge in Maine was built in only three years, which is some sort of record time for a bridge of that type/size.
posted by bondcliff at 7:20 PM on May 27, 2011


Was gonna come in to say the Empire State Building (makes you wonder when it takes two years for them to build a single-story Urban Outfitters, huh?), but see that MonkeyToes is already on it. I would add that despite the tremendous speed and, at the time, a general disregard for worker safety, "only" five people died building it.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 7:24 PM on May 27, 2011


The first version of Gmail was built in a day.
posted by zanni at 7:26 PM on May 27, 2011


Supposedly Hegel wrote most of the Phenomenology of Spirit--hundreds of pages of probably the most influential nineteenth-century philosophical work--in a few weeks, as Napoleon's troops were advancing on Jena (where he taught at the time).
posted by nasreddin at 7:32 PM on May 27, 2011


Stevie Ray Vaughan recorded his entire debut album Texas Flood in two days.
posted by Rhomboid at 7:34 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, Chicago wasn't built in a day, either, but compared to almost any other major world city...
posted by Sara C. at 7:47 PM on May 27, 2011


Everyone has beat me to the Empire State Building, but one of the things that sticks with me about it is the girders in the frame were being riveted into place while still warm from the mill.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:47 PM on May 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


At its peak, the Venetian Arsenal could crank out an entire ship per day...in an age where everything was handmade.
posted by hiteleven at 7:49 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I might go with Dubai.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:51 PM on May 27, 2011


Normandy Landings? "The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000 troops landing on 6 June 1944. 195,700 Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000 ships were involved. "
posted by andoatnp at 7:55 PM on May 27, 2011


World fair buildings seem to be built quickly.
posted by backwards guitar at 7:59 PM on May 27, 2011


The Alaska-Canadian Highway: "The official start of construction took place on March 8, 1942 after hundreds of pieces of construction equipment were moved on priority trains by the Northern Alberta Railways to the northeastern part of British Columbia near Mile 0 at Dawson Creek. Construction accelerated through the spring as the winter weather faded away and crews were able to work from both the northern and southern ends; they were spurred on after reports of the Japanese invasion of Kiska Island and Attu Island in the Aleutians. On September 24, 1942 crews from both directions met at Mile 588 at what became named Contact Creek,[2] at the British Columbia-Yukon border at the 60th Parallel; the entire route was completed October 28, 1942 with the northern linkup at Mile 1202, Beaver Creek, and the highway was dedicated on November 20, 1942 at Soldiers Summit." Total of 1,680 miles.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:10 PM on May 27, 2011


For grins, "Building Rome In A Day"

Computational reconstruction of Rome from 150,000 Flickr photos in less than 24 hours.
posted by fake at 8:19 PM on May 27, 2011


Jehovah's Witnesses often gather hundreds of volunteers from all over the country (and the world) to "quick-build" their places of meeting / worship (Kingdom Halls) over the course of a day or two or a weekend or two. Time lapse.
posted by dersins at 8:19 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.
It is for these reasons that I regard the decision last year to shift our efforts in space from low to high gear as among the most important decisions that will be made during my incumbency in the office of the Presidency."
John F. Kennedy,
Speech at Rice University, Houston, 12 September 1962

"That's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong 20 July 1969
posted by carmicha at 8:21 PM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Handel wrote "The Messiah" in 24 days.

One of the American classic WWII combat aircraft was designed at breakneck speed, but I can't remember which one.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:43 PM on May 27, 2011


"The North American Aviation P-51 Mustang was an American long-range single-seat World War II fighter aircraft. Designed and built in just 117 days to a specification issued to NAA by the British Purchasing Commission, the Mustang first flew in Royal Air Force (RAF) service as a tactical-reconnaissance aircraft and fighter-bomber."
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:47 PM on May 27, 2011


The CN Tower was last really big thing built around where I live which was both on schedule and on budget. (Both of these factors astounding, and almost impossible to imagine today).

They did a continuous concrete pour, which is also really cool, if you like that engineering/artistry thing.
posted by ovvl at 8:53 PM on May 27, 2011


At its peak, the Venetian Arsenal could crank out an entire ship per day...in an age where everything was handmade.

The Venetian Arsenal was a stunning feat of engineering but there's a big difference between the shipyards producing about a ship a day and being able to build an entire ship in a day. The Arsenal produced almost a ship a day by building a hundred of them at the same time, in various stages of production. In other words, it might take a hundred days to make a ship but if you've got one ship 99 days in, another 98 days in, a third 97 days in, and so on you're going to produce about one a day.
posted by Justinian at 9:02 PM on May 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Groupon was in the black at 7 months, and passed a cumulative $1,000,000,000 in revenue faster than any startup company in history (less than 3 years). Link to Forbes article.
posted by SantosLHalper at 9:06 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're replacing 14 bridges that cross route 93 in the Boston area, one each weekend. All this summer. If they weren't doing them in this innovative way, it would take 4 to 5 years to get this work done.

I suppose if you really want to use it as an example, you probably should wait til it's done. Still, that only 14 weeks from now!
posted by clone boulevard at 9:27 PM on May 27, 2011


The Venetian Arsenal was a stunning feat of engineering but there's a big difference between the shipyards producing about a ship a day and being able to build an entire ship in a day. The Arsenal produced almost a ship a day by building a hundred of them at the same time, in various stages of production. In other words, it might take a hundred days to make a ship but if you've got one ship 99 days in, another 98 days in, a third 97 days in, and so on you're going to produce about one a day.

I trust your knowledge on these matters generally, but would you mind citing your source for this? I'm not an expert, but I've never heard it explained this way.
posted by hiteleven at 9:53 PM on May 27, 2011


The Crystal Palace was designed and built at breackneck speed, considering the scope of the project.
The Commissioners originally envisioned the building that would house the Great Exhibition as a substantial, permanent structure of brick and stone, and the initial proposals reflected this. However, with the choice of Hyde Park for the exhibition's site, many were concerned about the impact of such a large, fixed structure on the park's open areas, which defenders hailed as one of the "lungs of the metropolis." Sir Joseph Paxton then informally approached one of the commissioners, sketching out a rough elevation (shown at left) of a multi-story glass structure, with cast iron uprights and supports. He claimed it could be speedily built, incorporate existing trees inside its structure, and be removed afterward, thus preserving Hyde Park as a green space. Although encouraged that it was not too late to submit his alternative plans, Paxton had just nine days to submit his final bid. ...

The preparations for the Great Exhibition were considerable. In addition to the construction itself—which involved some 900,000 square feet of glass, and the decorative color-scheme that required the labor of 500 painters—the interior of the building was enormous. With 11 miles of stalls and over 100,000 individual exhibits, assembling the interior required the constant labor of 2,000 men for three months.
posted by maudlin at 10:29 PM on May 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In 2007 a tanker truck fire destroyed an overpass in the MacArthur Maze of Interstate 880 in Oakland CA at the foot of the Bay Bridge. It was rebuilt in less than a month, which I recall was some kind of record, especially for what I think is the 5th busiest interstate interchange in the country. Also, I recall the interstate recontructions after the Northridge earthquake were very fast. (cited as we East Bay residents approach 25 years for a Bay Bridge replacement after the Loma Prieta earthquake of 1989.)
posted by TDIpod at 12:02 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the Road was written in three weeks.
posted by empath at 12:22 AM on May 28, 2011


The Fortification of Dorchester Heights during the Revolutionary War, by 2000 of George Washington's men under cover of darkness in secret? On the night of March 4th 1776 within view of the British besieging Boston Harbor, the rebels took Dorchester Heights and fortified it sufficiently to compel the British to abandon Boston. General Howe, stunned to wake up on March 5 and find the Patriots on the high ground of the Heights, wrote to Lord Dartmouth: "It [the capture of the Heights] must have been the employment of twelve thousand men. The rebels have done more in one night than my whole army would have done in a month." David McCullough's book 1776 recounts this in wonderful detail, and is stirring reading.
posted by bmosher at 12:26 AM on May 28, 2011


To be pedantic, some of these examples were assembled quite quickly, but the background engineering and planning and off-site construction are quite substantial and time consuming. You can put up a building in a day, but I would argue it's not built in a day, since the planning started say 1 year ago, the order was placed to the steel mill etc. etc.

Hiteleven - production of x things a day does not correspond to each item taking x amount of time to make. 1 ship a day out the back end, it did not start as logs that morning. It started as logs 100 days ago. So you say we need to build a fleet now, 100 days later your first ship rolls off of it, with a new ship each day after that.
posted by defcom1 at 1:27 AM on May 28, 2011


Of course, if you go by the legends then Rome as a religious city was built in a day or so. Once the boundaries had been drawn and the gods of their ancestors emplaced within, a city existed. It just didn't have any buildings yet.
posted by atrazine at 1:33 AM on May 28, 2011


If often advise people that nine women can have a baby in a month, on average.
posted by FauxScot at 3:51 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just saw this on PBS, the Parthenon was built in 9 years.

The restoration has taken decades and they are able to use cranes.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 3:57 AM on May 28, 2011


...Or an obscure one...The Tillamook Blimp hangers - one of which was built in 27 days. There's only one left after a fire in 1992, but it's an amazing piece of work and a tribute to the woodworking skills of its builders.
posted by nicktf at 9:12 AM on May 28, 2011


The Beatles recorded the bulk of their first album Please Please Me on February 11th, 1963, in three sessions lasting a total of 9 hours and 45 minutes. They recorded 10 songs that day, adding to four that had been previously recorded and released as singles.

In addition, George Martin went into the studio on February 20th to add an overdub on the track Misery, bit the Beatles weren't present that day.
posted by malapropist at 4:33 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disneyland was built in 1 year. Surprisingly fast for the scale and scope.
posted by themissy at 4:35 PM on May 28, 2011


When Linus Torvalds suddenly lost the license for the version control software he used for coordinating Linux kernel development, he needed a new tool.
The development of Git began on April 3, 2005. The project was announced on April 6, and became self-hosting as of April 7. The first merge of multiple branches was done on April 18. Torvalds achieved his performance goals; on April 29, the nascent Git was benchmarked recording patches to the Linux kernel tree at the rate of 6.7 per second.
posted by Anything at 6:50 PM on May 28, 2011


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