Collected: Miniature Metal Souvenir Buildings
It started in Paris.
It was my first time in Europe. My first time out of the country. I’d tagged along on my friends’ three-week backpacking trip — eight cities in six countries — a pace that now has my quivering. Paris was our last stop. And, like many American girls who had never traveled before, Paris was my dream. The Eiffel Tower was my dream. Seeing the Eiffel Tower, the symbol of romance and beauty and all things European, up close and in person, was my dream.
I knew for the entire trip that the one souvenir I needed to bring home was a miniature metal Eiffel Tower. So, when I finally arrived, I bypassed the vendors roaming the streets with hoops full of multi-colored, multi-sized, renderings and bought one from the gift shop. I wanted mine to be official.
I never intended to start a collection. I never intended to collect miniature metal souvenir buildings from around the world. I never intended to craft my own little skyline. I just wanted an Eiffel Tower of my own.
I bought my second souvenir miniature in Seattle. It was my first time in the city, my first stop on an epic vacation that involved driving to Hyder, Alaska, and back and then flying cross country to New York. After going to the top of the Space Needle, I picked up a replica from their gift shop. Again, I never really considered it a collection, never really considered it something I wanted to collect. All I wanted was a Space Needle souvenir
But, there it was, two silver edifices on my nightstand. And, I suppose, a collection starts at two.
Through the rest of my travels I’ve started picking up more and more souvenir buildings and I now have my own little kingdom of skyscrapers and towers and cathedrals and castles. It’s funny how collections work, really. There are some with great memories. Sagrada Família, Gaudi’s great unfinished work that I hope to return to see finished some day. Galata Tower that I visited with a Turkish friend.
But then there are those that I don’t even remember visiting. Liverpool Cathedral? That exists? I consistently have to pick that one up and read the etching on the bottom to even remember which monument that one represents.
And then there are those places where miniature metal versions don’t seem to exist. I went to every vendor in Agra, India, hoping to find a Taj Mahal of the right scale and material. And I still wander into gift shops every time I’m on Michigan Avenue or at O’Hare looking for a Sears Tower (OK fine Willis Tower) or Hancock Building.
I just don’t think they’re made.
My collection of miniature metal souvenir buildings from around the world: