Far from the dry and desolate deserts of Egypt, several pyramids can be found throughout the United States. Some are an overt homage to the Northern African country and its identifiable architecture. Others, such as the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, chose the design to allow more light to filter down to the street in a downtown business district. While not all U.S. pyramids are open to visitors, they can all be admired and photographed from a distance.
Graves and Tombs
Two pyramid-shaped tombs can be found at two separate New Orleans-area cemeteries. The entrance to the Brunswig family mausoleum in the Metairie Cemetery (lakelawnmetairie.com) is guarded by a sphinx statue.
In the middle of New Orleans’ St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (no website; 425 Basin St., New Orleans; 504-482-5065) you’ll find the Varney tomb, a white marble pyramid that looks out of place in the cemetery. According to locals and tour guides, actor Nicolas Cage is the current owner — and future resident — of the tomb.
A trip to West Point’s cemetery (usma.edu) can include a visit to Egbert Viele’s pyramid tomb. Viele was a West Point graduate and chief engineer of Central Park in New York City. Pick up a map in the visitor’s information area before heading off to explore the cemetery.
The Moody Gardens complex (moodygardens.com), owned by the city of Galveston, Texas, is a tourist attraction just south of Houston known mainly for its three pyramid-shaped buildings. Two of the pyramids house an aquarium and a rainforest exhibit. Also on site are attractions such as a paddle-wheel boat, a hands-on Discovery Museum and both 3-D and 4-D theaters. A hotel and convention center are also part of the complex.
The Princeton Welcome Center (transportation.wv.gov) in West Virginia is made up of three pyramid sections. Located at Exit 9 on Interstate 77, the welcome center has West Virginia-made crafts, a sheltered picnic area and a landscaped garden in addition to travel information and brochures.
Several businesses in the United States have chosen a pyramid for their building’s shape. Perhaps the most famous of these is the Luxor Hotel and Casino (luxor.com) in Las Vegas. Its 30-story pyramid with light beaming from the top makes it stand out, even on the flashy Las Vegas Strip.
The Transamerica Pyramid (thepyramidcenter.com) in San Francisco is the tallest building in Northern California. While visitors can no longer ascend to the top for a panoramic view of the city, great views of the building can be seen in many areas of the city, including nearby Nob Hill.
While you could at one time watch a Memphis Grizzles basketball game at the Pyramid Arena (no website; 1 Auction Ave., Memphis; 901-521-9675), today the Tennessee sports complex is tenantless and awaiting its future purpose. The city’s newspaper, “The Commercial Appeal,” has reported that Bass Pro Shops (basspro.com) has bought the building and will convert it into a mega hunting-goods store.
You can still watch games at the Walter Pyramid (csulb.edu) on the California State University campus in Long Beach. In addition to hosting the school’s athletic teams, the 18-story pyramid is also home to a fitness center and educational conference center.