Seven wonders of the United States: Utopia and baseball

The ABC’s morning show, “Good Morning America” has a series in the works to get people to tune in May 5-13. Each day they will feature a “wonder” of the United States. A panel of travel experts are in charge of the picking. What seems daunting to me is figuring out the parameters, and then narrowing down the choices. In February, Gading ran a series on the 14 sites in the U.S. that may achieve World Heritage organization distinction over the next 10 years. Even that list doesn’t help much.

Does one choose architecture over nature? What about sites with cultural significance? How does the Grand Canyon compare to the Empire State Building? If I were to pick the top wonders of the U.S., two of them would be Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Alabama. “Say, what?” you might be thinking. I have my reasons.

I’d pick Disneyland, not because I think Disneyland is the most wonderful place in the U.S., but because it was created by Walt Disney as a version of Utopian society. Really. There’s a loads of stuff written about it. Optimism, innovation and cleanliness were built into its design. The values Disneyland promotes are meant to reflect the U.S., and over the years Disneyland has had an enormous influence on American culture. Look at marketing alone and how many people pour into a Disney establishment each year. When people come to the United States for vacation, Disney is one of the places they head. Since Disneyland was the first to open, it gets the nod.

Why Rickwood Field? Well, it’s the oldest baseball park in the U.S. that still looks like it did back in 1910 when it first opened. Willie Mays played here. I thought about choosing one of the larger more famous ball parks, but when I did a search for the oldest ball park in the United States, Rickwood Field came up. Whenever Rickwood Field gets an update, the update looks like the original.

Wonders of the world, in my opinion, should mostly represent the original creation, otherwise history is covered up and discarded. Rickwood Field is also significant in the history of U.S. race relations. This was the home of the Black Barons of the Negro League.

Because baseball is a sport that most folks in the U.S. have played at one time of another–and it is one that has had an enormous impact on the identity of many U.S. cities–look at the economic impact alone, I think a baseball field is a U.S. wonder. So, these are my two choices off the top of my head. I’m interested to see what the travel experts pick. I doubt they’ll think of Rickwood Field. Disneyland? Maybe. The Grand Canyon? I would say it is a yes.