Any of various upright constructions used to divide or enclose a room or building. In traditional masonry construction, bearing walls supported the weight of floors and roofs, but modern steel and reinforced-concrete frames, as well as heavy timber and other skeletal structures, require exterior walls only for shelter. Some urban buildings dispense with walls on the ground floor, extending outdoor plazas under the building and permitting easier access to elevators, escalators, and stairs. In masonry construction, all types of floors and roofs except domes are most easily supported on straight, parallel walls. Nonbearing walls, used when loads are carried by girders, beams, or other members, can be either curtain walls or infill of brick, block, or other material. Seealso cavity wall, retaining wall, shear wall.
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Wall constructed to hold in place a mass of earth or prevent the erosion of an embankment. It may also be battered, with the face inclined toward the load it is bearing. The most basic type of reinforced retaining wall is the massive concrete gravity wall, which is prevented from falling over by the sheer weight and volume of its mass. A cantilever (L-shaped) retaining wall resists overturning by means of cantilever footings, spread footings (see foundation) shaped to resist overturning and sliding.
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Street in New York City where many major U.S. financial institutions are located. The street, in southern Manhattan, is narrow and short and extends only about seven blocks from Broadway to the East River. It was named for an earthen wall built by Dutch settlers in 1653 to repel an expected English invasion. Even before the Civil War it was recognized as the nation's financial capital, and it remains a worldwide symbol of high finance. The Wall Street, or financial, district contains the New York Stock Exchange, the American Stock Exchange, and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The district is also the headquarters for many investment banks, securities dealers, utilities and insurance companies, and brokerage firms.
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Continuous Roman defensive barrier. Begun by Hadrian in AD 122, the wall guarded the northwestern frontier of the province of Britain from barbarian (particularly Celtic) invaders. It extended 73 mi (118 km) from coast to coast, from Wallsend (Segedunum) to Bowness. It had towers, gates, and forts at regular intervals; a ditch fronted it and an earthwork (the vallum) ran behind it. It was briefly abandoned in favour of the Antonine Wall, but it returned to use until circa 410. Portions remain visible today.
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Defensive wall, northern China. One of the largest building-construction projects ever carried out, it runs (with all its branches) about 4,500 mi (7,300 km) east to west from the Bo Hai (Gulf of Chihli) to a point deep in Central Asia. Large parts of the fortification date from the 7th to the 4th century BC. In the 3rd century BC the emperor Shihuangdi connected existing defensive walls into a single system fortified by watchtowers. These served both to guard the rampart and to communicate with the capital, Xianyang (near modern Xi'an) by signal—smoke by day and fire by night. Originally constructed partly of masonry and earth, it was faced with brick in its eastern portion. It was rebuilt in later times, especially in the 15th and 16th centuries. The basic wall is about 23–26 ft (7–8 m) high; at intervals towers rise above it to varying heights. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1987.
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Barrier surrounding West Berlin that closed off East Germans access to West Berlin from 1961 to 1989 and served as a symbol of the Cold War's division of East and West Germany. The barrier was built in response to the flight of about 2.5 million East Germans to West Germany in the years 1949–61. First erected on the night of Aug. 12–13, 1961, it developed into a system of concrete walls topped with barbed wire and guarded with watchtowers, gun emplacements, and mines. It was opened in the 1989 democratization that swept through eastern Europe and has been largely torn down.
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Notable examples are: