Sixty years ago, my father was seconded from the CSIRO to Cornell University for three years, and worked on the construction of the telescope — until recently the world's largest. He talked about those three years, split between upstate New York and Puerto Rico, for the rest of his life.
Although the original research case (and other motivations) for constructing the telescope were spotty, once built it was a unique instrument, and it was used in a series of key observations in astronomy and planetary science. Built into a valley, it was a spectacular sight — hence its appearance in movies, sometimes as itself, sometimes not. I have never had the pleasure of visiting Puerto Rico, so I've never had the chance of seeing the telescope in person. Now it seems I never will.
(Image from the NYT article.)