New York’s Deco Towers

Growing up we could see the New York Skyline from the back window of both my grandparents’ flat and from our flat, although the best view was from Grandma’s kitchen fire escape.  The Empire State and Chrysler buildings dominated the skyline.  When I moved to Ridgewood the favorite spot for “parking” was on a ridge overlooking the skyline.  Again, those two buildings were the focus of the skyline. The Empire State Building lost its title as the tallest in New York to the World Trade Center twin towers in the early 70’s.  When the towers were brought down it was … Continue reading New York’s Deco Towers

New York’s World Trade Center in transition.

It looks like a giant Klingon Bird of Prey has landed in the middle of the World Trade Center.  It’s the skeleton of a new railway station, designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who says the design is that of a bird being released from a child’s hand.  Now, under construction, with welders sparks flying, it looks ominous, but I can see how, minus welders’ sparks, when finished, it could be inviting. The World Trade Center zone looks like Dubai.  Construction cranes swing between impossibly tall buildings.  One World Trade Center, The “Freedom Tower,” rises to 1776 feet.  This … Continue reading New York’s World Trade Center in transition.

St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge

I love the iron and steel constructs built between the American Civil War and the First World War. Many were built by the railroads, the wonder train sheds of Europe. But the US has its share of railway architecture. The St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge is a magical construct of steel latticework. I never tire of taking a boat down to the bridge just to marvel at how, more than a century ago (in 1909) folks made such a wonderful and beautiful structure.  I love how delicate the lacework pattern of iron and steel can look. Make sure … Continue reading St. Croix River Soo Line High Bridge

A Professor, An Art Barn and A Lifetime of Enjoyment

Liberal Arts educations are often derided in the popular press today.  Today the reason for a college education seems to be to find a job not to find a life or a vocation.  I’ve never regretted the broad liberal arts education I got at St. Olaf College.  Sure, it gave me skills to function in the workplace but more than that it gave me insight in how to live an enjoyable life, in finding a vocation. When I look back at my college time from the perspective of 50 years the one course that stands out, providing me more lifetime … Continue reading A Professor, An Art Barn and A Lifetime of Enjoyment

Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Day — a good day to post pictures of Bethlehem.  The focal point of any visit to Bethlehem is Manger Square.  It is a pedestrian zone bordered by the Church of the Nativity, the Mosque of Omar, the Palestinian Peace Center and a wonderful falafel shop which also serves freshly squeezed orange juice.  Star Street, Nativity Street and Manger Street converge on the square. Some claim that the Church of the Nativity is the oldest Christian worship site in the world.  It was built during the rule of Constantine on a site selected by his mother, St. Helena.  She … Continue reading Merry Christmas !! Pictures from Bethlehem.

Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

It’s Christmas Eve.  In the news we have constant reminders that “Peace on Earth” is still a hope not a fact.  This is evident at Shepherds’ Field outside Bethlehem where you can easily see the security apparatus that meanders around the hilltop where shepherds first heard “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” (assuming the angels sang in Latin).  The Franciscans control this hilltop and when we were there in 2010 we listened to them field questions from tourists looking out over the fields asking what exactly they were seeing.  In one of the pictures in this post you can see an Israeli … Continue reading Christmas Eve, Shepherds’ Fields outside Bethlehem.

Egyptian “Boardwalk” Towns, Sharm and Dahab.

It was not the boardwalk at Keansburg or Wildwood.  On the boardwalks in those Jersey Shore towns you won’t see a sign in the window of a hole in the wall shop that says “special, buy two bottles of Viagra, get one free. Genuine — illegally imported from the States.” Of course it’s called the corniche, and not boardwalk, on Naama Bay at Sharm el Sheikh.  It’s a bit more upscale than the boardwalk at Wildwood or Keansburg, but it has its share of shore dinners, pizza, postcards, and sunglasses.  Along the streets leading to the corniche you can find … Continue reading Egyptian “Boardwalk” Towns, Sharm and Dahab.

Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

I became interested in Art Nouveau living in Bratislava and within an hour of Vienna where Nouveau and Secession buildings captured my fancy.  Having seen them I needed to see some of the buildings of Antoni Gaudí .  The first 8 pics here are Gaudi buildings, including the Holy Family Cathedral, Sagrada Família, a must see in Barcelona and Casa Batilo and Casa Mila. I took these pictures in 1999 on a very early digital camera that had limited storage capacity.  I find it hard to imagine that I can shoot thousands of pictures now on one card.  Early digital cameras … Continue reading Barcelona Nouveau and Gaudi

St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

Modernist Marc Chagall, cubist Jacques Villon, and tachist Roger Bissière are all there, mixed with art from the Gothic, Renaissance and Romantic periods.  It’s the play of light on the works that I find so fascinating.  They are the stained glass windows in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Metz.  Gothic does away with the need for structural walls, allowing artists to work in walls of glass.  The cathedral soars with light coming through colored glass, creating shadows and shafts.   Outside the light plays against the exposed structural members, the flying buttresses.  At night the outside is floodlit to stunning effect. Pictures from … Continue reading St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Metz

King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

The only way to get into the King Hassan II Mosque, if you are not a Moslem, is on a guided tour.  It’s worth it.   The mosque is more than two football fields long and one wide.  I think St. Peters in Rome could easily fit inside if the roof were retracted for the dome.  It has a carved wooden roof of cyprus that is retractable so in good weather you can pray outside.  There is a glass floor under part of the mosque, which is built on and, in parts, over the Atlantic.  The floor gives us a glimpse … Continue reading King Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

Mt. Nebo, Jordan

When Moses got to Mt. Nebo he could see the Promised Land, but he could not enter. The mountain has a commanding view down into the Jordan Valley and across.  It is more than 2.600 feet above sea level and the Dead Sea at the foot of the Jordan Valley is more than 1,400 feet below sea level.  That’s quite a drop and quite a view.  You can just see the gold glint of dome from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. You can also see Jericho, the Dead Sea and practically all of modern Palestine and Israel.  I … Continue reading Mt. Nebo, Jordan

Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

I’m not sure of the theological meaning, but Pope John Paul II has been turned into a pillar of salt.  In Genesis it was Lot’s wife who became a saline pillar.  Her sin was looking back at Sodom, the home from which she was being evacuated by angels before its destruction. The Wieliczka mines in Krakow Poland are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We took a bus to the salt mines and went on the tour.  We went down about 438 feet, although the mines go down much further than that, and walked for about three kilometers underground.  The wondrous … Continue reading Salt Pope, Krakow, Poland

Yankee Stadium

If my parents could see me they would die a second time.  Last night Suzi and I went to Yankee Stadium and I rooted for the Yankees.  I was thrilled when the Yanks popped 4 homers and scored 9 runs in the second inning.  I cheered when the scoreboard showed Baltimore losing to Tampa Bay giving the Yanks sole possession of first place with two games left in the season.  At the end of the game I sang along with Frank Sinatra, long gone but still beloved , in a chorus of “New York, New York.” We had planned to … Continue reading Yankee Stadium