Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 8 Kona Coffee Festival

As noted previously the Kona region is famous for their coffee. Each November they have a festival to celebrate this, as well as the local culture.

Our emcee was a hoot, sort of a Hawaiian Cheech Marin.

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In addition to the coffee there were other activities occurring, including a lei making contest. The judges were very thorough, checking for stitching and display.

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All were beautiful and very different from the stereotype that you see in the media of the ring of flowers.

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There were numerous coffee growers offering samples, as well as educational displays.

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The highlight was the entertainment though. We saw a number of dance performances.

The region has a number of immigrants from Japan and the Philippines, which is where these ladies came from.

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This group had a very lively audience participation dance.

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Many of the dances were similar, yet unique in their own way.

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All ages participated.

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The final dance was a traditional hula.

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Afterwards they posed for a group photo. Hang loose dude (the hand gesture)!

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Once the dances were complete a Hawaiian guitar band took the stage. They were very talented.

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We even met the queens.

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But it was time to catch our home for the next 7 days, a small boat that will take us to new adventures. But first another great sunset.

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Cleveland – November 2018 – Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead)

In Mexican culture the Day of the Dead is celebrated the first two days of November. This celebration honors the memory of those who have passed on.

Presented by the Cleveland Public Theater and Artistas Latinos Unios, Cleveland has had a Dia de Muertos for 14 years.

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Most participants paint their faces.

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While it might seem morbid, it is in fact a joyous occasion that is intended to dispel fear of death and embracing the cycle of life.

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In Cleveland many non Latino people participated.

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While most had face paintings, traditionally hand made clay skulls are also used.

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The Cleveland Public Theater is housed in a former church. Inside they had a number of exhibits set up.

This young lady had one honoring her family.

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As did this young lady. Note in the back numerous photos and offerings to her deceased family members. Throughout the church/theater and outside in the ‘pop up’ cemetery were a number of such altars (known in Spanish as ofrendas)

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One of the event coordinators was ready.

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It was a really cool event, with lots of great looks.

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Stylish and macabre at the same time.

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Finally it was time for the procession to begin…..

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One of the bands lead the march.

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Anyone who had signed up and was in ‘costume’ could participate.

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Some clearly had spent more time putting together their look.

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One of my favorites.

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Many entire families participated.

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This young lady had the face painting but the rest of her family wore the masks.

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Happy skeletons!

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The origins date back thousands of years and coincide with the annual harvest. It combined Aztec and Christian practices.

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Today is has become so popular in the United States even places like Party City sell merchandise for the celebration, although these ladies clearly did better than going down the local Party City.

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Not sure why, but it seems every Cleveland parade has a number of people on stilts. But what’s not to like in a 10′ skeleton lady coming down Detroit Avenue!

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More stilted skeletons.

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A few had more simple masks, which this guy used to accent his great suit.

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Historically in Cleveland most of the Latinos were Puerto Rican, but they too have embraced the event.

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Also participating was a Horse Drawn Funeral Carriage. Note the very stylish job on the horse’s hooves.

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The carriage had a mannequin complete with mask.

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Dia de Mertos was a fantastic event – I can’t wait for next November. Look for one in a city near you.

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Columbus – October 2018 – Highball

Columbus, despite being a medium sized city not on either of the coasts, is known as a fashion city primarily because it is the home of the Limited Brands. As a result there are more clothing fashion designers in Columbus than anywhere else in America except Los Angeles and New York.

The annual Halloween festival, Highball, is intended to mix fashion with Halloween. Unfortunately for us, we were there too early in the evening, and it was raining, so the crowd as sparse. Despite this, we did see some great looks….

All the ticket sellers at the north end were in 1920s looks.

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The beer truck people were ready…

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While it was mostly adults, a couple of kids came along (again we were there much too early for the really good crowds – next year we will go much later in the evening).

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Luigi and Friends.

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Johnny Ramone and friend.

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The first band was dressed from the Wizard of Oz.

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Dorothy was the lead singer and keyboardist.

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The Tin Man apparently had a synthesizer.

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And coupled on backup singing with the lead guitarist the Lion

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While the Scarecrow was on drums.

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Likely the only male Indian nun in Columbus..

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This group has their seasons mixed up, they are ready for Christmas far too early.

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Party On Wayne – Party on Garth.

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A really knit beard.

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Steam Punk meets Scottish.

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What happens when light swords appear.

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Battles ensue.

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They were fashionable in the drizzle.

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The next band were all super heroes.

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Including the lead singer in drag as Wonder Woman.

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A Bat Bass.

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Finally we had had enough drizzle, and the crowds were still getting drunk in nearby bars, or at the hockey game, so we decided to head on out.

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But not before we were greeted by one more group. Next year – hopefully no rain, and we will go much later to get the real show…

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Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 1

Having been in and around Pittsburgh for most of our lives, we were excited to find that they offer an Open House like Chicago and New York.

Known as Doors Open Pittsburgh, the event took place over a weekend featuring 50 buildings downtown and on the North Side.

I had the opportunity to email a number of times with Bonnie Baxter, the founder of the organization that coordinates the event. Her input was instrumental in our planning that allowed us to visit over 30 of the sites over two (busy) days. Bonnie has done a great job pulling together an event of this scale – it shows her pride in her hometown.

The next 4 posts are fairly long but give a brief overview on each of the venues we visited.

 

Frick Building – As we were walking down Grant Street in downtown Pittsburgh waiting for the start of Doors Open Pittsburgh we saw a couple of people in their orange DOP volunteer shirts. Striking up a conversation with them, we found out that one of them, Al, was headed to the nearby Frick Building.

Al also volunteers with the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation, and was more than happy to share his knowledge of Grant Street, and the nearby buildings as we walked along. This was a precursor of what was to come, as for the entire weekend we met enthusiastic volunteers who are proud of their city and the architecture.

Once we arrived at the Frick Building we entered the lobby from the Fifth Avenue Side. Al then gave us a personal tour of the lobby.

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This unique lamp served as a cigar lighter feed by natural gas with a perpetual flame (since there is no smoking in buildings anymore the flame has been extinguished.)

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The current main lobby elevators reflect the Art Deco look.

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The re-purposed telephone booths are fantastic. Al pointed out that most people under the age of 25 can’t even guess what they were used for.

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In what started a trend that we kept most of the weekend, most of the buildings have very stylish mailboxes that had to be photographed.

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Grant Street in Pittsburgh used to have a large ‘hump’. In 1914 this hump was taken out, but as a result what used to be a ground level entrance sudden was 15’ in the air, so any building that pre-dates the removal had to be retrofitted with a new entrance in what was the basements. The Frick Building is one of those buildings, having been completed in 1902.

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As a result the second floor/mezzanine level has a very ornate elevator lobby since it used to be the primary entrance.

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The elevator doors are a piece of art in themselves.

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One final look at the lobby; a stained glass window by John LaFarge titled Fortune and Her Wheel.

Whatever history thinks of Henry Clay Frick, he did build an amazing building. Thanks to Al we had a great tour of the lobbies.

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Benedum Trees Building – Our first ‘official’ visit was to the Benedum-Trees Building. I had been fortunate enough to secure ‘insider tour’ tickets for this building, with a visit to the 18th floor to visit the offices of the Benter Foundation.

The 19 story building was completed in 1905 along the Fourth Avenue financial district. The name came from the Benedum Trees Oil Company, founded by Mike Benedum and Joe Trees in the early 1900s.

Our tour started in the lobby with another classic mailbox, along with the building directory sign and some great lighting.

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We then headed up to the 18th floor.

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Our visit was topped off (literally) by checking out the roof top terrace, with commanding views around downtown – despite being somewhat surrounded by newer, taller buildings.

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Later that afternoon we were able to look back from Mt Washington to see where we had been.

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Bank Tower Building – Completed in 1902 as the Peoples Savings Bank Building, the Bank Towers exterior features figures carved by John Massey Rhind.

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Easily the most impressive feature of the building is the spiral staircase that goes the entire 16 floors.

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A very nice bonus to this stop was visiting the offices of MCF Architects, where one of the principals showed us the offices, and some of the amazing work they have completed, as well as historic drawings they have.

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Their security gate is modeled after da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man.

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Dollar Bank – Designed by Isaac Hobbs & Sons of Philadelphia in the late 1860s, the Dollar Bank Building on Fourth Avenue is built primarily out of brownstone. Hobbs was known for his ornate design of houses, and it is clear it was carried over to this design.

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Built in the Beaux Arts style, it’s most famous exterior feature are the large lion sculptures, symbolizing a ‘guardianship of the people’s money’.

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The original lions are located inside the building.

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The lobby is impressive, and is used to this day for it’s original purpose, a bank.

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The Park Building – We spent most of our time at the Park Building staring up at the cornices.

Built in 1896, this 15 floor building depicts men kneeling, holding up the building. We have seen this used previously, most recently in the ‘Ruins’ in Indianapolis.

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continued in the next 3 postings.

 

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 2

Doors Open Pittsburgh continues…

 

Koppers Building – When it was completed in 1929 this 35 floor building was topped out at 475 feet high, making it Pittsburgh’s tallest for a time (passed a short time later by the Gulf Tower).

Constructed of polished granite and Indiana limestone, it is an excellent example of Art Deco.

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Lets head inside.

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As we entered we were greeted by a couple of the more than 200 volunteers. Events like this rely on volunteers, and all weekend we met welcoming, enthusiastic people who made the visits more worthwhile. A big thank you to all of the volunteers, but on to the visit….

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The three story lobby has a variety of marble finishes.

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There is significant use of bronze throughout the lobby including another great mailbox.

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Do you ever wonder where the elevator is? Not in this building!

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The cool clock collection continues…

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Even the handrail is stylish.

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First Lutheran Church – One stop that was not originally on our itinerary was the First Lutheran Church, but a hard rain shower had come along so we ducked inside.

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They are proud of the fact that this church was the first English speaking Lutheran church west of the Alleghenies, having been founded in 1837.

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The ceiling is amazing.

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As is the pipe organ.

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As with most churches, this one has some very ornate stained glass windows.

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Union Trust Building – Another building built by Henry Clay Frick, the Union Trust Building was completed in 1916 in a Flemish Gothic structure.

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It is believed that the roof is modeled after the Woolworth Building in New York, with the terra cotta dormers and mechanical towers that look like chapels.

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Even with this stunning roof, the most amazing feature of this building is the lobby, and its massive atrium leading up to the skylight.

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A closeup of the skylight.

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What a great building.

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The clock tour continues in the Union Trust Building.

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As does the mailbox tour.

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City/County Building – As we continued our day it became obvious that Pittsburgh experienced a massive building boom in the 1910s. Another example of this boom is the City/County Building, which was completed in 1916.

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The entire build emphasized local resources, from the architects to the materials and construction workers, it was directed that all the resources should come from Allegheny County.

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The lobby features a bust of William Pitt.

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As well as sculpted columns.

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Our visit included a stop at the Mayor’s office.

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Pittsburgh is noteworthy for their unique dialect, differing from the rest of the country with the accents and use of words. The most common of these is ‘Yinz’, which is Pennsylvanian for Y’all. Another is the way that downtown is pronounced (Dahntahn), and is celebrated with this sign in the Mayor’s office.

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Also open were the Council Chambers, located directly next to the Mayor’s Office.

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Oliver Building – The Henry Oliver Building is located directly across Smithfield Street from Mellon Square. Completed in 1910, the 25 story building now contains offices and an Embassy Suites hotel.

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The building was designed by Daniel Burnham. Interestingly other than Chicago, Pittsburgh has the most Burnham buildings still standing (7), and when first built they were actually taller than those in Chicago. It is thought by some that this is as a result of the steel barons, whose steel was required for the skyscrapers, for this ego boosting building boom.

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The building features another great safe.

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Art Deco is used throughout.

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The mailbox collection continues….

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The highlight however was being permitted to go check out the 25th floor lobby of the Embassy Suites, and the views from the windows throughout the floor.

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continued…..

 

Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 3

Doors Open continues…

 

Smithfield Church – The church was completed in 1927, at the corner of Smithfield Street and Strawberry Way.

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The church was built by the German Evangelical Protestant Church, and has German sayings throughout.

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As with the other downtown churches, the Smithfield Church has an impressive organ.

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As well as the stained glass.

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The HYP Club – The Harvard, Yale, Princeton Club of Pittsburgh has a small 2 floor building surrounded by skyscrapers.

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The Alcoa Building towers over it’s neighbor.

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The interior itself was nice, but not noteworthy. We did have an enjoyable conversation with one of the hostesses, learning much about the club – which interesting is no longer restricted to just alumni of Harvard, Yale and Princeton.

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Pittsburgh Engineers Building – Daniel Burnham’s first Pittsburgh building was the 1899 Union Trust Company. Built in 1899 for Andrew Mellon and Henry Clay Frick, it was noteworthy for it’s safe.

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The bank left long ago, but the safe is still there.

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The Engineering Society of Pittsburgh has taken over the building, and has a club/restaurant that celebrates the engineering of Pittsburgh, with an emphasis on the bridges.

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William Penn Hotel – The William Penn Hotel, a classic old school hotel, was opened in 1916. Over the years it has hosted many famous people, including numerous presidents.

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Situated along Grant Street, it has long been the center of society in Pittsburgh.

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The main lobby.

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The lower level has the famous Speakeasy Bar, so named because of it’s reputation during prohibition.

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The hotel has a collection of artifacts including Lawernce Welk’s first bubble machine (for those too young google or youtube Lawrence Welk)

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The Pennsylvanian –  While it was officially called Union Station, the major train station at the corner of Liberty and Grant was always more commonly known as Penn Station, as the only railroad it served was the Pennsylvania Railroad

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Designed by Daniel Burnham it went into service in 1901.

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As you approach the station you are greeted by a great rotunda that was once used by carriages arriving and departing.

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The ceiling of the rotunda is one of the master pieces of the city, and of Daniel Burnham’s career.

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The rotunda is worth a number of looks…

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Immediately inside is a smaller room that greeted passengers.

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The Main Hall, with it’s high ceilings and skylights, continue to impress people today. After the buildings restoration in the 1980s to apartments, this hall has been used for functions like weddings and meetings.

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Original benches from the station era are still used in this hall.

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Detailed carvings are throughout.

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The skylights open up the lower level to natural lighting, despite the fact that the entire building rises another 10 floors around and above them.

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Another classic public clock.

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On this day they were also offering tours of one of the apartments.

From the 4th floor hallway you had a better look above the skylights at the higher floors of the building

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As with most of the other historic buildings in town, the Pennsylvanian has a great mailbox.

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Doors Open Pittsburgh is continued in part 4…