Cincinnati – January 2019 – Union Terminal

As noted in previous postings the Cincinnati Union Terminal is a masterpiece of art deco that was completed in 1933. It has the largest semi-dome in the western hemisphere, measuring 180 feet wide by 106 feet high.









Once it closed as a rail station in the early 1970s it lived on briefly as a shopping mall before becoming the Cincinnati Museum Center in 1990.

It is immensely popular, with the original information booth serving as the ticket booth for the museums.





Fortunately each weekend day they offer tours of the building. While (as noted in other posts) portions of the building are undergoing restorations, it is still an amazing place to see any of it.

Our docent lead us on an hour tour, giving highlights and details.





The art deco touch is evident throughout, including this ticket booth for one of the smaller theaters.





Among the highlights are the massive mosaic murals on the main rotunda, as well as others hidden in corridors. The detail in the murals are amazing.

All depict either transportation or industry of Cincinnati over the years (up to 1932).


















An ice cream shop off the main rotunda was once the women’s tea room. The entire room is Rookwood (a famed Cincinnati ceramics pottery company).









While it was abandoned as a train station in the 1970s, Amtrak has returned and uses a small portion of the building. It too has a great art deco look, with inlaid wood depicting railroad scenes.





A bank of phone booths grace one wall – without phones, but you can always close the door and use your cell phone.





Pierre Bourdelle was a framed French artist who designed linoleum panels with floral design for the walls of the women’s lounge.

Fortunately it is no longer a women’s lounge so anyone (including me) can see it.





A private dining room, and former men’s lounge, has a large mural of a map of Cincinnati and nearby northern Kentucky on the wall and mirrored walls giving a great effect.





A second view of the room.





Finally a stop in the main dining room that features some recently discovered food themed artwork.

The Cincinnati Union Terminal was, and continues to be, one of Ohio’s great buildings.









Cincinnati – January 2019 – Guitars

For the past 7 years the National Guitar Museum has had a travelling exhibit on the history of Guitar. This exhibit has been on display at 21 science museums, with Cincinnati’s turn ending soon.





With more than 60 items on display, the exhibit gives an excellent overview of the history of stringed instruments, as well as the science behind the guitar. The example below is an Oud, a Persian instrument similar to a lute.





The exhibit covered everything from banjos to electric guitar and synthesizers.





The artistic aspect was emphasized.





As well as some unusual designs.









The rare Gibson Harp Guitar.





Any exhibit on guitar must have a Gibson Les Paul




And a Fender Stratocaster!



Gresch was well represented, including this dobro





And a White Falcon





The quantity and quality of the guitars was very impressive. As a photographer the lighting and reflective glass/plastic was very challenging. One would think ‘world class museums’ could do better.

Still, it was well worth the trip to Cincinnati.







Chicago – December 2018 – Elevated Architecture: Downtown ‘El’ Train

Our final tour of this visit was one I was looking forward to – a tour of architecture of and from the El train. The tour would take us into a number of El stations, as well as checking out some of Chicago’s finest architecture from a view most don’t see – 20 feet up from the El platforms.

We made our way to our first station in the pouring rain. The group of 9 people were more than happy when we arrived at the Washington and Wabash Station. Rebuilt and opened just a year ago, this station is sometimes referred to as the Millennium Station as it is located just a block from the park (but to any Chicagoan it will always be Washington/Wabash).

The canopy is made of steel and glass, with waves that are to evoke the feeling of nearby Lake Michigan.





As you enter the station you are greeting by a significant amount of artwork.





A major portion of the tour was focused on the nearby buildings. We had seen the Sullivan Center previously, but on this tour we had the mix of the canopy of the station with the classic lines of the building.





This row of 5 floor buildings are survivors from the 1800s, and are classic buildings. All they need is someone to come along with $40-50 million to purchase and rehab them (perhaps into boutique hotels!)





We made our way clockwise around the loop to the stations at State and Van Buren, aka the Harold Washington Library Station.

While the station is a fairly typical El station, it has great views of the Fisher Building and the Monodnock Building.

The Fisher Building is an 1896 Daniel Burnham masterpiece. As with many buildings it was built in two phases. Note the bay windows on the portion closest to the camera, then a flat face just beyond that.





The building’s terracotta has numerous sculptures featuring fish and crabs, as well as mythical creatures.





The northbound view of Dearborn Street with the Monodnock on the left and the Standard Club on the right.





The rain and the Monodnock gave a basic light added character.





We had the good fortune of having the CTA Holiday Train roll through the station as we were checking out the sights. A Chicago tradition since 1992, the train is decorated by volunteers and corporate sponsor.

Prior to Christmas they will run open air flatbed cars with Santa on them (check out the blog posting on the CTA Skokie Repair shop for more details as it was being prepared when we were there in October).









Throughout our tour the CTA employees were more than helpful, holding the train briefly while we boarded en mass or letting us through the turnstiles without addition payment to check out the stations.

I am certain to them it is just a job, but how cool would it be to drive an El train around all day.





The Quincy Station was the highlight of the tour. It was opened in 1897 and is essentially the same as the day it opened (with a few additional safety features).





They even have a couple of the original (unused) fare boxes mounted on the wall





It is the only station in the system that does not have advertising, rather they have period correct ads from the early days of the station.

Interestingly the ad on the left for the South Shore could still be valid, as that commuter rail still runs down into Indiana.





The platform maintains the same look. Quite the contrast to the skyscrapers in the background (including the 1400′ high Willis/Sears Tower directly behind the platform).





Again the lighting adds to the overall look.





We continued around the loop, crossing Randolph Street past the Palace Theater.





We made a turn to the west at the northwest corner of the loop, giving a great view of the wood planking for the tracks as well as one of the control stations.





Our final stop was at the Clinton Station in the West Loop. With the recent construction of very tall buildings, and the rain, the views were diminished this day, but it still gave some great symmetry shots.





This station is next to Union Station. The building in the background was once a large warehouse but has been re purposed to condo’s.





The view back towards the loop. It is interesting how this 100+ year old transportation still works, skirting past the massive skyscrapers.





We were at a Metra Commuter Rail station and had the good fortune of seeing their Holiday Train as well! Talk about good luck (even with the pouring rain).

As always our volunteer docent was knowledgeable and personable. With so many tacky tourist hop on hop off bus type businesses in large American cities, the non profit, mostly volunteer Chicago Architecture Foundation is a real treasure. We are looking forward to returning for more tours.







Columbus – December 2018 – Ohio’s Attic

The Ohio History Center in Columbus is sort of Ohio’s attic, if an attic is a brutalist style concrete building with a number of galleries with extremely diverse displays.

Still, a good way to spend a few hours on a cold, rainy Saturday.

First up – African American Art

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A long time Columbus TV legend, Flippo (or more appropriately Flippo’s outfit)

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A small engine.

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Silver Bracelet from the 1800s.

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Ohio has always been known for it’s many glass makers.

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Coverlets

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A display on World War I had a gas mask. Interestingly the precursor to the gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan in Cleveland. An African American, Garrett had a long and distinguished life as an inventor.

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An exhibit on Ohio artists. This display honors Paul Henri Bourguignon, a Belgian born artist who settled in Columbus in 1950 after his wife joined the faculty of Ohio State University.

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Flywheel for a steam engine. I just like the symmetry and color.

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Early fire engine.

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Horse drawn streetcar.

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Model Train set.

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Miss America 1953’s gown and portrait.

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Etch a Sketch – from ‘Ohio Art’

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A 1957 Chevy and an Airstream Trailer. The camper has been built in Ohio for a long time.

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The Soap Box derby is synonymous with Ohio.

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Lustron Homes were prefabricated, metal houses made in the 1940s and 1950s.

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This display is all set for Christmas 1955.

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Native American pipe.

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And effigy.

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Flints.

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A display of Civil War era Ohio Companies flags.

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Dinosaur skull.

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Fossils.

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Taxidermy of animals that once, or still, are present in Ohio.

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An airplane, because we need an airplane.

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And cars. We need cars to. And the state has long produced both.

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An early tire mold from Firestone.

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Finally we are hungry, so we stopped by White Castle (at least the exhibit – we found better food for lunch afterwards).

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Hawaii – November 2018 – Day 18 Art and History of Maui

Day 18 of the Hawaii trip is a travel day, so we stayed fairly close to the airport for our late afternoon flight. We found a number of interesting artistic and historic sites to visit.

 

First up was the Sacred Gardens. This location seemed to be part gardens, part religious, part cosmic and more.

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They did have a ‘Buddha Garden’, with some nice sculptures.

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Their claim to fame though is their labyrinths.

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Just down the road is the Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center. Situated on the grounds of a former sugar plantation owner, there are a number of buildings for various uses including a tiny high school.

The grounds are immaculate.

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Makai Glassworks is located in another former sugar plantation. We were able to observe the artist at work.

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In the same area, but off the tourist path, is the Dingking surfboard shop.

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A true find, they make custom surfboards.

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In addition to the surfboards, they do other custom woodwork including this great canoe.

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But their specialty is surfboards.

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Our next stop was the Surfing Goat Dairy, and as our directions had us turn into the road we were amazed that a dairy would have such a fancy entrance – until we realized the entrance was for a neighborhood of multi million dollar houses, and the dairy was off to to the side.

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But they did have goats, and surfboards.

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While most of the employment in Maui now is tourism, they once had thriving businesses in agriculture, primarily the sugar plantations and pineapples. They even once had railroads to bring the goods to the port, as evidenced by this former railroad office.

In my 3 weeks in Hawaii I did not see 1 railroad track (although there are apparently a couple of historic railroads around).

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Sugar cane processing was once a big business, but it is all now gone. This was the last processing plant, and it closed a few years ago.

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The history is celebrated by a museum housed in the former superintendents home.

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The interior has a nice display of the people and lifestyles of the plantation life. Outside they have some of the equipment used in the processing.

This truck and trailer was used to bring in massive amounts of the sugar cane into the factory.

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While these large claws picked up the cane in the fields.

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A quick stop at Target – where they are ready for Christmas Hawaiian style.

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And a great Hawaiian pizza – and it was off for our flights to Kauai.

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Columbus – November 2018 – Science Center Revisit

In checking the events calendars for something to do I noticed COSI had a model train exhibit, so we headed down for a Sunday morning.

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We headed straight to the upper floor exhibit area where the model trains were set up. Disappointingly we found they are the same ones we see set up elsewhere (such as the fair, etc).

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While nice, we were hoping for more.

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One unique one though was this group who have built their entire train display from Legos. The tracks, the trains, the cars, are all built out of Legos!

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Outside along the hallways are a number of art pieces made out of scrap material. Among other things this one has piano keys, roofing metal, paint brushes, a garden hose and other ‘stuff’.

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All sorts of pieces/parts including license plates.

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A giant frame skeleton hovers over all.

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This display shows the miles and miles of veins and arteries in the body.

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I wish I could remember what this was, but I can’t. No worries – he looks cool.

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One exhibit that they have had since the 1960s is the exhibit ‘Process’. This shows an American street at two different times, one in 1898 then the same street in 1962 (which is when the center was opened at it’s original location).

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It was amusing to see teenagers all running for the various corded telephones, as most under 15 have never used one.

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We happened to be next to one of the presentation areas when they were starting an exhibit on chemistry where the presenter entertained us with liquid nitrogen and others like potassium and their reactions to hot and cold.

On this display she had someone give her a $20 bill, dipped it in hydrogen and set it on fire. In the end the person got his $20 back unscathed, except for being wet where she ‘rinsed’ it.

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She also demonstrated how different gases make different colored flames when exploding (yes they were very loud booms)

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Honda is a big sponsor, with a display on automotive components such as how pistons drive engines, how shocks work, etc.

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The American Museum of Natural History has a very large display that is being presented for a year or so. There were a number of fossils on display.

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There were many on exhibit.

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The display was very large, and very well done.

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Some were models to show the full size of the dinosaur.

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But the actual fossils were best.

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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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