Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Miniature Railroad and Village

The Miniature Railroad and Village located at the Carnegie Science Center has origins dating back 100 years. In 1919 Charles Bowdish created a holiday train display in his home in the small town of Brookville, Pennsylvania.

In 1954 it was moved to Buhl Planetarium where it resided until that closed, and moved to it’s current located at the science center in 1992.

The display features life and times in Western Pennsylvania between the 1880s and 1930s.

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IT’S GROUNDHOG DAY! The famed groundhog of Punxsutawney and his home on Gobblers Knob. Will it be an early spring?

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A steel mill. This one is a replica of one in Sharon, PA. Amazingly there are numerous movements of cranes, lifts and other features throughout.

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The lights of the ovens in the mill are illuminated.

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The roundhouse supports the trains that are running throughout the exhibit.

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Everything in the 83′ x 30′ display is hand made by the volunteers and staff. It is based on the ‘O’ scale, 1/4 inch = 1 foot.

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My personal favorite is Forbes Field, the baseball stadium from 1909-1970. Each ‘person’ is a painted Q tip.

The detail even includes a runner going head first into second base.

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The model features hundreds of actual Western Pennsylvania buildings, but not in any geographic detail. While Forbes Field is exact, there was no train running by the stadium – it was sitting in the middle of a neighborhood.

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For locals they can spend hours searching out the places they knew or grew up near.

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The day we were there a very nice young lady named Nicole offered to show us the back room where they make all of the buildings and accessories.

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They have many completed buildings, just not enough room to display them. As noted previously everything is hand made – no kits here.

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Some spare rail cars.

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The hilly terrain of Western PA is well represented.

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A streetcar that became a diner.

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Rodgers Field, located near Oakmont, was Pittsburgh first municipal airport. It operated from 1925-1935.

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The famed Frank Lloyd Wright home Fallingwater. Fortunately the real one does not overlook a steel mill.

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A small ‘patch town’ – coal mine town.

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The roller coaster at Luna Park. Opened in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh in 1905, it was only around for a few years before closing.

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The trees and bushes are made from hydrangeas that are collected and dried. From there each one is hand made using a twisted copper wire for the trunk and limbs. Their goal is that no two trees are exactly alike.

After gluing they paint the tree for the 3 primary seasons, summer, fall and winter. Each tree can take up to 1 day to make, and there are hundreds of thousands of trees on display.

There are larger model train displays around, but this one is well worth the visit.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Views of the City

A weekend in Pittsburgh always gives us a chance to check out the sights – some familiar, some new.

First up – the historic Gulf Tower in the morning sun.

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The Strip District (the neighborhood got it’s name because it is a small ‘strip’ of land along the Allegheny River). Once industrial, then vacant, this area is going through a rebirth – including the refurbished Cork Factory – now apartments.

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A great ‘new-old’ sign on a building on Penn Avenue. In this part of the world ‘pop’ is what soda is known as.

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Artwork along the Allegheny. Note the houses on the high bluff across the river – Pittsburgh is a very hilly city.

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Instead of replacing the tracks they just filled them in with mulch to make a path.

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The view down Smallman Street towards downtown Pittsburgh.

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Our final stop in the Strip was a hipster flea market.

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The best views of the Point, Downtown and the Rivers are from West End Overlook.

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From here you get views of the entire valley.

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The pleasure boats were out on this Sunday morning.

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The bright morning sun made the photography challenging.

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A beautiful day for baseball.

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Where the give away for the the fans were fedora hats!

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Library of Congress

Since the beginning of the U.S. government there has been a Library of Congress. Starting in Philadelphia, then New York, it came to DC in 1800. The current main building was constructed in the 1890s.

When you enter the building you are greeted by a two story Great Hall.

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As with many grand buildings constructed during this period the ceiling is impressive as well.

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There are numerous sculptures throughout.

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The upper level is lined with stately columns.

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While from the upper level you get a clear view of the zodiac symbols in the main level’s floor.

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Additional stylish ceilings and artwork.

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The map room.

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The mosaic in the lower levels floor.

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The building is easily one of the most impressive in DC.

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The Reading Room viewed from above.

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We were so impressed with this room that we went through a process to apply for, and receive, a library card – only to find out that on the reading room floor itself photography is strictly prohibited!

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So we went down the hallways and continued on our way.

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Washington DC – June 2018 – Views of the City

A day and a half in DC gave the opportunity to visit numerous museums (later posts) as well as check out the town. This post are randoms views of the city.

Starting with an unusual view of the Washington Monument down the tracks.

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Stores near Eastern Market

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The Eastern Market interior. I was surprised how small it was.

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A lone runner going past the capital. The reason there are no people around is the visitor center is underneath, and the police keep everyone off the steps.

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The aforementioned police.

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For those who read this blog that are not from America – nearly every 8th grader (13-14 year olds) make a field trip to Washington DC. They always have matching shirts so their chaperones can keep track of them.

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Apparently DC ducks don’t fly, so they have a ramp to get into the reflecting pool.

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The view down the Mall

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A well protected fountain

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The famed Watergate Hotel/Apartment Complex.

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And finally a ride on the Metro.

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New London, CT – May 2018 – Crossing the Long Island Sound

If you are in New England and you want to go to Long Island you can either make the drive to New York City and backtrack back out the island, or you can take a cross sound ferry.

We made a choice to take the ferry from New London, Connecticut to Orient Point, New York. With a full day in Boston, we showed up in New London in the early evening and spent the night before taking the 1st ferry of the morning.

We spent our evening in New London having dinner (an interesting experience at Tony D’s Italian restaurant) and walked the downtown area, where it was apparent the architectural firm that designed the library was the same one who had designed the Waterworks in Boston, as the buildings had a strong resemblance.

 

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The schooner Amistad is docked in the harbor.

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While along the harbor front is a row of American flags.

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A fountain celebrates the whaling history of the city.

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The New London Union Rail Station was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson in the late 1800s.

 

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A centerpiece for the town is a schoolhouse that Nathan Hale taught at before the Revolutionary War.

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The next morning we caught the ferry out of town. It offered a nice overview as we left.

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Including the impressive interstate bridge over the Thames River.

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Past the lighthouse and into the Long Island Sound.

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We were on the slow ferry since we had the car with us. Soon the passenger only Sea Jet ferry caught us and passed us in their 40 minute crossing, whereas ours took 80 minutes. But soon we were on Long Island and continued our trip.

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Boston – May 2018 – The Waterworks

The Chestnut Hill Reservoir in Boston has been providing water to the city for 130 years. For about 100 years the impressive Waterworks pumping station was the engine behind the supply.

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The huge pumps and pipes pushed millions of gallons of water a day.

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Driven by large steam engines, it is an impressive sight.

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The 3 massive steam engines take up most of the building.

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Giving the entire building a true ‘steam punk’ vibe.

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The wheels are massive, nearly 10′ high.

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The building is roughly 40′ high, with the view from the balcony providing an excellent overview.

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Some of the other buildings have been converted to condos.

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A visit to the Boston Waterworks Museum is well worth the time.

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Cambridge, MA – May 2018 – MIT Buildings

A couple of hours on a Sunday morning provided the perfect time to wander the MIT campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts and check out the buildings.

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The Stratton Student Center faces Mass Avenue – featuring the 2010 piece ‘Alchemist’.

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Nearby is the Kresge Auditorium. Designed by Eero Saarinen it was completed in 1955.

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Across Mass Ave is the Rogers Building. While much of MIT was built in around 1915-1916, this building was built in the 1930s to provide an interface to Mass Ave, but built in the same style – with an impressive dome.

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The Maclaurin Building’s dome is equally impressive – highlighting a reading room on an upper floor.

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The Green Building. Cambridge has laws restricting height, so to get around this MIT built the first floor 30′ high. Unfortunately because of this design the winds around this building hamper the ability to open and close the doors some days.

The artwork in front ‘The Big Sail’ was rumored to be an effort to deflect the wind – but MIT says this is an urban legend.

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Finally the Ray and Maria Stata Center. As anyone who has studied any architecture can immediately tell it is a Frank Gehry design.

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