Hyderabad, India – November 2017 – Golkonda Fort

Golkonda Fort in Hyderabad, India is built into a nearly 500′ high granite hill, about 7 miles west of the old town city center. The original fort was built in 1143, but was rebuilt numerous times with this iteration dating from the 1500s.

 

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The lower levels had the living quarters.

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From below it is clear to see the integration of construction into the existing rocks.

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The view from the top is fantastic.

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Nearby Qutb Shahi Tombs are clearly visible.

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More of the geology on top of the hill.

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An overview of the lower fort.

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Including a courtyard.

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View from the courtyard back up the hill.

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Joliet & Pontiac, Illinois – October 2017 – Route 66 begins

While officially Route 66 started in downtown Chicago it isn’t until you get out of town a bit to Joliet before it really is emphasized by the local communities.

Downtown Joliet has the unique position where Route 66 crossed the first major trans-continental road, the Lincoln Highway.

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Joliet is also the home of old Joliet Prison, home of the (fictional) Joliet Jake Blues – of Blues Brothers fame. Now closed the day we were there an Illinois Department of Corrections van and officer was in the parking lot – to keep people from breaking into prison!

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The Blues Brothers are celebrated throughout town – on the ice cream stand…

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An auto parts store…

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And a replica Bluesmobile high above a truck stop.

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Further south along Route 66 is the town of Pontiac, where they have a nice museum celebrating the history and impact of the road on Illinois.

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Also throughout town are mural/billboards. The town was once home to a ‘Walldog’ festival. Walldogs are the names of the group of artists who paint these impressive murals. During the 3 days they had the festival in Pontiac, 19 of the murals were painted.

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Inlcuding one that celebrates Route 66 across Illinois.

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Also throughout town are small  artistic cars and trucks.

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Finally in an alley we found another fabulous mural.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 1

Open House Chicago is an annual event where over 200 buildings open up for free tours. Most of the buildings aren’t normally even open to visitors, so it is even more special to get to see inside.

We spent two very long days touring as many as possible.

 

Our first stop was the Federal Reserve Bank, where they have a money museum.

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Next door is the Chicago Board of Trade, featuring a large vault in the basement housing safe deposit boxes, including one was used by Al Capone.

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The lobby of the Board of Trade Building is magnificent.

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Further up South LaSalle Street we were able to go up to a 22nd floor outdoor seating area of a financial firm.

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The lobby of 231 South LaSalle Street is very ornate, although cluttered with the Cubs ‘W’ flag because of the playoffs.

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One of the few lines we encountered was at the famed Rookery Building. On this day we could go up to the spiral staircase.

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The view from below leading up the staircase is equally impressive.

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The lobby at 1 North LaSalle Street continues with the Art Deco style of most of the buildings on the street,

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Another basement, another safe deposit section. This one was massive.

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One of the newest buildings is 150 North Riverside, with it’s tapered bottom.

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The position of 150 North Riverside at the corner of the branches of the Chicago River offered great views in all directions.

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Back on the ground for a panorama of the area.

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The Builders Building also has a great lobby.

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The Michigan Avenue lift bridge was open with views of the gears and the opportunity to go up to the tower.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 2

Part two of the tour starts at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. The tour indicated you could go on stage, which I was expecting a large concrete pad. Instead it was a beautiful wood stage with the risers for the orchestra behind it.

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Outside was the famed curved metal of the pavilion.

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Not officially part of the tour we went past the tourists at the Bean.

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The Maclean Center Grand Ballroom is the home of an art school.

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The famed Railway Exchange Building had an architectural firm open on the fifth floor, giving a rare view above the skylights.

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Along with a nice view of Millennium Park.

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111 West Monroe Street was the home of another architectural firm who had some great models that they have designed and built.

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Yet another firm down the street in the National Building had a visually interesting work on the entrance wall.

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While not open we passed by the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower)

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Also not officially part of the tour, but always open and interesting is Union Station.

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Our final stop in the Ravenswood neighborhood is the Ravenswood Events Center. Once a sign factory someone has purchased it and restored it to show off their exotic cars.

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Chicago – October 2017 – Open House Chicago – Part 3

The Open House tour continued in the Logan Square neighborhood with Metropolis Coffee. This small business roasts specialty coffee, using some vintage coffee roasters.

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In the West Loop area is Big Monster Toys. Situated in an old trucking terminal, they specialize in creating new toys to license to the major manufacturers.

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Also in West Loop is the Publisher Bed and Breakfast. Originally a publishing house, then a casket company, then a museum, the building now houses a very nice B & B

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Near Skinner Park is the Columbian Model & Exhibit Works. Here they do amazing work building architectural models. This was one of my favorite stops of the weekend.

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Further out on the West Side is the original Sears Tower. Built in 1906 it was the administration building for the vast Sears warehouse area that served the catalog sales for over 80 years. Today the 3 million square foot warehouse is gone, but the administration building has been re-purposed for community service.

 

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Across the street is the former powerhouse which has been converted into a high school.

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Zap Props is located in the Bridgeport neighborhood on the south side. Home of thousands of items, many have been used in the TV and movie filmings that have occurred in Chicago.

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Also in Bridgeport is Stockyards Brick and Timber. Here they specialize in reclaimed building materials.

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Just around the corner is the Decorators Supply Company. Expecting a sales office, we were pleasantly surprised to find a high end plaster trim and detail manufacturer.

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Continuing in Bridgeport we stopped at the Ling Sheng Ching Tze Buddist Temple.

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Our final stop was at the Chicago Maritime Museum

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Without a doubt Open House Chicago will be an annual event for us.

 

 

 

 

Cincinnati – July 2017 – Underground Tour

While in Cincinnati for the day we took the ‘Ultimate Underground Cincinnati’ tour. While the tour guide was funny, informative and insightful, the tour itself seemed to lack in content. While we did go under a church to see a crypt and in an old brewery to see some long forgotten underground rooms, for a 2 hour tour they seemed to not have enough places to see ¬†– filling much of the two hours with amusing stories.

Still once we were in the two underground portions, they were fascinating. We did come away knowing much more about the ‘Over The Rhine’ neighborhood of Cincinnati.

The neighborhood had a mix of gentrification and scruffy.

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The crypt under the St Francis Church was filled with graves of Irish immigrants from the 1800s, which is unusual given the neighborhood was noted for the German immigrants. The Irish had been there first.

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An old brewery that is being rehabbed into condos included some ‘art’ that are the burnt columns from a church that had caught fire in 2008.

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The massive rooms underneath the old brewery (as well as the modern day Moerlein Brewery) were great to see.

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A mural on the front of the old brewery.

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The tour ended at the Moerlein Brewery.

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Springfield, OH – July 2017 – Airplane Barnstorming Festival

The Springfield, Ohio airport hosted a ‘Barmstorming Festival’, celebrating vintage aircraft. Open to the public there were aircraft from the 1910s through the 1970s on display, with their owners more than happy to tell you about their planes.

 

There were a number of bi-planes.

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A WWI vintage plane.

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They lined both sides of the taxiway.

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Who flies with 3 instruments and a leather helmet?

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Some great piston engines.

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The paint jobs were outstanding on all of the airplanes.

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The Springfield Municipal Airport was the host.

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What a way to refuel your plane, stand on top to reach the upper wing where the fuel tank is.

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In addition to the planes there were a few vintage trucks.

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And they flew off into the sunset.

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