Chicago – September 2018 – South Side Sights

Our weekend continued as we made our way into Chicago on an early Sunday morning. There were a couple of places I wanted to check out as we made our way across the city.

First up is the Pullman District. Built in the 1880s by railroad car manufacturer George Pullman, the neighborhood was a model for a company town. Pullman was determined to make a town that met all the workers needs, thus resulting in attracting better workers.

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They built many homes throughout. While most of the workers lived in row houses, there are a number of single family homes.

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A strike in 1894 brought to light the fallacy of some of Pullman’s statements, as the workers struggled to make ends meet.

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The neighborhood however lived on until the 1950s when many people left to move to the suburbs.

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Threatened with the possibility of the entire neighborhood being bulldozed for an industrial park, community leaders pulled togetherĀ  a civic organization and lobbied the city to save their neighborhood.

By the early 1970s the Pullman Historic District had received landmark status. Today it is a National Historic Park, as well as a neighborhood that people live in.

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There is still more to do, but it does live on as a showcase for the South Side.

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Further into town is the Fountain of Time, a sculpture that is 126′ wide x 10′ high. Completed in the early 1920s, it was designed by Lorado Taft.

It’s location is at the edge of Washington Park and the Plaisance Midway.

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Nearby is Jackson Park, and the 59th Street beach. The grasses protect erosion from Lake Michigan.

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The Golden Lady is a 24′ gilded bronze likeness of a statue that was known as the Republic. The original was a 65′ high statue that was displayed in the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

She sits in the general area they are planning on building the Obama Library.

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With the University of Chicago nearby there are a number of architecturally interesting buildings in the area.

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The most important building in the area is the Robey House, a classic Frank Lloyd Wright design.

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They are restoring the interior so we opted just to check out the exterior and return after the restoration work is done for a full tour.

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Even from the outside the style and grace of FLW is noticeable.

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The area that the park and the university is located is known as Hyde Park. This was President Obama’s Chicago home, which he still owns The block is off limits to traffic, but someone has modified the ‘Residents Only’ sign to be more appropriate.

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Leaving the South Side we headed downtown, passing Soldier Field. Originally built in 1924 in a Neoclassical style, with columns lining the sides, it has undergone numerous renovations.

The last in the early 2000 added a strange modern look sitting on top the classical columns.

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Passing through downtown, we crossed the Chicago River on Lakeshore Drive.

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While not technically on the south side the Washington Library is Chicago’s main branch.

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Definitely not on the south side, the 606 is a bike/walking path on former elevated train lines (similar to the High Line in New York). It’s name comes from the zip codes for the areas it passes.

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Originally a rail line known as the Bloomingdale Line, it was converted to a trail starting in 2009. At 2.7 miles long it is twice as long as the High Line.

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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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Milan, Ohio – May 2018 – Unexpected Architecture at the Library

For decades I have heard that Thomas Edison was born in Ohio. Finally since we were in the area we decided to visit.

 

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While they did have a small display of some of Edison’s inventions, overall the home is exactly that – a small home from the 1800s with period pieces. Nice – but not our speed.

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As we were leaving town we noticed the really cool library – so we stopped to take some photos. Outside were a number of people playing Pokemon and as we were checking out the building one of the group walked over to speak to us.

It turns out we had the good fortune to meet the Director of the Library – James. He is rightfully proud of his library, and was more than welcoming in showing us around.

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The library was built from a Carnegie Fund in 1912. The detail they gave this library in this small Ohio town is stunning.

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Later additions have stayed true to the original architectural styles.

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It is virtually impossible to tell the difference between old and new.

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Inside is interesting as well.

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Artwork is display on the bookshelves …

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… and walls – a tribute to Edison.

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In my opinion the entire building has a Frank Lloyd Wright feel to it. If you find yourself in Milan, Ohio the best building in town is not Edison’s birthplace – it is the local library – ask for James šŸ™‚Ā  (thanks James!)

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Baltimore – May 2018 – George Peabody Library

 

George Peabody was one of Baltimore’s first commerce leaders, and as such made a fortune. To give back to the community he funded the Peabody Institute in 1857.

In the 1860s the institute built the impressive library. Today it stands as one of America’s most amazing buildings. The photo below is a panorama of the library.

 

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The library is 6 levels high, with all 6 levels full of stacks. Unfortunately the upper levels were off limits.

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Still used today by Johns Hopkins students, a steady flow of tourists came in and took photos as we did.

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The railings are amazing.

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There are numerous alcoves to study in.

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The lighting adds to the overall atmosphere.

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Not to mention the classic old Dewey Decimal System card file. A visit to the George Peabody Library is a must for any architecture, history or book fan.

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Delaware, OH – April 2018 – Architectural Tour

The small city of Delaware, Ohio is the county seat of a county of the same name. Located just north of Columbus it was for more than 150 years the center of a farming county, as well as the home of the small college, Ohio Wesleyan.

With Columbus suburbs fast approaching, most of the county to the south has been developedĀ  in tract housing and shopping centers, and it now has a population of over 200,000, and is recognized as having the highest per capita income in the state.

The town of Delaware however still feels like a small town, with many historic buildings.

First up isĀ Beiber’s Mill which was was built in 1877 as a grist mill. Long abandoned, it sits directly on the Olentangy River – there were enough No Trespassing signs, and neighbors that looked like they would have shotguns that we took the photos from the road.

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The next stop was Perkins Observatory.Ā  While in town there is an observatory that was built in 1896 that is still standing (barely), this building is about 3 miles south of town, next to a golf course.

Built in 1925 it has been in use ever since, but has over time reduced in scope as central Ohio is not very conducive to astrological observations – due to the low altitude, cloud cover and light pollution from the cities.

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As we arrived on the small campus of the 1900 student Ohio Wesleyan University, we found Edwards Gymnasium. Built in 1905 it is a spectacular building with an amazing wood ceiling with skylights.

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Just up the hill is Slocum Hall, which contains a library.

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As well as a great skylight.

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Next door is the University Hall and Chapel, although it appears to me very similar to most of the county court houses and jails around the state.

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On the west side of the campus are a series of newer buildings.

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Leaving campus we moved on to an area where all of the Delaware County Government buildings are located including what was a Carnegie Library – now the County Commissioners home.

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Next door is the old courthouse.

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Our last stop is what should be the main attraction of the town – the birthplace of a U.S. President – in this case Rutherford B. Hayes. However someone messed that one up long ago when the home was torn down, so now it is the Rutherford B Hayes Memorial BP Gas Station. But it is the only Presidential Gas Station in America, so Delaware, Ohio has that going for them.

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Cleveland – September 2017 – A Super Library

Two teenagers growing up in the Glenville neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland came up with the idea of Superman in the mid 1930s. From this humble beginning they launched the most famous superhero of all time, which the Main Cleveland Library is now celebrating.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were friends from the neighborhood when they partnered to come up with Superman. As children of Jewish immigrants the idea of Superman coming from another land was close to their experiences, as well as their influence from the pulp fiction of the day. And the rest as they say is history….

 

Small steel statue

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Original sketches.

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Cleveland – proud true home of Superman – take that Metropolis!

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Phone booth – complete with a cape left behind.

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The 1950s Superman costume, apparently these colors filmed better in black and white than the more well known red and blue.

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Large statue – eventually headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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A Superman telephone.

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Cleveland – September 2017 – Chess Collection

A visit to Cleveland with some extra time lead us to go into the Cleveland Public Library’s Main Building on Superior Avenue in downtown Cleveland. The sign in front advertised a Superman exhibit (detailed in another post), but on the 4th floor in the Special Collections area was an amazing collection of books and periodicals on chess, as well as a great chess board/pieces collection. This collection is the largest in the world!

John G White was born in 1845, living until 1928. As an attorney and an avid reader he donated 60,000 books to the Cleveland library upon his death. Included in those were thousands on chess. To compliment these the library has a great collection of chess boards and pieces on display.

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