Cambridge, Massachusetts – August 2019 – Insider Tour of MIT

I am fortunate enough to know someone who has spent considerable time at MIT, and she was kind enough to show us around to sights on campus that most visitors don’t realize is there to be seen.

We started out with some familiar sites; the Kresge Auditorium. Designed and completed in the mid 1950s by Eero Saarinen, it is an excellent example of mid-century modern.






Next door is a chapel, also designed by Saarinen.






The Rogers Building serves as the center of MIT. It’s atrium is beautiful.



The windows facing Mass Avenue are equally impressive.




The Frances Russell Hart Nautical Museum is tucked away on an upper floor of the main building. It contains a number of intricately designed model ships.






As you wander the halls you come across all sort of great sights.



















While this might look like any other hallway at MIT, it is very special. It is known as the Infinite Hall, running the length of the main building and leading to a second building.

You have heard of Stonehenge, perhaps Manhattanhenge (a posting is available), and even Carhenge.

This otherwise nondescript hallway twice a year is the location of MITHenge – the sun shines straight through the entire distance, lighting up the floor. I need to come back in November!




The outdoor space is enhanced with sculptures. MIT is a very cool place, and thanks to an insider we saw some cool sights (all completely open to anyone, you just need to know where to look).






Waltham, Massachusetts – August 2019 – Simple Elegance of Early Mechanical Devices

The Charles River Museum of Industry and Innovation in Waltham, Massachusetts has a collection of machines and artifacts from the industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries.

It is located in the former Boston Manufacturing Company textile mill, which predates those in Lowell.



The visit to the museum provided a great opportunity to show the simple elegance of the early manufacturing.

Much, but not all, of the collection is dedicated to the former Waltham Watch Company.

























Boston – August 2019 – Diverse Architecture for a Historic City

As one of the oldest major American cities, Boston’s architecture represents a diverse collection of styles. You can find Gothic architecture framed by a post modern glass and steel skyscraper.




A quiet Sunday morning is the perfect time to explore a city for the architecture as the streets are empty, and parking is plentiful.



Once we arrived in the financial district the contrasts between old and new became even more apparent.


















Our primary objective however was to find Art Deco buildings, and Boston did not disappoint.
























Brookline, Massachusetts – August 2019 – Larz Anderson Auto Museum

The Larz Anderson Auto Museum in the Boston suburb of Brookline is advertised as America’s oldest automotive museum. Larz and his wife were very early auto enthusiasts, buying their first ‘horseless carriage’ in 1899.

By the 1920s they had collected enough cars they stored them in the carriage house, and opened up their museum.




I had very high hopes for this museum, as it regularly makes the ‘top automotive museum’ lists. When we arrived we were greeted, somewhat, by a lady at the counter who barely had time to interrupt her conversation with her cousin about something to take our money and waive us towards the cars.

This obviously set a tone of disappointment, that fortunately was neutralized by a nice, small collection of some very impressive autos in a display called the Golden Age.









Further back there was a second room with a few more cars, also well displayed.







Another small room had a collection of pedal cars, and other items.



There is some nice automotive art throughout. The lower level had a few more very vintage autos in various states, as well as a bicycle collection.

The Larz Anderson Auto Museum is a nice place – however having seen numerous auto museums across the world I don’t think it rates as one of the premier ones. Perhaps had we attended on one of their numerous special events days where people bring their own classic cars.










Lowell, Massachusetts – August 2019 – The Early Textile Industry in America

Lowell, Massachusetts was an early center of the textile industry in America. It was one of the first real industrial centers, with large cotton mills being built along the waterways.



By diverting the river into numerous canals they could power the machinery for the mills. The canals remain to this day, in various states.











One of the former mills houses a museum that shows the power plant that used the water to generate the power to run the machines.







Because of the flammability of the dust, they used wooden gears that didn’t create sparks.





It is when you go into the main production floor exhibit that you get a true feel for the sheer size of the operation.

While we were there they ran 2 of the looms, which was incredibly loud. One could only imagine what these young ladies went through with 200 of them running at the same time, while working their 12-14 hour, 6 day a week job.















The National Park Service runs a replica trolley around town to shuttle visitors between the sites. A visit to Lowell is educational, and worth the visit if you are in Massachusetts.








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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