New York City – June 2019 – Sit Down or Hang On

A slang for someone who rides the subway a lot is a ‘strap hanger’. The term comes from the early days where there were actual straps that the standing passengers held onto.

This posting illustrates the history of New York City Subway cars and the changes in the seats, and ‘straps’.



Only the very oldest cars have the cloth straps! In addition this BMT Q car has rattan seats that are very cool.





Very early on the cloth straps were replaced with metal ones.





The next version has already moved to the metal bars. I am certain the straps wore out quickly, whereas the bars last forever.





Our next version loses the rattan seats, replaced with these stylish green and yellow stripes. The bars have also evolved to be much larger, so more people can hang on while standing.

This is an IRT R-12 car dating from 1948.





On the IRT R-15 car the bench seating continues, only in solid red, while the bars are still large and protruding. This car dates from 1950.





The first plastic seats make an appearance on an R42. This type of car was most famously used in the 1971 movie The French Connection, where the good guy is in a car chasing the bad guy who stole a train.



Time to board our next car – the ‘straps’ have returned! This car is a R33 ‘World’s Fair’ car, so named as it was released in 1963, the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.







The last of the straight bench seating makes an appearance.



As we move closer to the modern design, randomized seating.





Finally by the 1970s it looks essentially the same as today’s cars. Not nearly as elegant as the cloth straps and wicker seats, but far more functional and durable.



Time to hang out on the benches in the station and reflect on the changes of the subway over the last 100 years.








Cleveland – June 2019 – Architecture and Public Art of University Circle

Featured on a number of postings, the University Circle area of Cleveland is home to Case Western Reserve University, as well as most of the museums for the city.

We were in town on this sunny Saturday for ‘Parade the Circle’ (featured on an upcoming posting), we also wanted to participate in a walking tour of the area lead by the volunteers from ‘Take a Hike Cleveland’, but apparently because of the parade they cancelled. As with other times like this, we made our own tour.



The Cleveland History Center features a carousel from a long lost amusement park – Euclid Beach.



The Cancer Survivors Plaza. A local independent newspaper named this the worst public sculpture in America, with the surreal look of the people seemingly running away from something.




The tower in the background (and on the featured photo for this posting) has unique brickwork.




Just across the street the Museum of Natural History has an excellent welcoming sign.



While the population of Cleveland has dropped precipitously over the last 50 years, there are still some grand old apartment buildings in the city, as evidenced by the Park Lane Villa.



The Maltz Performing Arts Center. Built in 1924 as the Temple Tifereth, it now serves the arts community.



There are statues scattered throughout the area.



A view of University Circle United Methodist Church.



There was once the largest skating rink the world located in here – the Elysian. It is celebrated by art on an electrical box.




Mark Hanna – While William McGinley was officially the president, Mark told him what to do.




A view of the Museum of Art.




Severance Hall – home of the Cleveland Orchestra.



The Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve.



Case Western Reserve was at one time two separate entities, including the Western Reserve College for Women.



A chapel at Case Western Reserve.




Finally, the best building in the area. It is now home to the Cleveland Institute of Art, but it’s first life was as an assembly plant for making Ford Model T’s!






Metropolis, Illinois – May 2019 – Superman’s Hometown

The town of Metropolis, Illinois was founded in 1839, and for 100 years it was just another small town in the midwest. All that changed when the Superman comics hit the newstands in the 1930s, and called a fictional Metropolis his hometown.

Since there is only one Metropolis in America, this town in Illinois found it’s fame.

I was expecting it to look like Roswell, where everything in town has an alien them. Metropolis is not like that, there are a few indications of this connection, but most business look like anytown USA.



There is however an excellent Superman statue downtown, and an equally impressive museum across the street.





Superman superfan Jim Hambrick has over 100,000 items, and the museum houses many of them. The young lady at the counter said she was his daughter and that they moved from California to Metropolis to open the museum years ago.

Welcome to the ultimate Superman experience.










































Roswell, New Mexico – May 2019 – An Alien Town

When fate lands in your lap, or town, use it for all it’s worth. Roswell, New Mexico was handed something in 1947 that they have made a cottage industry off of ever since – an alien spacecraft crash.

Many of the businesses in town celebrate this notoriety in their advertising.










































Easily the biggest tourist spot in town is the UFO Museum. It has a great deal of information on UFOs, both those that prove and those that disprove.

They also have some interesting displays.















Langtry, Texas – May 2019 – Judge Roy Bean and a Cactus Garden

In West Texas the story goes there are 3 types of people: Those who know Judge Roy Bean from a 1970s movie, those who know Judge Roy Bean from their Texas schoolbooks, and those who are ignorant to the most important person in the history of West Texas. I come from the first group.

Roy Bean was born in Kentucky in 1825, and lived an adventuresome life that eventually lead him to a small Texas town which he renamed after his favorite actress, Lily Langtry – and became the Justice of the Peace for the ‘Law West of the Pecos’

Today there isn’t much in Langtry except a visitor center with a fantastic cactus garden, as well as the original buildings the Judge built in the 1800s.










The cactus garden is very cool with numerous different types of cacti.





























The Judge Roy Bean Visitor Center & Museum, and Cactus Garden was a very unexpectedly nice stop in the desolation of West Texas.






Houston – May 2019 – Art Car Museum

One of Houston’s most famous annual events is the Art Car Parade. For more than 30 years people have decorated their vehicles and paraded them in the streets of Houston. Today there are more than 200 cars that participate in the parade. This knowledge gave me high hopes of finding interesting sights at the Art Car Museum.




After multiple attempts we were able to find a legal parking space, we arrived and were greeted by this 1960 era Ford Station Wagon, decorated like Carmen Miranda.




To our surprise when we entered we found.. an art museum.



To be fair the art was interestingly quirky, but it appears to be more of a museum with a couple of art cars, rather than an art car museum.




In addition to the one car outside, there were 3 cars inside.













There is a video wall running a video of the history of the parade. This only made the small number of cars more frustrating.




In the end it was an interesting little museum with a few art cars. After our success that day with Smithers Park and Lucky Land it was disappointing.





Avery Island, Louisiana – May 2019 – Hot Times at the Tabasco Factory

Tabasco is known the world over for giving kick to many different foods. All of this spice comes from a small factory in southern Louisiana.



The grounds are beautiful, and the Tabasco Company offers a complete look at the history and production of their product.

The visit starts in the company museum.



The self guided tour takes you from building to building. Along the way you pass some Tabasco themed artwork.






While most of the peppers used in the production are grown offshore, there is a greenhouse that they grow the plants to assure quality control, and provide seeds for their sources.







The barrel house is where the mash ages.



The blending of the salt, pepper and vinegar takes 28 days.



The bottling line was the most interesting. A small group of workers oversee the entire process.

Below a quality control worker monitors the process.



The bottles fly along their path.



Yet she can spot an issue, and pull the bottle from production.



An overview of the bottling operation.



More quality control.




The workers seemed at ease with the stream of people watching them through the windows.



These innocent little bottles give so many so much pleasure, and to some serious heartburn.



Their product is shipped worldwide – today it is going to Portugal.



Just outside the line are some giant bottles.

The factory tour was interesting, and well designed.