Pittsburgh – July 2017 – Scenes From The City

Scenes of Pittsburgh

Night time from Mt Washington (a corner of PNC Park during a game)

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Ft Pitt Bridge Lower Level

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Cornices on an old skyscraper

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Alcoa Building (now apartments)

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Pittsburgh ‘T’ (lacking originality and using Boston’s name for the trains)

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Lobby of PNC Headquarters

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Roberto Clemente is making sure you know it is a bike lane.

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Mon River – Smithfield Street Bridge in the foreground, with one of the Gateway Clipper boats on the right

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The Point

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A mix of the Point Park Fountain, Ft Duquesne Bridge and PNC Park light towers

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Doesn’t everyone get their wedding photos taken on a bridge (closed to traffic for the baseball crowd)

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Cleveland – May 2017 – Harbor Views

Cleveland is a major port on Lake Erie, with most of the large commercial ore boats traversing the narrow, crooked Cuyahoga River. There is however a port at the entrance to the river, as well as an old Art Deco Coast Guard station, all with great views of the river, lake and city.

A marina on Whiskey Island (actually a peninsula) is home to the tug boat fleet, as well as some pleasure boats.

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The vacant coast guard station is a beautiful art deco building that the city is now restoring.

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The harbor lighthouse leads out from the safe waters behind the breakwater to the often turbulent water of Lake Erie.

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The mix of huge ore boats and small sailboats is interesting.

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An amazing collection of bridges cross the Cuyahoga, some are small lift bridges (the foreground is a lift bridge for the railroad), as well as high level bridges.

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The harbor crane with a background of a downtown skyscraper.

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Grosse Pointe, MI – May 2017 – Great Lakes Boating Festival

Grosse Pointe, Michigan is an interest place. Situated along Lake St Clair about 10 miles from downtown Detroit, it is clearly old money with numerous mansions located along Lake Shore Drive, while just a mile or so away is the desolation that impacted much of the city of Detroit.

Grosse Pointe is actually 5 different towns, GP Park, GP Farms, GP Shores, GP Woods and the town of Grosse Pointe. The center piece of the area is the Grosse Pointe Yacht Club, and it’s 187 foot high steeple.

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Each year the GP Yacht Club hosts the Great Lakes Boating Festival. It was billed to have vintage boats (there were 3 that I could find), a couple of classic cars, music (a bad Jimmy Buffet cover guy), and other activities, we found only a few booths of people peddling insurance, a couple home improvements, and a few nautical vendors.

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The Yacht Club’s dock area however was much better. There appeared to be a couple of hundred boats docked there, and this was where the best views were.

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A cadet ship, the Pride of Michigan, was docked to offer tours.

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The cadets all appeared to be high school age, or younger.

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There were numerous large yachts throughout the marina.

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Almost every dock had a view of the steeple.

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The sailing events were well attended.

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Just down Lakeshore was a learn to sail event that from the shore looked like they were dodging the large Great Lakes ore boats.

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Erie, PA – May 2017 – An Erie Evening

A weekend trip for strange and unusual sites has landed us in Erie, Pennsylvania for a few hours on a Friday evening. It seems everywhere has something to offer to come up with interesting photographs.

Car Art

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Miss Liber-Frog in front of a school.

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Brig Niagara at the Maritime Museum

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Russian Church

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Tourist Boat in the Bay

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Commodore Perry Monument

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Harbor Front Housing

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Erie Land Lighthouse – Oldest on Lake Erie

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Vineyards outside of town – Lake Erie in the background

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Washington & Baltimore – Late Fall 2016 Road Trip – Day 3

We woke up in our top floor room to a great sunrise with a view of the Capital.

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Sunday morning started out by getting the car back from the valet, and running around the mall area with the car, since there was no traffic. After finding a spot near the Lincoln Memorial, we walked over to check out the monument, and the view down the mall.

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On our way back to the car we had a nice walk along the Potomac River.

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Returning to the car we wanted to see the FDR Memorial but found all the streets to it were closed, a recurring theme downtown. Instead we drove to Georgetown where the homes were old but well-kept and stately with upscale shops in the business district.

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From there, we drove until we reached the White House encountering more closed streets for a cancer benefit marathon made it difficult to find parking. I realized that parking is a premium in this city and there seemed to be very few parking garages, so we made our way to Capital Hill where we found an open spot to park on First Street near Louisiana Avenue and walked the four blocks to the Newseum.

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The Newseum is dedicated to communication, journalism, radio, TV, and the internet from America’s historic start until today. Our self-guided tour began with a ride up a glass elevator to an open observation deck that provided a great view of Pennsylvania Avenue, the U.S. Capitol, and the Smithsonian as we moved along reading the historical timeline of communication and journalism that stretched the length of the open deck.

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Upon reentering the building 800 front pages of different newspapers of major cities from around the world hung on the wall. This was a clear picture of how the same news is viewed from around the world by different cultures on the same day and what constitutes as headlines news for different areas.

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Situated near the elevator on the ground floor were slabs of concrete from the original Berlin Wall. The eight 12-foot tall slabs erected side by side were painted with graffiti of slogans as “You Are Power” and “Step by Step” from the West Berlin side of the Wall. A three-story East German guard tower that loomed near Checkpoint Charlie — Berlin’s best-known East-West crossing stood behind the Berlin Wall slabs.

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One of the most interesting exhibits at the Newseum was “Inside Today’s FBI.”  The FBI exhibit explored how the FBI fights crime in the age of global terrorism and cybercrime with news stories and dozens of artifacts. We got to see the work of the FBI and how they detected and solved crimes.

Real evidence of actual cases such as: The handcuffs and fingerprints of the Boston Marathon bombers; the Unabomber’s cabin filled with items of the Unabomber; and bomb materials used for a failed car bomb at Time’s Square. Engine parts and landing gear from United Airlines Flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center South Tower on Sept. 11, 2001, as well as, materials of terrorism from the Atlanta Olympic Centennial Park and Oklahoma City, and shoes worn by shoe bomber Richard Reid in an attempt to blow up an American Airlines flight in December 2001 were shown.

We also saw the confiscated terrorist’s machine gun from a thwarted attempt to blow up the U.S. Capitol in 2012 and an abandoned car filled with explosives found at Dulles airport on 9/11.

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Another room encased 400 front pages from newspapers and magazines stacked atop each other and slid out for viewing as part of the largest exhibit of the museum. The News History Gallery boasts a timeline of news stories from the 1400’s to the present time. I was able to view newspaper headlines from the 1700’s.

The archive held sport championships, news of war and other historical noted events. Videos of current TV programs ran clips of Stephen Colbert, skits from Laugh-In and Saturday Night Live in relation to modern modes of communications within this gallery. The News History Gallery confronted war reporting, sensationalism, media credibility and objectivity. I thought that the volume of early material was really impressive.

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The 9/11 Gallery had the upper section of the 360-foot antenna mast that toppled from the World Trade Center’s North Tower when the building collapsed. The antenna served most of New York City’s television stations. The antenna was mangled and twisted within its metal frame. Next to the antenna was a wall with an inscription “Peace be with you, You live on in love” Julie. As I read this inscription, voices of survivors and their families telling their personal stories of the tragedy from that day were heard.  On September 11, 2001, the lives of 2,749 people were lost. These first person accounts of that day were heartbreaking.

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A fun factoid at the Newseum stated that 20% of Americans can name all five Simpson characters but less than 10% of Americans can name all five freedoms of the 1st Amendment. The five freedoms of the First Amendment are: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom to assembly, freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances, and a free press.

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As we moved down the multi-level building exploring the exhibits level by level, we came upon the Journalists Memorial Gallery. The soaring, two-story glass memorial bears the names of reporters, editors, photographers, and broadcasters who lost their lives reporting the news.

The gallery also featured photographs of hundreds of the journalists whose names are etched on the memorial’s glass panels. Each year, the Newseum selects a representative group of journalists whose names are added to the memorial and whose deaths illustrate the dangers faced by journalists around the world. I looked up at the soaring wall of photos and felt so much grief knowing that these people died due to conflict of others misunderstandings.

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We ate lunch at the Newseum cafe when we reached the ground level then left to see the Spy Museum. The Spy Museum was very crowded and so we passed on it thinking that we would not have enough time to go through it and make it on time to the restaurant in Baltimore to meet our friends for dinner.

We left Washington D.C. on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and once again got stuck in traffic. After an hour we arrived in Baltimore, we went to Federal Hill and hiked up the steep grassy slope to the park with great views of the Inner Harbor and the city of Baltimore.

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The camera lens let us zoom in on a submarine, a tall ship, yacht, and Navy warships at the Inner Harbor. The harbor was also filled with many personal yachts. The city looked renovated from when we last visited here with new commercial businesses, townhouses, and condos.

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Leaving the park , we drove the streets discovering new sights as we tried to get to Camden Yards, the baseball stadium. This proved to be frustrating as we were unable to get to the stadium because we got stuck in traffic again from the release of fans from the Steelers/Ravens football game that just ended. Every way we tried to maneuver resulted in a traffic jam.

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We gave up seeing anything else downtown so we went to Barracudas Restaurant, a classic neighborhood restaurant near Fort McHenry to meet our friends for dinner. Our dinners were tasty and the time passed quickly with an easy flow of conversation.

We left Baltimore for Annapolis where we reserved a hotel room at the Springhill Suites, arriving fairly late in the evening.

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Boston – Late Summer 2016 Road Trip – Day 6

Our cloudy, somewhat rainy day in Boston started out with breakfast for 3 at the Busy Bee Diner, an old city diner owned by Greek immigrants with strong Boston accents on Beacon Street in Brookline. The narrow place had bright turquoise seat booths and an extensive menu.

Our order came with a surprising amount of food of eggs, potatoes, toast and blueberry pancakes. The food was not served all at once so we each ate our serving as delivered but, all in all, the food was great and the prices were cheap. It was a great start to our busy day.

The MBTA train took us to Haymarket Square for us to walk to the North End to see the house of Paul Revere and a statue of him on his horse. We learned that day that Paul Revere left the Old North Church and first took a boat across the Charles River to Charlestown before he set on his famous ride on horseback.

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The Old North Church and the Paul Revere house are now part of the city’s oldest residential neighborhood in Boston since 1630. The North End is famous for its Italian heritage and restaurants, with numerous bakeries full of tempting desserts sat in some of the windows as we passed by.

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From the North End of Boston, we walked to Charlestown to see the Charlestown Naval Yard where the USS Constitution, a wooden-hulled, three-masted heavy frigate of the United States Navy was docked.  Built in 1797, the USS Constitution was most famously named by President George Washington after the Constitution of the United States of America.

We started with a quick look at the Charlestown Naval Yard Visitor Center which is part of the Boston National Historical Park. The USS Constitution is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world but was under restoration and closed for us to board.

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Also displayed is the destroyer, Cassin Young, equipped with torpedoes, guns, and other weaponry. The USS Cassin Young refitted and modernized in the yard’s dry-dock, represents the type of ship built in the yard during World War II.   Our self-guided tour allowed us to explore the main deck of the radio room, officers’ dining hall, galley, laundry, and captain’s deck. The Cassin Young was the last ship hit by kamikazes in the vicinity of Okinawa before the Japanese surrender. During the war, there was a tremendous explosion amidships but the crew contained the damage, restored power in one engine and got the ship underway within twenty minutes. Casualties were 22 men dead and 45 wounded. The ship is now maintained and staffed by the National Park Service and volunteers.

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Afterwards, a walk along the harbor towards the city took us to take the train to Harvard. Harvard University has the Mark I, the first programmable computer. Grace Hopper was a programmer of the Mark I who coined the term there is a bug in the system. The term ‘bugs in a computer’ had been used before, but after Grace Hopper wrote in her diary “first actual case of bug being found” the term became really popular, and that’s why we are still using it today.

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The Science building is home to the Harvard Collection of Historical Scientific Instruments, which showcased machines dating back from 1400 to the present in astronomy, navigation, horology, surveying, geology, calculating, physics, biology, medicine, psychology, electricity, and medical, such as: telescopes, clocks, microscopes, compasses, sundials, and the Grand Orrery by Joseph Pope of Boston. This mechanical model of the solar system was acquired by Harvard with funds raised by a lottery in 1788. The celestial dome is supported by bronze figures cast by Paul Revere. This large wood and glass structure reveals the planets rotation inside.

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Most of the items were presented in glass modules that reminded me of a time capsule. The collection now has more than 20,000 objects.

The level above the Putnam Gallery is the Special Exhibitions Gallery that featured Radio Contact: Tuning in to Politics, Technology, & Culture. This exhibition examines the evolving technology and cultures of listening, tinkering, and broadcasting. Radio introduced millions to jazz, the comedy team of Abbott and Costello, Edward R. Murrow, and the shock therapy of talk radio. Radios, transmitters, phonographs, receivers, and antennae were some of the items displayed.  Iconic radio shows, and 50’s music played aloud as we looked at the timeline of communication.

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As we walked through the grounds of the campus, we saw a beautiful church with stained glass windows now used as a dining hall, but we opted to leave the Harvard campus to find something to eat.

Our choice, Mr. Bartley’s Burger Cottage at Harvard Square, was full of a wacky decor of posters, bumper stickers and funny signs and has fed celebrity customers to include Johnny Cash, Jacqueline Onassis, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Bill Belichick, Al Pacino, Adam Sandler, and Katie Couric. This restaurant is famous for its burgers and also the unusual names for their burgers. Ours included “Our Next President (God Help Us). The Viagra, Caitlyn Jenner (You Go Girl), and Taxachu$ett$, were a few of the titles of other burgers.

Afterwards, we walked the street finding the Curious George store on the corner so we curiously walked in to see the kind of merchandise for sale.

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The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was our next stop to see the campus museum. The MIT museum had a lot of hands-on exhibits from how the internet worked, how holograms were made, and robotics. There was a section of kinetic sculptures that required the visitor to activate the mechanism for them to move. An example of such art was the “Machine with Wishbone,” a sculpture of wheels, gears, chains, and a small motor that was pulled by a wishbone stepping forward strapped to the machine. Arthur Ganson is the designer of this art in motion and was artist-in-residence at the Mechanical Engineering department of MIT for awhile.

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I saw another mechanical sculpture that lubricated itself by a moving conveyor to the top of the structure and pouring it on the gears. A lovely exhibit of scraps of paper moved up and down in a wing-like motion of a bird by pumping rods connected to a turning axle. I really enjoyed watching these machines that were so ingenious and fun to watch. We saw most of the museum but left to catch a bus to get to the Christian Science Center before it closed.

The Mapparium is a three-story-tall globe made of stained glass that is viewed from a 30-foot-long bridge through its interior designed by Chester Lindsay Churchill. It is an exhibit at The Mary Baker Eddy Library and part of the Christian Science Center building. Built in 1935 and based upon Rand McNally political maps published the previous year, the Mapparium shows the political world as it was at that time.

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The tour allowed us to experience the Mapparium in an accurate geographical relationship to each other, in a concave reversal of the Earth, viewed from within. Standing on the clear catwalk within the globe places the eye at the same distance from every point on the globe.

The illuminated 608 panels of the globe built to scale of approximately 22 miles to the inch were originally designed to be replaceable as the political boundaries of the world changed. There have been several points in the Mapparium’s history where the discussion of updating the map arose. The final time was in the 1960s, when it was finally decided that the Mapparium was a priceless work of art and history, and so should never be updated.

A modern sound system and light system of 206 LED light fixtures can be programmed to produce up to 16 million colors. Our guide controlled the background and lights producing different effects. The hard spherical surface of the globe reflects sound and forms a remarkable whispering gallery so that visitors standing at opposite ends of the bridge can speak softly to each other and yet be heard as if they were standing next to each other.

The Boston Public Library McKim Building in Copley Square opened in 1895, it is a stone building built by the people and dedicated to the advancement of learning. Below each second-story arched window on the three façades are inscribed lists of the names of great historical writers, artists, scientists, philosophers, and statesmen.

Upon entering the building you are met by two stone lions on pillars and paintings of the muses in niches that lined the upper floor. The next floor hung murals by John Singer Sargent as we walked into Bates Hall, the great reading room, with an apse on each end and a series of double coffers in the arched barrel vaulted ceiling of the room. A series of green lampshade desk lamps provided light at each library table.

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The library has an impressive collection of art, manuscripts, early editions of Shakespeare, and Defoe, records of colonial Boston, and volumes of John Adams’ personal library. This branch has the Norman Levanthal Map Center but it was not opened; disappointing to a map junkie but at least the walls of the cafe were covered in large maps.

There was also a nice garden with a fountain in a courtyard surrounded by an arched walkway.

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The train took us back to Brookline for an early dinner at Fairsted Kitchen on Beacon Street. We did not want to eat tapas for dinner again but the restaurant did indeed turn out to be another tapas restaurant (must be a hipster thing). We tried pickled vegetables, Israeli salad, meatballs, and pork kabobs. The portions were very small and costly. We were still a bit hungry so we got frappes at Emack and Bolio’s ice cream store and waited for the train to take us back to our hotel. It was great to spend the day in our daughter’s hometown of the last 6 years.