Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 1

Our Chicago Open House weekend started on Friday, before the official event started on Saturday. We made our own tour of places that were open.

 

James Thompson Center – Designed by Helmut Jahn, the Thompson Center is a 17 story curved glass building housing many government offices. From the interior all 17 floors are visible in the impressive atrium.

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On the plaza in front of the building is a sculpture from Jean Dubffet called Monument with Standing Beast. Standing at 29’ high, the sculpture weighs in at 20,000 pounds.

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Cook County Office Building – A classical 12 story office building located in the government section of downtown Chicago, to me it is most famous for where the Blues Brotthers went to pay the property tax for the childrens home (and yes the Cook County Assessors office is located in this building).

The building has the classic Art Deco look on the interior.

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Chicago Temple – The First United Methodist Church of Chicago was the first church to be founded in the city, even before it was a city, in 1831. In 1838 it moved to it’s current location at the corner of Washington and Clark.

In the early 1920s with downtown Chicago rapidly developing the church debated selling their valuable land and moving out to one of the neighborhoods. Eventually they decided on a novel approach, build a skyscraper with a church included, and in addition, put a chapel on the top. The result was a 568’ tall building with what is to this day the highest church from street level in the world.

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The first level has a traditional church.

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Known as the Sky Chapel, it was part of the original building but not fully completed until 1952 as a gift from the family of the Walgreen’s Drug Store founder.

To this day the church is self funded by the rents paid by other tenants in the building, allowing it to fully focus on serving the diverse community it serves.

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Outside is some unique art.

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Marshall Field’s (Macy’s) Tiffany Dome – With over 1.6 million pieces it is the largest Tiffany  mosaic in existence. Designed by Louis Tiffany in 1907, over 50 artisans worked on scaffolding for 18 months to complete this amazing masterpiece.

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The Pedway hosts a collection of stained glass.

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Some general scenes around the city.

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A tourist boat on the Chicago River.

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One of the lift bridge control buildings frame by a 60 floor building.

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Classic Chicago – The Merchandise Mart with a Brown Line El train coming in.

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Old street light and new skyscrapers.

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Up Wells Street from the 10th floor of a parking garage.

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A building along Madison Street.

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Millennium Park

Cloud Gate is a public sculpture located in Millennium Park. While the artists inspiration was liquir mercury, it is commonly referred to as The Bean. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city.

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The buildings along East Randolph Street.

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Pritzker Pavilion – A Frank Gehry design, the pavilion is a band shell that hosts numerous events each year. For this mid October night it was quiet, but still stunning with it’s red lighting.

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Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest museums in the United States. From this part of the park, you get a great view of one of the modern additions along with the Michigan Avenue skyline.

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tomorrow the official events starts.

 

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 2

Open House Chicago continue…

 

The North Leg of the Chicago River toward Chicago Avenue – clearly we are in … Chicago.

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151 North Franklin – a new, nondescript building saved by a great rooftop deck.

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Some strange lighting on a nearby building.

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180 North LaSalle – it was billed as Open House, but really just a lobby was open.

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Another (brief) revisit – The Builders Building. But this skylight is worth it.

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20 West Kinzie – Originally a Google Building it is now home to a flexible work space group called We Works.

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Their 17th floor common space offered some different aspects on some iconic buildings.

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They too have a nice outdoor space on the 17th floor.

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Just up the street in a 100 year old warehouse is the architectural firm of Ross Barney.

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330 North Wabash – Miles van der Rohe designed this basic, yet famed 695’ high skyscraper.

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The minimalist, but stylish lobby.

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Originally built for IBM and completed after Rohe’s death in 1969, the Open House Chicago event was held on the 15th floor in the offices of Thornton Tomasetti.2018 10 13 316 Chicago Open House.jpg

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This firm is a leader in engineering design, focusing on mechanical engineering of many famed skyscrapers around the world.

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Our final stop of the day – the John Hancock Observation Deck. Definitely not part of Open House Chicago, but worth the visit on this partly cloudy day.

We arrived about an hour before sunset and barely made it up in time, but we did!

Enjoy sunset and night time in Chicago.

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continued….

 

Chicago – October 2018 – Open House Part 5

Chicago Open House weekend concludes ….

 

Another ‘non official’ stop – The Chicago Athletic Club

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For 122 years it was a private club.

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That has recently been opened as a boutique hotel.

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The lower two floors are public space that we were welcome to tour – as long as we didn’t take photos with the SLR cameras.

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But fortunately iPhones take decent photos, including the classic bar.

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The game room retains that feel of a private club.

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As well as the lobby.

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Interestingly the Chicago Cubs ‘borrowed’ the Athletic Club’s logo in the 1880s.

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Chicago Cultural Center

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Built in 1893 as the Central Library it has housed the Cultural Center since the 1970s.

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Entrance to the stairway from the Preston Bradley Hall.

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Another view of the Hall with a glimpse of the highlight.

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A 38′ Tiffany Dome – many claim this to be the largest in the world.

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The dome and light are stunning.

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Directly across the street is Millennium Park.

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333 North Michigan Avenue

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The Eastlake Studio on the 26th floor was open – featuring a terrace with great views.

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A perfect spot for checking out the iconic Wrigley Building.

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The Jewelers Building, with a large collection of details at the top (when this building was built who did they think would be able to see these 400′ up — but they are impressive from this vantage point.)

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A close up of the Wrigley Building clock.

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A view across the river to a terrace on Chicago’s second tallest building that will remain nameless.

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A mix of old and new (with reflections of old).

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One of the reliefs in 333 North Michigan Avenue.

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Another nearby vintage skyscraper’s upper detail.

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Everybody was taking photos.

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For a nice Sunday afternoon the tourists boats were empty – everyone was attending the Open House Chicago events.

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Up Michigan Avenue and the Hancock Tower with the Lincoln Park Beach in the background.

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Back on the street we passed the Jewelers Building, with this great clock.

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A repeat visit from last year is 150 North Riverside, and the view from the 27th floor. Interestingly they had the north end of the empty floor blocked, which was disappointing as this had the best views, but there were still some great shots.

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The area to the immediate west and north of the loop is experiencing a building boom.

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The view south down the river.

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Further south (zoomed all the way in on a slightly hazy day) are El Rail Yards and Comiskey Park (or whatever it is called now).

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The top floors of the Civic Opera Building.

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Always one of my favorite’s the Merchandise Mart.

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Notice how the reflection of the El Tracks makes it appear they go through the building.

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Back down on the ground – a view from the Lake Street Bridge north.

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The older section of the LondonHouse Hotel.

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300 East Randolph Street – with an open elevator shaft.

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This building was originally a 30 floor building, but in 2007-2010 they added another 24 floors. For Open House Chicago the 30th floor was open.

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The views were different than all other we had seen all weekend – south towards the parks and South Michigan Avenue.

It was an amazing view.

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With a bit of zoom, the Field Museum and Soldier Field.

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More 30th floor zooming – across Northerly Island towards Hyde Park and the University of Chicago.

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The Adler Planetarium.

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BKL Architects had a model of their neighborhood.

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As well as an overview of downtown.

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The Lake Shore East neighborhood is another that has had substantial residential growth.

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The view from the Columbus Avenue Bridge up the river.

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We ended at the Navy Pier for some night time shots

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As Elwood said to Jake in the Blues Brothers ‘look it’s the Picasso’

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One final view for a spectacular weekend – The Chicago Board of Trade at night.

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Pittsburgh – October 2018 – Doors Open Part 2

Doors Open Pittsburgh continues…

 

Koppers Building – When it was completed in 1929 this 35 floor building was topped out at 475 feet high, making it Pittsburgh’s tallest for a time (passed a short time later by the Gulf Tower).

Constructed of polished granite and Indiana limestone, it is an excellent example of Art Deco.

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Lets head inside.

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As we entered we were greeted by a couple of the more than 200 volunteers. Events like this rely on volunteers, and all weekend we met welcoming, enthusiastic people who made the visits more worthwhile. A big thank you to all of the volunteers, but on to the visit….

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The three story lobby has a variety of marble finishes.

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There is significant use of bronze throughout the lobby including another great mailbox.

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Do you ever wonder where the elevator is? Not in this building!

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The cool clock collection continues…

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Even the handrail is stylish.

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First Lutheran Church – One stop that was not originally on our itinerary was the First Lutheran Church, but a hard rain shower had come along so we ducked inside.

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They are proud of the fact that this church was the first English speaking Lutheran church west of the Alleghenies, having been founded in 1837.

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The ceiling is amazing.

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As is the pipe organ.

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As with most churches, this one has some very ornate stained glass windows.

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Union Trust Building – Another building built by Henry Clay Frick, the Union Trust Building was completed in 1916 in a Flemish Gothic structure.

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It is believed that the roof is modeled after the Woolworth Building in New York, with the terra cotta dormers and mechanical towers that look like chapels.

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Even with this stunning roof, the most amazing feature of this building is the lobby, and its massive atrium leading up to the skylight.

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A closeup of the skylight.

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What a great building.

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The clock tour continues in the Union Trust Building.

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As does the mailbox tour.

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City/County Building – As we continued our day it became obvious that Pittsburgh experienced a massive building boom in the 1910s. Another example of this boom is the City/County Building, which was completed in 1916.

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The entire build emphasized local resources, from the architects to the materials and construction workers, it was directed that all the resources should come from Allegheny County.

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The lobby features a bust of William Pitt.

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As well as sculpted columns.

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Our visit included a stop at the Mayor’s office.

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Pittsburgh is noteworthy for their unique dialect, differing from the rest of the country with the accents and use of words. The most common of these is ‘Yinz’, which is Pennsylvanian for Y’all. Another is the way that downtown is pronounced (Dahntahn), and is celebrated with this sign in the Mayor’s office.

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Also open were the Council Chambers, located directly next to the Mayor’s Office.

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Oliver Building – The Henry Oliver Building is located directly across Smithfield Street from Mellon Square. Completed in 1910, the 25 story building now contains offices and an Embassy Suites hotel.

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The building was designed by Daniel Burnham. Interestingly other than Chicago, Pittsburgh has the most Burnham buildings still standing (7), and when first built they were actually taller than those in Chicago. It is thought by some that this is as a result of the steel barons, whose steel was required for the skyscrapers, for this ego boosting building boom.

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The building features another great safe.

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Art Deco is used throughout.

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The mailbox collection continues….

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The highlight however was being permitted to go check out the 25th floor lobby of the Embassy Suites, and the views from the windows throughout the floor.

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continued…..

 

Fort Wayne, Indiana – August 2018 – Random Sights Around Town

The city of Fort Wayne, Indiana is the 2nd largest in Indiana, behind Indianapolis. While not huge, it was large enough to have a few interesting things to see and do.

Easily the most architecturally interesting building is the Allen County Courthouse.

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The building had numerous carvings and reliefs.

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The carved tablet emphasizes the idea of justice for all.

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While Lady Justice looks over the setting.

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The Lincoln Tower was for 50 years the tallest building in town. There are a couple of ones taller now, but none more stylish.

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Directly across the street from the classic architecture of the courthouse and the Lincoln Tower is this modern mid rise.

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The main branch of the library.

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Fort Wayne was surprisingly (to me) nice. There is some recent development downtown, the neighborhoods were pleasant and overall it didn’t feel like an old industrial city.

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One of the more unusual local tourist attractions is the Hanson Quarry on the southeast side of town. Where else in the flat lands of Indiana can you find a giant 1000′ deep hole in the ground.

They have an observation deck built that is open during daylight hours where you can come check out the giant hole in the ground.

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The next morning we made our way to Lakeside Park and Rose Gardens.

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The gardens feature some sculptures.

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But their 2000 rose plants are the highlight.

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Late August heat has put stress on the roses.

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Lakeside Park in Fort Wayne is worth a visit.

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Pittsburgh – July 2018 – Views of the City

A weekend in Pittsburgh always gives us a chance to check out the sights – some familiar, some new.

First up – the historic Gulf Tower in the morning sun.

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The Strip District (the neighborhood got it’s name because it is a small ‘strip’ of land along the Allegheny River). Once industrial, then vacant, this area is going through a rebirth – including the refurbished Cork Factory – now apartments.

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A great ‘new-old’ sign on a building on Penn Avenue. In this part of the world ‘pop’ is what soda is known as.

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Artwork along the Allegheny. Note the houses on the high bluff across the river – Pittsburgh is a very hilly city.

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Instead of replacing the tracks they just filled them in with mulch to make a path.

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The view down Smallman Street towards downtown Pittsburgh.

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Our final stop in the Strip was a hipster flea market.

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The best views of the Point, Downtown and the Rivers are from West End Overlook.

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From here you get views of the entire valley.

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The pleasure boats were out on this Sunday morning.

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The bright morning sun made the photography challenging.

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A beautiful day for baseball.

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Where the give away for the the fans were fedora hats!

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Albany, NY – May 2018 – A Governmental Stop

We had been travelling for a couple of hours when we came to Albany, New York. As the state capital there are a number of interesting buildings in the government section – including the capital itself.

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Just across a green space from the state capital is an older, art deco looking office building, the Alfred Smith Government Building – completed in 1930.

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The Department of Education Building lines another side of the park.

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This however ends any of the classic looking buildings – the rest are in the brutalist style of the 1960s and 1970s.

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The Empire State Plaza is lined with them.

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The Egg – A performing arts venue.

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One of the fountains was drained for repairs – giving it an interesting look.

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The view from the museum steps gives an interesting mix of architectures.

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The State Museum of New York.

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Whose arches frame the capital at the other end of the plaza.

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Nearby is either a) a sculpture garden  b) a workout park – not sure.

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A final view of the plaza.

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