San Antonio – May 2019 – Historic Homes and Buildings

As a historic city San Antonio had a decent amount of older homes and buildings in the center of the city.

The King William Historic District is just south of downtown. It has a great collection of restaurants and shops, but the highlights are the beautiful old houses.







As we reached downtown we passed by a couple great old buildings.





A classic clock, which we appear to have caught at high noon.



Nix Hospital s housed in a very fine example of an Art Deco building.






There are still a couple vintage theaters in town.





The Post Office and Court House is located across the plaza from the Alamo.





The Tower Life Building was completed in 1927. This eight sided classic Art Deco skyscraper also housed San Antonio’s first Sears store when first opened.








The Drury Hotel occupies the former Alamo National Bank building. Located along the famed Riverwalk the 24 floor building has many impressive details in the lobby.









We chose instead to stay at the Gunter Hotel, another great old hotel.



The Gunter Hotel is famous for being the location that blues legend Robert Johnson recorded most of the 29 songs he ever recorded. The bar celebrates the fact that he recorded in room 414, by calling themselves the Bar 414.



Despite the fact that Robert was from Mississippi, he was brought to San Antonio by a talent scout for Vocalion Record, Ernie Oertle. A producer from the label, Don Law, set up a recording studio in room 414 and 413 of the Gunter Hotel.

The drawing below is from an album cover of Robert’s music that was re-released in the 1960s depicting this recording session.



This is the room today, with the small white chair in the corner where Robert was sitting, facing the wall for the acoustics. How do I know this? This was our room for the night!!!

When we arrived every cushion was turned on end, every drawer was open. I immediately assumed it was Robert welcoming us! We spent the night hanging out listening to Robert’s music, either his original or the hundreds of covers from the Stones, Clapton and others.





Houston – May 2019 – Modern Skyscrapers – Updated

Believe it or not there is a rating system for skylines, and in most of these rating systems Houston’s comes in 4th place in the country (behind New York, Chicago and Miami). Houston’s is a bit interesting in that not all of the tallest buildings are downtown.

This posting features some of the more interesting perspectives of the modern Houston skyline. After realizing I missed the 2nd day’s photos this posting has been updated with additional photos.














































Houston – May 2019 – Vintage Buildings

As noted on the previous post the vast majority of the buildings in Houston are new, built in the last couple of decades, much as a result of an area that has grown from a metro population of 2 million in 1970 to 6 million + today.

But in downtown Houston there are a few architectural gems from the early to mid 1900s that are worth checking out.

An interesting block is on Main Street. For this one block it looks like you are in small town America (if small town America had 60 floor buildings in the background).





The Great Southwest Building was for many years home of the Texas Company, better known as Texaco. Built in the Art Deco style in the late 1920s, today it is high end apartments.





The Rice Lofts was formerly a hotel. This location is famous as it once was the home of a national capital – the Republic of Texas! The current building was completed in 1913.





Completed in 1929 as the Gulf Building, the current JPMorgan Building, with a Chase Bank branch in the lobby is the finest architectural building in the city.














The Julia Idelson Library is part of the Houston Library system. Dwarfed by the surrounding skyscrapers, it provides an oasis in the sea of glass.



Dating from 1926, the Spanish Renaissance style building houses Texas an local history archives.






Houston City Hall is one of the city’s few Art Deco style buildings.





The ceiling of the lobby has a relief of the world, with Texas standing out in gold and an X marking the spot (for Houston).



The murals add to the majesty of the room.




Even the water fountain has style, and a well state quote – build it to last forever. With the unchecked growth for the last 60 years or so I am not certain how much of Houston is built to last forever, but it is an impressive city nonetheless.





New Orleans – May 2019 – Then and Now

With a few days in New Orleans, I had the opportunity to search out some ‘time travel’ photo ops.

Carondelet Street at Canal Street. The buildings on the corners seem similar in size, but very different. Looking down the street reveals one that is still the same.




Chartres Street in the French Quarter.





The Cotton Exchange. As noted in a previous posting the Cotton Exchange Building was torn down in the early 1920s and replaced with a more stable, but less opulent, building.




The End of Canal Street. There used to be a statue at the streetcar turnaround. The statue still exists, just a few blocks away in a park (which is shown in the Public Art posting). The streetcars are still there, just not horse drawn.

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The French Market. The market has a checkered past, but now is a coffee shop.




The Opera House. This building was located in the French Quarter. It has been torn down and replaced with a new, but period correct, hotel.





St Charles Street headed into the CBD. The first block is very similar, beyond that are dramatically different with the skyscrapers replacing the smaller buildings.

New Orleans – May 2019 – The Central Business District

When most people think of New Orleans they think of the French Quarter, or other major tourist spots. But New Orleans is more than that – it is a major city with large corporate and government buildings.

New Orleans refers to their downtown area as the CBD (Central Business District).

Below is the Supreme Court of Louisiana Building. While it is technically in the French Quarter it is unlike all the other structures in the area with it’s classical look.



Also nearby is the St Louis Cathedral.



Canal Street is the divider between the Quarter and the CBP. It is lined with commercial business, many of which are in 100 year old + buildings.



The Royal Crescent Hotel has an impressive amount of detail on the exterior.



This level of detail is found on many of the early 1900 buildings.



A mix of old and new New Orleans.



Completed in 1972 the Hancock Whitney Center has been the tallest building in the city (and state) since it’s completion. For most of it’s history it was known as One Shell Plaza.

The exterior is Italian travertine, which caused many to be concerned of it’s durability during a strong storm, however it stood up to Hurricane Katrina.



Now a Hilton Hotel, this ornate building was completed in 1927 as the Grand Lodge of the Freemasons of Louisiana.

When opened it had a 1000 person theater and three ballrooms.



The Whitney Bank clock is a New Orleans heirloom.



The Cotton Exchange Building was completed in 1920, replacing a previous, more ornate building of the same name.



The Energy Centre is the 4th tallest building in the city, at 530′ high. It is located across the street from the Superdome.



A view of the plaza in front of the Superdome.



The DXC Technologies building also is in the Superdome neighborhood. While not especially tall it has a clean lines look to it



But no matter the height of the skyscrapers nothing dominates the New Orleans skyline like the Superdome.

Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Views of the City

Some random views of Birmingham, Alabama. The city is known as the Magic City because of the fast growth in the late 1800s during the rapid expansion of the steel industry.



There are a number of classic old buildings downtown.



With the industry gone, today Birmingham depends on education (UAB) for much of it’s employment.



Eddie Kendricks grew up in Birmingham before moving to Detroit and starting the Temptations.



The Vulcan Statue is the symbol of Birmingham, reflecting the steel industry roots. It stands on a 180′ pedestal high on a hill overlooking the city.



The statue itself was made for the 1904 World’s Fair in St Louis where it was awarded the Grand Prize.

Today you can walk up the many stairs or take the elevator to the top for great views.



We took the elevator!



For a medium sized city Birmingham has a nice skyline.



With sunset, the lights came on around town.



The skyline lit up nicely from atop the Vulcan Park tower.






Detroit – April 2019 – Random Sights

Our weekend in Detroit resulted in some venues that didn’t result in enough photos for a single posting so they are grouped together in ‘Random Sights’

Up first – Eastern Market.




Detroit has one of the finest farmers markets in the country. Contained in a number of indoor and outdoor ‘sheds’, they offerings vary throughout the year.




On this day there was little produce, but many people with various meats and even landscaping items.




A few street performers were on hand trying to generate some tips.




Surrounding the market are many food service companies. A number of the buildings had food related murals.




A little Detroit muscle in the Market.





In nearby Dearborn is the Henry Ford Estate.




When you invent the Model T you can have any house you want. Henry had this nice home on what was once a 1700 acre grounds. Most has been developed into a college, mall and corporate center for Ford.




This home’s styling has kept up better than most of it’s era.




And when you start a car company you need a really stylish 5 car garage.





A brief tour of downtown revealed a number of art pieces. This skyscraper at One Woodward Avenue was designed by Minoru Yamaski. If the design of the windows looks familiar it is because he later designed the original World Trade Center in New York.

The statue is The Passo di Danza (Step of the Dance).




The Spirit of Detroit is a large statue completed in 1958. Today this symbol adorns most of the city of Detroit’s department logos.




A recent addition is a 17′ high statue called ‘Waiting’ . While many like the addition some say the ‘X’ for eyes represent death.




Detroit is in Wayne County – and the County Building is in a classic Roman Baroque Revival style,, and was completed in 1902.




Cadillac Tower was the first building outside of New York and Chicago to be 40 floors tall when completed in 1927.




Across the street from the Guardian Building is the Buhl Building. Stylish in it’s own right, it pales to its world renown neighbor.




From the 32nd floor of the Guardian Building we had a great view of the surrounding area. This is a view southwest looking at the Ambassador Bridge leading to Canada (on the left), as well as the Rouge Factory in the distance.




The Renaissance Center was built in the 1970s in an effort to revitalize downtown, however it was built across an 8 lane street, along the river, and with huge walls that visually were imposing. Fail.




From our high vantage point we could see out to the vacant Packard factory that we toured the day before.




The Penobscot Building was Detroit’s tallest building from it’s completion in 1928 until the Ren Center was finished in the 1970s.




The building was named after the Penobscot Native American’s in Maine. The exterior motif pays tribute to them.