Our tour of El Paso architecture started in the lobby of the Hotel Paso del Norte, with an impressive stained glass ceiling.
A quiet Saturday morning was the perfect time to walk around downtown and check out some of the older buildings, starting with the exterior of the Hotel Paso del Norte.
The O.T. Bassett Tower was completed in the Art Deco style in 1930. Designed by Henry Trost late in his career, the building has recently been repurposed and is now an Aloft Hotel. It is nearly identical to the Luhr Tower in Phoenix.
The Martin Building was for 50 years the headquarters of the El Paso Electric Company, with a distinctive ‘USE ELECTRICITY’ sign on the roof. With the building’s remodel to condo’s, the old energy consuming sign has come down with a much more efficient LED sign proclaiming the new name ‘ ELECTRIC CITY’
The Union Bank Building at 401 East Main Street was completed in 2012, but retains the traditional Southwest look.
This classic building across the street from the San Jacinto Plaza was completed in 1926 as the Hotel Orndorff. It too was designed by Henry Trost.
From 1935 until 1970 it was known as the Hotel Cortez, a name that is retained for the ballroom spaces used for weddings. The rest of the building is now used for offices.
A few miles north of downtown is the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP). The entire campus has a consistent architectural look known as Bhutanese. This unusual approach is a result of the wife of the dean of the School of Mines (Kathleen Worrell) reading an article in the National Geographic Magazine in 1914 about this architectural style.
After a large fire that destroyed one of the main buildings, she convinced her husband to adopt this style, and for 100 years it has remained, and expanded – even on the exterior of the football stadium.
One of the dorms in the Bhutanese style.
Our last stop on the brief architectural tour of El Paso took us to the Manhattan Heights Historic District to check out this great little 1919 gas station.
Just across the street is this classic bungalow being protected by a robot.
The Cincinnati architecture tour starts with a view of the historic City Hall. This impressive Romanesque building dates from 1893, after taking 5 years to build. The design was intended on reflecting the taste of the German descended majority of the population of the city at the time.
The Cincinnati Fire Museum (back side). Dating from 1907, the building is on the National Register.
The Plum Street Temple (now known as the Isaac Wise Temple), was built in 1865, with construction occurring during the Civil War. As with City Hall, which is caddy-corner from the temple, it is built in a style (Byzantine Moorish) that was popular in Germany at the time.
With World War II, all the temples in Germany in this style were destroyed, leaving only this and one in New York City in this style.
The Cincinnati and Suburban Telephone Company Building – This art deco building was completed in 1930.
Note the frieze – it is a series of rotary phones.
One interesting note, in the 1930s it contained the worlds longest straight switchboard (photo from Cincinnati Enquirer article). The floors were built at an unusually tall for the time 12′ high to support the equipment.
The western end of Garfield Place has a number of interesting structures.
The red brick building is the 1891 Waldo Apartments. The designer, Samuel Hannaford, also designed the Music Hall, nearby City Hall, and the Hooper Building.
The Covenant First Presbyterian Church is another late 1800s religious building. Both the church and the Waldo are on the National Registry.
William Henry Harrison is overlooking the entire scene. The statue’s statement of ‘Ohio’s first President’ is a bit of a controversy, as Harrison was born in Virginia, but elected from Ohio.
The Doctors Building is just down the block, on the south side of Piatt Park. The building has an impressive terracotta façade, while the construction itself is brick and concrete.
The east end of Piatt Park has a wider view of the Doctor’s Building on the left, as well as a statue of James Garfield.
The Garfield statue was commissioned just 2 years after he died, finally being unveiled in 1887.
Tucked in what is essentially an alley, the Cincinnati Gymnasium and Athletic Club dates from 1902. The club claims to be the oldest continuously running athletic club in the country, including Rutherford Hayes once being a member and president of the club.
In a controversial move the club would hold basketball games against other clubs, charging an admission and sharing the proceeds, thus making them ‘professional athletes’ in a time where that was frowned upon.
The Second Renaissance Revival Building was named to the National Registry in 1983.
The former Shillito’s Department Store building is unique in that the front and one side is very Art Deco in style, but the back is a far more traditional look.
TV fans of the 1970s will recognize this building as the home of ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’. In reality it was the home of the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper.
This limestone building was opened in 1926. Today it is home to a couple of hotels.
Cincinnati was clearly a boom town in the 1920s, as yet another of the classic buildings, the Taft Theater, opened in 1928. This art deco hall seats 2,500, and is used for touring Broadway shows and concerts.
The John Roebling Bridge is one of the highlights of the city. When completed in 1866 it was the longest suspension bridge in the world, at 1057′. This was supplanted by his more famous Brooklyn Bridge in 1883.
A mix of old and new – the St Louis Church. Another 1930s building, it’s location at Walnut and East 8th Street is located along the new Cincinnati Streetcar route. Ironically the streetcars that would’ve been there when the church was built was torn out in the 1950s, only to be replaced by this new system costing $148m.
Just down the street, and a few decades before, streetcars ran everywhere. (photo from Wikipedia – ‘Metro Bus’). If only they had left the tracks.
Easily the best (in my opinion) is Cincinnati Union Terminal. Once a grand train station (still a small Amtrak station), it is now a museum center.
The building is known as the second largest half dome building in the world, after the Sydney Opera House.
Two landmarks for one – Fountain Square and the Carew Tower.
Fountain Square has been the center of the city since it was installed in 1871. The fountain’s name is ‘The Genius of Water’.
The Carew Tower was the tallest building in the city from it’s opening in 1930 until it was surpassed by the Great American Tower in 2010. While the interior is very ornate, the exterior is a very basic approach towards art deco.
Our tour complete it is time to get out of town at the 1937 Lunken Airport Terminal.
Highbanks Metro Park, with the first tree changing colors for fall
Big Meadows in Highbanks
The sheep farm across the road from Highbanks Park is the last bastion of the former rural atmosphere. The entire area around it is now suburbia.
The largest office building in Ohio – a horizontal skyscraper. The Chase offices in Polaris has 2 million square feet of office space. To compare the tallest building in the state is Key Tower in Cleveland (947’/289m) only has 1.5 million square feet.
Note the entire roof is covered in solar panels and the parking lots and garages to the right are being covered in solar panels.
Ohio gets cold, Ohio gets snow, but alas – no mountains, so this qualifies as a ski resort. Snowtrails near Mansfield.
A covered bridge in Union County.
Just down the road from the covered bridge is this corn maze (Maize maze?)
A berry field with a pumpkin sales.
A grain elevator in Urbana, Ohio.
Literally turning to the right you get a view of the old train station, the vacant factory and the rest of the town.
A massive shrub nursery surrounds the town of New Carlisle.
Deceased people and cars.
This view of Madison County shows Interstate 70 along the upper right, US 40 (The National Road) through the left middle, and an airport runway running along side – all in perfect East-West orientations.
Scioto Downs Horse Race Track and Casino (newer building on the left)
The 105,000 seat Ohio Stadium. The GPS in the drone would not allow me to fly any closer without seriously violating FAA rules (which I did not!)
Franklin Park Conservatory
A view along East Broad Street in Columbus
New apartments surrounding Columbus Commons Park.
We end this tour with a view of downtown Columbus, including the State Capitol surrounded by 30 to 40 floor buildings.
Texas is a big state with a great variety of places for photography, therefore this is a LONG posting.
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Austin – State Capital
The Texas State Capitol dates from 1885. The land it is on was acquired in a barter deal, 3 million acres of Texas Panhandle for this land!
Texas shows it’s Tex-Mex history in the state foods…
State Pastries – two – Strudel & Sopiapilla
State Small Mammal – Armadillo
The city of Austin is proud of it’s motto – Keep Austin Weird.
With the music scene, including a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughan, and the Congress Street bats it is a great place to be.
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Roads & Bridges
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I have more Texas Official Highway Maps than any other state. So many this section has combined the Prairies with the Highways which is appropriate because it features Amarillo and Route 66
You are half way there – IF you are going from Chicago to Los Angeles, or vice versa.
The legendary Cadillac Ranch. For more than 40 years people have been spray painting these cars. The good folks of Amarillo liked the planted Cadillacs they have expanded (in different parts of town) to VW Beetles and Combines.
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Terlingua – The ‘ghost town’ of Terlingua is a former mining town, but is not vacant, as it is a destination for tourist from Big Bend National Park.
Once a year they hold the world’s largest chili cook-off.
Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park. These two parks cover much of the Rio Grande Valley of West Texas. Their natural scenery is stunning.
A plus is being able to take a row boat across the river to Mexico for lunch in Bouillas.
Marathon – Gage Hotel We had the good fortune of spending the night in this crossroads town on the way to Big Bend. The Gage Hotel is a historic property that attracts people just for the atmosphere and food.
Langtry – Made famous by Judge Roy Bean and his Law West of the Pecos, and even more famous when Paul Newman starred in a movie of the same name. The town is pretty much vacant, but the area is scenic.
Nearby is Seminole Canyon State Historic Park. This park holds significant cave art.
Cities & Beaches
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San Antonio. While the city is large, it has a feel very different than Houston or Dallas. The downtown is much more compact, with a significant amount of Art Deco architecture.
Missions – There are five missions in San Antonio, and four of those are maintained by the National Park Service (the 5th is the Alamo). Mission San Jose is the most impressive architecturally. Our day in San Antonio included a visit to Mission Concepcion.
Alamo – The most famous mission in the state, and likely the country, it is not known for it’s service as the Mission San Antonio de Valero, but more so it’s use as a fort in the Mexican independence effort when a group of Texas soldiers died defending it.
Houston – The city is the 4th largest city in the country, with 2.3 million people in the city. It is the 5th largest metro area (by some calculations) with 7 million people.
The city has more buildings over 150m (492′) than any city in the United States other than New York, Chicago and Miami.
There are still a few historic buildings downtown, but many have been destroyed over the years as they went taller and newer.
Houston Art – One of the great finds in our travels was the very cool, quirky art of Houston. From top to bottom. Giant Presidential Heads – Sanctioned Graffiti – Beer Can House – Luck Land – Smithers Park.
Parks and Rec Houston also provided some unique ‘park’ experiences – from going under the Buffalo Bayou Park to see the Cistern, to the Botanical Gardens, and finally inside for some baseball.
Galveston Another pleasant surprise was Galveston. It seemed like 3 cities in one – the typical seaside resort with amusement rides and motels, a great state park natural area, and finally the historic area on the bay side.
Dallas – Fort Worth While Houston gained lots of photos on this posting I have actually been to Dallas far more, just some time ago and without a camera.
Dallas is corporate, Fort Worth is cowboy (I know – stereotypes, but it seems to fit).
As with Ohio I have spent considerable time in Pennsylvania, with Pittsburgh feeling like a ‘hometown’ (Go Pens/Pirates/Steelers!)
History & State Capitol
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As with most states, the state capital is located (somewhat) in the middle of the state. Given that the vast majority of the people of Pennsylvania live on the ends, this meant a smaller city has been the capital – Harrisburg.
While outside the Pennsylvania Capitol looks like many others, inside is amazing!
Unusual State Symbols
Official State Aircraft – Piper J-3 Cub. For decades Piper Cubs were built in Lock Haven, PA.
State Colors – Blue and Gold Featured on the flag and every license plate ever.
But in Pittsburgh the colors are Black & Gold! All the sports teams follow this color scheme.
Pennsylvania has a long industrial history, much of which has been lost. The city of Bethlehem has a vacant steel mill that is now a National Park site that serves as a reminder of this legacy.
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It is impossible to find a city with more cool bridges and tunnels than Pittsburgh. While it makes the commutes tough, it is a great visual experience driving around the city
The Pennsylvania Railroad was the largest, and most famous railroad in the country in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This history is celebrated at two major rail museums, Steamtown in Scranton, and the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania.
Not to be outdone the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, PA has a great collection of streetcars and interurbans.
1976 – Philadelphia
There is another large city in Pennsylvania other than Pittsburgh 🙂
Philadelphia of course is the seat of the independence movement in the 1700s. That history is on evidence everywhere in the city. Trivia moment of the day – there are only 2 cities that have been in the top 10 in population for every official United States Census – New York and Philadelphia.