Some random views of Chicago.
The city of Montreal was the host of the 1976 Summer Olympics. The area that most events were held still exist in the east side Olympic Park.
A number of the venues are still used for sporting events.
While it has recently been remodeled, the pool complex dates from the 1976 games. It is used for competitive events, with seating for 3,000, but is also used as the neighborhood pool when not in competitive use.
The Montreal Olympics are the poster child for cost overruns often associated with hosting the games. It is estimated it cost 720% (not a typo) more than originally planned.
Much of the cost overruns was due to the construction of Olympic Stadium.
Today there is a small museum dedicated to the games and the construction of the stadium.
The stadium looks like a 1970s sci-fi movie space ship. The large tower on the left was originally built to remove what was to be the first retractable stadium roof in history. Unfortunately it was not completed in time for the games, and when it was eventually completed it didn’t work.
So for the first 12 years or so of the stadium it was open air, and after that a permanently closed dome.
Walking around the large concrete plaza on this day with very few people gives one the feel of desolation in the middle of a large city.
Many North American stadiums used to sit in the middle of large concrete plazas like this – the newer generation of stadium more integrated into the cities are far nice, even if one can question the cost for holding so few events a year.
After the Olympics the stadium became home of the Montreal Expos baseball team. Unfortunately in 2004 they left town, moving to Washington DC. leaving the stadium largely quiet, except for a few concerts and other events like monster truck racing.
The cavernous domes stadium echos with the smallest noises. I did have the opportunity to attend a couple of baseball games here (one with the open stadium, the other with the roof in place). It was a great experience, baseball in French, with passionate fans using their own unique to Montreal style of cheering on their team.
Hopefully some day major league baseball returns to Montreal (but to a more appropriate venue).
The tower is now a tourist attraction. The inclined elevator is billed as the longest in the world.
The top of the tower offers panoramic views of Montreal.
The view of the Olympic Pool, and other venues in the park.
The Olympic Village apartments are still used. The soccer stadium is a recent addition.
The day was a bit hazy, but made the views towards downtown interesting.
Montreal’s east side is a working class neighborhood with numerous row houses.
The view of the islands in the middle of the St Lawrence River, as well as some of the bridges crossing the river.
Because much of Europe is fairly far north, the port of Montreal is the shortest route between a European port and North America.
Olympic Stadium cost the city of Montreal and all of Canada significant money, but as with most things Canadian, they have made the most of it.
As with any week spent in the city, you always run across interesting sights.
Starting with the Puerto Rico Day Parade
The view from the Roosevelt Island Tram
A Public Art exhibit on the High Line.
Brooklyn Subway Station Details – those familiar with the area will notice it is actually from two different stations.
Staying in Brooklyn – Barlay’s Center Arena.
A cool art deco power substation for the subway in Greenwich Village
Park Avenue just north of Grand Central Terminal.
The Alexander Hamilton House
And finally – the Apollo Theater in Harlem!
For someone or something to come back after 20 or 30 years is amazing. In Cleveland the former stadium for the Indians baseball team has made a comeback after being unused for nearly 70 years.
League Park is located in the Hough neighborhood on the east side of Cleveland. In the early days of baseball many stadiums were located in the neighborhoods like this.
As with many other cities Cleveland built a larger, more centrally located stadium downtown and League Park was essentially torn down in 1951, with the exception of a small brick ticket office.
All that has changed in the last few years as the city of Cleveland has invested significant money in bringing back League Park. They have restored the ticket office, and remaining wall, and added a new field.
The field is once again available for baseball.
The ticket office now serves as a small museum commemorating baseball, with an emphasis on Cleveland.
While League Park will never again host major league baseball, it has found a great new life.
Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana is known as the 3rd oldest baseball stadium still in use, although they are disregarding Rickwood Field in Birmingham in that statement.
The stadium is most famous for being used in a number of the scenes from the movie A League of Their Own.
While it is an interesting stadium, it does not have the character of Rickwood Field.
We had a great couple of days in Houston, coming away with a great feel for the city. This posting is to cover the random sights that don’t fit anywhere else, like the featured image above from the Sam Houston Park Village with a little church in the middle of the skyscrapers downtown.
Even though I had been in Houston briefly a couple of times previously I had never seen the Astrodome. The world’s first indoor baseball and football stadium when it was completed in the early 1960s, it still stands unused.
The Wateralls across from the Williams Tower is 64′ high, 1 foot for each floor of the nearby skyscraper.
The ‘Twilight Epiphany Skyspace’ is located on the campus of Rice University. I had read that this was a cool thing to see, but when we got there in the middle of the afternoon I couldn’t understand why. It turns out you must be there at sunset or sunrise – maybe next time.
Houston is notorious for their traffic, with over 6 million people in the area and very little public transportation. They do however have a streetcar that covers a few miles in the center of the city.
As well as crossing a man made pond in the middle of Main Street.
Discover Park has an interesting pinwheel display with a device that when you blow into it just right, kicks off fans that make all the pinwheels spin.
Buffalo Bayou Park is a nice urban park space complete with a skateboard park.
The highlight of the park though was our tour of the Buffalo Bayou Park Cistern. Once used for retaining water for the city, it is now a cool space to explore on a guided tour.
The city has numerous examples of public art.
I have often wondered who has the concrete contracts for road construction in Texas as they build ramps that seem far longer than needed, and never pile up dirt to make the overpasses shorter.
In the theme of ‘Everything is Bigger in Texas’ – As we left the city and reached the suburb of Katy, Texas we made a stop at a Buc-ee’s. A Texas based chain, Buc-ee’s are massive – this one has over 60 gas pumps (the photo is only showing about 1/2 of them)!
The highlight though was the World’s Longest Car Wash (according to the Guiness World Records) – the 255′ long one at Buc-ee’s easily cleaned off 2,000 miles of dirt and grime. Now it is off for San Antonio!
Since the Houston Astros had a home game, and we were staying a couple of blocks away, we checked out the scene. As with most stadiums they have sold the naming rights, so they play at Minute Maid Park 🙂
The crowd was gathering outside before the gates opened.
Anytime I visit a new stadium I like to get there early and walk around to check out the sights.
The TV people were preparing for their broadcast.
As with all the stadiums built in the last 25 years, all have ‘quirky’ features. This stadium has a retractable dome (which was closed because it was 90 and humid), as well as a giant glass wall facing the downtown buildings.
The bullpens were empty.
Some basic instructions were occurring.
Marketing + Marketing = Excess.
The left field scoreboard and stands.
Finally it was time for the game and the obligatory national anthem. This group of young string instrument players were excellent.
The Phillips 66 Home Run Pump, brought to you by Phillips 66.
They have a large train along the glass wall. This train weights 60,000 pounds, and the driver actually drives (and stops) it. In researching this there is no apparent reason why there is a train there other than someone liked the idea.
The massive main scoreboard – everything you need to know about Jose Abreu.
If you can’t hit a real baseball virtual reality gives you the chance.
They have cheerleader at a baseball game…. The most excited the crowd got was for the free t shirts.
Almost forgot – there was a baseball game played.
Crowds going for, or dodging, foul balls always make good subjects.
Finally it got all too slow and we headed out.