Virtual Travel – Pennsylvania

As with Ohio I have spent considerable time in Pennsylvania, with Pittsburgh feeling like a ‘hometown’ (Go Pens/Pirates/Steelers!)

 

History & State Capitol

1938     1955     1956     1986     2013

 

 

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!

2018 05 07 282 Harrisburg PA State Capital - Copy

 

 

Unusual State Symbols

Official State Aircraft – Piper J-3 Cub. For decades Piper Cubs were built in Lock Haven, PA.

Piper J-3 Cub

 

State Colors – Blue and Gold Featured on the flag and every license plate ever.

Blue and gold PA license plate with keystone symbol

But in Pittsburgh the colors are Black & Gold! All the sports teams follow this color scheme.

Flag of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.svg

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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.

 

 

 

Roads

1952     1960     1964     1973     1974

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Near Philadelphia is one of the world’s best gardens – Longwood.

 

 

1989 – Seasons

 

 

Most of Pennsylvania is beautiful rolling hills and mountains. Much of this area is filled with small towns and wooded countryside.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s most famous structure is located in these hills – Fallingwater. Nearby is a second FLW house – Kentuck Knob. Both are stunning.

2008 09 06 29 Fallingwater.JPG

 

 

U.S. Route 6 traverses Northern Pennsylvania, and passes a number of interesting venues including Kinzua Bridge. When completed in 1882 it was the tallest bridge in the world, towering 300′ above the valley. It was decommissioned in the early 1960s and sold to the state with the purpose of becoming a park.

In 2003 a tornado struck the bridge and destroyed a large portion of it, but the remainder makes for a great walk.

 

 

As you make your way along U.S. 6 you pass the Pennsylvania Lumber Museum in Galeton, the Coudersport Ice Cave, and the Zippo Lighter Museum in Bradford.

 

 

 

1995 – Hunseckers Mill Bridge – Lancaster County

 

 

It is thought that Pennsylvania has more named places than any other states as each hill and valley seems to be another named small town. Some are more famous than others such as Punxsutawney – home of Phil! Each February 2nd this little town is overrun by 40,000 people coming to see a groundhog pulled out of it’s fake home to see it’s shadow.

It is celebrated with another collection of fiberglass statues.

 

 

The town of Ridgway has an annual Chainsaw Carving contest that draws artists from all over the world.

 

 

The C.F. Martin & Company has built outstanding guitars since 1833. Their factory is open for tours, and they welcome photography throughout! We have been of many tours of facilities over the years and this was one of the best.

 

 

 

 

2007 – Pittsburgh

Government State Pennsylvania 2007.jpg

 

As noted in the opening, while I was not born or raised there I grew up close enough, and have spent most of my adult life spending time there, that it feels like home.

Built on steep hills along the 3 rivers (Ohio, Allegheny, and Mon), it has character. With the long history of steel, the city had enough wealthy people in the early 1900s that there is a great collection of historic skyscrapers. With the lack of build able land, the skyscraper construction has continued to this day.

 

The interiors and trim are just as impressive.

 

Pittsburgh has it’s fair share of quirky places, including Randyland and Bicycle Heaven. The best, by far, is Anthrocon – 7000 people descending on the city dressed in furry animal costumes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Houston – May 2019 – Random Views

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!

New Orleans – May 2019 – One Final Look

We had a great few days in the Big Easy, coming away with fantastic memories, and lots of photographs.

Nola = New Orleans, LA (abbreviation for Louisiana) NOLA



Nola is a city with their own language and culture.



The home of jazz music.



One of the best places for local food like Po’ Boys is Mothers.



There are plenty of horse drawn carriages for the tourists, resulting in carriage jams.




The number of wide boulevards are surprising for such an old city.




Louis Armstrong Park – more Nola celebrating jazz.




The locals are friendly, and at times had free beer!



The French Quarter, while touristy, is a unique place.



Plenty of street entertainment.




St Louis Cathedral is impressive.



More views of the Quarter.




Plenty of Voodoo stores to choose from, should you need them.




Did I mention music!




But this New Orleans parade is over….




Time to roll on out of town. À la prochaine.





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 – Getting Around The Big Easy

Getting to and around New Orleans has always been an adventure. Situated near the mouth of the Mississippi, the city is essentially surrounded by water and swamps.

While most people likely fly into the airport, or take I-10 from Mobile or Baton Route, the best route into the city by car is from the north across Lake Pontchartrain.



The Lake Pntchartrain Causeway is a 24 mile long bridge. Completed in the 1950s it is to this day the longest bridge in the world over water.



Which results in a funny looking navigation system – we are in the middle of the lake, still 14 miles from shore.



Eventually you get close enough to see the skyline of the city off in the distance.



Once you make it to town you see plenty of the ride share bicycles.



Although this person chose his own unique ride.



The Port of New Orleans is one of the busiest ports in the country, with constant ships coming in off the Gulf of Mexico and up the Mississippi River.



The tugboats stay busy all day.



At the base of Canal Street is the tourist ship The Natchez, a faux stern-wheeler.



The best transportation however are the streetcars.





New Orleans turned out to be a fairly easy city to navigate.






New Orleans – May 2019 – St Charles Streetcar Line

The St Charles Street Streetcar line is the oldest continuously used street railway route in the world. Streetcars first started rolling down this way almost 200 years ago, in 1833.

The current cars were built by a company called Perley Thomas in the 1920s.



As the route leaves downtown it passes through the Garden District neighborhood, with a number of small shops and cafes.



Some of the homes have been converted into B & Bs.



Further out you pass educational facilities such as Tulane and Loyola.





The Audubon Zoo is along this route as well.



The homes of the Garden District are a highlight. Many are quite large, and all are beautifully maintained.











As you make your way past Riverbend and onto Carrollton Avenue the homes become somewhat smaller, but still nicely maintained.



It takes about an hour and a half to ride the entire distance out and back on the St Charles Streetcar, but it is well worth the time, and the very low fares.






Detroit – April 2019 – Cultural Center

The Cultural Center of Detroit is located in the Midtown section, just north of downtown. We had the opportunity to visit two of the centerpieces of the neighborhood, the Main Library and Institute of Art.

We started at the Library where one of Detroit’s newest features, a streetcar called the Q Line’ was passing as we arrived.





We made our way around the building to the Cass Avenue entrance, which is much newer than the Woodward Avenue side.





The original building is in an Italian Renaissance style, with it’s impressive stairways and ceilings.





This look is carried over to one of the exhibition halls.





While one of the hallways on the second floor resemble a cathedral.





Reliefs celebrating the classics adorn this level.





A look at the main entrance ceiling.





We are still in the library, not the Institute of Art…





Directly across Woodward Avenue is the Institute of Art, with a statue of the Thinker greeting you.





The exterior had a significant amount of sculptures.





It is immediately apparently that the library and art museum were designed in similar style and completed at the same time.





Coincidentally there was a celebration of India going on the day we were there.





We came for the Rivera murals and ended up celebrating India as well!





The artists were happy to tell you about their culture.





A Rangoli demonstration.





This henna artist was very skilled, with a steady hand.





The east lobby had this great display.





Another exhibition hall featured pop art.





Some great chairs.





Ruben & Iabel Toledo had an exhibit called Labor of Love.








They also paid homage to the River murals. The DIA is a destination just for the murals, but the rest of the exhibitions are world class as well.