Brooklyn – September 2019 – A Day at the Beach

A sunny Sunday in the city – a perfect time to go to Coney Island.



Even though it was warm the beach was almost vacant.



As was the boardwalk.




A perfect time to stop for some Nathan’s Hot Dogs.



Back on the boardwalk we met a zombie baseball team.



There is currently a large collection of very unique murals on walls placed around a common space. The artists came from all over the world.













It was time to get back on the train to Manhattan….




But not before stopping at the Brighton Beach station where the MTA museum was running a number of vintage trains.







A great way to spend a few hours at the beach – Brooklyn style.






Brookline, Massachusetts – August 2019 – Larz Anderson Auto Museum

The Larz Anderson Auto Museum in the Boston suburb of Brookline is advertised as America’s oldest automotive museum. Larz and his wife were very early auto enthusiasts, buying their first ‘horseless carriage’ in 1899.

By the 1920s they had collected enough cars they stored them in the carriage house, and opened up their museum.




I had very high hopes for this museum, as it regularly makes the ‘top automotive museum’ lists. When we arrived we were greeted, somewhat, by a lady at the counter who barely had time to interrupt her conversation with her cousin about something to take our money and waive us towards the cars.

This obviously set a tone of disappointment, that fortunately was neutralized by a nice, small collection of some very impressive autos in a display called the Golden Age.









Further back there was a second room with a few more cars, also well displayed.







Another small room had a collection of pedal cars, and other items.



There is some nice automotive art throughout. The lower level had a few more very vintage autos in various states, as well as a bicycle collection.

The Larz Anderson Auto Museum is a nice place – however having seen numerous auto museums across the world I don’t think it rates as one of the premier ones. Perhaps had we attended on one of their numerous special events days where people bring their own classic cars.










Montreal – July 2019 – Vieux (Old) Montreal

Montreal is a very old city for North America, and as such has many outstanding vintage buildings. Most are in the Vieux (Old) Montreal section, but some, like the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral, is downtown.





The main train station has reliefs depicting Canada culture with the words of the National Anthem ‘Oh Canada’ written underneath.



There are numerous vintage buildings throughout the area, with the usual cool details.











The Old Montreal tourist area has numerous shops.



Some very narrow passages.



The Port of Montreal Clock Tower dates from the 1920s. It is also known as the Sailors Memorial Clock, dedicated to World War I Canadian Sailors.



The original sections of Bonsecours Market date from the 1840s. In addition to serving as a market, it also housed government functions.



Place Jacques-Cartier is the center of Old Montreal tourist activities.









Finally a stop at Notre Dame Cathedral, and an amazing (but brief) light show.








New York City – June 2019 – Sit Down or Hang On

A slang for someone who rides the subway a lot is a ‘strap hanger’. The term comes from the early days where there were actual straps that the standing passengers held onto.

This posting illustrates the history of New York City Subway cars and the changes in the seats, and ‘straps’.



Only the very oldest cars have the cloth straps! In addition this BMT Q car has rattan seats that are very cool.





Very early on the cloth straps were replaced with metal ones.





The next version has already moved to the metal bars. I am certain the straps wore out quickly, whereas the bars last forever.





Our next version loses the rattan seats, replaced with these stylish green and yellow stripes. The bars have also evolved to be much larger, so more people can hang on while standing.

This is an IRT R-12 car dating from 1948.





On the IRT R-15 car the bench seating continues, only in solid red, while the bars are still large and protruding. This car dates from 1950.





The first plastic seats make an appearance on an R42. This type of car was most famously used in the 1971 movie The French Connection, where the good guy is in a car chasing the bad guy who stole a train.



Time to board our next car – the ‘straps’ have returned! This car is a R33 ‘World’s Fair’ car, so named as it was released in 1963, the same year the city hosted the World’s Fair.







The last of the straight bench seating makes an appearance.



As we move closer to the modern design, randomized seating.





Finally by the 1970s it looks essentially the same as today’s cars. Not nearly as elegant as the cloth straps and wicker seats, but far more functional and durable.



Time to hang out on the benches in the station and reflect on the changes of the subway over the last 100 years.








Ash Grove, Missouri – May 2019 – Getting Your Kicks on Route 66 Missouri Style

As the song goes Route 66 went from Chicago to L.A., going through Missouri along the way. While much of it is gone, replaced by freeways, there are still portions that are intact.



Many unique places remain along these portions of the Mother Road. One such place is just west of Springfield, Missouri. It is a restored Sinclair Gas Station full of cool, quirky things, including numerous ‘vintage’ vehicles.



A very nice lady named Barbara is the current owner of the property, having taken over for her father after he passed away. Barbara enthusiastically welcome all visitors, and the visitors seem genuinely pleased to be there.

On the day we were there one of the old trucks her father had owned was returned to it’s rightful spot at the station.



As noted plenty of tourists make the stop to check it out. I suggest if you get the chance you do the same.
































Birmingham, Alabama – May 2019 – Rickwood Field

Despite what Fenway Park, Wrigley Field, or even Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana say, Rickwood Field in Birmingham is America’s oldest baseball stadium.

Opened in 1910 it is in amazingly similar look and condition to the day it was opened.

While it is no longer used regularly for the minor league Birmingham Barons, it still sees some use with a tribute game by the Barons, as well as other use.

Most frequently it is used as a movie set for retro baseball movies, as well as local colleges.


As you enter the stadium you are greeted with old entry gates, not metal detectors.


The lineups are written on a chalkboard.


Going into the box seats you have a fence surrounding the home plate area for protection from foul balls.


The seats are still all wood, not plastic.


For most a large roof protects you from the hot Alabama summer sun.


Looking down the stands towards the press box. The original press box was a tiny 4 person booth on the roof, but this one was added for a period piece movie and it was left as it is more functional.


We were permitted to go onto the perfectly manicured field to check it out. The center field fence seems far away from here.

Also note how much foul ground there is behind home plate – many would be foul balls likely turn into outs here.


Looking down first base toward right field show the unusual cantilevered light towers.


Left field is similar, with a ‘batting barn’ built further off to the left.


A view from home plate back towards the stands again show the foul territory.


Despite it’s minimal use, they keep the field in perfect condition.


The view of the right field stands are far longer than those along left field. When this stadium was built in 1910 Forbes Field in Pittsburgh had just been completed as the standard in stadium design, and the architects here used essentially the same design – albeit with much less seating than the major league stadium.


As we make our way into the outfield you can see the advertising along the outfield fence. This was a common practice in the early 1900s, and the advertising that is there is either period advertising, or new companies with the ads made to look period correct.


The scoreboard has been restored to the early 1900s look, with the scorekeeping done manually.

The teams listed would be those from the 1930s – Atlanta is still in the Southern League, and Brooklyn still has the Dodgers.


Birmingham is happy to see you.


Even the Vulcan is present.


The ads are very cool.


Another sign of the history of the south – there were all white teams, and all black teams. Rickwood Field hosted both Birmingham teams.

This practice ended in the 1950s.


The right field stands.


Rickwood Field is easily one of the best baseball ‘park’s I have ever seen. While it has been made retro for Hollywood , it really works nicely.





Cleveland – March 2019 – Re purposing Historic Buildings as Hotels

Cleveland has notoriously been divided into two side, the East Side and West Side, separated by the Cuyahoga River. As a promotional campaign the local tourism board was sponsoring an event called ‘Tourist in Your Hometown – Crossing the River’. As part of this campaign they were offering a guided ‘hike’ around downtown checking out old buildings that have been restored and re purposed as hotels.

Our tour started out on the Mall outside of the old Cleveland Board of Education Building, now a Drury Hotel.





Designed by Cleveland architects Walker and Weeks, the building was completed in 1903 as part of the Group Plan. This plan designed a number of public buildings around green space in the middle of the city (The Mall).





The building’s exterior has a number of classic features.





The lobby features two murals by Cora Holden. Completed in 1931 the murals feature historical greats.





One of the first large scale redevelopment of a classic old building into a hotel was the venerable Arcade. In 2001 Hyatt Hotels restored the building to this fantastic state. While I have featured the Arcade in previous postings, you can never get enough of this elegant building.





A close up of the clocks and some of the railings.





Even the light poles have amazing detail.





The Guardian Bank Building was completed in 1896 as Cleveland’s tallest building – towering 221 feet above Euclid Avenue. Designed by Shepley, Rutan and Coolidge it was remodeled by Walker & Weeks in 1939, giving that firm a hand in the first 3 buildings we toured.





Today it has been restored into a Holiday Inn Express, as well as private apartments and the office of an interactive agency called Rosetta.

As with many of the old buildings, the ceilings are amazing. The building was funded by President Garfield’s sons, Harry and James.





One interesting feature of the tours were actors portraying historic Cleveland people. For the morning portion of the tour we met Garrett Morgan.

Garrett was an amazing person, born in Kentucky in the late 1800s he came to Cleveland in his teens where he started working on sewing machines. Having learned about machines, he went on to develop the modern traffic light as well as a breathing apparatus that was successfully used by Garrett and his brother to save more than 30 miners who were trapped under Lake Erie in a fire.





Our morning tour ended at the Metropolitan at 9, a hotel that is a building that was built in the 1970s. While normally that wouldn’t qualify it as historic, they bypassed that rule since it is attached to the Cleveland Trust Rotunda building.

We visited the basement vaults that have been restored into a bar, complete with a demonstration of their signature flaming drink.





The afternoon portion of the tour started out at the Schofield Building. Now restored into a Kimpton Hotel, the building was completed in 1901.

The building was restored in 2013 with 122 hotel rooms and 52 apartments.





The lobby is simple yet elegant.





Our tour took us up to an 11th floor room with a great view down Euclid Avenue.





As well as the Cleveland Trust Rotunda across East 9th Street.





Our last stop was in the Colonial and Euclid Arcades, where a Residence Inn is now located.





The Colonial Arcade was completed in 1898, running the distance between Euclid Avenue and Prospect Avenue. While not as grand as the Arcade, it is still an impressive space.





It was here we met John D Rockefeller, who at times would’ve stayed at the Colonial Hotel, the original hotel in the Colonial Arcade. Rockefeller was the richest person of all time – in 2018 dollars he was once worth over $400 billion dollars. Today’s richest people (Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates) are worth around $100 billion.





The Historic Hotel Tours were a nice way to spend the day, they gave us some tchotchkes, some munchies and even a free drink! The guide was very knowledgeable and informative, and the entire event was free.