Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane

If Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs are a little too ”light” for your taste, may I suggest a walk around the massive Richardson Olmsted Campus. In its original version, the 1880 ”Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane” incorporated the then most enlightened humane principles in psychiatric treatment. Over time, as technology and mental health care advanced, patients were moved to a new facility in the 1970s and the complex was gradually abandoned.

After years of neglect the buildings are now being restored, having lost none of their imposing sturdiness. I think they would make the perfect set for a scary movie. It was a sunny day when we visited – just imagine how frightening they would seem in the dead of winter, wind howling and rain battering against those huge windows.

Here are some opening scenes from the scariest movie you’ve never seen…

… in b&w

… and in colour

Buffalo N.Y.

October 26th, 2017

San Francisco is… history on wheels

My persistent feeling of déjà vu, when I first saw these museums on wheels rolling up and down the roads of San Francisco, increased tenfold once we boarded one; I was sure I’d been there before. It didn’t take long to notice familiar touches: the beautiful wooden details, the elegant curves, the Italian signs… and that’s when I remembered.

It was on a trip to Milan in Italy, a lifetime ago, that I had first boarded an identical streetcar (or tram to us, Europeans). I remember distinctly standing behind the driver, fascinated by the mere fact that the steering wheel and brake lever,  which seemed to have time-travelled from the roaring 1920s, actually still worked. Little did I know that, thirty years later, I would ride again on one of these gems – in San Francisco, of all places. For this street car happened to be one of the fleet of Italian cars acquired from Milan, specifically for the F Line. For all I know, it could have been the same one.

The ”Milan” tram in colour ⇒⇓

PCC streetcars are painted in honour of the many cities that operated them.
No. 1076 commemorates Washington D.C.  ⇒⇓

And, finally, the iconic cable cars. Although part of the city’s public transport system, they are always packed with tourists, which seem to render them a no-go zone for locals, at least during peak hours. ⇒⇓

July 6th, 2017