Boston – First impressions

If Baltimore reminded me of an old aristocratic lady with a shrinking fortune, Boston is an old noble lady with her fortune intact. Her quiet, understated elegance exudes old money and confidence. A perfect hostess with impeccable manners, the kind that will welcome guests from all walks of life and make them feel at home. With a glass of forty year-old brandy in front of the fireplace, of course.

Charmed at first sight in Telegraph St. and Dorchester Heights, South Boston.

April 30th, 2017

Washington D.C. – Reconnaissance

Beginning near Dupont Circle back to Union Station with its massive Columbus Fountain and very own Liberty Bell which, in reality, is a replica of this symbol of independence located in Philadelphia – minus the iconic crack. In D.C., it is called Freedom Bell, American Legion, a public artwork dedicated in 1981.

From the Station, a short walk to the Capitol, passing in front of the Supreme Court which is closed on weekends. Still, one can walk around it and marvel at its dignified neoclassical architecture, tall Corinthian columns and bronze doors, designed by Gilbert and John Donnelly, Sr. and sculpted by his son, John Donnelly, Jr.

Each door is made up of four bas-reliefs which represent significant events in the evolution of justice according to Western tradition in chronological order. The thematic sequence begins on the lower left panel, moves up to the top of the door then continues on the bottom right panel and concludes on the upper right corner.

17 feet high and 9 ½ feet wide, and weighing approximately 13 tons the doors prompted the sculptor to declare: 

“Out of all of our monumental projects, spread over two lifetimes, the Supreme Court doors are the only work that we ever signed – that’s how important they were.”

April 23rd, 2017

Washington D.C. – First impressions

We had been warned, when we first came to New York, that every couple of months we must get out of the City or else we’d risk confusing its inherent surreality for normality. For the reality is, there is no place on earth like New York City. And it can mess up with your perception of time and space.

Taking this advice to heart, two months after visiting Philadelphia we took off on our second trip. A fortnight in three cities, starting with the capital: Washington D.C.

First impressions ~

a) it always strikes me as curious how birds can get so lost as to end up in the bowels of the beast that is Penn Station;

b) 3,5 hours by train on a rainy day and my collection of moody, blurry photos has been largely enriched;

c) D.C. is clean and neat, and it reminded me of those tidy, groomed cities one comes across just about everywhere in Switzerland;

d) all subway stations look alike: grey, concrete, clean, clearly marked, easy to follow even by first-time visitors (as New York subway would have been, in a parallel universe);

e) a local liquor shop with a quirky sense of humour – that was a warm welcome! Made me wonder whether quirkiness is a common feature among Washingtonians?!

En route to Washington D.C.

April 22nd, 2017

Philadelphia – First impressions

Philadelphia. A 1,5 hours train ride from Penn Station, it was its proximity to the City that made it an ideal getaway – the first one since we’d landed in New York more than six months earlier.

Also, I found leaving from Pennsylvania Station in New York City, which sits between 31st  & 33rd Streets, and arriving at 30th Street Station in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, utterly amusing; there couldn’t have been a better link connecting the two cities.

First impressions on arrival at the 30th Street Station and out on Market Street:

a) where is everybody…? Car traffic flowing, a few people on pavements, human walking speed, average noise level. That’s what living in New York City for longer periods of time does to you, I’d been warned about this: you forget there is another world out there, less tall, less noisy, slow-paced, taking things easy.

b) eclectic architecture: Victorian, Greek Revival, Rennaisance, live together with red brick townhouses and glass/concrete skyscrapers.

First walk: Market St. to 19th St., across Rittenhouse Square to Pine St., upscale with an artistic touch, renovated townhouses, small boutiques, antique shops, a lovely dog school and the first hospital in the U.S., still very much in use.

It was only a short five-day trip but such a rich experience – so much so that Philadelphia will monopolize these pages for the next thirty days or so.

Next stop: Washington Square, Liberty Bell and Independence Hall

Philadelphia
February 21st, 2017