Westwood Village

Fox Village Theatre and the Gayley Terrace apartments. They were declared historic-cultural monuments in 1988 and not everyone was happy about that.

The Los Angeles Times wrote: ”Jean Taylor Lawrence, the owner of Gayley Terrace at the time, appeared near tears as she appealed to the council to leave her property alone. Lawrence said she was being punished for keeping her Spanish Colonial-style building in good repair.”

“Our corner looks beautiful, and it was because of my hard work,” Lawrence said after the council vote. “They have torn my heart out.” – [source]

Yet, in 2017, the complex looked more beautiful than ever.  

Westwood Village

July 15th, 2017

San Francisco is… on a Mission

The Dolores Mission, to be precise.

[The Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded October 9, 1776. The settlement was named for St. Francis of Assisi, the founder of the Franciscan Order, but was also commonly known as “Mission Dolores” owing to the presence of a nearby creek named Arroyo de los Dolores, or “Creek of Sorrows.”

Mission Dolores is the oldest intact building in the City of San Francisco and the only intact Mission Chapel in the chain of 21 established under the direction of Father Serra. The Mission has been a steadfast witness to the span of San Francisco’s history including the California Gold Rush and the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. The Mission Cemetery is the only cemetery that remains within the City limits. The Cemetery is the final resting place for numerous Ohlone, Miwok, and other First Californians as well as notable California pioneers.]

Junípero Serra y Ferrer, O.F.M., Founder and First President of the California Missions
Born Nov. 24, 1713 – Died Aug. 28, 1784

Mission Dolores

July 6th, 2017

San Francisco is… Coit Tower & The Views

So what if the line went round and round, forming a complete circle at the base of the tower. There was so much to see during the hour we waited to reach the lift that, for once, I didn’t feel the pain. For the entire ground floor is adorned with floor to ceiling murals painted in 1934 by a group of artists employed by the Public Works of Art Project, a precursor to the Works Progress Administration (WPA).

They depict life in California during the Depression, with emphasis on the theme of industry and commerce and distinctive touches of leftist political ideas, clearly evident; like on Bernard Zakheim’s “Library” which depicts fellow artist John Langley Howard reaching for a copy of Karl Marx’s ”Das Kapital” (spelled here ”Das Capital”).  Touches one is familiar with in Europe, but rather unusual in the States. Perhaps it is true, after all, San Francisco may well be a very European city.

The Tower & details the Murals Industries of California
Ralph Stackpole

Industries of California
Ralph Stackpole

Suzanne Scheuer

Bernard B. Zakheim

City Life
Victor Arnautoff

City Life
Victor Arnautoff

Mallette Harold Dean

City Life
Victor Arnautoff

City Life
Victor Arnautoff

Banking and Law
George Harris

Maxine Albro

The (360°) views

You can buy tickets on-line in advance and skip the lines. But where is the fun in that?

Coit Tower

July 5th, 2017

Dorchester Heights Park, Boston

”At this place the cannon brought by General Henry Knox from Fort Ticonderoga to deliver to General George Washington in the winter of 1775-1776 were used to force the British Army to evacuate Boston.”

Besides its historical role and significance, this is a quite neighbourhood park with views over South Boston, surrounded by rows of beautiful houses. Especially ambient at dusk, when the first city lights begin to flicker in the distance.

April 30th, 2017

A long day’s journey

It is said that the journey matters more than the destination. I don’t agree. I believe they play on equal terms, not least because the one cannot exist without the other. And the beauty of a journey is nowhere more apparent than looking out the window of a moving train. There is a whole world out there passing by, glimpse upon glimpse, frame upon frame, rail upon rail. Did you know that in Connecticut there is a place called New London, complete with its very own River Thames? Eugene O’Neill lived there for years. His family’s summer house and setting of his plays Ah, Wilderness! and Long Day’s Journey into Night, is still standing – a museum and national landmark. 

New York City to Boston on an Amtrak train.

April 30th, 2017

The House of Poe, Baltimore

”When asked about his origins, Poe was fond of saying that he was a Virginian gentleman, but it was in Baltimore that Poe sought refuge when he had feuded with his foster father, John Allan, and was compelled to leave the house. It was in Baltimore that Poe found his future wife, Virginia Eliza Clemm, and in Baltimore that he placed his feet on the first steps of what would be his career for the next 17 years. Perhaps most revealing, when asked for the place of his birth, Poe turned his back on Boston and claimed Baltimore instead.”

It is no coincidence that Edgar Allan Poe’s final resting place is also in Baltimore, not far from this tiny house, in which he lived with his aunt, grandmother and two cousins. 

The Poe House is currently closed for restoration and scheduled to re-open in April 2018. Check for updates and opening hours here: Poe in Baltimore

Visited on April 27th, 2017

Philadelphia – Where it all began

Starting with the Congress Hall, home to the U.S. Congress from 1790 to 1800, when Philadelphia served as the temporary capital of the United States.  Presidents Washington (his second term) and Adams were both inaugurated here.

The Senate chamber was adorned with heavy red drapes. Today all the rooms are restored to their original appearance. While most of the furniture is new, 28 of the desks at Congress Hall are original. Portraits of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette (pictured here) were gifts from France following the American Revolution. They can be seen in the adjoining committee rooms. 

A fresco of an American bald eagle on the ceiling holding an olive branch symbolizes peace. 

The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania sat in this room in the 1700s.

And, finally, to the beginning: the Assembly Room, where both the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed – although the date of the former is debatable as, apparently, some signers were not present at the time and did not sign the Declaration of Independence until more than a month later when news of the agreement finally reached them, as explained by our lively ranger.

Up next: a chance encounter

Independence Hall tour

February 21st, 2017

Philadelphia – The Liberty Bell

It could also be referred to as ”The Cracked Bell” after its wide, vertical crack which is actually the result of repair work; or ”The Silent Bell” for it has not rung in over 170 years – at least according to The Philadelphia Public Ledger‘s February 26, 1846 publication that records:

The old Independence Bell rang its last clear note on Monday last in honor of the birthday of Washington and now hangs in the great city steeple irreparably cracked and dumb. It had been cracked before but was set in order of that day by having the edges of the fracture filed so as not to vibrate against each other … It gave out clear notes and loud, and appeared to be in excellent condition until noon, when it received a sort of compound fracture in a zig-zag direction through one of its sides which put it completely out of tune and left it a mere wreck of what it was.

The ”mere wreck” has since become a national symbol of democracy, freedom and independence. Its inscription from the Old Testament (Leviticus 25:10) “Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof” has inspired civil rights movements such as suffragists who commissioned a replica and called it the Justice Bell,  and abolitionists who gave it its current name – the Liberty Bell.

Removed from the bell tower of the building we know today as Independence Hall, it is on view in the Liberty Bell Center in Independence National Historical Park.

Next stop: Congress Hall & Independence Hall

February 21st, 2017