Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Athens, Greece

Artemis was goddess of the hunt and had a home on the Acropolis. She was assisted by, and often shown with, her dogs. Could this be one of them? Does he look like a lion hunter to you? Does this look like the Acropolis? It is. You can just catch a glimpse of the Parthenon's columns. [2006]

Monday, November 29, 2010

London, England, UK

To mark 'Black July,' London's Tamils have assembled on Trafalgar Square to remember the events of 1983 when hundreds, if not thousands, of Tamils were killed, and the civil war on Sri Lanka began.  The war was proclaimed 'over' three months before this demonstration, but you wouldn't know it from the flags, militant symbols of the Liberation Tigers.  [2009]

Sunday, November 28, 2010

London, England, UK

Not only is the 'the colorful flag' illegal in Turkish Kurdistan, the holiday is, too.  Here, in mid-March, on London's Trafalgar Square, Kurds of the diaspora celebrate the traditional Kurdish New Year, Newroz.  PKK leader, Abdullah Öcalan, imprisoned by Turkey since 1999, provides an enduring rallying point of protest.  [2009]

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Helsinki, Finland

The flag of Kurdistan is illegal in most of Kurdistan, but it flies freely in Finland, here in front of the Finnish Parliament.  Could there be a more appropriate forum than a city whose name, Helsinki, has come to symbolize human rights, self-determination, and the legitimacy of dissent?   [2005]

Friday, November 26, 2010

Las Palmas, Jalisco, Mexico

For national Maize Day, always the day after Thanksgiving, let's go to the country that gave us maize:  Mexico. Here in Las Palmas, not far from the Pacific Ocean, a load of corn (sorry, maize) is being delivered for manufacture into tortillas. Prepare the maize properly, fill the tortillas with beans, and you have a 'complete protein' even without the meat. [2008]

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Knights Ferry, California, USA

Thanksgiving gives us a chance to reflect on the things we love, things like covered bridges. Knights Ferry bridge, completed in 1863, is now closed to traffic, but it sees many a runner dashing across the Stanislaus River. What does an investment of this magnitude tell you about the economic geography of California's gold rush? [2005] 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

New York City, New York, USA

Let's make the landscape safe for cyclists. Let's make it convenient, too. Over a hundred years ago, New York City built the country's first bike path. Today it has 170 miles of dedicated bike lanes on its streets. New York continues to be a leader of the rebellion against autocracy: that's rule by the auto.  What is taking its place? Velocracy! [2005]

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Istanbul, Turkey

Do you see the name on the boat in the background?  It tells you where you are.  Haliç is the Turkish name of the Golden Horn, Istanbul's harbor.  Essentially, the harbor was a fish trap, which meant that the growing city of Byzantium always had an enviable source of protein.  What you see here is both an ancient and modern sketch of life in Istanbul.  [2010]

Monday, November 22, 2010

Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK

The Falls Road is in the heart of Republican Belfast.  So is Kevin Lynch, Irish National Liberation Army volunteer, who died in 1981 on a hunger strike in prison.  His image and his flag were paraded onto the streets by the West Belfast Workers Party in a show of support for the causes for which he died.  (To Irish workers, it's a plough, not the 'big dipper.')  [2009]

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Jerusalem, Israel

Count the crosses. You are in the Christian Quarter of Jerusalem.  Most residents here are Arab Christians, members of the Greek Orthodox church.  Note how the buildings climb the ridge to the two big domes on top.  The largest marks the burial place of Jesus, a place known as Golgotha in Roman times and just outside the city walls.  [2010]

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Madrid, Spain

What is an ancient Greek temple doing in Madrid? Symbolizing democracy, the foremost contribution of the ancient Hellenes. Inside this neoclassical edifice convenes Spain's Congress of Deputies. Outside sits a lion, commemorating victory in the African wars. Actually, the building is not so ancient, just old. It was built in the mid-19th century. [2009]

Friday, November 19, 2010

St. Augustine, Florida, USA

The lizards of St. Augustine may spend more time reading history than you do. This one was so absorbed in the life of Confederate General Loring that he didn't dart away. Phalanges like that give him real sticktoitiveness when it comes to learning. [2007]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monaco-Ville, Monaco

Take a look at the most densely populated country in the world: Monaco. This view is from 'The Rock,' Monaco's original site. The vertical cliff is the frontier with France. Monaco's history began with La Rocher when it was fortified by the Grimaldis. At one time, this cannon repelled invaders.  Today, it attracts invaders: they are known as tourists. [2005]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Paris, France

The Georges Pompidou Expressway along the right bank of the Seine disappears every summer.  Out come the beach chairs, umbrellas, palm trees, and fountains.  'Paris Plage' appears.  It's a super-cool use of public space during the month when most French are on their annual holiday.  Doubtful it's an expressway?  Look for the broken white line.  [2005]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Genoa, Italy

The water, bread, and olive oil have already arrived, but no dinner companion yet. At the very least, he’ll be dining with breeze and ganders: the gentle waft from the Mediterranean and gentle gazes from nearby rooftops. Wanna bet he didn't order spaghetti and meatballs? [2008]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Jerusalem, Israel

The sun is setting and shabbat is about over. Two young men, Orthodox Jews, romp across the rooftops of Jerusalem. They are silhouetted by the Dome of the Rock. The Mount of Olives forms the backdrop. In three layers you see the city of three faiths: Judaism, Islam, Christianity. The concept?  Sacred-space compression. [2010]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Plovdiv, Bulgaria

Plovdiv is the Slavic version of Philippopolis. The city was taken over and re-named by Philip II 2400 years ago. I guess we know where Alexander got his naming habits. Here is the Macedonian king presiding over Dzhumaya Square today. In his hand he holds the key to understanding the city's site: three hills, the link between history and geography. [2010]

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Girona, Catalonia, Spain

Rivers open up the urban landscape, become reflecting pools on sunny days, and turn the visual world upside down. You might like the bridge over the Onyar, but you will like it twice as much when multiplied by two. The Onyar reflects Girona's cultural landscape like the facets of a diamond. In Girona, Catalan culture just sparkles. [2005] 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Front Royal, Virginia, USA

The Skyline High School Band gets ready for a concert in front of the county court house on Veterans Day, this year domed by blue skies and watched over by the Methodist Church in the background. Scenes like this have played out on Main Streets all across the United States every November 11th since 1919. [2010]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Downtown skyscrapers are sometimes called the cathedrals of commerce. In fact, the Wrigley Building along the Miracle Mile, is patterned after a real cathedral, the one in Seville, Spain. It put the roar in Chicago's 'roaring 20s.' Note that 14th floor bridge. [2006]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Noosa, Queensland, Australia

Swing a circle, radius 60-100 miles, around any major city in the developed world.  On the circumference of that circle find the area of ultra-high-end environmental amenities.  There you will find the city's playground.  In the case of Brisbane, that would put you on the Sunshine Coast:  far enough away to feel natural and close enough to feel drivable.  [2006]

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Istanbul, Turkey

In American hands, all that toilet paper would be on its way to a 'house wrapping,' but in Turkey's megacity, it's probably on its way to the facilities along Turgut Ozal Avenue. In traffic congested city centers, foot power is sometimes the only way to get things there on time. Could this be an emergency delivery? [2007]

Monday, November 8, 2010

Madoc, Ontario, Canada

If you travel the Trans-Canada Highway, you will be tempted more than once to stop for fries. Chip wagons are a part of roadside Canada and an icon of national identity. Try them with malt vinegar and you might be mistaken for a Canadian. Try them with peameal on a bun and you will definitely be mistaken for a Canadian. And have a pop, too. [2002]

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rome, Italy

What you see on the landscape – a great amphitheater for a great city – also jingles around in the pockets of all those visitors. The city is Rome. The amphitheater is the Colosseum. And, the jingle is Italy’s 5-cent euro coin, which carries the first century into the twenty-first by featuring the Roman Empire's greatest architectural achievement. [2006]

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brenner Pass, Austria

Innsbruck is to the north and Verona to the south. The Brenner Pass is one of the easiest routes through the Alps, and it got easier in the 1970s with the completion of the new highway. Even though this is Tirol, not Salzburg, can’t you almost see the Von Trap family on that upper pasture? [1984]

Friday, November 5, 2010

Madrid, Spain

The balloons are red and shaped like hearts, the hearts of unborn children who face the prospect of abortion under Spain’s new law. This "pro-life" rally in Madrid made it clear that many devout Roman Catholics were not happy with the Spanish Parliament’s decision to permit abortion during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy. [2010]

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

They are in the midst of a competition, an "adventure race" along the Atlantic shore. Lest you think the boys of dawn are having fun, be reminded that it is November and they are going to paddle that kayak for miles while trying to avoid the breaking surf. Then, it's on to cycling and running. [2006]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, Virginia Beach burgeons with sun bums. The city's challenge is how to extend the tourist season into spring and fall. Here's one answer: the Wicked 10K, on Halloween week-end. And, the Boardwalk provides the perfect pathway. [2010]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Virginia Beach, Virginia, USA

This little light of mine; I'm going to let it shine. By voting. Today! And I'm going to tell my neighbors to vote, too! Pumpkins can be so civic-minded. [2008]

Monday, November 1, 2010

London, England, UK

Welcome to Swiss Court in London.  First came the crown (1977) for the Queen's Jubilee.  Then came the shields (1991) to mark Switzerland's 700th birthday. These are the cantonal shields, emblems of local self-government, that you see all over the Swiss Confederation.  They add just as much color and interest to the West End as they do to the Swiss Alps. [2009]