Monday, December 31, 2012

Changhua, Taiwan

All over the world, people love to wave and say hello.  But, today we wave and say good-bye.  Another year has passed.  May the future smile on us all.  [2012]

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

The Homigot Lighthouse has been seized by one of the hands of harmony.  If the sky cooperates, that same hand can also catch the rising sun.  This week, Homigot is the venue for the Sunrise Festival. As the eastern-most point of land in South Korea, it is perfect for the task. [2012]

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

Here's the other hand, firmly planted on Korean soil. Do you see the offshore hand in the distance? Is this a subtle way of laying claim to naming rights over the East Sea, a way of showing how natural it is to embrace those waters? Or is it, as the sculpture's name implies, simply the hands of harmony? [2012]

Friday, December 28, 2012

Pohang, South Korea

"If I drown, please report that I drowned in the East Sea and not the Sea of Japan!"  The hand is a cry for help:  help in re-setting the name of these waters off the eastern shore of the Korean peninsula.  Koreans prefer the name East Sea.  But, where's the other hand?  [2012]

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Marrakech, Morocco

Star anise is easily identified. What else do you see? Flower tea? Breath freshener? Toothpicks? Exfoliates? Lipstick? Something 'unmentionable in polite company'? By the way, none of them are in the row of cones. [2005]

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Douglas, Isle of Man

Victoria Street leads right down to the harbor in Douglas. One element of the built environment feels right at home on Victoria Street. Is it the RBS Building or the town clock? The latter, of course.  It just reeks of Victorian era design. As for the Royal Bank of Scotland: closed today.  As in Great Britain, it's Boxing Day on the Isle of Man. [2011]

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Bethlehem, Palestine

Luke tells us the story of Jesus' birth: Joseph and Mary, who was great with child, went up out of Galilee into Judea and unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem. While they were there, she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. Merry Christmas! [1996]

Monday, December 24, 2012

Edmonds, Washington, USA

What a perfect corner for a street sign. What a perfect evening for a carol sing. Look. The neighbors have already assembled and their tune is in perfect harmony. [2011]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

St. George, Utah, USA

Public art can lift your spirit, especially when it becomes an integral part of the community. St. George has found a successful formula for using the arts to keep people "flying high." Some of the sculptures, like this one by Dan Hill, are a permanent part of the townscape. Others are part of annual exhibitions and can pop up on or off the grid. [2009]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Taipei, Taiwan

They face the Goddess of Mercy and ask for her blessings.  In their hands, they hold incense sticks which will be raised above their heads as part of the ritual.  Finally, the incense will be added to a censer, where it will continue to fragrance the air.  Longshan Temple is one of the most lavish in Taipei.  Above all, it is a "praying place."  [2011]

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quebec City, Quebec, Canada

I used to be able to dress myself, but since rigor mortis set in, I have been dependent on the good citizens of La Ville de Québec to keep me warm in winter. Where are your woollies? Better find them. Winter is here. And remember to take care of those who have-not. Offer scarves for those in need. [2005]

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Milan, Italy

The facade of Milan's duomo, or cathedral, is being monitored by the savvy souls at EniTechnologie. For innovative work in historical preservation, these folks wear halos of their own. Jesus must think of them as his dermatologists. [2008]

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

London, England, UK

It's called encroachment. Encroachee? Fitzrovia. It's a central London neighborhood that Jane Jacobs would find much like Greenwich Village: (a) short blocks, (b) aged buildings, (c) mixed primary uses, and (d) high population densities. Anathema to her: single-purpose high-rises with all other uses zoned out. [2011]

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

Hezekiah's Tunnel in East Jerusalem was dug through the limestone bedrock 2700 years ago to bring water from the Gihon Spring into the heart of the walled city. It's half a kilometer long and open to the public, though you must wade through water at least a foot deep. Enter here (along with these high schoolers), but be sure to bring your flashlight. [1997]

Monday, December 17, 2012

Florence, Oregon, USA

There's money in the law. And historic preservation is richer for it. Attorneys often put their signature on local communities by rescuing signature architecture from destruction. Do you see the porch mural on this attorney's office? It's painted by the shadows, and in about an hour it will disappear. [2011]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oceanside, California, USA

Cafe 101 on Highway 101: It doesn't want to let go of the past, and it doesn't have to, thanks to mural artists who are able to resurrect long gone landscapes that still help sell burgers and fries. In reality, here in California, 101 is neither cafe nor highway. It's a lifestyle pioneered by the ancestors and longed-for by their children. [2007]

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Chillicothe, Missouri, USA

You can tell when small towns are proud of themselves. They start dressing up, painting their nails, and bragging. Their nails they hang on lamp posts. Their boasts they splay on buildings. "The best thing since sliced bread" has become a compliment paid to only the most innovative ideas. What does that say about Chillicothe? [2008]

Friday, December 14, 2012

Aegina Island, Greece

Far more important than the island of Aegina is the body of water in which it is located: the Saronic Gulf. World history was forged here. If the gulf had gone to the Persians in the Battle of Salamis, 'western civilization' wouldn't be so western. Fortunately, the Greeks won and the Age of Pericles followed. [2004]

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

You could be anywhere, right? There's no signature architecture, no eye-catching tower, no superlative sculpture, and no splotch of identifying color. I wonder what Winnipeg's skyline would look like if it were designed to match the thistle in the foreground? [2012]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Paris, France

Navigable rivers and interfluvial canals make of Europe a spiderweb of filaments that facilitate internal and international commerce. Along the Seine in the heart of Paris, the working city comes shoulder-to-shoulder with the city of spectacle as a canal boat glides past Île de la Cité. [2005]

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fujairah, United Arab Emirates

Playing along a dry riverbed, or wadi, in the mountains of Fujairah Emirate in the UAE, these boys are divided into two camps: two carry on the tradition of wearing the dishdash; three have opted for western sports togs. Surprised by the bright colors? Don't be. The Middle East is one of the most colorful parts of the world. [1992]

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Pay no attention to that reclining Buddha's advice from yesterday. Monkeys should always be the center of attention. I have been hanging around Cardiff Docks since 2000, and everybody looks up to me here. They must know I inspired poet John Masefield to write Cargoes . . . "of ivory, and apes and peacocks." And now, I am an inspiration to everyone. Right? [2005]

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Phang Nga, Thailand

It's raining. Come in. It's dry in here. And, please make me the center of attention. Please ignore those monkeys that are everywhere. And, please don't wander away into the depths of this huge cave complex. Sorry. I didn't offer a proper greeting: Welcome to Wat Suwan Kuha. I am a reclining Buddha. I'm what you came to see. Right? [2011]

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Leafy greens are a part of every street market in China. When you see so much of the same vegetable lining the street, you know it's part of the daily diet. High in calories? No. High in protein? No. High in micronutrients? Yes. [2011]

Friday, December 7, 2012

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

When the band isn't playing, the gazebo has other jobs to do. This is one of them: providing a platform for bubble-makers, one of the great cross-cultural joys of childhood. [2007]

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Fallen Leaf Lake, California, USA

Let's set the stage for a play. In the role of Nemesis: Mother Nature. In the role of Narcissus: Humankind.  Mother Nature lures Humankind to the pool of life. We look in, see our own reflection, become infatuated with ourselves, can do nothing but reflect on how great we are, and then we die.  We fall like a leaf on Fallen Leaf Lake and are seen no more. [2006]

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Craftsbury Common, Vermont, USA

"Double your pleasure, double your fun."
The rain has abated; let's wish for some sun.
"On Craftsbury Common, the puddles provide
a two-for-one deal" the photographer sighed.
Double-blue heaven, double-green grass,
a double-wide window on New England's past.
Quick with the shutter, do battle with clouds;
they'll be gone soon, their shadows less loud.
The double-wide view will succumb to the wish,
Much less to chew, much less to cherish.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

New York, New York, USA

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said: "There is an optical illusion about every person we meet." Geographers aver something similar: "There is an optical illusion about every place we visit." Take a look at Lower Manhattan and see if you can figure it out. [2005]

Monday, December 3, 2012

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What would you pay for your own sight line to the Toronto Harbor? Empty space can be such a valuable resource! Notice how cleverly the vertical dimension has been engineered to maximize views of Lake Ontario and, therefore, the value of the land on which these residential units are built. [2010]

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

For a real island experience you must arrive by water.  You must stand on deck and watch the island materialize on the horizon, take form, grow bigger, and pull you shore side.  Ready to visit Australia's Apple Isle?  Just board the Spirit of Tasmania and you will be there in a mere 9 hours.  That's plenty of time to banter with newfound mates and reflect on the metaphysical.  [2011]

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Seongnam, South Korea

Bridging the gap between Korea and the rest of the world: That's what the Academy for Korean Studies is all about. The campus provides a perfect opportunity to cross the bridge of knowledge to deeper understanding of Korean culture and Korea's place among the world's nations. [2012]

Friday, November 30, 2012

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, USA

Position 1: Nature is the best artist of all; it frames the world. Position 2: Nature is a nuisance; it obstructs the view. What's your position?  P.S.: It took over two years, but today Geographically Yours reached 100,000 page views. [2007]

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Portsmouth, England, UK

A pair of mute swans, perhaps a cob and a pen (it's hard to tell), glide through the tranquil waters of a Southsea lake. Swans occur and re-occur as iconic images across northern Europe.  What makes them so popular as subjects of fairy tales, love stories, heraldry and . . . amusement parks?  [2011]

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Damascus, Syria

Rising above the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus are three minarets, towers from which the call to prayers is issued five times a day.  This is the octagonal Western Minaret.  The black-and-white banding is a give-away:  the architecture is Mamluk.  [1995]

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland, UK

Advice for travelers:  still yourself. Take some time each day to stop and reflect on what you have learned. Pick a place and become part of it. But, pick your places carefully, because they become part of you, too. [2009]

Monday, November 26, 2012

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Bees are attracted to color, and so are we.  Color adds life to public spaces, spices up our lives, emboldens our senses, and participates in all our celebrations.  If you are celebrating your birthday today:  hope hue have a great one!  [2008]

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Cheyenne, Wyoming, USA

Susan B. Anthony called the Territory of Wyoming "the first place on God's green earth which can claim to be the land of the free." The year was 1869. Esther Hobart Morris deserves much of the credit. She competed in the market place of ideas and won. Her thank-you statue stands in front of the Wyoming capitol. [1983]

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Lewisburg, West Virginia, USA

Any Appalachian town with a Carnegie Hall of its own should also have an active emphasis on public art. And, Lewisburg does. You can hear The Herald summoning you to exit Interstate 64 (please!) and enjoy the ambiance of the "coolest" small town in America as determined by a nationwide vote in 2011. [2012]

Friday, November 23, 2012

Encinitas, California, USA

Dubbed the "Cardiff Kook," this California surfer has become the gift that keeps on giving (not really a gift since the city paid almost $100,000 for it). Installed in 2007, it was mocked for not resembling the stance of a real surfer. Since then, waves of creativity have continued to break over the Coast Highway. See:  [2007]

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gaza, Palestine

Here's your chance to put a human face on the Gaza Conflict of 2012. This Thanksgiving, let's give thanks for the ceasefire agreement and pray that peace talks follow. [2000]

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Rabat, Morocco

Where's this wool now? Probably on someone's living room floor, contributing verve to a home's decor, and looking as new now as it did before. The wool merchants of Rabat supply the carpet makers with their primary raw material, and the world comes to buy the finished product. [1989]

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bruges, Belgium

Bobbin lace was a specialty of Belgium in the 18th century. It was the best lace you could buy in either France or England, and sold at a high price. The latter's Queen Anne, last ruler of the House of Stuart, rather fancied the import. Now you know how the wild carrot got its most popular nickname, Queen Anne's Lace. [1984]

Monday, November 19, 2012

Den Bosch, Netherlands

Carrot orange prevails each year on the Queen's Birthday because the queen is a ruler from the House of Orange. In the Netherlands, orange is the color of both royalty and fun. Several centuries ago, the Dutch even had fun with the carrot when they made it orange by hybridizing wild carrots that came in all colors. [2003]

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Toledo, Castile-LaMancha, Spain

By virtue of his red robes, the Primate of All Spain is easily identified as an ecclesiastical prince of the Roman Church. Anyone who ascends to the see of St. James is automatically a candidate for cardinal. Cardinal, by the way, means chief: The ornithological cardinal took its name from a resemblance to the ecclesiastical cardinal. [2009]

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Encamp, Andorra

Sculptor?  Salvador Dali, of course.   Here's a melting clock wearing a crown, potentially symbolic of Andorra itself, which sits like a crown atop the Pyrenees.  Why Dali in the Pyrenees?  Because, having been born in nearby Figueres, he shares the region of Catalonia with Andorra.  [2005]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Hebron, Palestine

Palestinian pottery is a take-away treat when you visit Israel and the West Bank. Arabs and Armenians are the best at making and decorating it. In this case, a Palestinian artist in Hebron both makes a living for himself and contributes to the city's economic base. [1998]

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mexico City, DF, Mexico

What the smurf!  Far from his Belgian home, Dopey Smurf finds himself in front of Mexico City's Cathedral of the Assumption.  No wonder.  He needs the protection of God since Gargamel and the Angel of Death (i.e., Azrael) could be lurking anywhere.  [2008]

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Buddhist temples of Chiang Mai exploit the architectural and decorative traditions of the Lanna Kingdom.  They remind citizens of northern Thailand that they once had a country of their own.  Here, a novice monk seems oblivious to tradition, in the form of a dragon, and engaged with modernity, in the form of a cell phone.  [2011]

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Paris, France

The Eiffel Tower was built to brag about the new construction technologies that pointed to the high-rise future of cities in the 1880s. It was meant to be a temporary addition to the landscape, but it became so popular it survived and is now the symbol of not only Paris, but all of France, of not only France, but all of Europe. [2005]

Monday, November 12, 2012

Rome, Italy

Rome is not a Renaissance city. It's a Baroque city. And, nothing is more Baroque than Trevi Fountain. Hardly recognized it, did you?  Why is it that the tourist industry worldwide tends to despoil the resources (cultural and natural) on which it is built? I wonder what Oceanus thinks. [2006]