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]

Sunday, November 11, 2012

London, England, UK

Little does he know that you can't sit down for free in London's parks.  Deck chairs are for rent only.   Soon, the conductor (see him?) will be by to collect a few pounds in exchange for eating his lunch sedet in sella.  Beware diffusion:  here's one more idea for privatizing public space.  [2008]

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Yehliu, Taiwan

The Queen's Head has become an iconic symbol of Taiwan.  It is located where Datun Mountain meets the East China Sea, and its history is connected to both.  Coastal processes sculpted the neck and head.  Then, tectonic forces associated with Taiwan's mountain spine pushed the sculpture up out of the water.  [2012]

Friday, November 9, 2012

Colebrook, Pennsylvania, USA

Dinosaur Rock, an outcrop of the fine-grained crystalline rock called diabase, is the product of differential erosion. The graffiti started to appear a decade ago and is now a full-blown case of dinosaur dermatitis. The infection commenced when the state put up a pointing arrow along the main road. Before that only the cognoscenti knew how to find it. [2002]

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Jacksonville, Florida, USA

One challenge of urban design is figuring out how to bring the country into the city. How has Jacksonville met the design challenge? Clearly, there is a demand for fishing on the urban waterfront, but concrete and steel seem not to be up to the task of establishing a suitable sense of place for such a sport. [2007]

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Brunswick, Georgia, USA

It says: "No Parking Any Time." But, some people just will not obey the rules. Judging by his golden crown and shimmering chemise, he must think he's the king of no parking. [2007]

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Istanbul, Turkey

The door is open and the domed prayer hall awaits.  Anyone ready to submit to the will of God is welcome.  But first you must perform your ablutions, i.e., you must wash.  So, dominating the courtyard is the ablutions fountain. The New Valide Mosque is in Üsküdar, the old extra-mural suburb of Constantinople on the Asian side of the Bosporus.    [2007]

Monday, November 5, 2012

Jerusalem, Israel

The Valley of the Destroyed Communities is part of Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. Over 5,000 Jewish towns and villages were wiped off the map of central and eastern Europe. Their names survive here. This panel commemorates the destroyed communities in Belarus, one of which was the ancestral village of this American. [1999]

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Damascus, Syria

Every neighborhood in old Damascus has its pubic drinking fountains.  They were often funded by wealthy families as donations to the public good.  Look closely and you will see that the cup is chained to the cage, to be used over and over again.  [1995]

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Andong, South Korea

Hanbak is the traditional Korean robe, worn today for ceremonial functions, especially by heads of families in the Confucian tradition.  Here, a disembodied robe recalls a disembodied spirit that just got tangled up in a clothesline.  [2012]

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gyeongju, South Korea

Much of residential Gyeongju was built on land surrounding the ancient Hwangnyonsa temple.  Now, those residences have been removed so archaeology can proceed.  While waiting for the archaeologists, however, the city has permitted some urban gardening.  [2012]

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Unmunsa, South Korea

Unmunsa's temple dates back to 560 A.D. Its monastic community of female monks now numbers a few hundred. They are training to serve Buddhist temples around Korea by completing a four year program of studies in scripture, music, and the arts. [2012]