Monday, September 30, 2013

Rancho Cucamonga, California, USA

The Pacific Electric Railroad fueled development of California's Inland Empire beginning in the late 1800s. It ran from Los Angeles to San Bernardino. Now, in concert with a national trend, the old right-of-way has been turned into a public bike trail that parallels the unparalleled Route 66. [2013]

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Julian, California, USA

Julian's past is tied to gold. Julian's present is tied to apples. They've given the town its signature dish: apple pie. They may also have given the town its signature color: red.  This duo is destined for the Julian Pie Company. [2013]

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Ramona, California, USA

The tentacles of southern California's megalopolis are stretching ever further east into canyons and valleys that were once rural realms of their own. The Santa Maria Valley used to be devoted to avocados and citrus. Now, pumpkins (for the kids) and grapes (for the adults) are taking their place: both grown for their entertainment value. [2013]

Friday, September 27, 2013

Merida, Yucatan, Mexico

Fancy cast iron fences are part of Mexico's architectural heritage.  Find the plaza in any Mexican town and you will see fences being used as aesthetic resources.  In one sense, they glorify the industrial arts that turned urban architecture away from its rural antecedents.  [2013]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hamilton, New Zealand

If it weren't on a music store, it would almost qualify as fine art. Since it is on a music store, it becomes commercial art. Where is the line between the two? It makes a difference to cities as they try to regulate signage and advertising. Your assignment: 'Name that tune'! [2006]

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

Bilingual signage is typical of Hong Kong. So is Closed-Circuit TV. The pictogram in the middle might as well be the logo of the urban world in which we live. Anyone want to move back to the country? [2011]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Agra, India

The golden rain tree is the pride of India.  If it were not, you wouldn't find it on the grounds of the Taj Mahal.  Its showy yellow flowers and long seed pods comprise a conjugate pair.  They symbolize perfectly the heavenly beauty and the earthly productivity of Bharat.  [2011]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Keelung, Taiwan

Here be dragons.  Almost as if they have just emerged from the harbor.  I know the names of his cousins:  Nessie, Chesie, and Champ.   But, what's his name?  Huangie, perhaps.  We know 'huang' means yellow since the Yellow River's Chinese name is Huang He.   [2012]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Malacca, Malaysia

Hibiscus flowers can brighten up any canal-side garden. In Malaysia, they are so popular that the red variety was chosen as the national flower. Here, though, yellow is the perfect power player: It demands focused attention at the expense of everything else. [2011]

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Paris, France

One French contribution to the world of better living: the modern chaise lounge. So, it's not surprising to find them in the heart of Paris in the heat of summer. Even the word is theirs, and its translation is surprising: 'Chaise lounge' comes from 'chaise longue,' which means 'long chair,' not lounge chair. [2005]

Friday, September 20, 2013

Brighton, England, UK

Keith Ridge's bus ride lasted from January of 2006 until November of 2009!  In Brighton&Hove (no spaces because they are so close), bus riders have been given the chance to become celebrities and Brighton the streets of their Hove town.  [2009]

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Patong, Phuket Island, Thailand

Is there anything in this frame that suggests Thailand? Tourist destinations around the world are being taken over by the landscape-changing forces of globalization. But, once placelessness sets in, the market moves on and a new generation of places takes over. [2011]

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

On one side of Victoria Harbour is high-rise Hong Kong Island, on the other is high-rise Kowloon. With a population almost as large as Virginia's and an area that is one-third the size of Rhode Island, high-rise architecture is not a surprising part of the urban landscape. Nor are ferries a surprising part of the urban waterscape. [2011]

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Providence, Rhode Island, USA

The two tallest buildings in Providence are right here overlooking the Providence River. Can you tell which one was built in the 1920s? It's been nicknamed the Superman Building. The other one was built in the 1970s. It's so non-descript, it doesn't have a nickname. [2009]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Langdon, North Dakota, USA

Canadian Oilseed Low-Acid, otherwise known as Canola, is one of the world's leading sources of cooking oil. It was hybridized in the 1970s and genetically modified (by Monsanto, of course) in the 1990s to resist pesticides. It looks beautiful in the field, but its original name wasn't so beautiful:  rapeseed. [2012]

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Denver, Colorado, USA

With their modish shades, sweet Ts, gray-tone kicks, smiling faces, and primary hues, these dudes seem happy to add some color to a corner of 16th Street, downtown Denver's place to see and be seen. [2013]

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Damascus, Syria

Let your eyes wander past the carcass meat to the back wall.  On horseback rides the eldest son of Syria's President:  Bassel al-Assad.  After the heir apparent died in a car accident, his picture was everywhere for years.  Displaying it became a sign of regime loyalty even while his younger brother Bashar was being groomed to take over the family fiefdom.  [1996]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Anadolu Kavağı, Turkey

Just north of Istanbul, container ships follow the pattern of their ancient Greek ancestors. They are getting a push from the southward-flowing current. Twenty meters down is the northward-flowing counter current. The surface current flows one way, the deep current flows the other: perfect for trade in the days before steam and diesel. [2010]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Istanbul, Turkey

The Bosporus was first bridged in 1973. Now, you can drive between continents rather than taking the ferries. Can you identity the European and Asian sides? Istanbul Boğazı, its Turkish name, is narrow enough to be a river, but it's not. It's a strait:  the most important strait in the history of the western world. [2007]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sofia, Bulgaria

Out back and on break.  If they abide by the clock around the corner, their break will last forever, just like the memory of Salvador Dali, whose surrealistic images insinuate themselves into cultural crannies from Catalonia to Bulgaria and well beyond.  [2010]

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Florida City, Florida, USA

September 10 is the peak of hurricane season in the North Atlantic, but by this time in 1992, the costliest hurricane in U.S. history had already wiped out southern Dade County. How did residents resolve the cognitive dissonance associated with natural disaster? In part, with humor. Doesn't this sign, Hurricane Andrew Motor Inn, put a smile on your face? [1993]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

He's a modern vigilante.  He invigilates the beach and promises to save people who are drowning.  You know him as a lifeguard, but along Cancun's zona hotelera, he is el guardavidas.  [2013]

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

The public image of Honolulu has nothing to do with its skyline (background) and everything to do with the island on which it is located (foreground).  Perhaps that is why the Big Pineapple's high rises have not seared themselves into the collective consciousness.  Though tall, none have become iconic.  [2011]

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

In Adelaide, Westpac House takes the prize for tallest building. Can you identify it? It's been number one since 1988 and there seems to be no contender jockeying to take over the lead. In Australia, the competition is among Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, and (though it comes as a surprise to most) Gold Coast. [2011]

Friday, September 6, 2013

Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

The Riparian Plaza was the tallest building in Brisbane until 2006. Now, it's in 4th place. The age of globalization has sent skylines everywhere to dizzying heights. Brisbane's grew 160 feet in seven short years. For Brissie, it was onward and upward to infinity.  'Infinity' is the name of the city's tallest building today. [2006]

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

A successful skyline has (1) at least one signature landmark, (2) vertical extensibility, (3), a group-hug gestalt, (4) a distraction-free background, (5) a panoramic foreground, (6) a sedge of cranes, and (7) a nighttime alter ego.  How would you evaluate Sydney's skyline?  [2011]

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

North American White Pelicans are among the continent's biggest birds.  Although this trio is in the Assiniboine Zoo, they are not exotic. They belong here. Winnipeg is in the middle of their summer nesting grounds. Where do they go in winter? And, what's with the horn in the middle of the bill? [2012]

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

'Vulnerable' though not yet 'endangered': It's the salmon-crested cockatoo, a native of Southeast Asia. As with most vulnerable species, habitat loss is the chief threat, but another factor is also at work: international trade in exotic birds. Although the crest is not showing, you can catch a wisp of salmon on the back of his head. [2013]

Monday, September 2, 2013

Denver, Colorado, USA

Labor Day is upon us. What shall we do? 
Visit Spheniscus demersus. Make a trip to the zoo.
Then have a picnic. No fish allowed.
Unless you want penguins. (Your guests will be wowed.)

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kaohsiung, Taiwan

If an urban population demands the freshest vegetables, they should be produced within a 24-hour field-to-table delivery zone.  What, therefore, should be the highest and best use of agricultural land between Taiwan's two largest cities, Taipei and Kaoshiung, only 200 miles apart?  The Lord of the Rings, a.k.a., Johan Heinrich Von Thünen, has the answer.  [2011]