Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Asni, Morocco

The village of Asni might be thought of as a gateway to the Atlas Mountains or, more boldly, a gateway to Africa. As you head south from Marrakesh the culture of the African Sahara becomes ever more evident. As for the map: It's a reminder you are already in Africa and also a prompt to buy petrol if you need it. [2005]

Monday, June 29, 2015

Madrid, Spain

Madrid's Metropolis, originally an insurance company, dates from the early 20th century. If you are looking for a fine example of the Beaux-Arts style, look no farther. It uses both architecture and location to command attention, and its prominence is accentuated by a "flatiron" position at the triangular intersection of Gran Via and Alcalá. [2009]

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Same-sex marriage became legal in Canada in 2005, but the exuberance lasted for years afterwards. In Montreal, "Le Village" came alive with public art: giant clothespins with the two sides kissing, smiling, and united as one. First Canada, then the U.S.: The Stonewall riots were stepping stones for both, and today is their 46th anniversary. [2009]

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Brussels, Belgium

Based on results of last month's referendum, Ireland will soon amend its Constitution to permit same-sex marriage. Sixty-two percent of of the republic's voters declared themselves in favor of marriage equality. These two are from Ireland, but they were in Brussels right before the referendum to summon support from expats working on the continent. [2015]

Friday, June 26, 2015

New York, New York, USA

Today, the battle for marriage equality ended with a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold same-sex marriage. Where did the battle begin? Some would say here in Greenwich Village with the Stonewall riots of 1969. Our gay and lesbian friends and family asked "for equal dignity in the eyes of the law." Now, "the Constitution grants them that right." [2012]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

London, England, UK

How often do you get to hear a classically-trained opera singer (the one in the boots) for free? Well, anything's possible in London, and center court at Convent Garden provides rather good acoustics for the concert. [2015]

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Tequila, Jalisco, Mexico

Maybe he had a little bit too much tequila the night before. Now, he's supposed to be on the job, but he's out back napping. As Abraham Maslow would point out: When your body needs sleep, lower-order needs trump all other needs you have. [2008]

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

In the middle of Adelaide's Light Square is not a light but a theodolite. It stands atop the grave of Col. William Light, the British Surveyor-General of South Australia. He selected the site of Adelaide and laid out the city on a grid with five squares. Find a map of Adelaide and compare it to Philadelphia. [2011]

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ljubljana, Slovenia

You might call them futurists. When they appear, you know the future is at hand. Surveyors are the harbingers of landscape change. No matter where you are in the world: when you see their theodolites, activate your coping mechanisms. [2008]

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Qamishli, Syria

There's always time for chai (pronounced "shy"), which is nothing more than the Arabic word for tea. How it ever came to mean the spiced tea we consume in the United States is a mystery. In Syria, it is usually served in little glass tumblers, not cups, and always hot, never iced. [1993]

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Helsinki, Finland

The Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran was founded in 1945 in the Republic of Mahabad, a sovereign Kurdish homeland that lasted for a brief 11 months before it was consumed by Iran with backing from the Soviet Union. That brief existence gave the Kurds a taste of what it was like to be independent, and it fuels their aspirations even today. [2005]

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hong Kong S.A.R., China

You know you're not in Kansas anymore when gazebos start looking like Chinese temples. In a city like Hong Kong, with a population density of 17,000 per square mile, it's hard to imagine enough space being available for even small street-side parks. Apparently, high population density does not always equal crowding! [2011]

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain

She's just learning the trick to staying upright and in line on her inline skates, but look at that surface. It wasn't meant for roller blading. At least she has her helmet on. [2015]

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Izmir, Turkey

Inline skates have been around for a few decades, but they still look more modern than traditional 4-wheeled roller skates. That's probably why they match his 'do' so well. [2014]

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

The trend has finally hit Cincinnati, which opened a network of bike-share stations around the city just last year. Although experiments with bike sharing go back to the 1960s in Europe, it took IT to unlock its potential. Make a list of the ways in which these Red Bikes use digital communications and geospatial technology to make them a success. [2015]

Monday, June 15, 2015

Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, USA

Nothing beats an Appalachian spring. Its magnificence matches the splendor the world's finest cathedrals. Perhaps that is why this cascade has been anointed Cathedral Falls. It's one of the most scenic and most accessible in West Virginia: right off the Midland Trail. [2010]

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

What will you include in your book on American patriotic architecture? Will the Betsy Ross House have a chapter of its own? The purists among you, will assuredly answer NO (as you arch your eyebrows and let loose a pitiful snicker). The rest of us will answer OF COURSE! Happy Flag Day: June 14th every year. [2015]

Saturday, June 13, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

You might call her the heroine of the Middle Ages: Jeanne d'Arc, burned at the stake at age 19, now a patron saint of France, and maybe the most famous woman warrior in the whole world. It's no surprise to find her here in the French Quarter of New Orleans, hoisting the banner she carried into battle almost 600 years ago. [2009]

Friday, June 12, 2015

Lime Lake, New York, USA

Everybody's dream is a cottage on the lake, in this case, Lime Lake. Everybody's dream is also a gazebo on the lawn: provider of refuge, breeze, view, and status. Here, though, the gazebo is hanging over the water, leaving the lawn open for picnic and play. [2013]

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bluffton, South Carolina, USA

In 2008, the Bluffton Farmers Market was inaugurated with great fanfare, and "fiddle-fare," in the park along the May River. It has since moved into town and become a popular part of summer culture in Low Country South Carolina. If you go, not only will your taste buds be pleased, so will your acoustic nerves. [2008]

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Manteno, Illinois, USA

Some have compared yarn-bombing to graffiti. What do you think? Here is Merriam-Webster's definition of graffiti: "pictures or words painted or drawn on a wall, building, etc." [2015]

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Cardiff, Wales, UK

Anything can be yarn bombed. In this case, it's a tree. From a Texas hearth, the art of yarn bombing has spread around the world. Now, you can fight seasonal affective disorder and arboreal nudism during the low-sun season by knitting knickers for your pet trees. With a little imagination, you could even add some bling. [2015]

Monday, June 8, 2015

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Here's an example of "landscape as therapy." Have you ever noticed how good urban design can change your mood, help you relax, make you more reflective, and accentuate a sense of place? Toronto's City Hall has branded the city, but its success lies as much in the setting which it occupies as in its curves and domes. [2013]

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Damrak is the pedestrian axis from which all of the Amsterdam unfolds. It connects the newly renovated train station to Dam Square, both of which are activity hubs pulsing with potential customers. No wonder roses find an easy market there. [2015]

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Marrakech, Morocco

In the souks of Marrakech's medina you may catch a glimpse of what life used to be like on the fringes of the desert. In the face of a shop keeper, in fact, you might feel transported back 3,000 years to the era when tooth-sharpening became part of Saharan culture. [2010]

Friday, June 5, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

Why do some neighborhoods exude such a very strong spirit of place? Not only because of their memorable landscapes but also because of their memorable inhabitants. Here, a resident of Istanbul's Çemberlitaş neighborhood reminds of us what yesteryear might have looked like in a way we will remember. [2015]

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Greensburg, Indiana, USA

Usually the LOVE sculpture makes you feel good. But not when you spot it in a cemetery. There, it symbolizes heartache and the love that lasts for eternity. "Our Beloved Son": gone at 19 years of age, but loved forever. [2013]

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Yerevan, Armenia

Take a popular cultural icon and make it your own. How have the Armenians done it?  Not by translating LOVE into Armenian, but by choosing their own color for LOVE. Do you still prefer the more amorous red? [2015]

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Milan, Italy

People around the world seem to have fallen in love in with Robert Indiana's Love sculpture. Cities find it useful because it puts you in the mood to love the city as much as you love your sweetheart. But, AMOR doesn't spell love, does it? [2008]

Monday, June 1, 2015

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

The LOVE sculpture has deep roots in Indiana (the state and the artist), but it seems most at home in Philadelphia, "the city of brotherly love," where its popularity easily trumps a popular President. The square is officially named JFK Plaza, but everyone calls it Love Park. [2015]