Monday, November 30, 2015

Columbia, Tennessee, USA

Maury County Courthouse:  The three branches of government are set up for law-making, law administering, and law adjudicating. Why has the the executive branch (White House) come to symbolize the federal government, the legislative branch (state house) the state government, and the judicial branch (courthouse) the local government? [2010]

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Lockhart, Texas, USA

Caldwell County Courthouse:  The county courthouse generally occupies a prime site, a square, in the middle of town, separated from (and more imposing than) the commercial district which surrounds it. Its cupola commands everyone's attention, and its lawn becomes the community's collective memory. What do you make of the symbolism? [2009]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Franklin, West Virginia, USA

Pendleton County Courthouse:  Enter the county courthouse with the same reverence as you would enter a Greek temple. Architecture is one way to pay homage to history. Placing a historical marker in front of the court house is another way. Ready for a surprise? Franklin was not named after a famous Ben, but its founder Francis Evick. Really? [2014]

Friday, November 27, 2015

Somerset, Pennsylvania, USA

Somerset County Courthouse:  The very first subdivisions of England's colonies in America were called shires, but by the 1600s shire was giving way to the French counte, or county. Every county, however, continued to have a shire-reeve. Just ask the Sheriff of Somerset County, whose title might as well be the Count of Somerset County. [2010]

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Mount Pulaski, Illinois, USA

Old Logan County Courthouse:  A country lawyer named Abraham Lincoln (see him?) worked the Illinois Eighth Circuit and tried many cases in this courthouse. The county seat was moved out of Mount Pulaski in 1855, but the spirit of Lincoln remained behind and guaranteed the survival of a building that was otherwise insignificant. [2015]

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Xenia, Ohio, USA

Greene County Courthouse:  The Ten Commandments on public property? Does its presence violate the separation between church and state? Or, does it simply recognize a foundation of the law as it has come down to us from ancient times? [2013]

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Columbia, Missouri, USA

Boone County Courthouse: The United States has 3,144 counties and county equivalents. The administrative hub of each is a courthouse. Memorials to the war dead are found on the grounds of most. Here, tablets of names honor the dead of the Civil War and the World War 1917-1918. [2015]

Monday, November 23, 2015

Nicosia, Cyprus

Berlin has been reunited. Nicosia hasn't. That's why there is a Berlin Cafe in Nicosia. The Berlin Wall used to divide Berlin. The Green Line continues to divide Nicosia. In fact, it divides the entire country into northern Cyprus (Turkish) and southern Cyprus (Greek). However, not a single sovereign state except Turkey recognizes the division as a legal partition. [2004]

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Cardiff, Wales, UK

There's a century sandwiched between the Pierhead Building, Cardiff's left brain, and the Millennium Centre, Cardiff's right brain. The left brain coordinated all the activities on the waterfront a hundred years ago. The right brain delivers on the promise of visual spectacle and musical ambrosia today. [2015]

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Maaloula, Syria

Maaloula's built environment crawls and crowds up the hillsides as if space were at a premium. Americans would put quickly let the town sprawl over the triangle of green down below. But that would subtract arable land from the carrying capacity equation. It's far better to let agriculture occupy the oasis and let houses push into the dry margins. [1993]

Friday, November 20, 2015

Havana, Cuba

That looks a little too capitalistic for Cuba. Could it really be that she is selling flowers to make a living? Or maybe she's a government employee posing as a private vendor. Actually, small-scale enterprise is  becoming more common on Havana's streets. [2014]

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Back in the mid-1800s, the French journalist Alphonse Karr took the world on a tour of his garden and provided this insight: "Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses." [2015]

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain

Successful cities replicate rural settings. Fix your sight on the boys and let your imagination transform the rest of the scene into a country pond, complete with bullfrogs. [2015]

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Belize City, Belize

Soon these boats will be at sea,
Where knowledge of geography,
Will be the key,
To feeling safe; in fact, carefree.
For if you need return to shore,
If you seek a place to moor,
On the wind you must depend,
And to that end,
You must know,
Wherefrom the winds do blow.
Direction east? Direction west?
It's really not much of a test.
For if you be in tropic sea,
Then, the Trades these must be,
Consistent, steady, pushing west,
Captain, you have passed the test,
For to the shore we have returned,
Our only problem: too sunburned!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

The Travellers Bridge was built as a railroad crossing. Now, through public art, it honors arrivals to the island continent who weathered an ocean crossing. But, as far as these two are concerned, it represents a different crossing: from boy to man. Soon, they'll never think of climbing up there where they shouldn't be. [2011]

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Road Town, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

Pusser's, despite the unappetizing name, is probably the most well-known restaurant and pub in the Virgin Islands. But, if you can't travel to the tropics, try the Annapolis Pusser's on the Chesapeake. What do the two locations have in common? Nearby yacht harbors. [2014]

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Izmir, Turkey

Successful cities find some way of incorporating water into the landscape. Coastal cities like Izmir are lucky: they have a harbor. Around the harbor, Izmir has built a corniche and opened up the waterfront. It puts everybody in a good mood, so you can be sure he's not having an argument on that mobile. [2014]

Friday, November 13, 2015

Horley, England, UK

We approach the last few weeks of 2015 with our third and final Friday the 13th.  It will be over a decade, 2026 to be exact, when we will again have a year with three Fridays falling on the 13th day of the month. Hope you don't suffer from friggatriskaidekaphobia. Hope you don't suffer from ailurophobia either. [2015]

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Richmond, Virginia, USA

CSX Transportation is in the business of transporting coal from the Central Appalachian mines to the coal piers in Newport News. The company used to be headquartered in Richmond, but moved to Jacksonville, Florida, far removed from the world of coal but closer to the world of orange juice. Ever hear of the juice train? [2015]

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Chino, California, USA

Thank you for serving. A wave of popular culture has rolled over streetside landscapes all over America as towns and cities have hoisted banners honoring home town heroes who have served this country in uniform. Today is Veterans Day, you know! [2015]

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Denver, Colorado, USA

When you go the zoo, don't forget to visit the Democratic exhibit. Then, think how much more good your annual contribution to the Democratic Party would do if it were made to donkey habitats rather than a run for office. Wouldn't you rather help a Somali Wild Ass? [2013]

Monday, November 9, 2015

Miami, Florida, USA

When you go the zoo, don't forget to visit the Republican exhibit. Then, think how much more good your annual contribution to the Republican Party would do if it were made to elephant habitats rather than a run for office. Wouldn't you rather help Elephas maximus. [2014]

Sunday, November 8, 2015

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

It seems like the U.S. presidential campaign has been going on for eternity already, but we have one more full revolution around the sun to go before we can actually vote. One year from today, though, we will be on our way to the polls: with our jackets on in most of the country. [2014]

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Elephants used to abound in Southeast Asia. Now, thanks to human greed, they are an endangered species. You can probably see more elephants in statuary in Malaysia than in the wild. Here are three small ones, maybe pygmies, gathered around a watering hole. [2011]

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mumbai, India

Markets abound everywhere in Mumbai, including Vile Parle. Here you can buy some flowers and something to put them in. Think there's a temple nearby? [2011]

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Caye Caulker, Belize

In a city, windows frame the world for participant observers, but on a tropical island, palm trees do the job, all the while holding down the sand and holding up the sky. [2015]

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Marbella, Andalusia, Spain

Almost 30 percent of Spain's population is 55 years of age and older, while 17 percent is 16 and under. Across the strait in Morocco, 14 percent is 55 years of age and older, while 30 percent of the population is 16 and under. What do you make of those demographics? [2015]

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Yerevan, Armenia

If this were a multiple choice question, could you choose the one that does NOT belong? Choices are A through F. B is the correct answer. Any questions? [2015]

Monday, November 2, 2015

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Halloween is over. It's time to stop being scared. How can human nature be so contradictory? We will sacrifice anything for security, yet we seem to crave risk: real and imagined. Yes, our personalities are a product of evolutionary biology. [2013]

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Istanbul, Turkey

For the second time this year, Turkey is having national elections. They were called by President Erdoğan, who ran as "the people's man" (milletin adami in Turkish) in 2014 and was elected. Multiparty politics seem to be flourishing in Turkey, maybe too flourishing. [2014]