Thursday, February 25, 2010

Santa Maria Novella Train Station, Florence, Italy

Florence is so famous for its Renaissance culture, that one forgets that it has a great Early Modern train station, welcoming travelers into the city.It's so not like Renaissance architecture, it provides a little bit of a respite from the oppressive ubiquity of Albertian or Brunelleschian architecture.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Florence Cathedral

Sigh, Florence's cathedral is so much more awesomer than St. Louis's Cathedral. But I guess not everyone can have a dome designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Statues, National Archeological Museum, Naples, Italy

I called these ladies the "YMCA Sculpture Group." Taken in the National Archeological Museum in Naples, home to the fabulous Farnese Collection of ancient sculpture as well as most of the finds from Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Monday, February 22, 2010


Not in anyway due to the city of Naples or its residents, I had a bad day in the city last April. I wasn't planning on going back, but when I got home and uploaded my pictures onto my computer, I saw this picture I had taken, and realized I had to go back. There is much more to explore and see, and this picture gives just a small glimpse of why.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

New Steeple, Washington, DC

The steeple had collapsed decades ago, so five years ago, the church had a new steeple fabricated--in one piece. It was brought into DC on a flatbed and hoisted into place. I wish some of St. Louis's felled historic steeples could once again rise above their neighborhoods.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

7th Street Office Building, Washington, DC

I always loved walking by this building with its prominent turret; I never actually saw anything move in there, unfortunately.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Taft Bridge, Rock Creek Valley, Washington, DC

The Taft Bridge, the largest non-reinforced concrete bridge in the world, gracefully spans the Rock Creek Valley taking Connecticut Avenue from the oldest portion of the city to the early 20th Century streetcar suburb of Woodley Park. Along with its sturdier companion, the Duke Ellington Bridge, the Taft Bridge creates one of the most beautiful spots in the world, elegantly combining nature with sensitive man-made construction.

The sunsets are spectacular from the bridge looking toward the Omni Shoreham Hotel. I used to come across this bridge late at night sometimes when I lived in Adams Morgan, and it was just dark enough to see the stars, something basically impossible in the rest of DC.
See it from the air here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Henderson Castle, Washington, DC

The builder of Meridian Hill Park, Mary Henderson lived in a castle across 16th--well, a Romanesque Revival castle, that is.It was demolished after years as a boarding house and speakeasy, and all that is left is the massive retaining wall that stretched around the property, holding back the earth of the hill upon which the entire area sits.See the site as it is today from the air here, and read about the castle's history here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Meridian Hill Park, Washington, DC

Meridian Hill Park, isolated from the hustle and bustle of 16th St NW, is a gem waiting behind the concrete walls along the Street. Read about the park here. The upper portion is a French garden.

Yes, that's Joan of Arc, surmounting the dramatic overlook out over the city.The park was one of the first places in the world to use decorative, aggregate concrete. It took years to complete, but turned out amazingly.The lower part then moves into an Italian style garden, with dramatic cascades and stepped fountains.

Influenced by chateau gardens in France, and the Villa d'Este in Italy, it is being restored and taken back from the criminals and drug dealers who had taken over the park.

See it from the air here. The name comes from a senator's wife's efforts to rename 16th Street the Avenue of the Presidents (which is was for one, unpopular year) and have the Prime Meridian moved from Greenwich, England to 16th Street in Washington, DC. That failed too. The park is built just outside the original plan L'Enfant envisioned for the city, and takes advantage of the steep terrain that rises up north of Florida Avenue.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

14th Street NW, Washington, DC

The evening of the day of Martin Luther King's assassination saw the largest riots in Washington, DC's history. Beginning at 14th and U St NW, the rioters quickly spread up and down 14th Street, destroying everything in their path. Above, is the Marion Berry government center, built on one of the destroyed corners.Little did the rioters know that they were engaging in urban renewal, allowing luxury condos to spring up in the ruins of the burnt out buildings 35 years after the riots.However, real, independent and small time business has sprung up along 14th, allowing for a rebirth. In buildings that are brightly colored but also some with the burn marks still showing from their neighbors' fiery demise forty years ago, life has returned to 14th St. I loved the above row of stores: a kitchen and bath store, a nursery, a stationary store and a funky gift store.Salvadorans have also contributed, with the wonderful El Paraiso restaurant. While it's a little rough around the edges, it still is a stable anchor on its block.Swan Auto Sales is a good example of the old 14th Street; it most likely sprang up in the place of a burned out building. I'm surprised no luxury condos have been built there yet.The side streets feature beautiful, rehabbed houses that once were workers cottages but now probably cost close to $700-800K. Read about the riots, and their effects, at this vetted Wikipedia article. See it from the air here, and see if you can spot any vacant lots along 14th Street, products of the riots; they're rapidly disappearing, forty years after their destruction.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.