Friday, April 30, 2010

Blocks, Calvary Cemetery

I took this picture through a car window covered with raindrops, but focused it so much the foreground was focused out of existence. Taken waiting out the rain at the gate of Calvary.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Spolia #6

They almost seem to be crying out in pain, having lost the building they were attached to behind them.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Water Treatment Plant, Peoria, Illinois

I don't know much about this building, other than it seems to still be in use as a water treatment facility.It's a great example of Romanesque Revival architecture.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

St. Albans McMansion Revival

Just when I think they can't get any more creative with a 4 million dollar price tag, they prove me wrong.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Barnyard Animals

One hundred years after their construction, the barns on my family's farm still are used for their original function.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Apple Tree, Family Farm, Deer Creek, Illinois

I planted this tree with seeds from an apple I ate twenty years ago. It now has some sort of blight, so it will have to be cut down if it shows signs of spreading to other nearby trees.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Planting Season, Family Farm, Deer Creek, Illinois

The family farm outside of Deer Creek, Illinois is doing well, and the paint and repairs to our two 100+ barns are holding nicely.Off in the distance, one of our farmers is planting something, not sure what.I love this picture up into the hayloft of the older, horse barn. The light was perfect at this time of day.The shed that was blown over in the wind storm has finally been cleaned up, and awaits its fate on the "burn pile" up the road on our farm.See it from space here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pleasantview Road, Washington Township and Sprawl

I drove back by Pleasantview Road to check on the status of the buildings I have been documenting for the last year.The abandoned farmstead has weathered the winter, and looks largely the same. I know someday I will drive by, only to see a pile of rubble, or less.The school building hasn't changed either, though the weeds are starting to grow up around the facade again.It makes me sick, but sprawl is coming to Washington, since you know, it's quaint and all and only a ten minute drive into Peoria. Note the brand new street in front of this barn; on the other side of the street is a subdivision of tract attached homes.Across the cornfield, another subdivision is going up. Why are giving up our sustainability for sprawl? We no longer produce enough food to support our population, and the roads needed to go to all of these spread-out houses aren't paid for by the taxes generated by these houses. A crisis is developing, but almost no one cares.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Abandoned Diner, Goodfield, Illinois

It's interesting; so many things are constantly changing, but some things remain the same, like this diner on the outskirts of Goodfield, Illinois.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brick Rustling Continues

I checked up on the block of Hebert I had been documenting for the last year. In all seriousness, I did not recognize the north side of the street, as its form has so dramatically changed.The two houses with the mansard roof are gone, with new grass peeking up through the hay on the now vacant lots. The other house has been "dollhoused" with its side walls removed by the thieves.The destruction of the walls of the remaining house is recent, as the interior walls show no evidence of prolonged exposure to the elements. The house on the south side of the street is stuck in its weirdly static state, changing very little since being victimized last year. Read more about my documentation of brick theft here.

Monday, April 19, 2010

St. Mary's Concordia Hall Facing the Wrecking Ball, Clayton

Having learned about the impending demolition of the historic Concordia Hall at Vanishing St. Louis, I rushed over on Friday to get some pictures. Demolition was well underway, and with an apparent gusto.I like this building; it's simple, but elegant, and even the damage caused already by Ahrens Demolition can't hide it simple, beautiful design.The little coat of arms, made out of colored brick, is a nice touch. Sadly, it will be gone soon.Ahrens men stand around admiring their colleagues' handiwork. One thing that is surprising about the demolition is the distance the wrecking ball was being swung out over Clayton Road. While demolishing the San Luis, they were much more conservative with their swings.Below are two videos of the destruction; the first one shows how quickly the poor building is coming down, and the second one show the headache ball stuck in the roof of the building.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Naples, Margellina Train Station

They know how to build good looking train stations in Naples. The Margellina Train Station is only what I would call a "suburban" train station, but it is bedecked in true Gilded Age glory.Great mass transit should make people feel like they're royalty while riding it.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Public Announcements

The walls of Italian cities are plastered with announcements, stuck to the walls of all major streets in the downtown areas of major cities. It's a little chaotic, with dozens of posters on top of each other, but it creates a great billboard for the passerby. Is there space in St. Louis for more public announcements?

Monday, April 12, 2010

Ancient Schoemehl Pots, Pompeii, Italy

I had the opportunity to visit the ruins of Pompeii on my trip to Naples, and it is interesting to walk a city that was basically 100% pedestrian friendly. The Romans had ingenious ways of making the pedestrian's travel around the city safe and pleasant.The ancient Romans understood the importance of traffic calming devices, and the safe movement of people across major streets. These two types of speed bumps served two purposes. The stones above allowed pedestrians to walk across the street, avoiding any rainwater or garbage that might have accumulated during the day. For the most part, Roman cities had sanitation not recreated until the 20th Century, so there wasn't a huge amount of garbage to walk around. Secondly, the "beever teeth" prevented chariots (not really very common in Roman society) and wagons from going too fast down the street. In fact, for the most part wheeled vehicles were banned from the streets during the day. Deliveries were made at night. Below is a second kind of traffic calming device in the city gate where drivers would have been forced to slow down.It's funny, but these ancient stones remind me of the Schoemehl pots blocking streets all over St. Louis, and in particular, they remind of the new balls in Forest Park Southeast. The only critical difference is that the Romans didn't create dead zones with theirs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Back from Naples, with 1400 Photographs

Here is a small preview of my trip to Naples this last week. If you were planning on burglarizing my house while I was gone, you have missed your chance. Below is Herculaneum, one of the cities buried in the eruption of Mount Vesuvius 1,900 years ago. Pompeii is certainly larger, with more elaborate buildings, but Herculaneum has better views from outside the excavations.The Amalfi Coast is a famous tourist destination, and for once, it is very justified. This is a view out of the window of the bus as we drove between Sorrento, Positano and Amalfi. The bus driver was navigating the curves of this treacherous road with one hand. Impressive.Naples has a much more laid back attitude about stray dogs. They're everywhere, are all well-behaved, and just sort of lie around. You generally don't see that in America.The Faraglioni are impressive rock towers that jut out of the sea on the north side of the island of Capri. I had the nature trail almost entirely to myself, which was wonderful on an island known for its tourist trade.Many Neapolitans who walked by me as I photographed the closed McDonalds probably wondered what I found so funny about it. Probably it was the sign in Italian that said it was "closed for inventory." More like it went out of business because no one in Naples would eat there. A triumph for good taste.Paestum, an ancient Greek city south of Naples, is beyond incredible. The temples preserved at the site are perfect examples of Doric temples. Amazing food in the region made this one of my favorite days in the Naples region.Naples also has active volcanoes in its area, and the Solfatara Crater in Pozzuoli, to the west of Naples, still has dramatic sulfer jets shooting out of the floor of the volcano. You can walk right up to the jets and stick your hand in, if you want. I love Europe because there are so many things you can do there that are forbidden in the US. Like walking to within feet of a scalding hot jet of hot sulpher.I made it out to the Romans baths at Baia, finally, and it was well worth the effort; I had seen pictures of this dome decades ago, and to finally see it was a special moment.Another highlight of my trip was seeing the fabled Grotto of the Cumaean Sybil in Cumae, to the west of Naples. Famous for her role in Virgil's Aeneid, legend has it that the sybil gave people their fortunes in these tunnels. In reality, the tunnels were from the ancient Roman naval base, but it's fun to imagine.The royal palace at Caserta is like something out of a dream. While not as large as Versailles, its setting on the slopes of a mountain give the entire setting the feeling of being in a dream.What does this have to do with St. Louis architecture? Not much, but in select posts in the future, I will tie lessons I learned in Naples and its built environment to lessons we can use here in St. Louis.

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