Posts tagged architecture

Painted Ladies, Golden Gate Park, Cliff House + 5/29/17

Stopped to enjoy the sights on the way to Golden Gate Park. Look, a cable car! (never rode one – the wait to board was insane, and the bus prices were much better!)

Rode past Japan Town, and waited for a bus by a tree-stump chair (doubleclick any photo for full size):

Victorian homes along the way were impressive, especially the one with giant tree festooned in wind chimes:

Reached Alamo Square, a hilltop park that looks out on the famed Painted Ladies Victorians, built 1892-1896 – well known from the opening credits to Full House.

Another bus, and we reached Golden Gate Park, 20% larger than NYC’s Central Park, at over 1,000 acres – and 3 miles long! Hiked a short way through fuscias to the Conservatory of Flowers:

Inside were all kinds of tropical plants, plus a butterfly den:

Interesting sculptures in the dell outside the Conservatory. Segway tours of the Park are popular:

Golden Gate Park is home to so much:

We walked past the crowds at the Academy of Sciences, and into the DeYoung art museum, which is hosting an exhibit on the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love 1967.

The deYoung, and its special exhibit, were very expensive (and time consuming), so we checked out the lobby, and took the free elevator to the tower’s observation deck. Also experienced our first “All Genders simultaneously” public restroom – no urinals, all private stalls, all genders sharing the mirrors/sinks. And the universe did not implode.

Next stop – the Park’s Japanese Tea Garden – gorgeous!

More sculpture by the deYoung, on our way to the next bus:

Headed towards the Pacific side of San Francisco, walking up the hill along the ocean.

… towards the Cliff House, an historic (1858) restaurant with ocean views.

Next to the Cliff House are the ruins of the Sutro Baths (1894-1964), a massive public bath house, and freshwater swimming facility. It included 6 saltwater swimming tanks of varying sizes, shapes, and water temperatures, tiers of bleachers seating thousands of spectators under glass and steel. This is all that’s left:

There are delightful hiking trails from this Lands End visitor center, down to the ruins or along the cliff:

Then you round a bend in the trail, and get this:

Next bus – past another interesting church:

Back downtown to Union Square :

… and the historic St. Francis Hotel, which was badly damaged in the fire following the 1906 earthquake. The staff provided meals to the people displaced by the 1906 catastrophes right in Union Square, bottom photo on right:

Classy lobby, bar, and a famous grandfather clock, admired by Shirley Temple in the photo. The plaque describes the hotel’s history of washing guests’ coins so they wouldn’t soil their elegant gloves. And they still provide that service. Really.

Finally, found Maiden Lane, which houses the only San Francisco building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It had been an art gallery, shop, many things, but is currently unoccupied. It has a curved stairway/ramp, similar to his design for NYC’s Guggenheim Museum:

I think that’s enough ground covered for one day.

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San Fran’s Beat Neighborhood and Coit Tower 5/28/17

Where it all began – visited North Beach to see City Lights Bookstore, founded by poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti in 1956, who published Alan Ginsburg’s Howl which led to the landmark obscenity trial (poetry = not obscene). Scenes from City Lights:

Scenes from the neighborhood:

Then off to Coit Tower, with its impressive WPA-era murals and even more impressive views. The hills, the stairs, even some streets are just named staircases!

View from the hill – Golden Gate Bridge:

Coit Tower and its murals:

And the views:

From here, you can see how squiggly Lombard Street is:

Walked down from Coit Tower through hanging gardens:

And we found ourselves in Levi Strauss Square – went in to see their little history display in the headquarters, including Albert Einstein’s leather Levi’s jacket:

Then we walked along the waterfront to Pier 39 – a crazy crowded outdoor kitchy mall, plus sea lions!!

I think the sea lions come to watch the crowds of tourists:

Dinner was clam chowder in a sour dough bread bowl. Loved the chowder, not a huge fan of sourdough. It’s sour!

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San Francisco Downtown – 5/28/17

Walked down to the government center area to City Hall – passed a lot of street art on the way:

Lots of beautiful churches:

And witty businesses (happy to serve ogres and krakkens):

The city is celebrating light-based art installations throughout the city. This is one, where the wind moves the squares- they light up at night, but it’s just wind patterns by day: doubleclick any photo to enlarge

City Hall is spectacular, with a dome modeled on St. Peter’s at the Vatican. City Hall’s history is powerful – from the ire-hosing of protesters objecting to the House UnAmerican Affairs Committee holding their commie-hunting hearings there to the murder of Harvey Milk:

The cultural district is right next to the government buildings – opera, symphony:

Another light installation – Caruso’s Dream – shows illuminated pianos up above the sidewalk, where Enrico Caruso had performed and was awoken by the rumbling of the 1906 earthquake:

More murals and public art- The ornate building houses the city’s Human Services Agency, while the giant swirling Venus is blocked by private apartment towers under construction:

Next we come to museum-central. The Contemporary Jewish Museum, construction for the Mexican Museum, and the striking SF Museum of Modern Art:

These museums are adjacent to Yerba Buena Gardens the centerpiece of which is a stunning fountain in memory of Martin Luther King Jr. Waterfalls cascade over a walkway with panels of Dr. King’s quotes – some well-known, some surprising. A powerful monument, very moving and inspiring:

The gardens are lovely, too.

Another fountain:

A few blocks away is the Museum of the African Diaspora, with giant collage of photos which blend together to create a portrait of a little girl:

We stumbled onto the California Historical Society, which was featuring an exhibit on the movements that led up to San Fran’s Summer of Love, which is being celebrated for its 50th anniversary.

Janis Joplin, folk singer

Folk singers Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter, 1962

Grateful Dead

Alan Ginsburg!

The Historical Society Stairs are name in honor of:


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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Zimmerman House, Manchester NH 12-18-16

The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH gives tours of their Zimmerman house, one of just a handful of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in New England, and the only one open for public tours. It’s a gem, built using 4 materials – glass, cypress wood, brick, and cement.

The two-bedroom, 1 level home is built diagonally across the lot, with a steeply overhanging roof, high cement-framed windows on the front, all enhancing privacy. The back wall is nearly all glass, bringing the gardens and yard into the design, so that the small “Usonian” home feels expansive.

This is the model of the house, inside the Currier Museum, where you gather for the tour:

And this is the house itself:


The carport is well-shielded from the snow:



The front glass door opens on a brick wall – privacy! Turn right and the brick hallway leads you to the open floor-plan living room, with Wright-designed built-in furniture:


The back glass walls of the house – too bad we visited on a gray, snowy day, and couldn’t experience how the sun lights up the house.


Here’s the Museum’s photo of the back of the house, from the garden on a sunny day:


And the Museum’s photos of the interior:


dining area

Wright designed this 4-person wood music-stand and uphoulstered stools for the Zimmerman’s musical gatherings. The vertical slot wood piece in the corner hides their stereo speakers – and the open floor plan allows the music to fill the house.


music alcove


master bedroom


galley kitchen

The design is a work of art, architecture, and arithmetic! Windows and floor (radiant heat underneath) are 4′ squares. Horizontal surfaces – seating, shelves, are in increments of 13.”

Down the street is another Wright-designed home, not open to the public. This one is a study in concrete, as seen from the tour van:

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Now onto the Museum itself, and its exhibit on Mt Washington, with lots of paintings by artists of the Hudson River School:


cog railway

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The Museum also has galleries of glass, like this Tiffany collection:


And this lovely Childe Hassam piece:


The Cafe is in what used to be the courtyard of the original entrance, with amazing mosaics framing the doorway:


The opposite wall features 2 pieces reminiscent of a colorful mosaic, by Sol Lewitt:img_9431

The ladies’ room floor ain’t bad, either:


And we cross the Merrimack River on the drive home:


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Boulder Farmers Market, NCAR, Chautauqua – 10/22/16

Last day in Boulder. Visited the very busy Farmers Market with vendors, music, all kinds of produce, along Boulder Creek. Double-click any photo to enlarge:

This is a mandala pattern kids had made entirely with seeds and grains:


Here’s the Gilbert White Flood Lever Marker – art as education – showing how high an 18′ flood-water rise is. It’s named in memory of the professor who led the efforts to study and prepare for flooding risks. Boulder is one of the most flood prone cities on the Eastern slope of the Rockies. The 1976 Big Thompson flash flood, caused by 12 inches of rainfall in 4 hours up at the top of the canyon, swept down with a 20 ft wall of water into Boulder, killing 143 people.


On to our last hike in Boulder in 2016 – drove up to the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) up in the Flatiron slopes overlooking the city. The striking building was designed by I.M. Pei (JFK Library, and Hancock Tower with the falling glass panes in Boston, and the glass pyramid at the Louvre).


Love this eagle sculpture carved out of a tree out front:

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The exhibits are fascinating – and easy to understand proof of the facts of global climate change, the shrinking polar ice caps, and rising/warming sea waters causing more and more frequent catastrophic weather events.

The grounds include a short nature walk, leading to more ambitious hiking trails. We kept it short:

View of the back of the building, from the trail:


Along the trail, you get great views of the Flatirons and the valley:

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After NCAR, we headed over to Chautauqua Park, a National Historic Landmark, which was part of the Chautaqua adult education movement. This one was started as a summer retreat for Texas school teachers.  Now it has a performing arts venue, speaker series, cottages, and historic preservation as well hiking trails and recreational areas.


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Rocky Mountain National Park – 10/21/16

The Beaver Meadows entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park, west of Estes Park,  is just a 40-minute gorgeous drive from Boulder, CO, so no excuses! First stop is the visitor center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, notable for its distinctive lines and natural local materials.

Frank Lloyd Wright's visitor center

Frank Lloyd Wright’s visitor center

We were hoping to get up to the tundra, but they told us the Trail Ridge Road was closed beyond Rainbow Curve due to snowy conditions – to be expected in late October. Oh well, we’ll drive as far as we can.

Trail Ridge Road is the highest-elevation continuous road in the US, at over 11,000′ for over 8 miles, and topping out at 12,813′. Lots of scary edge-of-the-world switchbacks, and breathtaking views.

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We reached Rainbow Curve, and the gate was open!!! A plow had just come down, clearing the road, and cars were heading up into the alpine tundra. Up we go!


edge of the world

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Tall stakes mark the road for plowing – snow must get pretty deep here!



Tundra trail – a nature walk showcasing the hardy plants – mostly lichens – and animals that can survive at 12,000′.


mushroom rocks

mushroom rocks

Bright sun but windy and frigid.

We head down from the unexpected tundra treat. Important comfort note: even though the road was open, and there were a couple of visitor centers along Trail Ridge Road, they and their restrooms were closed.

Next stop was Hidden Valley, a lovely little spot which used to be a ski area (with open rest rooms!). It’s still the center of winter recreation, and the only place in the Park where sledding/snow-tubing is allowed – on the bottom of what used to be the bunny slope. Nice stream through the valley, and no snow down here during our visit:

Wildlife along the way:

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Next stop: Alberta Falls trail, a 1.2 mile round-trip hike – one of the most popular in the park. Double-click any photo for full size view.

Views along the way:


Glacier Creek tumbling down as Alberta Falls:


Pose for photos, then head back down along the icy creek.

More elk on the road out of the park, as the sun sets slowly over the Rockies:

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Dinner in Boulder at a fantastic Mexican restaurant – Rincon Del Sol. Excellent, friendly service, and one of the tastiest meals I’ve ever had.






good food – good company!


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Red Rocks, Morrison, CO – 10/16/16

Red Rocks, about 10 miles outside of Denver, is the only naturally-occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheatre in the world (so they say). Two red sandstone monoliths frame the site, and a local promoter held the first musical performances there in 1906. In 1936, FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps built the roads, staircases, permanent stage, and poured the cement seating for over 9,000.


The Beatles performed here in 1964. Willie Nelson, Grateful Dead, Bruce, nearly everyone has performed at Red Rocks. But even without a show, the site is a terrific destination with a music museum and hiking.


entrance to Red Rocks


honoring the CCC workers

You can see Denver nearby:



The amphitheatre is impressive, even when empty. Videos from concerts, when the venue is packed, are even more so.



left side sandstone wall

After admiring the view, we headed into the museum with this wall listing every performance from every year. Most years, the season opens with a sunrise Easter service:



James Taylor likes Red Rocks



Allman Brothers Red Rocks concert poster

After the museum, we crossed the road to begin our hike up to to lizard head rock. Nice smooth dirt trail, that gets steeper, and includes sections of steps.



lizard head

Here’s the resting spot under the lizard, looking back at the amphitheater:



Back down the trail:


more red rock formations and views:

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