It looks like I made it just in the nick of time—the Love Locks fence on Commercial Street in Portland, Maine will meet the same fate as the locks on the Pont Des Arts in Paris did. They will be torn down on Monday because, like the locks in Paris, they pose a structural risk to the fence and the sewage and storm drain that it protects.
Contrary to popular belief, the tradition did not actually start in Paris—that only began in the early 2000’s. It is thought to have started in Serbia during World War I, but the tradition has been catching on recently around the world in cities like Paris, Rome, Cologne, New York, and many other locations like Portland. While it is a sweet tradition among well-meaning couples, the locks are destroying the integrity of bridges and other structures and many believe that they are marring the beauty and architecture of landmarked buildings.
The quaint village of Sag Harbor, New York, settled before the American Revolution, was once an active whaling port and in its early years rivaled New York City as an important international shipping hub. The village has retained its old world charm, with many of the buildings dating back to the eighteenth century. To celebrate American patriotism on this July 4th weekend, shopkeepers and homeowners have festooned their buildings with flags and bunting and village fireworks are scheduled in the harbor tonight.
Heading southwest from Chicago to St. Louis, we drove along stretches of the nostalgic Route 66. We passed through miles upon miles of cornfields and wind farms until we reached the Gateway City of St. Louis, Missouri. St. Louis was often called the “Gateway to the West” during the pioneering era, when western bound settlers stocked up on provisions before departing for the frontier. In 1804, the famed explorers Lewis and Clark set off from St. Louis on their journey west to survey the Louisiana territory that President Thomas Jefferson purchased from France.
Architect Eero Saarinen designed the Gateway Arch to symbolize America’s expansion westward. The Arch holds many records: it is the tallest arch in the world, the tallest man-made monument in the Western Hemisphere, and the tallest accessible building in Missouri. It opened to the public in 1967, with a tram ferrying passengers to the top of the 630 foot structure, where visitors can get a bird’s-eye-view of the city from one side of the arch and can even catch a glimpse of a St. Cardinals game at Busch Stadium below. The windows on the other side offer views of the great Mississippi River.
I love interesting architecture and this building ranks among some of the best in the world. Tickets are available online, but finding your way to the entrance is a bit complicated due to a major renovation project underway at the base of the monument. The visit to the arch and the trip to the top was definitely worth my time.
And the road trip continues: Just a few final shots before departing for St. Louis!
Millenium Park is also home to the Jay Pritzker Pavilion, a bandshell where the Grant Park Orchestra and other bands, choirs, and theater groups perform in an open air setting. The architecture of the bandshell, as well as the serpentine bridge nearby, is the work of Frank Gehry, the famed architect behind the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. His use of stainless steel has become his trademark and in this structure he created strips that appear to be pulled back by a can opener to create the opening of the stage. There is seating for 11,000 people — 4,000 seats within the bandshell and room for another 7,000 people to sit picnic-style on blankets on the great lawn beyond the seating. There is a trellis system of steel pipes that have speakers attached to them to carry the music out to the lawn and to create the feel that the lawn is part of the structure. I heard a choral group warming up and they looked and sounded great. This is yet another reason to return to Chi-town.
I recently visited Chicago for the first time and, as Frank Sinatra famously sang, “Chicago: It’s my kind of town”. The city is beautiful, exciting, and cosmopolitan. It has fabulous architecture, a beach on the ocean-sized Lake Michigan, great food, outstanding cultural institutions, and so much more. There are grand avenues like Michigan Avenue, a river running through it with a foot path along side it and multiple bridges crossing over it, parks, zoos, and sports stadiums like Wrigley Field and Soldier Field. I spent two days there, which isn’t nearly enough time to fully explore the city. A re-visit in the near future is imperative.
My first stop was Millennium Park, which is one of the biggest attractions in the city. It is part of the larger Grant Park and is home to sculptures, music venues, restaurants, an iceskating rink during winter months, and a theater. There is a giant sculpture called Cloud Gate, which is more familiarly known as The Bean. As you can see, in the photos above, it is a sculpture that appears to be made of liquid mercury, resembles a bean, and reflects the Chicago skyline and the clouds above it. In the era of Facebook and Instagram, it is the backdrop of millions of selfie-taking visitors, like my mother and me. The park is also home to the Pritzker Pavillion, a music bandshell, and a serpentine footbridge, which were both designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry (featured in tomorrow’s post)..
Chicago is my kind of town!
An American president has not visited Cuba since Calvin Coolidge did back in 1928 — that is until now. President Obama, his family, approximately 30 congressmen, and several American business executives arrived in Cuba, yesterday, hoping to officially end a fifty-five year freeze in relations between the United States and Cuba. It is about time. The Cold War ended long ago, but Cuba has been stubbornly adhering to a failed political system.
I had the pleasure of visiting Cuba for two weeks last summer and it was an eye-opening experience. The country is populated by friendly, yet very poor people, who are living amongst crumbling buildings, poor infrastructure, and impoverished conditions. While changes are coming to Cuba, they are coming very slowly. It is up to Congress to end the embargo on Cuba, but it is up to Raul Castro to end human rights abuses and to allow his people a role in their own governance.
I spent this beautiful, unseasonably warm, first morning of March at Arlington National Cemetery. It was a very moving experience to pay tribute to hundreds of thousands of fallen military personnel, who gave their lives fighting to preserve the freedoms that we hold so dear. The graves are arranged meticulously and uniformly in straight lines, reminiscent of the American Cemetery in Normandy, France that I recently visited. Equally moving, was witnessing the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unkown Soldiers and seeing the final resting place of our beloved 35th president, John F. Kennedy. Visiting cemeteries is never pleasant, but it is important to pay homage to those who have served our country with distinction and courage.
Winter was slow in coming to the Northeast this year, but it has finally arrived. Temperatures have dipped down below freezing and winds have kicked up. There is a blizzard on the horizon, with a foot or more of snow predicted for this weekend. If I cannot go someplace warm any time soon, the least I could do is dream of some far off, warm locale with white sand beaches and turquoise water. I hope that these photos, which I took at different locations in the last few years, will warm you up.
There is a great store in Miami Beach on Collins Avenue and 20th Street called Atrium. They have a well-edited selection of clothing, especially beachwear and accessories. I love the way they merchandise the store; it makes everything look so beautiful and wearable. Since I have fair skin, I always look for ways to reduce my sun exposure. I am careful to use sunscreen with an SPF of 50 and I try to wear hats and coverups when possible. Atrium has a fabulous array of hats, beach coverups, and other cute accessories. If you are in Miami, check out this store.