NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Philadelphia City Hall - Not Always Sunny in Philly

The exterior of Philadelphia's city hall is covered with sculpture representing the seasons and continents, as well as allegorical figures, heads and masks. All of the sculpture was designed by Alexander Milne Calder, including the 27-ton statue of William Penn atop the tower.  To give you an idea of its grandeur I cheated and bought a postcard to photograph.

Unlike the postcard we had a grey day which made for grey photographs, but sometimes you have to take what you can get.

To get a better look at the topmost sculpture of William Penn I took a photograph of a poster for sale in the gift shop.  The sculpture is hollow and a narrow tunnel exists inside that goes to a hatch at the top of the hat.

37 foot, 27 ton bronze William Penn

 The tower was the tallest building in Philadelphia until 1987. It was the first modern building (excluding the Eiffel Tower) to be the world's tallest and also was the first secular habitable building to have this record: all previous world's tallest buildings were religious structures.

Sculpture is everywhere on this building, the main theme on the exterior is people and animals of the world.

China and Japan are represented at the top on either side of the elephant head above, male and female turbaned figures represent the continent of Asia, and the city seal of Philadelphia sits beneath.

posters are for sale in the gift shop

In the 1950's the city investigated tearing down City Hall but discovered that its masonry construction would be prohibitively expensive to tear down.

The building appears massive, and it is with 200 rooms, but it is a square with an open central courtyard so it's not quite as large as it seems.

The N. Broad Street arcade leading to the building's courtyard

The sculpture isn't just on the exterior of the building; there are over 250 sculptures overall. The sculptures represent a wide range of topics, including historical, allegorical, mythological, people and animals from throughout the world, and figures that symbolize wisdom and attributes, virtues, and vices.

The courtyard looked like a great place to hang, as long as you don't mind tourists traipsing through all day long.

Unfortunately all I got was this look at the outside since all they had available that afternoon was a tower tour.  If you want to get a further look or get information on a tour, here's a good link.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Walk Around Independence Mall District in Philadelphia

If you think you know all about the Liberty Bell, you might be surprised at what you'll discover at the Liberty Bell Center in Philadelphia.  First cast as the Pennsylvania State House bell, its origins go back to 1751, before the Declaration of Independence.  There also is no record that it rang on July 4, 1776.

Nonetheless, it has become a symbol of freedom in our country, even used by the Suffragists who possessed a replica of the Liberty Bell forged in 1915. It traveled the country with its clapper chained to its side, silent until women won the right to vote.  The Liberty Bell traveled the country on the Freedom Train for the bicentennial back in 1976 and I vaguely remember going to see it in San Diego as a little girl so this viewing of the bell was something I've been looking forward to.

 "Proclaim Liberty Throughout All the Land Unto All the Inhabitants thereof"

The statue Religious Liberty stands outside the National Museum of American Jewish History.  It shows a woman, symbolizing liberty, shielding a boy with a lamp, representing religious faith. On the opposite side of the woman is a carved eagle crushing a snake, a classic symbol of American democracy and representing the country's continuing struggle against intolerance. Continuing as we speak, right?

The Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were both debated and signed inside Independence Hall just across from where the Liberty Bell is on display. It was built to be the Pennsylvania State House originally, construction began in 1732 and was still underway when Pennsylvania Assembly meetings began in 1735.  Entrance to Independence Hall is free but timed tickets do have to be acquired first.  We did not go inside, just admired the building as we passed by.

Independence Hall tower and clock up close

As originally designed and built, Independence Hall had no tower or steeple. These were added around 1750. The wooden steeple had rotted by 1773 and was removed in 1781. In 1828, the city hired architect William Strickland to restore the original steeple. Strickland deviated from the original design, incorporating a clock and additional ornamentation.

Imagine bumping over a cobblestone street in a buggy...eventually most cobble streets gave way to brick which was much smoother.  Philadelphia has streets preserved that are cobble and streets that are brick too.

The Second Bank of the United States was built between 1819 and 1824 in grand Greek Revival style.  Reminiscent of The Parthenon, it sits in crumbling grandeur with its many decades of service as a bank and then a Custom House long in the past.  Now it houses a portrait gallery of over 100 Revolutionary and Federal portraits, maybe I'll get to those if I visit again.

Across from the Old Custom House are a couple of great buildings including the Philadelphia Bank Building on the far right which was built in 1857-1859.  It now is home to condos - I loved the ship at the top of the facade.

Its neighbor to the left also had some great ornamentation. Originally the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, the symbols are fitting.  It opened in 1855 and retained banking function until 1976.  It was bought by American Philosophic Society and renamed Benjamin Franklin Hall which promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and community outreach. 

Pictures on the internet indicate I should have popped inside for a look, but I only got the exterior glimpse.

I did pop inside the Lafayette Building though.  Built in 1907 its interior was gutted back in 2011 and it now lives on as the Hotel Monaco.  Check out the ship chandelier in the lobby!

As we drove away from the area later, I spied this fun sign on the old Lit Brothers Department Store building.

Those times are gone, when people knew what the word "millinery" meant!

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Rodin Museum - Philadelphia

Philadelphia is home to the largest collection of Auguste Rodin's work outside of Paris.  Of course I couldn't pass up that opportunity.

The Thinker

 The museum is located on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, which echoes the Champs-des-Elysses in Paris and the museum itself looks like it was lifted from France.

The Shade

Rodin (1840-1917) did not attend the Ecoles des Beaux-Arts in Paris himself but learned through years of apprenticeship with other artists. He was not as appreciated during his time as he is now because of the way he modeled the human body realistically - he was inspired by traditional art and themes but believed that art should be true to nature. He lived in poverty for many years, was accused of casting his first major piece directly from a model due to its extreme realism and human sized scale, and for years afterward had to make a living collaborating with other artists on public memorials and architectural pieces.

It wasn't until he was 40 years old that he became recognized for his work and started getting enough private commissions to stop working a side job at a porcelain factory.  As a matter of fact, he submitted 3 sculptures to the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago at the age of 53 and due to the fact that they were nudes they were hidden behind a curtain and were viewed only with special permission.  Surprising, actually, that their very forbidden nature didn't make them an instant hit!

At the entrance to the Rodin Museum towering bronze doors inspired by Dante’s Divine Comedy have occupied the building’s portico since 1929. In 1880 Rodin received a commission to create The Gates of Hell for a new decorative arts museum that was going to be built in Paris. Though the museum was never realized The Gates became the seminal work of Rodin’s career, the commission that finally won him some financial freedom, and a key to understanding his artistic aims. He worked on the piece for 37 years and it was left in plaster at Rodin’s death.  The first bronze casts of The Gates of Hell were made for Jules Mastbaum, the founder of the Rodin Museum; one appears here and the second was given to the Musée Rodin in Paris.

The Gates of Hell

The detail is astounding, though the lighting was obviously difficult for photography with such a dark piece contrasting against the light background. Here's a little bit of close-up.

The Thinker was originally part of the concept of The Gates and the imagery was later removed and made into an individual piece.  The Kiss and The Three Shades were also drawn out from this work.

The year 2017 is the hundredth anniversary of Rodin's death and the museum's current exhibition features the artist's look at romantic love.  Pieces included The Kiss, The Minotaur, and Eternal Springtime, with other sculptures inside the museum and on the grounds as well.

Price for admission is suggested when you enter, but you can pay what you wish.  Whatever you pay can be deducted from your cost of admission to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which I wish I had known in advance so I could have planned to see them both on the same day.  The website states that there is a shuttle from the Museum of Art as well.  Now you know so you can plan ahead!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Harrisburg - A Modern Beaux Arts Capitol

I don't know if this happens often, but apparently the Capital of Pennsylvania was originally Philadelphia, then in 1799 became Lancaster, and finally its final home of Harrisburg in 1812. The fact that the first capitol building in Harrisburg burned down is a not uncommon story, it seems it's something they all must do!

The sculpture Commonweatlth atop the dome

The green dome is magnificent, but the sculptures flanking the main entrance make quite an impact as well.

The Burden of Life: the Broken Law

They were created by George Grey Barnard, a Pennsylvania native who had studied in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was an acquaintance of and whose work was influenced by Rodin.

Love and Labor, the Unbroken Law

Upon entering the rotunda I was delighted to behold a Capitol that rivals the one we have in Wisconsin.  I was disappointed, however, to discover that not only were tours done for the day but a self-guided tour was not even possible, and it was still fairly early in the day.  The corridors were dark and roped off, such a strange sight when our Wisconsin Capitol is so freely open to the public.

Since I couldn't do the Capitol justice, I just took a few minutes to let my gaze wander around before heading back outside and leaving this gem behind to better appreciate it on another visit.

The internet is strangely devoid of much information except about the murals and the exterior sculptures.  Who are the gilded people reclining over the doorway?

What winged goddess holds the light above her head to shine on visitors?

The architect hired all Pennsylvanian artists for the work, and they attempted to marry the European and Greek influences to "modern" American themes, I can't wait to go back someday and get all the details...

Outside on a park bench I read these true words:
"Freedom can exist only in the society of knowledge" -- Benjamin Rush

I'm always amazed at how sometimes a quote will suddenly have such resonance.  Knowledge is most definitely something we need to continue to strive for in our current society, both in the United States and throughout the world. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Happy Hunting in Harrisburg

Our tollway detour led us to the capital city of Harrisburg in Pennsylvania, where we got detoured yet again by Pokemon Go Raikou raids.  Laugh all you want, but Pokemon Go is a great way to get to know a town.

Cory waits on the sidewalk for the "raid" to start

And just around the block from the raid we hunted public art instead of Pokemon.

I only spied one mural but it was a big one!

Downtown is spotted with painted ducks, we saw about half a dozen but if you want to see them all there is a map available.

The one in front of the cupcake shop looked yummy, luckily the shop was closed so I didn't start hunting for cupcakes to eat.

Even though we stuck to the same few blocks I found a variety of architectural detail to admire as well.  The Federal Building was closed, which was okay because no WPA murals in Harrisburg, though lots of WPA era architecture was in evidence!

Some great art deco era bas relief work on nearby state buildings.

The North Office Building in the Capitol Complex also showed some industrial themes that were obviously art deco era inspirations even though the building itself is Classical Revival.

And look at the doors on this grand building!  Ah, the New Deal at work.

The current Market Street Bridge crossing the Susquehanna River is the result of the widening of the replacement bridge in 1926. Columns at the Harrisburg entrance to the bridge were salvaged from the old State Capitol which burned in 1897, which I noticed but neglected to get photographs of them.  Something to explore next time!

Lots more to hunt for next time I get to stop in Harrisburg, I'm sure!  Linking up to Monday Mural for the first time in ages.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Pokagon State Park and Beaver Creek State Park

Cory and I lit out for Pennsylvania Thursday night, stopping near Pokagon State Park in Indiana. that first night.  While Cory slept in on Friday I donned a raincoat and went out to the park for walk in the morning drizzle.

Top o' the Kame!

Pokagon State Park is home to lots of activities, and I was surprised when the hiking trail I chose at random took me to a kame!  Climbing the stairs to the top gave me that workout I was looking for before spending the day behind the wheel and I felt right at home in the glacial terrain.

Turtlehead in the rain

Our next stop was Beaver Creek State Park in East Liverpool, Ohio where we were treated to a recreation of a village from the 1800's.  The Little Beaver valley provided opportunity for water power and resulted in the construction of Gaston's Mill in 1837. The mill stands completely restored and today grinds whole wheat flour, corn meal and buckwheat flour on a seasonal basis. A pioneer village, adjacent to the mill, includes a log home, schoolhouse, blacksmith shop and a church.

Remnants of the Sandy and Beaver Canal, a spur off the Ohio-Erie Canal, are found throughout the park. The 73-mile Sandy and Beaver Canal was built in the mid-1800s and contained 90 locks and 30 dams.

A one lane bridge was our exit strategy, and it also provided a lovely photo opportunity.

One thing I will say about this trip, tolls sure have gotten to be more expensive than I remember.  I couldn't believe what we were charged, especially in Ohio and Pennsylvania!  I even got off the tollway for awhile which inadvertently led us to our next stop in the capital city of Harrisburg...