Thursday, September 27, 2012

Small western farm town: Likely, California

Drive on US 395 though the desert of eastern California and western Nevada, and you pass many small agricultural towns.  They are a bit sleepy but very interesting for their architecture, home-made signs, and historical elements.  Likely, California, is one of these.  It lies on the south side of the South Fork of the Pit River in the northeastern corner of California, not far from Lava Beds National Monument (fabulous geology!).  According to Wikipedia, one of the last of the American Indian wars was fought nearby at Infernal Caverns.

 Here is the General Store, complete with gasoline pump and a bench to sit out and enjoy the afternoon.
Notice the "Most Likely Cafe" has similar stucco architecture as the General Store.
This former filling station serves as covered parking.

The weather is so dry, the volunteer fire department can park its trucks outside.

Drive through some of these small towns:  the residents are friendly and the scenery and history are interesting.

(Photographs taken with a Panasonic G1 digital camera.  Map created  with ESRI ArcMap software v. 9.3).

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Urban non-decay: Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon, is one of my favorite examples of urban non-decay.  Through hard work, imagination, and intelligent urban planning, Portland has maintained its heritage of late-1800s and early-1900s office buildings, stores, and hotels. And they are in use, proving that historic buildings are most certainly viable in the modern era. In addition, Portland is one of the greenest cities in the United States and encourages bicycle use and public transport. The elected regional government, Oregon Metro, has established an urban growth boundary to separate urban land from rural land and prevent uncontrolled sprawl. On the outskirts, there are some McMansion ghettos, but seemingly not as many as other cities. Why are so many other US cities so far behind?

This is a small selection of photographs from my recent trip to Portland. I suggest this Wikipedia article for readers interested in the city and its history and topography.  Even better, go and visit!
Here is an 1890 photograph of Portland from Wikimedia Commons, with Mount Hood in the distance (to the east).
Readers know I like bridges.  This is the underside of the Burnside Bridge over the Willamette River.
Portland is a big food cart city.  Here are some examples on SW 3rd Avenue. The Big-Ass Sandwiches cart even won a contest in Adam Richman's Best Sandwich in America food reality television program. I ate a great veggie giro at a Greek cart, whose proprietors really were from Greece.
 Portland has an amazing collection of historical office and commercial building.  The carving and decoration are symbols of an era when businessmen and industrialists were proud of their buildings and considered them to be a major contribution to the fabric and culture of their city.  They wanted the best and hired craftsmen and stone masons to make a statement.
Portland is a good pedestrian city, and the streetcar is free within an inner-city zone.
On the odd side, there are some great mannequins in town. These were in a store that sold small underpants (underpanties?) for gents.

Black and white photographs created in-camera with a Panasonic G1 digital camera.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Columbia River Bridges

The mighty Columbia Rivers drains portions of British Columbia, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. It has the greatest discharge of any US river entering the Pacific Ocean and is the fourth-largest river in the United States. Because it drops steeply from the mountains of Idaho and the high plateau of central Washington, it has tremendous hydroelectric potential. Since the early 20th century, the Columbia has been developed with 14 hydroelectric dams, and almost every mile of the once free-flowing river now consists of reservoir pools. The map, from the Wikimedia Commons, shows the extent of the river's basin

I explored some of the lower Columbia River Gorge during a recent trip, and two historic bridges caught my eye. The photograph above shows the spectacular gorge near Cascade Locks, about 40 miles east of Portland. The locks were completed in 1896, but they were subsequently submerged in 1938 when Bonneville Lock and Dam was completed some distance downriver.

The elegant steel truss cantilever Bridge of the Gods was opened in 1926 at a length of 1,127 feet (343 m). But once Bonneville dam was completed, the bridge was too low for navigation, so it was raised and the approaches were lengthened. It now has a length of 1,856 feet (565 m).

About an hour drive east, you reach the The Dalles, once the site of a long series of rapids. This is a much drier climate zone, almost desert. The Dalles Dam was completed in 1957, submerging the rapids, along with fishing platforms and other structures used by native Americans for hundreds of years. The Dalles Bridge is another handsome mid-century steel cantilever truss bridge, spanning the Columbia between The Dalles, OR, and Dallesport, WA. It was completed in 1953.

Photographs taken with a Panasonic G1 digital camera.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Great Eating at Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia

When you visit Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the Reading Terminal Market should be on your obligatory visit list. You can find almost anything to eat there! The Market occupies the ground floor and basement levels of the Reading Railroad's former train shed and terminal, which was built up above the street level. The railroad part of the terminal was abandoned for many years, but the city revived the amazing shed and converted it into a convention center in the 1990s. Nice work!, especially in light of how many similar engineering monuments were destroyed in other cities in the mid-late 20th century during greedy and misguided disasters of urban renewal.  One infamous example: New York's Pennsylvania Station was demolished to build the cheesy Madison Square Garden.

According to an interesting article in Wikipedia, the Market was one of the first in the USA to include a state-of-the-art refrigerated storage area in the basement. The refrigeration system used brine water and ammonia operated by specially designed pumps, compressors, and other equipment.

This is the convention center and example of the amazing steel truss system that holds up the roof. Thirteen tracks once occupied this area, which now has a marble floor.

From the street level, the market dies not look like much, but the inside contains the emporium of gastronomic excellence and calorific excess. Readers of this blog know I love farmer's markets in all their varieties (Athens, Kathmandu).

The tradition of the farmers' market lives on! Peppers, cherries, corn - whatever you need. (The colors are a bit off because I did not have time to adjust a custom white balance.)

If you want some fish or meat, you can select as much as you want.

This is a cheese-lovers emporium.

Coffee-flavored soda?

Sandwich spreads of mysterious ingredients or buffalo eggs? Come and get them.

I prefer the olive oil varieties.

These are the bee wax products.

Finally, everyone's favorite: the chocolates.

Really, most people come here to eat and socialize and achieve calorie input.

Finally, at night, the crowds are gone and the market cleans up.

Photographs: 2008: Fuji F31fd digital camera. 2012: Panasonic G1 digital camera with color adjustments made in Silkypix Developer Studio 3.0 SE.