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31/05/2010

Inappropriate Sign Post ("Lawn Closed, The Grass Is Drying After Recent Rainfall"), on Great Lawn, Bryant Park, New York


This photo was taken in Bryant Park, Manhattan, New York City.
One of the park's most impressive features is, as you will have undersood, a large lawn that is the longest expanse of grass in Manhattan south of Central Park. Besides serving as a "lunchroom" for midtown office workers and a place of respite for tired pedestrians, the lawn also serves as the the seating area for some of the park's major events, such as the HBO/Bryant Park Summer Film Festival. The lawn's season since 2005 has lasted from shortly after the fall fashion shows in February until October, when it is closed to make way for The Pond, the park's ice skating rink. During the lawn's season, it is open on most days, closing only for regular maintenance, to drain after a heavy rain, or to recover after high-impact events.
They have probably mixed up the signs here... or the joke is quite funny !

27/05/2010

Checkpoint Charlie, Berlin


This photo was taken in Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie "Checkpoint C" was the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Germany and West Germany during the Cold War.
The Soviet Union prompted the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961 to stem the flow of Eastern Bloc emigration westward through what had become a "loophole" in the Soviet border system, preventing escape over the city sector border from East Berlin to West Berlin. Checkpoint Charlie became a symbol of the Cold War, representing the separation of east and west, and—for some East Germans—a gateway to freedom. Soviet and American tanks briefly faced off at the location during the Berlin Crisis of 1961.
After the dissolution of the Eastern Bloc and the reunification of Germany, the building at Checkpoint Charlie became a tourist attraction.

26/05/2010

De Bijenkorf, Amsterdam


De Bijenkorf (literally, "the beehive") is a chain of upscale department stores in the Netherlands with its flagship store on Dam Square, Amsterdam. Founded in 1870 as a small store along the Nieuwendijk, one of Amsterdam's oldest streets, it offers many prestigious brands in clothing, accessories, beauty, food, and home. De Bijenkorf has 12 stores nationwide. The oldest and largest branches, situated in Amsterdam, The Hague and Rotterdam are referred to by the company as its flagship stores, with retail space ranging between 15,000 and 20,000 square meters. Smaller stores (7,500-10,000 m² of retail space) can be found in Amstelveen, Arnhem, Eindhoven, Enschede, Utrecht and Maastricht. The branches in Breda, Den Bosch and Groningen specialize in fashion (3,000 m² retail space). De Bijenkorf is owned by Maxeda (formerly known as VendexKBB), which also owns the lower-positioned Vroom & Dreesmann.

25/05/2010

Cast Iron Architecture, SoHo, Manhattan, New York


This photo was taken in a SoHo street , Manhattan, New York, and shows a number of nineteenth century industrial structures with cast-iron facades.
SoHo boasts the greatest collection of cast-iron architecture in the world. Approximately 250 cast iron buildings stand in New York City and the majority of them are in SoHo. Cast iron was initially used as a decorative front over a pre-existing building. With the addition of modern, decorative facades, older industrial buildings were able to attract new commercial clients. Most of these facades were constructed during the period from 1840 to 1880. In addition to revitalizing older structures, buildings in SoHo were later designed to feature the cast iron.
An American architectural innovation, cast iron was cheaper to use for facades than materials such as stone or brick. Molds of ornamentation, prefabricated in foundries, were used interchangeably for many buildings, and a broken piece could be easily recast. The buildings could be erected quickly, some were built in only four months' time. Despite the brief construction period, the quality of the cast iron designs was not sacrificed. Previously, bronze had been the metal most frequently used for architectural detail. Architects now found that the relatively inexpensive cast iron could form the most intricately designed patterns. Classical French and Italian architectural designs were often used as models for these facades. And because stone was the material associated with architectural masterpieces, cast iron, painted in neutral tints such as beige, was used to simulate stone.
There was a profusion of cast iron foundries in New York, including the major firms of Badger's Architectural Iron Works, James L. Jackson's Iron Works, and Cornell Iron Works.
Since the iron was pliable and easily molded, sumptuously curved window frames were created, and the strength of the metal allowed these frames considerable height. Thus, the once somber, gas-lit interiors of the industrial district were flooded with sunlight through the newly enlarged windows. The strength of the cast iron permitted high ceilings with sleek supporting columns, and interiors became more expansive and functional.
During cast iron's heyday, many architects thought it to be structurally more sound than steel. It was also thought that cast iron would be fire resistant, and facades were constructed over many interiors built of wood and other inflammable materials. But, when exposed to heat, cast iron buckled and later cracked under the cold water used to extinguish fire. In 1899, a building code was passed mandating the backing of cast iron fronts with masonry. Most of the buildings which stand today are so constructed. It was the advent of steel as a major construction material that brought a rapid end to the cast iron era."

24/05/2010

Louvre Pyramid, Paris, France


This is a photo of the Louvre Pyramid, in the courtyard of the Louvre Museum (Musée du Louvre) in Paris, France. Completed in 1989, it has become a landmark for the city. Designed by the architect I. M. Pei, the structure, which was constructed entirely with glass segments, reaches a height of 20.6 meters, its square base has sides of 35 meters and it consists of 603 rhombus-shaped and 70 triangular glass segments.
See also very interesting
greatbuildings.com 's dedicated page on the Pyramid.

23/05/2010

Checker Taxicab, New York


This is a photo of a Checker Taxicab taken around Washington Square in Manhattan, New York City.
The Checker Taxi (Checker Cab) was the American taxicab produced by the Checker Motors Corporation of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Checker Taxis were used by its founder Morris Markin in the taxi service that he owned and operated under the name Parmalee System. While Markin's competitor John D. Hertz coined the term Yellow Cab, Markin's Checker, particularly the 1956-82 A8/Marathon, remains the most famous taxi cab vehicle in the United States. It is comparable to the London Taxi in its nationally renowned styling, which went unchanged throughout its use, and also for its iconic status.

22/05/2010

Street Portrait, Laos


This photo was taken in Laos, in a small village on the bank of the Mekong river, between Huay Xai (Thai-Lao border) and Pak Beng.

21/05/2010

Bridge Over Nam Song River, Vang Vieng, Laos


This photo was taken in Vang Vieng, a tourism-oriented town in Laos, located in Vientiane Province about four hours bus ride north of the capital. The town lies on the the Nam Song river. The most notable feature of the area is the karst hill landscape surrounding the town.
One of the main features of the town is a long, mostly unused, airfield runway parallel to the road. It was used during the Vietnam War by the Air America's planes (the airstrip was then called "Lima site 6").
The town started to grow in the 1980s, due to the influx of backpackers. The opportunity for hiking and the laid-back atmosphere attracted more and more visitors. The real attractions of the area are the scenery, the limestone hills and the numerous caves and caverns. Perhaps the most interesting is the Tham Phu Kham cave.

20/05/2010

Pythonbrug ("Python Bridge", or Anaconda Bridge), Amsterdam


This is a photo of the Pythonbrug ("Python Bridge", or Anaconda Bridge), a steel bridge designed by Adriaan Geuze from the Rotterdam firm West 8, and built in 2001. Pythonbrug connects Sporenburg peninsula with Borneo Island, it spans the 93-meter-wide Spoorwegbassin (Railroad Basin). It won the International Footbridge Award 2002.

19/05/2010

Sossusvlei, Namib Desert, Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia


This photo was taken in Namibia. Sossusvlei is a salt pan in the central Namib Desert, lying within the Namib-Naukluft National Park. Fed by the Tsauchab River, it is known for the high, red sand dunes which surround it, forming a major and impressive sand sea.
The Namib Desert is a desert in Namibia and southwest Angola that forms part of the Namib-Naukluft National Park. The name "Namib" is of Nama origin and means vast.
The desert occupies an area of around 80 900 km², stretching about 1,600 km along the Atlantic Ocean coast of Namibia. Its east-west width varies from 50-160 km. The Namib Desert also reaches into southwest Angola. It is one of the 500 distinct physiographic provinces of the South African Platform physiographic division.
Having endured arid or semi-arid conditions for at least 55 million years, it is considered to be the oldest desert in the world. The Namib's aridity is caused by the descent of dry air of the Hadley Cell, cooled by the cold Benguela current along the coast. It has less than 10 mm of rain annually and is almost completely barren.
Although the desert is largely unpopulated and inaccessible, there are year-round settlements at Sesriem, close to the famous Sossusvlei and a huge group of sand dunes, which at more than 300 meters (984 ft) high are among the tallest sand dunes in the world. The complexity and regularity of dune patterns in its dune sea have attracted the attention of geologists for decades. They still remain poorly understood.

18/05/2010

Lots Road Power Station, Chelsea, London


This is a photo taken from the River Thames and shows Lots Road Power Station is a disused coal and later oil-fired power station at Lots Road in Chelsea, London which supplied electricity to the London Underground system. It is sometimes erroneously referred to as Fulham Power Station, a name properly applied to another former station a mile up river. The station was commissioned by the Metropolitan District Electric Traction Co (which was soon to become part of the Underground Electric Railways empire of Charles Yerkes) in order to provide power to the Metropolitan District Railway (now known as the District Line). The station allowed the District Line and Circle Line trains to change from steam haulage to electric. At around the same time the Metropolitan Railway built their power station at Neasden.
The station was built end-on to the Thames, on the north bank of the tidal Chelsea Creek. Permission for the station was granted in 1897 and construction started in 1902 and completed in 1905. The station burned 700 tonnes of coal a day and had a generating capacity of 50,000 kW. At the time it was claimed to be the largest power station ever built and would eventually power most of the railways and tramways in the Underground Electric Railways group.
The station was re-equipped on several occasions. The modernisation undertaken in the 1960s converted the station to 50 Hz generation and from burning coal to using heavy fuel oil. The number of chimneys was reduced from the original four to two. But between 1974 and 1977, with the discovery of natural gas in the North Sea, the boilers were converted to run on gas, with the option of oil firing if required. The station later worked in conjunction with the ex-London County Council Tramways power station at Greenwich to supply the London Underground network.
The station unwittingly played a part in the birth of commercial radio in the UK. When the first two stations opened in October 1973 (LBC and Capital Radio), the site for their medium wave transmitters was not complete. As a result, a temporary 'Tee' antenna was strung up between the two chimneys (transmitting LBC on 417m (719 kHz), and Capital Radio on 539m (557 kHz)), until the permanent site at Saffron Green was ready in 1975. Some years later the site was used again, on 720 kHz, for a low power MW relay of BBC Radio 4's LW service.
In the 1990s, it was decided that rather than re-equip Lots Road, it would continue to operate until the machinery's life was expired. It remained in operation until being shut down on 21 October 2002. Since then, all power for the tube system is supplied from the National Grid. The property company which now owns the site wishes to convert the station into shops, restaurants and apartments, as well as constructing additional buildings - including two skyscrapers - on the adjoining vacant land. The scheme was delayed because Kensington and Chelsea Council refused planning permission for one of the towers. The other, which is actually the taller of the two, was granted permission by Hammersmith and Fulham Council, but the developer was unwilling to proceed without permission for both towers. On 30 January 2006 the Secretary of State granted planning permission for the development. As of 2007, the developer hoped to complete the scheme by 2013.

15/05/2010

Lace Panties or Eiffel Tower ? Paris, France


This is a close-up shot of the Eiffel Tower, the 19th century iron lattice tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, that has become both a global icon of France and one of the most recognizable structures in the world. The Eiffel Tower, which is the tallest building in Paris, is the single most visited paid monument in the world; millions of people ascend it every year. Named after its designer, engineer Gustave Eiffel, the tower was built as the entrance arch for the 1889 World's Fair.

11/05/2010

Bond 45, 154 West 45th Street, Manhattan, New York City


This photo was taken at 154 West 45th Street, Manhattan, New York City.
Bond 45 is located right in center of the theater district, walking distance to every major Broadway show. Bond45 feels like part of old New York, because it is. The building is a theater district landmark. The Ziegfeld Follies began on their roof, back when the building was the Hammerstein Theater.
Today Bond45 Restaurant serves up a genuine Italian experience including real American 'firsts': Your roman mozzarella bar and cheese focaccia from Liguria, Pantondo, and a new Antipasti bar that is even more spectacular than ever. The New York Post calls Bond45 “An Italian steakhouse reincarnation of the old Jack Dempsey’s, which already tastes like a long running hit, and Hal Rubenstein of New York Magazine says it: ”Treats [you] like family while executing home-style cooking as solid as my mom’s”.
See below an alternative of the same photo but with a slightly different digital darkroom treatment. Any preference ?

10/05/2010

CCCP, Amsterdam


This photo was taken in the entrance of Herengracht 505 in Amsterdam, and represents the logo of a Dutch company specialiazing in ideas, whether it's for TV shows, advertising campaigns or corporate films.

08/05/2010

Reichstag dome (Norman Foster), Bundestag, Berlin


This is a photo taken inside the Reichtag Dome, a glass dome constructed on top of the rebuilt Reichtag building (Bundestag) in Berlin. It was designed by architect Norman Foster and built to symbolize the reunification of Germany. The distinctive appearance of the dome has made it a prominent landmark in Berlin.
The Reichstag dome is a large glass dome with a 360 degree view of the surrounding Berlin cityscape. The debating chamber of the Bundestag, the German parliament, can be seen down below. A mirrored cone in the center of the dome directs sunlight into the building. The dome is open to the public and can be reached by climbing two steel, spiraling ramps that are reminiscent of a
double-helix. The glass dome was also designed by Foster to be environmentally friendly. Energy efficient features involving the use of the daylight shining through the mirrored cone were applied, effectively decreasing the carbon emissions of the building.

03/05/2010

Lindengracht Market, Amsterdam


This photo was taken on the Lindengracht Market (Saturday food and flowers market), next to the Noordermarkt Market in Amsterdam.Lindengracht which translates into English as the lime tree canal, has been filled up during the modernization of the city at the end of the 19th Century, and turned into the wide street with two rows of the huge lime trees in the middle. Each Saturday, 232 market stands are built along the whole street. Lindenmarkt - originally just a Jordaan neighborhood market, exists since 1895 and since 1922 it is so called day market – it is open up into the late afternoon hours. Today, together with the nearby Farmer’s Market on the Nordermarkt, (both open on Saturday), Lindenmarkt is probably the best food market in Amsterdam.