Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Using the shell of an existing structure seems like a reasonable—albeit lower-density—alternative to knocking down lovely old warehouses in favor of high-rise condos, thereby creating the sham neighborhood that is Portland's "Pearl District."
Fresh drinking water straight from Cascade mountains to the Bull Run Reservoir, and then to the city streets of Portland. The fountains were a gift from lumber baron Simon Benson, apparently to discourage the drinking of alcohol. Whatever — the water is delicious!
What happens to a city when its population increases from around 366,000 to 500,000-plus over a mere 20 years? Many things, few of them good, as I discovered when I returned to Portland this weekend after what was effectively a 12-year absence. The city I grew up in had retained much of its architectural heritage from its first efflorescence in the latter half of the 19th century, and many of its cast-iron and rough-stone buildings were still intact. An early morning walk through downtown revealed that to no longer be the case, a depressing development for those of us who treasured the charm and beauty of the old city. Didn't PDX learn from the wholesale destruction of American cities in the post-war era that historic architecture was something to be valued, not torn down to create parking lots or soulless "luxury condos"? Apparently not, and the result is an architectural tragedy.
Here, then, a few examples from the buildings still standing of what this city looked like until about 10-15 years ago, when central business district still largely consisted of beautiful buildings like this.
Friday, November 14, 2008
The Glyptothek, built by King Ludwig I of Bavaria in 1830 to house his collection of Greek and Roman sculptures. Opposite the Königsplatz is Bavaria's state museum of Egyptian antiquities (a collection established by Duke Albrecht in the 16th century).
Walk out of the Königsplatz toward Schwabing, however, and you might come across a small metal sign that informs you that this area was put to perverted use by the Third Reich: Where the former Bavarian government built art museums, the Nazis paved over the grass and burned books and held mass rallies.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I'm not especially fond of Baroque architecture, but you have to admire the determination of the people of Dresden to restore the Zwinger Palace after it was destroyed in 1945. As with all pre-war buildings in Dresden, the black portions are original, the lighter colored portions recreations.
Chinatown will always be one of my favorite neighborhoods in SF because it has spots like Li Po, a bar named for the Chinese poet — one of the Eight Immortals — with a fondness for liquor. If you didn't already know it, Li Po's work forms the basis for Gustav Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde.