Thursday, October 31, 2013

Neighborhoods, Old and New

We love Pittsburgh's many neighborhoods. Each one has its own character and feel. This is something Pittsburgh has that Chattanooga didn't. Chattanooga was one continuous place; there was nothing to discover, no interesting neighborhoods tucked away to stumble on. I think Pittsburgh's prolific number of neighborhoods has something to do with all the hills and rivers here; neighborhoods were somewhat dictated by geography. In our quest for the perfect spot to buy our first home, we've been crisscrossing the city on our free days, learning roads and how places connect in a way I never understood in all my years of living here. I'm thankful to Dave for opening up the city to me---having a passenger with a GPS and a good sense of direction has helped helped turn Pittsburgh from a labyrinth to a navigable place for me. 

We spent a day exploring the far East side of town. While we decided it's not the place for us to live, it was fun to check out. Being in Glassport was like being in a different city altogether. It has not recovered from the closing of the steel mills and the evacuation of industry and has a really gritty, tired feel. Also, it is literally built into the side of a cliff; I would not want to navigate the roads in the winter! 

We were fascinated by this old building in the middle of town. It was most recently used as an American Legion Club according to the sign out front, but has clearly fallen into serious disrepair. 

The vines overtaking the building came in a variety of colors. 

Oddly, it looks like the building was just left to crumble one day. Dave stuck his camera in a window, and there were books, National Geographic's from the 1980's (which we had to fight the urge to take with us), and stacks of other paper ephemera. 

The view from another window was even more grim. It looks like there was perhaps a fire; walls and doors were falling down, and objects were strewn about. 

Here, the floor had caved, still covered in chairs and tables used for meetings. It was a very strange, post-apocolyptic feeling. 

In its heyday, this would have been a stunning building. 

Walking around felt like being in some sort of time warp. 

We stumbled on this old church a few weeks later while driving through McKee's Rocks. 

I thought the juxtaposition of the ancient structure and the modern, light-up billboard was strange. 

I liked the clock on the church; while we were there, the bell tower struck 11:00.  I like thinking about a past time when the town would have kept time and determined whether they were late for a meeting or work according to the sound of the church bells. 

Sadly, the building was in need of repairs, but the details were fabulous. 

The structure had a good energy about her; it was as if she were thanking us for paying attention when her bells chimed 11:00. 

Check out this entryway! 

On the completely opposite side of the scale are these Glass Loft apartments on Penn Avenue in the Garfield/ Friendship neighborhood. It is crazy to see how much this area is being revitalized; when I used to live in Pittsburgh, this street was sketchy at best, and I always avoided driving down it. Now, it is populated by artists, coffee shops, a yoga studio, and the original anchors that drove the revitalization, vegan cafe Quiet Storm and the Pittsburgh Glass Center (more on that to come!) 

The architecture of this building is certainly neat. I believe it is also super green and eco-firendly; the sign advertises a tax credit for those who choose to live here. 

While this has nothing to do with architecture, I had to share this photo from the Yoga Hive, located in the Glass Lofts building. Using local Pittsburgh-ese language, the sign greets visitors with the studio's signature, "Namaste, Yinz." For those of you who don't live here, "Yinz" is like the Pittsburgh version of "Y'all." Dave was quite surprised to find Pittsburghers really do have their own language! And if you do live here, the Yoga Hive is having a special evening of Yoga and Kirtan tomorrow evening from 6-7:30. I haven't been yet, but I'm going to try to make it out for tomorrow. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Summer Roundup

We woke up early this morning to the season's first dusting of snow! It melted quickly, but there was a thin layer on the deck and the roof of the shed. Yesterday, we picked the last of the green peppers and buried the green sprouts of garlic peeking above the earth under a thick blanket of compost to remind them to go dormant and keep them warm for the winter. I used to hate the cold, but now, after having lived in Florida for a few years, this gradual change of seasons feels natural. The cold air feels crisp and refreshing to breathe in. I think we're going to adjust to living back in the North just fine. 

Before it gets too late in the season, here is a roundup of Dave's best nature photography from over the summer we haven't yet had a chance to share. 

During a walk on the Montour Trail, we spotted these butterflies and bees enjoying this plant.  

There's always time for a dance by the creek! 

We didn't attract many hummingbirds with the new feeder this summer, but the deer are always a joy to watch. 

They loved the apples falling from our tree. 

Hello, Mr. Squirrel. 

We spotted these mushrooms in a Nashville park. 

We named this tree "The Singing Tree," because it was filled with so many songbirds, it sounded like a choir. 

One day, we found this gorgeous butterfly on the driveway. I wasn't sure if she was hurt, because she stayed perfectly still on the pavement even when I knelt right next to her. Because the day was a bit cool, we think she was perhaps sunning, trying to build up warmth from the blacktop. 

We wanted to move her away from cars in the driveway, and she let Dave pick her right up. When he gently placed her on a branch in this tree, she took flight, and flew all the way across the back yard to the neighbor's. 

My parent's neighbor grows tons of flowers, which he shades with colorful umbrellas each year. 

He grows some really lovely and unique varieties, which of course flourish under his careful attention. 

We explored nearby Settler's Cabin Park one sunny Saturday afternoon. 

We're certainly grateful for all summer's beauty we enjoyed, and now we happily welcome fall and winter and the changes they bring. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Athens of the South

We were delighted to learn a full-scale replica of the Parthenon proudly stands as the center of Nashville's urban green space, Centennial Park. 

We had beautiful weather for our visit, and the park was a wonderful oasis in the city. 

In the 1970's, Nashville's Parthenon hosted the United Nations council for a visit. 

Nashville's Parthenon was actually built as part of the Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition in 1897, and though a lot of effort was invested in making their Parthenon to scale, it was meant only to be a temporary exhibition. Nashville chose to construct it because of its nickname, "Athens of the South." Unlike most of the structures built for the fair, the Parthenon replica was not torn down, but because it was not meant to last, it fell into serious disrepair. The structure was rebuilt and repaired from 1920 to 1931, when it finally re-opened to the public. 

The Tennessee Centennial and International Exposition was a spectacular event. All sorts of buildings were constructed exclusively for the six-month fair. Memphis constructed a grand pyramid replica on the fair grounds, and there was an Egyptian Pavilion with belly dancers. The giant Vanity Fair building, known today as the Midway, housed games, rides, and entertainment, including a massive, 40 person see-saw. 

The scale of the Parthenon was impressive. It was astounding to think about the original building being built by the ancient Greeks with no modern machinery. 

The columns dwarfed us, as did the massive doors. 

The plaster sculptures adorning the pediments were created out of existing casts when possible. Painstaking work was taken to make them accurate. 

A student was receiving guitar lessons on the Parthenon steps. 

An inside view of those gigantic doors. 

The most recent addition to the Parthenon has been the Athena statue, which was commissioned in 1982 and completed in 1990. I can only imagine what awe the statue must have inspired in the ancient Greeks; even today, with our modern skyscrapers and buildings, Athena inspired reverence and admiration. 

Athena's shield stands 15 feet in diameter. The front depicts Greek heroes battling the mythical Amazonian women. It is believed that the Amazonian "women" depicted are actually warriors from Arabia. The Arabian warriors carried curved swords and were much more slight of build than their Greek counterparts, though no less fierce in battle.  

To give some perspective, I was smaller than even one of Athena's feet! 

In 2002, the Athena statue was gilded in gold to make it a more accurate representation of the original. 

Though we were only able to stay for a brief 24-hour period, we really enjoyed Nashville, and would place it high on our list of favorite places we've visited. The city had a great energy about it, and seemed to have a lot of good stuff going on. Our road trip to Chattanooga and back with stops in Louisville, Nashville, and Columbus was brief, but very enjoyable. It was nice to be able to see the Kentucky-Tennessee-Ohio area we missed on our way South from Florida. Though we really only scratched the surface, we are happy to say we at least visited almost every state on the East Coast! We enjoy having first-hand knowledge of places. It is delightful to hear about a city on the news, and say, "Oh, we've been there," and to perhaps even recognize the place being talked about. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Unexpected Louisville: Part 2

Louisville's Waterfront Park is 72 stunning acres of green urban oasis. Its crowning jewel is the Big 4 Pedestrian Bridge, which just opened February 2013. 

The Big 4 Bridge was originally built as a railroad bridge in 1895, and was rebuilt as a rail and vehicle bridge in 1929 after a series of deadly construction accidents. It fell into disrepair and was officially closed to all types of traffic in the 1960's. After sitting unused for decades, plans for renovation were announced in February 2011. 

The bridge spans the Ohio River between Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana. 

This massive ramp was constructed to allow pedestrian and cyclist access to the bridge. The ramp loops around in a big circle, making it seem long, but also allows for a gentle upward slope.

The bridge was really lovely and was being used by many joggers, cyclists, and families out for strolls, even on a weekday. Folks of all ages sat on well placed benches, taking in the view and enjoying the steady cool breeze.

Dave really loves barges. He is consistently struck by how absurdly dwarfed a tug boat is by its cargo. Dave was delighted to take a series of photos as this barge passed directly under our feet and the Big 4 Bridge. 

It is amazing that such a small boat can push such massive and heavy quantities of cargo upriver. 

The barge pushed onward towards downtown Louisville. 

Louisville was unexpectedly bustling with commerce, construction, industry, and activity. The cranes in this photo were beginning the construction of yet another bridge spanning the Ohio River. 

The view of Waterfront Park from the Big 4 Bridge was great. It is always nice to see a city with green space. It makes the whole city feel alive and healthy. 

This is the current vehicle bridge across the Ohio. When the second bridge is built, each one will be only one direction of traffic. 

The view of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Unfortunately, you can't walk to the Indiana side yet from the bridge, but the ramp is slated to be open in November of this year. 

We are so glad the city turned the Big Four bridge into a recreation area for the public. It is always wonderful to see landmarks preserved and protected for future generations to enjoy. Way to go Louisville!

Grab Our Button

The Happy Nomads Button
Powered by Blogger.