Friday, December 7, 2018

Vieux Port Marseille France

Northern Bank of the Vieux Port

Eastern Bank of the Vieux Port

Fort Saint-Jean at the entrance to the Vieux Port

Northern Bank of the Vieux Port

Museum of the Roman Docks

La maison Diamantée (ancien hôtel de Saboulin Bollena) Photos taken February & March 2017

Click here for more photos of Marseille.

The Vieux (Old) Port is the visual centerpiece of Marseille, a grand & captivating sight. The most striking feature its almost complete enclosure by the beautiful City of Marseille. It is certainly the main tourist attraction & center of tourist activity. Marseille was founded as a trading port in 600 BC by Greeks from Phocaea. You may see references to the Phocaeans around the city.  They set up a trading post in the hills on the northern bank. Marseille lies in a sheltered depression surrounded by hills. The Vieux Port is a natural harbor similar to many of the inlets along the rocky coastline of the northeastern Mediterranean. 

During Antiquity & the Middles Ages, the Greek, Roman & Medieval city expanded on the northern bank of the Vieux Port.  Growth to the south began in the 17th century.  The Old Port remained the center of maritime activity in Marseille until the 19th century. Between the 15th & 17th centuries, quays were constructed under Louis XII & Louis XIII.  Following a revolt against their governor by the citizens of Marseille, Louis XIV built the forts of St Jean & St Nicolas at the entrance to the Vieux Port.

Axis powers bombed the Port of Marseille in 1940 during World War II.  German forces occupied the Vieux Port from 1942 to 1944. The Vieux Port was a busy center for the French Resistance. In an effort to thwart the resistance, the Germans demolished much of the old quarter (Le Panier). German mines in the Vieux Port created more damage in 1944. After the war, huge reparations were provided by Germany & Italy to compensate for those killed or left homeless by the destruction.

Reconstruction of Le Panier began in 1948.  The medieval plan was retained, streets were rebuilt in place & some houses were rebuilt on the original foundations.  Le Panier is a major tourist site at the Vieux Port.  There is also a quay with ferries to the Iles Frioul, which lie just outside the Vieux Port.  Most interesting to me were the MuCEM (Musée des Civilisations de l'Europe et de la Méditerranée) & the Museum of the Roman Docks (Musée des docks romains).

Friday, November 16, 2018

Vieux Nice France

Photos taken in February 2017

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Vieux Nice is the antique heart of Nice France.  It is also called the Vieille Ville, or Old City.  Vieux Nice was an expansion of the village on the hill above, beginning sometime during the Middle Ages.  The map below shows that Vieux Nice had developed significantly by 1624.

I thought Vieux Nice was charming.  It had a theme park atmosphere, with buildings recently painted in rich shades of pink, yellow & orange, as though the city had passed out paint chips.  The streetscape was very appealing to me.  The narrow houses, the street plan that does not conform to a modern grid & the narrow streets that can barely accommodate a car, all create a fantasy landscape that people find intriguingly alien.  How nice it would be, if this were adapted for use in modern cities, a respite from too many cars taking too much space.  I'm thankful places like this still exist & hopeful that similar places may be built now & in the future.  Compare this with other old cities that evolved centuries ago & more modern urban landscapes.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Place Garibaldi Nice France

Statue of Garibaldi

Photos taken in February 2017

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Place Garibaldi is a beautiful, lively & venerable public space in Nice France. Located near the port, it was first conceived as an extension of Vieux Nice (the old city) in the late 18th century.  Work began in 1773.  Antonio Spinelli was chosen to create the design in 1780.  He modeled Place Garibaldi on the great squares of Turin.  Place Garibaldi soon became the terminus of the new road that connected Nice to Turin, the capital of Savoy, which then included Nice. The Royal Route of Turin is now the Rue de la Republique.  The square was primarily created to improve the movement of goods between the city, the port & the hinterlands. After a series of other names, it became Place Garibaldi in 1870. Giuseppe Garibaldi, an Italian general & politician who played a major role in the unification of Italy (the Risorgimento), was born in Nice.  His statue was erected at Place Garibaldi in 1891. The square was also planted at that time with trees for beautification.  Unfortunately, but probably inevitably during the 20th century, priority was given to automobile traffic & Garibaldi Square became a transportation hub with parking in its open spaces. Public space was limited to walkways under the porticoes. Commercial activity declined.  As part of the Nice's downtown renewal policies of the 2000s, the creation of a tramway line crossing the square reduced the influence of automobiles. New plantings & open spaces occupy areas previously dedicated to parking or traffic. As a result, Place Garibaldi has gained renewed vitality & importance in the urban landscape of Nice.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Longwood Gardens

Near the Flower Garden Walk

The large lake

The meadow, perhaps the most beautiful sight at Longwood

The du Pont home

One part of the vast conservatory.  These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of Longwood Gardens.

I had heard that Longwood Gardens was one of the most outstanding gardens in America.  That notion just led me to be disappointed.  It was nice.  But I didn't think it was all that great.  It covers a large area, over 1,000 acres.  Much of that is meadow & forest.  In April, the main cultivated garden attraction, the Flower Garden Walk & adjacent gardens, had planting beds filled with common bulbs; pretty but dull.  Although there are plant collections, it's certainly not a botanic garden like those in New York City, San Francisco or Los Angeles.  The Italian Water Garden & the Topiary Garden are just plain ugly.  However, the conservatory is amazing, one of the best I've seen.  The garden is located outside Philadelphia in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Pierre S du Pont, a wealthy industrialist, purchased this land in 1906 & called it Longwood. He laid out the Flower Garden Walk in 1907.  The conservatory was completed in 1921 & opened to the public. After du Pont’s death in 1954, Longwood Gardens was run by garden directors, the gardens were expanded & the entire estate was opened to the public.  In the 1970s, the famous landscape architect Thomas Church helped Longwood Gardens with long-range planning & garden improvement. He designed the Theatre Garden, Wisteria Garden & the Peony Garden.  I've always found Church's work to be a bit bland, like Longwood Gardens itself.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Bartram's Garden

The Bartram home

The Schuylkill River with Philadelphia skyscrapers in the distance

A cider press carved into stone by the bank of the river

Original buildings from the Bartram farm. These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of Bartram's Garden.

Bartram's Garden is a picturesque & historic site on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia PA.  The original buildings are beautiful, very nicely maintained & restored.  The garden is not in great shape.  It's more of a wilderness, which has its charm along a river that has been heavily industrialized.  Large tanks line the opposite shore.  Within the garden, all is peaceful & green.  There are several venerable trees planted by the Bartrams in centuries past. Franklinia alatamaha (Franklin Tree) was discovered by John and William Bartram in 1765 along the Altamaha River in southern Georgia.  (I don't know why the spelling differs.)  William Bartram brought seeds back to the garden in 1777 & named the plant Franklinia in honor of Benjamin Franklin. All Franklinia are descended from those grown by the Bartrams.  The plant is believed extinct in the wild.  A male Ginkgo biloba (Maidenhair Tree) is the oldest in North America. It was one of three original Ginkgo sent to the US from London in 1785. Quercus x heterophylla was first discovered by John Bartram & is now called the Bartram Oak. It is a rare, naturally occurring hybrid of Quercus rubra (Northern Red Oak) & Quercus phellos (Willow Oak). I have to admit that I was a bit alarmed by the seedy surrounding neighborhood & also disappointed by the neglected state of the garden.  But I'm glad I saw it.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Mount Baker Station

Hosta & other plants fill this long planting bed.

Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts

 Mount Baker Station with plaza on Rainier Avenue S

Elevator, escalator & stairs. Photos were taken in June 2016.

The Mount Baker Station is not exactly in the Mount Baker neighborhood, but right next to it, with a view of Franklin High School, a Mount Baker landmark building.  It is located on Rainier Avenue S & Cheasty Boulevard S near the intersection with Martin Luther King Jr Way S.  It opened in 2009 after 4 years of construction.  It covers 30,000 square feet & is more than 400 feet long.  This structure is elevated 35 feet above an open plaza & access to the platform provided by stairs, escalators & elevators.  The light rail line enters the Beacon Hill Tunnel very near the station.  The properties next to the station have mostly not been developed.  The one prominent new building next to the station is Artspace Mt. Baker Lofts, whose ground floor retail spaces wrap around the building.  If each new building were to open retail spaces facing the station, the plaza could be quite a lively place.  At present, it is surrounded mostly by empty space & parking lot.  The landscaping at the station is better than usual for a public space.  I particularly like the long bed of Liquidambar styraciflua (Sweetgum), Hosta, Hydrangea anomala & a few other plants that runs behind the station.  The plaza in front of the station has few trees & much pavement.  Beneath the station there is a display of information about the Olmsted Legacy in Seattle.  Mount Baker Boulevard S & Cheasty Boulevard S were designed by the Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm.

Friday, July 6, 2018

United States Botanic Garden

The fountain has a beautiful pattern of stone. A garden of regional plants is beyond.

The pond has a natural appearance.

The National Museum of the American Indian is in the background.

Government buildings surround the garden.

The conservatory is filled with tropical & desert plants. These photos were taken in April 2016.

Click here for more photos of the United States Botanic Garden.

The United States Botanic Garden is located in Washington DC very near the US Capitol Building at the foot of Capitol Hill.  As far as botanic gardens go, it is not very large.  A significant part of the garden is the conservatory, which has an impressive collection of plants from around the world.  Though rather small, the garden itself is quite lovely.  It has a nice pond, a beautiful fountain & impressive views of the surrounding buildings, particularly the National Museum of the American Indian just across the street.  First proposed in 1816, a national botanic garden was established on the National Mall in 1820.  That garden languished, but reopened in a new location in 1850.  The National Botanic Garden moved to its present location in 1933.  A series of conservatories have been prominent for more than 150 years.  The current conservatory was constructed in 1933.  The National Garden, which covers 3 acres outside the conservatory, was opened in 2006.  It includes a regional garden of plants native to the Mid-Atlantic.  Bartholdi Park is also part of the National Botanic Garden.  It was created in 1932 & renamed in 1985 after Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, sculptor of the fountain at its center.  Bartholdi Park was closed for renovation when I was there in 2016, but that was completed in 2017.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Marion Street Plaza

These photos were taken in June 2016.

Marion Street Plaza is an odd little space on Broadway Avenue at Marion Street.  It was once a triangular island also bounded by Boylston Avenue.  But that was all resurfaced, including Boylston, which was closed to traffic between Marion & Broadway.  And it became a plaza with very low planter beds that run in parallel strips across the pavement.  The planters are edged in rusted steel, with some edges faced in blue.  The beds are filled with an eclectic array of perennials & very low shrubs, which appear to be randomly placed.  It's quirky & arresting in its deviation from normal landscaping of any kind.  The plaza also has benches & serves as a stop for Bus Route 9 & the First Hill Streetcar.  This is where you would get off, if you planned to visit Swedish Medical Center or Seattle University.  The streetcar is quite fun to ride from International District/Chinatown Station to Capitol Hill Station, because of the many things you can see along the way & the charm of the streetcar itself.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Enid A Haupt Garden

Boxwood fleur-de-lis in a Victorian-inspired parterre

The Smithsonian Castle in 2 photos above.

Smithsonian Arts & Industries Building

Statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird.  These photos were taken in April 2016.

The Enid A Haupt Garden is located among the oldest of the Smithsonian museums at the National Mall in Washington DC. It is an eye-catching & varied array of planting beds, shrubs, trees & plants in pots. There are paving, decorative urns, a pool & a statue of Spencer Fullerton Baird.  Baird was the first curator named at the Smithsonian Institution & later became its second secretary. There are lots of benches here. This is the perfect place to rest when walking around or near the National Mall. The garden covers 4.2 acres adjacent to the Smithsonian Castle. It was designed as a modern version of  an American Victorian garden.  The garden opened in 1987, replacing the existing Victorian Garden which had been built for the Bicentennial.  Enid A. Haupt provided $3 million for its construction & maintenance.