Saturday, 29 April 2017

Asheville, North Carolina: A Marriage of Baseball & Tourism

Asheville, North Carolina was "the vacation destination for northerners and southerners alike". Tourism wasn't the only attraction the city held.  The nation's national pastime was about to be revived in the city with the arrival of the Asheville Skylanders in 1924.  Tourism and baseball joined together when the team was renamed the Asheville Tourists.  The city also brought in those afflicted with disease when tubercular installations were added.  The grandson of hotel owner Edwin Grove said that in 1905, Asheville was almost like a "leper colony".  As Grove began construction on his inn in 1913, he bought several tubercular sanitariums and burned them down.  However, others remained open, the last closing in 1930.

City planner Nolen believed that Nature should lead the way.  In 1922, he proposed a circle of parks around Asheville, including a park on Beaucatcher Mountain overlooking to the city.  Nolen's forward thinking plan also suggested a subway between Park Square and West Asheville.  He pointed out a practical site for the city's.  He sketched out major transportation routes keeping in mind that the plan could take decades to implement.  The Great Depression did put a thorn in the side of Nolen's plans.

Today, the Asheville Tourists still play at McCormick Field, built in 1924.  two of Nolen's lasting legacies are  Lakeview Park and Beaucatcher Park, two sites where modern day tourists can stroll just as their counterparts did a century ago.



Viewing Fall Colors at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Beaux Arts in Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston, South Carolina was hit hard by the Civil War.  But in the ensuing years, it experienced a Renaissance.  The city saw a rebirth of literature, art and architecture.  The Beaux Arts architecture, popularized by the City Beautiful Movement, made its mark on the former Confederate city.  











Gibbes Museum of ARt courtesy https://carolinaartsnews.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/gibbes-museum-of-art-in-charleston-sc-presents-gibbes-on-the-street-may-7-2015/ 



Related image


Tuesday, 25 April 2017

San Antonio River: From Dirty, Muddy Eyesore to Beautiful Riverwalk

"When I first found out I was going to San Antonio my friend told me there are two things worth seeing:  the Alamo and the Riverwalk."







In the early 1900's, the San Antonio River was a "dirty, muddy eyesore".  In 1921, the city suffered a massive flood which resulted in nine feet of water on Houston Street and 50 deaths.  The tragedy provided the impetus to clean up the river and the riverbank.  In 1937, the Texas Legislature created the San Antonio Conservation Society which in turn hired architect Robert H. H. Hugman to design a Riverwalk.  Completed in 1941, the San Antonio Riverwalk included walkways, stairways to street level, a footbridge, rock walls lining the banks, the Arneson River Theater and the restoration of La Villita. The Riverwalk was later expanded to stretch from Brackenridge Park to Mission Espada (https://www.thesanantonioriverwalk.com/history/history-of-the-river-walk).




sanantonio-riverwalk1


Monday, 24 April 2017

St. Louis World's Fair a Sort of Renaissance

"For Reedy,the World's Fair was more than just an event.  It was to be the beginning of a St. Louis Renaissance." 






St. Louis Mirror editor William Marion Reedy published a scathing report, "What's Wrong with St. Louis?", condemning the lack of civic pride in St. Louis at the turn of the last century.  He challenged its citizens to host a World's Fair, to seize the opportunity to improve the appearance of their city.  Reedy hoped that such a fair would draw attention to St. Louis.  "The country at large is familiar with men and events in Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco, but St. Louis might as well not be on the map..."  Reedy pointed out that St. Louis lacked a well defined character.  Chicago had its architecture; Boston had Beacon Hill; Philadelphia had Independence Hall; San Francisco had its trolleys.  But St. Louis -- "Mention of its name calls up no mental picture."  Reedy had set the stage for the city of St. Louis to come out from under its shadow.  

Citizens of St. Louis were up for the challenge.  In the years preceding the Exposition, the city contributed $5 million for the Fair, while private donors contributed an additional $5 million.  Fair organizers visited the White House in 1899 and secured a promise from President William McKinley to promote their endeavour.  "Expositions are the time keepers of progress.  They record the world's advancement.  They stimulate the energy, enterprise and intellect of the people; and quicken human genius.  They go into the home.  The broaden and brighten the daily life of the people.  They open mighty storehouses of information to the student." (President McKinley, 1901 World's Fair)

The Louisiana State Exposition, held in 1904, would host the world.  Almost 20 million visitors came through its gate in its seven month duration.  It comprised an area of 1270 acres.  Sixty three countries displayed exhibits.  A total of 1500 buildings were open to visitors connected by 75 miles of roads and walkways.  Scientific inventions at the Exposition included infant incubators, x-ray machines and an early wireless telephone.  New products for sale included ice cream cones, cotton candy and Dr. Pepper.

The Exposition left its mark on St. Louis.  It put the city on the map.  The Palace of Fine Arts is now St. Louis' Art Museum.  The Fair inspired the song "Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis" sung by Judy garland in the 1944 movie "Meet Me in St. Louis".


Louisiana Purchase Exposition St. Louis 1904.jpg


Sunday, 23 April 2017

Dealey Plaza Named After Humble Dallas Newspaperman


<p><span style="font-size: 1em; background-color: transparent;">The statue of George Bannerman Dealey, who pioneered The Dallas Morning News, keeps watch over Dealey Plaza. The park was originally envisioned as a grand entrance to downtown Dallas. (Tom Fox/Staff Photographer)</span></p>Staff Photographer



George Bannerman Dealey, a Dallas businessman who founded The Dallas Morning News, was concerned about his "dirty city".  In 1899, he made it his priority to clean up the city.  He started small by placing Dallas' first garbage can outside the editorial offices at Commerce and Lamar Streets.  He formed a committee to look into the beautification of the city.   He recruited landscape architect George Kessler to redesign the city.  Kessler's city plan, laid out in 1909, resulted in Union Station, White Rock Lake Park, North Central Expressway and Turtle Creek Boulevard.  Industrial Boulevard was built to connect the viaducts.  "The stage was set for the birth of Dealey Plaza." (https://www.dallasnews.com/news/downtown-dallas/2013/04/06/history-was-made-at-dealey-plaza-long-before-the-jfk-assassination)

Although the land for the plaza was purchased during the Great Depression, Dallas was experiencing an economic upswing thanks to the East Texas Oil Boom.  Dealey Plaza would serve as a formal entrance to downtown Dallas, showing off its wealth and opulence.  The suggestion to name the Plaza after George Dealey was well received by his son, Ted.  However, Dealey himself did not like the idea, preferring to live outside the spotlight.









The Dallas newspaperman would rise everyday to a breakfast of one egg, one piece of toast and one cup of coffee, followed by a 20 minute horseback ride along Turtle Creek.  Teetotaler Dealey even insisted that a formal dinner for President Taft include Apollinaris spring water rather than liquor.  He founded the Children's Hospital and the city's first welfare organization, the type of man to focus on the needs of others rather than himself.   While other publishers such as William Randolph Hearst sought political office, Dealey restricted his views to his newspaper.  As one biographer explained:  "To suggest power was enough for Dealey."





It was only at his son's insistence that Dealey agreed to give the park his name.  Dealey Plaza, completed in 1936, featured pergolas and fountains and a statue of its namesake, not erected until three years after his death in 1949.  For years the area, rather than being known as Dealey Plaza, was called the Triple Underpass.  While at first a portal to downtown, with the building of freeways around the downtown, fewer motorists were passing by the Plaza.  By 1963, Dealey's Plaza most distinct feature was the Hertz billboard atop the Texas School Book Depository, a building that was about to achieve immortality.



Crowd waits for JFK's motorcade on Nov. 22, 1963 courtesy 
                                       https://faustuscrow.wordpress.com/tag/time-control/.

It was on November 22, 1963 that shots were fired only two stories below the Hertz billboard, shots that would kill President John F. Kennedy en route in a motorcade, shots that would leave the world in shock. (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2011/11/welcome-to-dallas-mr-kennedy.html).  The very next morning, Dealey Plaza became the site of flowers, cards and memorials given to the slain president.

A debate soon got underway as to whether or not the Texas Book Depository should be torn down.  City commissioners, who purchased the building in 1976, guaranteed its preservation.  It was George Dealey's grandson, Joe M. Dealey, who pushed for the sixth floor museum in the Depository, the location of Lee Harvey Oswald at the time of the shooting.  The museum, which opened in 1989, attracts 300,000 visitors a year.





Yet the assassination still haunted Dealey's descendants.  "It pained Joe [Dealey] and Jimmy [Moroney Jr.] and my father and their siblings and cousins that this happened in a place named after a man they respected and loved."  Another descendant, Robert Decherd, was concerned to see how Dealey Plaza deteriorated in the years following JFK's assassination.  With people hawking their wares, it took on a carnival like atmosphere, not at all the intention of the park's creator.

Olivers Stone's movie JFK, filmed in Dealey Plaza in 1991, rekindled interest in the area.  People would walk along the grassy knoll where spectators once fell to the ground when shots rang out in 1963.  However, the parade of tourists helped to fray the park's landscaping which was already in a state of disrepair.





With the approaching of the 50th anniversary of JFK's assassination, concern grew about the state of Dealey Plaza.  Judith Segura, President of the Belo Foundation, fundraised $1.6 million to upgrade the Plaza, half from the city and half from private donations (mostly Dealey descendants).  The Plaza's lawns, shrubbery, fountains and pergolas, would be restored to their former glory.  As Segura explained:  "If the attention of the world is once again to be focussed on Dealey Plaza, the park should look its best."

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Kansas City's The Paseo Modelled After Paseo de la Reforma

"Kessler's imprint on Kansas City is unmistakable..." (William S. Worley)



Kessler, a German immigrant, and brothers Wright were instrumental in planning Kansas City in the early 1900's.  Influenced by the Chicago World's Fair of 1893, the team worked on the planning for the St. Louis Fair of 1904.  They tried to incorporate the grand boulevards and sprawling parks of both fairs in their planning of Kansas City.  Among the dozens of projects under construction during the collaboration of Kessler and the Wright brothers were:  Admiral Boulevard, Karnes Boulevard and Harrison Boulevard as well as Grove Park, Spring Valley Park, Parade Park and The Paseo (https://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/1997autumn_worley.pdf).





The Paseo, named after The Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City, is a 19 mile avenue in the heart of Kansas City, punctuated by a series of parks.  One intersection features the Public Bath House, reminiscent of Roman times. 





A Spanish Cannon sits at 12th Street.  The Meyer Monument, honouring the parks commissioner who had a hand in its planning, sits at 10th Street.  







The Pergola, an archway in a garden consisting of a framework to allow for vines to grow, was a highlight of the Paseo.  






The Sunken Garden, sitting at 12th Street, is surrounded by the Paseo Terrace. 






The Paseo Pool used to attract area children.  The 9th Street Fountain is now called The Women's Leadership Fountain.  The Paseo Spanish Cannon is in keeping with the park's name.









Friday, 21 April 2017

Forgotten Buffalo: A City of Untold Beauty

"Buffalo is home ot some of the greatest architecture of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, with major architects like Henry Hobson Richardson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright building marvels here.  Together they shaped one of the grandest early visions of the democratic American city." (Nicolai Ouroussoff)



Ellicott Square Building courtesy https://www.pinterest.com/pin/243475923576376759/.


Buffalo was built by architects who dared to break with the European architecture and create a new American architecture "rooted in American ideals of individualism, commerce and social mobility".  The city began to grow with the opening of the Erie Canal, paving the way for trade with the West.  By the end of the 19th Century, Buffalo was known for its grain silos and steel mills.  Enter Daniel Burnham and the City Beautiful Movement.






Daniel Burnham designed the Ellicott Square Building in 1896, with an Italian Renaissance facade.  A block away is Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building built a year earlier, decorated in floral terra cotta tiles.  At the other end of town, Henry Hobson Richardson designed the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane (1870), featuring two soaring Romanesque towers and tall windows.  Frank Lloyd Wright swayed the most from the traditional European architecture with his designs, the Larkin Building (1904) and Darwin Martin House (1905).  Wright invented floor to ceiling glass doors and double window panes.  "The light filled atrium piercing its five floors...turned traditional office hierarchy on its head".  But no blog about historic Buffalo is complete without the wedding cake city hall.  Built in 1932, the 32-story art deco building was designed by John J. Wade and Andrew Jackson Warner.

Source:  http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/16/arts/design/16ouro.html





















Thursday, 20 April 2017

World War I Memorial Unveiled in Ottawa





Prime Minister McKenzie King had a vision for Ottawa.  He wanted it to look more like another capital city, Washington DC, with its grand boulevards, beautiful parks, massive monuments and Beaux Arts architecture.  In 1937, he hired Jacques Greber to redesign the city.  A gaping hole had formed in Ottawa's downtown after the Russell fires (1928) and the demolition of the old City Hall (1931).  Greber thought the war monument would be the perfect object to fill the hole.  The post office and Knox Church were also torn down, making even more room for the massive monument.

In 1925, a competition was held to determine who would design the monument.  The following year, Englishman Vernon March's entry "The Great Response of Canada" was selected as the winner. Vernon started sculpting the figures but passed away in 1930.  His six brothers and one sister completed his sculpture, displaying it in Hyde Park for six months in 1933.  A contract was awarded to Cape and Company to build the granite pedestal for the sculpture, completed in 1938.  Jacques Greber was hired to oversee the design of the walkways and terraces surrounding the sculpture.

The First World War Memorial was officially unveiled by King George VI on May 21, 1939, part of the Royal Visit to drum up support for the brewing war in Europe.  One hundred thousand spectators gathered to hear King George's speech.

"The memorial speaks to her world of Canada's heart...It has been well named 'The Response'.  One sees at a glance the answer made by Canada when the world's peace was broken and freedom threatened in the years of the Great War.  It depicts the zeal with which this country entered the conflict."


Image 3

Twenty-two uniformed servicemen and women from 11 branches of the Canadian Armed Forces courtesy http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canada/national.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Winnipeg: Build it and They Will Come

"Nothing -- neither people, nor goods, nor chattels -- moved into or out of prairie Canada save through Winnipeg and the tolls levied by Winnipeg business, industry, commerce and labour sparked the Winnipeg boom." (Alan Artibise)







In a twenty four hour period, 3,500 people stepped off a train in Winnipeg.  While they were disappointed at the freezing temperatures and the endless prairie grasses, they were thrilled to acquire free land from the government of Canada.  How could they say no?"  They were excited about the potential that Winnipeg, a city at the intersection of two rivers, offered them.  In 1911 alone, 10,715 building permits were issued in the boomtown on the prairies.  The practice was to build a foundation capable of fitting two or three more storeys with the expectation of expanding in the near future.  
While California had its gold, Winnipeg had its wheat.  The city became the central distribution centre for wheat.  The projection was that 4.5 million people would flock to Winnipeg by 1984. Winnipeggers adopted the motto:  "Build it and they will come."

A master plan which followed the City Beautiful Movement was drawn up in the early 1900's.  It included Broadway, Western Canada's first boulevard.  The vision included stately mansions, tree-lined streets and water fountains all the way from the Legislative Building to the Fort Garry Hotel.  The Mall of Triumph was to include a palatial city hall (never built) on what is now Memorial Boulevard.  Patterned after Buckingham Palace the city hall would have been a six storey granite structure at the cost of $2.4 million (1913 dollars).




Winnipeg's "Gingerbread City Hall", built in 1866, had an Eastern European flavour about it, perhaps foreshadowing the immigrants that arrived in the city only shortly thereafter courtesy http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/city-beautiful/City-Beautiful---Part-2-Coming-of-Age-274913411.html.

Queen Victoria's son, Prince Arthur, warned the city planners not to be short sighted in their vision.  "The city is ever on the move.  Where you have shot prairie chickens your sons will transact business.  Where your fathers fought against Indians we are standing this morning...so you must look to it that your improvements keep pace with the growth of the city..."

With the majestic architecture came a call for places to improve health and promote recreation.  Assiniboine Park, Grandma Elm and Shoal Lake Aqueduct replaced the frontier-town elements of "saloons, prostitutes and rivers of flowing beer".  

Winnipeg was on the move.  Who could have forecast the Stock Exchange Collapse of 1929 or the subsequent drop in stock prices?  Winnipeg's beloved wheat went from $1.60 a bushel to $0.29 in 1932.  A city that, only a few decades before, saw immigrants arriving by the thousands now could not even feed its native citizens.  The Dust Bowl of the 1930's further complicated Winnipeg's plight. The projection of 4.5 million people would not become reality.  Today, the city has about 700,000.




Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Hamilton's Depression Era Rock Quarry Became Rock Garden

'Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardens puts nature's beauty on display, but it isn't a park system.  It teaches but it isn't a school.  It protects and preserves forest and marsh but it isn't a conservation authority.  It collects and propagates botanical knowledge and plant life, but it is not a library, museum or laboratory.  It is all those things and more than their sum." (Dr. Leslie Laking)






Patterned after Kew Gardens in England, Hamilton's Royal Botanical Gardens were the inspiration of conservationist Thomas Baker McQuesten.  The Gardens, consisting of 400 acres of displays, not only benefit the thousands of tourists and locals who visit each year, but also protect the 2300 acres of "environmentally sensitive lands and diverse ecosystems that connect that Niagara Escarpment to Lake Ontario" (https://www.rbg.ca/rbghistory).

In 1932, depression-era Hamilton was looking for a make work project to employ unemployed workers. They came upon an abandonned rock quarry which had supplied much of the building materials for Hamilton. Ten thousand tons of limestone from the Niagara Escarpment were shipped in to shore up the walls of the bowl shaped quarry. One hundred thousand tulips and daffodil bulbs were planted.  And a garden bloomed.  The bowl shaped rock garden is considered by many to be the birthplace of the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Today, the Royal Botanical Gardens serves as a gateway to the cities of Hamilton and Burlington. A total of 100,000 tulips and daffodils, planted in the fall, bloom there every spring.  Royal Botanical Gardens boasts 2,411 species of plants, 277 species of birds and 37 species of mammals.  Brides and grooms, for a fee, take their photos at the Gardens.

In 2016, the Royal Botanical Gardens received a face lift.  Five hundred tons of new limestone were carted in from Wiarton, Ontario.  A new generation of Hamiltonians can enjoy an old garden in re-bloom (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/industry-news/property-report/in-hamilton-a-depression-era-garden-reblooms/article29752303/).




Monday, 17 April 2017

Mont Royal Park Designed by Central Park Architect


View of Montreal, Quebec from Mont Royal Park courtesy 



Mont Royal is a dormant volcano that sits in the Montregian Hills, a chain running between the Appalachians and the Laurentians.  The hill consists of three peaks, Colline de la Croix, or Mont Royal, Colline d'Outremont, or Mount Murray and Westmount Summit.  The mountain was created when the North AMerican Plate moved westward over the New England area, along with the other mountains of the Montregian Hills, creating a volcanic complex active about 125 million years ago. The first European to scale Mont Royal, the explorer Jacques Cartier, named it after Francis I of France.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of New York City's Central Park, also mapped out Mont Royal Park in 1876.  He patterned the park's design after the mountainous topography:  shade trees at the bottom of the park resembled a valley; further up the trees became more sparse to make it look like the side of a mountain; a reservoir, planned for the top of the mountain was never built due to a depression.

The park features two belevederes, including Kondiaronk Belevedere, is a semi circular plaza with a chalet overlooking downtown Montreal.  Other highlights of the park include:


  • Beaver Lake
  • a sculpture garden
  • Smith House
  • an interpretive centre
  • toboggan runs
  • cross country trails
  • a gazebo (bandstand)
  • George-Etienne Cartier Monument
The forest has been damaged by both Mayor Drapeau's morality cuts (to prevent anyone from having sex in the bushes) and the Ice Storm of 1998.  The forest, which rises above Montreal, is particularly beautiful in autumn.

From 1885 to 1920, the Mont Royal Funicular Railway transported people to its peak; later Montreal's Number 11 streetcar took over the route.  A roadway now bisects the mountain named after former Mayor Camillien Houde who was jailed during the Second World War for his opposition to the war effort.




Sunday, 16 April 2017

Toronto's Boulevards of Broken Dreams

"If a 1929 plan had come to fruition, there'd be a lot more grandeur to downtown Toronto." 
(Kenneth Kidd)







It all started at Richmond Street and University Ave in Toronto back in 1929.  As part of the City Beautiful Movement, a plan was sketched out to make the intersection a roundabout, called Vimy Circle, with a towering memorial at the centre, a tribute to the Canadian heroes who took Vimy Ridge.  University Ave would have continued south to Front Street as Queen's Park Ave.  A new major street, Passchendaele Rd, named after another great Canadian victory, would head southwest from the circle to the existing Clarence Square at Spadina Ave near Front Street.  Another new street marking a World War I battle, Cambrai Ave, would have run north from Union Station exactly where the eastern addition to the Royal York sits.  Cambrai Ave would have cut through the present day Toronto Dominion Centre and Exchange Tower.  Halfway between King St. and Adelaide St., Cambrai Ave would have split into two, encircling an office tower and some greenery, until it joined together again south of Queen St.  It would have continued north to St. Julien Place, the battle where 18,000 Canadian soldiers first experienced poison gas.  It would be a magnificent park with statues and fountains and Osgoode Hall, the present day site of Nathan Phillips Square.  

Motivation was not so much to beautify the city of Toronto but to make it more accessible for the growing number of automobiles on the road.  The plan to make the Toronto;s downtown resemble the Champs Elysees in Paris, however, was interrupted by the Great Depression.  The only grand boulevard in the end would be University Ave.  The only monuments erected were the South African War Memorial, built already in 1909, and the Sir Adam Beck monument, created in 1934 on Queen St.  The only grand buildings would be Union Station, the Royal York Hotel and the Dominion Public Building.



Mathew Borrett's illustration of Vimy Circle, from Queen St. and University Ave. looking south, as it would look today.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Robert Speer's Denver Design Inspired by World's Fair


Denver Civic Center Park courtesy https://www.denver.org/listing/civic-center-park/6823/.


Mayor Robert Speer came to Denver as a tuberculosis patient in 1878.  While the city was thriving it was also ugly.  Speer visited the White City at Chicago's World Fair in 1893.  During Speer's three terms as mayor, 300 miles of streets were paved, sandstone sidewalks were installed along with granite curbs.  A 12000 seat auditorium, at the cost of $650,000, was opened where free Sunday concerts were held.  The auditorium hosted the 1908 Democratic National Convention.  In 1909. Denver Municipal Facts started publication announcing the newest improvements to the city.

Speer especially loved the parks system developped during his terms in office.  The parks were landscaped; benches, playgrounds, fountains and drinking fountains were installed, the latter part of the temperance movement.  Children were encouraged to play in the fountains and there were no Keep Off the Grass signs like in New York City's Central Park.

Speer patterned Denver's Civic Center after the Chicago World Fair's Court of Honor.  While the Civic Center became a seedy area by the 1940's, surrounded by bars and strip joints, it was cleaned up by the 1950's when the Denver Public Library and Denver Art Museum were built there.




Friday, 14 April 2017

Memphis, Tennessee: Nation's Cleanest City

The Memphis riverfront

Riverside Drive before picture courtesy http://memphiscitybeautiful.org/about-us/history.



The City Beautiful Commission, established in 1930, championed the cause of cleaning up Memphis, Tennessee.  In 1935, at the cost of nearly $1 million, the Riverside Drive Project got underway.  The City Beautiful Commission landscaped the bluffs with crepe myrtle, redbuds, magnolias, dogwoods and Paul Scarlet roses.  Memphis gained the title of the cleanest city in Tennessee from 1940 to 1946.  It also received the title of the nation's cleanest city from 1948 to 1951.



The Riverside Drive project in 1935.

Riverside Drive after picture courtesy http://memphiscitybeautiful.org/about-us/history.

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Kansas City Embraces Beaux Arts Architecture

"The City Beautiful Movement...transformed Kansas city from a sparse, dirt-road laden town to a thriving metropolis." (Joey Hill)



Kansas City Board of Trade Building opened in 1908 courtesy 




Educated in the art of city planning in Paris, Moscow, Germany and New York City, Kessler was hired to redesign the boomtown Kansas City in the early 1900's.  Kessler believed that people need "beautiful, natural scenery", his motivation behind the series of wide boulevards and public parks that he designed.


Penn Valley Park

Penn Valley Park courtesy http://www.kchistory.org.


Kansas City opened a new library in 1897, built at the cost of $200,000.  It housed not only books but also an art gallery and museum artifacts.  The Board of Trade Building opened its doors in 1908.  The Kansas City Museum is also built in the Beaux Arts style in 1910, is the former residence of Robert Alexander Long.  Union Station, a magnificent building constructed in 1914, saw train service peak in 1945 and decline in the 1950's.  While the train station shut down in 1985, it reopened a few years later as a museum.  One Beaux Arts Building which opened in 1923 is now The Sophian, renovated into modern condominiums.The Liberty Memorial, done in the Egyptian architecture style, opened in 1926.  



Kansas City Union Station under construction courtesy http://www.unionstation.org/timeline.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

San Francisco Center Heart of City Beautiful Movement





The City Beautiful Movement arrived in San Francisco in 1904 when former mayor James Duval Phelan invited Daniel Burnham to town.  Burnham the architect of the Chicago World's Fair White City, was a student of classicism and the Beaux Arts.  He recommended a Civic Center at the heart of the city with boulevards radiating from it.  A landscaped park would begin at the Civic Center and extend to the Golden Gate Park panhandle.  A neo-classic library would overlook the Pacific Ocean.

The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was a cloud with a silver lining.  Much of the city was destroyed but this now gave the city planners a blank canvas to work with.  The final say, however, would be up to the merchants.  The City Hall and the Exposition Auditorium were both completed in time for the Pan Pacific Exposition of 1915, an exhibit that Little House on the Prairie author Laura Ingalls Wilder visited and wrote about in West From Home.  The War Memorial Opera House, the War Memorial Veterans Building, the Main Library and the State and Old Federal Buildings were completed in the 1920's and 1930's.  A central park, or civic center, brought all of the buildings together.  A reflective pool, surrounded by columns of London Plane trees, was the focus of the park.  Two banks, the Savings Union Bank and the Wells Fargo Bank, reflect the Beaux Arts design.




Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Harrisburg Rebuilds Capitol, Thumbs Nose at Philadelphia

Harrisburg Capitol Building




The City Beautiful Movement, which started in Chicago with the World's Fair in 1893, spread to Washington DC, Boston, Cleveland and Philadelphia.  Smaller cities were not to be outdone.  When a fire consumed the Capitol in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, there was talk of moving the Capitol to Philadelphia.  However, the House of Representatives voted 103 to 75 to keep the Capitol. Concerned citizens, in the meantime, formed a city improvement committee.  Just as Chicago had risen from the ashes after the Great Fire of 1871, owing its reputation for great architecture from the subsequent rebuilding, so too could Harrisburg.

Conservationist Mira Lloyd Dock delivered a riveting speech, "The City Beautiful", to the Harrisburg Board in 1901.  Dock joined forces with Horace McFarland, president of the Civic Association, to promote the cause of civic improvement.  The same year, The City Telegraph printed a front page article pointing out Harrisburg's problems and highlighting Dock's message of beautification and recreation.  In February of 1901, the public voted to set aside $1.1 million for new buildings and city planning.

Harrisburg was bound and determined that they, not Philadelphia, deserved the title of state capital.  A contest was held to find an architect to build the new Capitol won by Joseph M. Huston.  Painters Violet Oakley and Edwin Austin Abbey along with sculptor George G. Barnard, were hired to decorate the building.  A Philadelphia newspaper called the new Capitol, built in 1906, "one of the most artistic monuments of the state".

The project  however was not without controversy.  Oakley's paintings, which highlighted that Pennsylvania was founded on religious freedom, offended some Roman Catholics.  The bas-relief heads on the Capitol doors, intended to represent the different men who lived in Pennsylvania, were mocked by political cartoonists.  The nude statues which arrived from France offended some Pennsylvanians and were covered up in 1911.

Nonetheless, the Times of Buffalo pointed out that it was the only Capitol to be completed within its estimates.  President Theodore Roosevelt presided over the official opening of the building on February 5, 1906.  Mary D. Fitzgerald called the new Capitol "perfectly wonderful, marvelously beautiful [and] a superb success."



8 final.tif





Monday, 10 April 2017

Boston 1915: The City That Is To Be

"Insisting that the city needed only to cultivate cooperation and wise planning in order to build a better world, the movement's optimistic leaders hoped the promise of this glimmering future could unite commercial tycoons and labor organizers, clergymen and politicians, Harvard professors and immigrant families." (https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/01/02/how-boston-dreamed-its-future-century-ago/28AZpbZkcrp8fgbS4PawpL/story.html)


The campaign, called Boston-1915, is little-remembered today, but it was a movement with great sweep and ambition. They launched publicity campaigns and publications, including a reform-minded magazine called New Boston, and began an assault on urban problems from almost every possible angle.

The New Boston magazine circa 1911 includes the "Boston 1915" plan to revitalize the city courtesy https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/01/02/how-boston-dreamed-its-future-century-ago/28AZpbZkcrp8fgbS4PawpL/picture.html?p1=Article_Gallery.




Boston was a city on the move.  From 1860 to 1910, its population had nearly doubled.  The establishment, previously run by old line Yankees, was being challenged by immigrants and working class families.  The gap between rich and poor widened as housing prices grew and living spaces shrunk.  The city feared that without major changes, it would lose its ranking as an enlightened, yet bustling, metropolis.



                                Leaders convened a committee on housing, which took aim at the private real estate market and the tenement owners who devoured workers’ wages, proposing strict building codes and better inspections.




Businessman Edward Filene and lawyer/journalist Louis Brandeis championed the Boston 1915 urban renewal project.  Forty years of unregulated capitalism had produced a city that was undesirable to live in.  The planners maintained that one could not separate the city's commercial and social elements and therefore devised a plan that would meet both needs.  Looking at the run down tenements in the city centre, they proposed strict building codes.  Another suggestion was for the city to "finance downtown subways and rural trolleys to connect good housing with good jobs".


                        


Rural trolleys connecting "good jobs with good housing" circa early 1900's courtesy https://www.bostonglobe.com/ideas/2015/01/02/boston-future-early-century/uMA0jiwmk1LKTu7BGTfdpL/story.html?pic=7.


There was a socialist, "cradle-to-the-grave" element to their rhetoric:  "We propose that it shall be possible for a willing worker earning an average wage to live, himself and his family, healthfully and comfortably; to bring up his children in good surroundings; to educate them so they may be truly useful, good citizens; and to lay aside enough to provide himself and his wife in their old age."




Jewish businessman and philanthropist Edward Filene believed in all Bostonians working together, commercial and government, Jews and Catholics, rich and poor, to make a better Boston courtesy http://archivesofthecentury.org/myportfolio/edward-filene/.



In 1909, a Copley Square exhibit gave the public images of what Boston 1915 would look like.  One exhibit served as a metaphor for civic cooperation:  one set of rotating discs spun disconnectedly, failing to move the hands of a clock; the other set worked together and successfully moved the clock forward.  Another exhibit featured "talking arc lights" while the "parks and playgrounds' exhibit included zoo, aquarium and freshwater garden.  A third displayed a regional transit systems connecting all corners of the city.


Insisting that the city needed only to cultivate cooperation and wise planning in order to build a better world, optimistic leaders behind the exhibit hoped the promise of this glimmering future could unite commercial tycoons and labor organizers, clergymen and politicians, Harvard professors, and immigrant families.



Mayor John Fitzgerald, the grandfather of President John F. Kennedy, stated:  "The time has gone by when our whole duty as citizens consisted of the casting of a ballot and the payment of a tax bill."  Filene, one of Boston's richest businessman, called for the Boston 1915 planners and the labour unions to work together in a common cause.  Brandeis, the journalist, created a new publication New Boston with the article "What a City Plan Could Do for Boston".  For more on John Fitzgerald, visit http://www.jphs.org/20thcentury/woodbourne-and-the-boston-1915-movement.html.



These issues have largely remained with Boston as 2015 begins. Increasingly we find ourselves in what historian Daniel Rodgers calls an “age of fracture,” as the glue of commonality dissolves and our shared future falls apart.