Posts Tagged ‘New York’

 

The Soup Bowl

07 Welcome to Washington DCLinda Burton posting from Washington, DC – I call it “DC.” When I lived in Seattle if you said “Washington” folks thought you were referring to the state; Washington DC is considered the “other Washington” there. But I’m on the east coast today, easing into “the District” from Maryland and headed for the US Capitol, an icing-on-the cake post-stop in the Journey Across America. The majestic dome loomed tall as I approached; I circled in confusion and landed a parking spot on the other side. The Washington Monument was a few blocks to my right, covered in scaffolding due to earthquake repair. I coaxed the cats to the window to 07 capitol aheadlook; then tied my red wool scarf tight around my head before stepping out into the wind. Not a day for sightseeing. But people were out; a Chinese chorus was performing across the street; cameras were in evidence in every hand. Washington, DC! What is so special about this place? Why do 19 million visitors come every year? It’s exciting, and vibrant, that’s why; a bubbling soup bowl brimming with a little bit of everything. The resident population is 601,723 (US Census 2010), but that jumps to a million throughout the workweek; commuters pour in from the suburbs of Maryland and Virginia. After all, the centers of all three branches of the federal government are 07 car and capitolhere – the Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court. Flags from all over the world fly here; count 176 foreign embassies. The headquarters of international organizations, trade unions, non-profits, and lobbying groups are here. There are more museums here than you could visit in a year; 19 within the Smithsonian alone. The architecture, park spaces, and memorials are stunning. You’ll find both inspiration and controversy here; it’s all in the soup. » read more

 
 
 

Swimming Upstream

05 Alex Jack sleepingLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – The cats are snoozing but I’m busy. Today I’m wrapping up 80% of the Journey Across America as we end our stay in the 40th capital city. For the last two months, I feel like I’ve been a salmon swimming upstream, going backwards in history. In Saint Paul, I learned about Pigs Eye Parrant and Lucien Galtier, two names that are part of the city’s beginnings. Pigs Eye moved west from Michigan; Father Galtier came from France by order of Rome and only stayed long enough to establish a church and push for the city name of Saint Paul instead of Pigs Eye. Remember them? In Madison, I learned about James Doty, who came from New York; he lived in Detroit before he bought the land that he platted into the city of Madison; then he 05 sailboats madisonworked for Wisconsin statehood. (Wisconsin is still miffed over the fact that a huge chunk of land to the north belongs to Michigan, even though it is not connected to Michigan, but is a part of Wisconsin’s geography.) From there I continued east to Michigan, and Lansing, (where that huge chunk of land is justified in the land divvy-up because “Ohio got the Toledo Strip, so we got the Upper Peninsula!”). Lansing was settled because in 1835 two slick-talkers scammed some folks in Lansing, New York, who then came and settled that part of Michigan and named their new city Lansing. Meanwhile, down in Ohio, 05 Schuyler houseColumbus was settled by miners and farmers and entrepreneurs coming in via the National Road from Maryland, and a lot of former New Yorkers. Now I’m in New York; here everybody talks about Henry Hudson; Dutch names such as Van Rensselaer and Schuyler are on every post; and events of the 1600s are common conversation. History is a long-running soap opera. And I love it! » read more

 
 
 

On Henry’s Behalf

29 hh hmLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – A lot of good things are discovered while somebody is looking for something else, like a passage to China. The Hudson River Valley is one such example. Now, the river was there eons before Englishman Henry Hudson sailed the Half Moon about as far north as where Albany sits today. That was 1609, when Henry was commissioned by the Dutch East India Company to find a way to get to Asia in a hurry, where they could trade for exotic spices. Henry wasn’t the first European to observe the river; in 1524 Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano (sailing for France) sailed all around the Upper Bay; he just didn’t go as far north as Henry did. And before Verrazano came along, the Iroquois, who lived along both banks of the lower portion of the river (now 29 half moonNew Jersey and Manhattan) had already named the river “Muhheakantuck” – translate that to “river that flows two ways.” Because the Hudson River is subject to the rise and fall of the tides; as far north as Albany there is a four-foot tide twice a day. The river comes out of Henderson Lake in the Adirondack Mountains and flows 315 miles south before emptying into Upper New York 29 hm wvBay. Its lower half is a tidal estuary; tidal water influences the flow as far north as Troy. I learned that today while sailing on the river myself, on a daily afternoon run of the Dutch Apple Cruises. The cruise started, appropriately enough, with a full-on description of the buildings of Albany alongside the river; with particular attention called to the 800-pound weathervane atop the SUNY headquarters. Hard to make out from a distance, but the narrator assured us it was an exact replica of Henry’s ship, the Half Moon. » read more

 
 
 

It’s Really, Really Old

27 fort orangeLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – Age denotes character. Isn’t that what you’ve always heard? If that’s true, then Albany has character aplenty, because Albany is old. Really, really old. It is the longest continuously chartered city in the United States, tracing back to July 22, 1686 when Governor Dongan issued a charter fixing boundaries, setting up a municipal government, naming the first officers, and establishing Albany as the sole market town in the upper Hudson River region. Mayor Pieter Schuyler took the oath of office July 26, 1686, and the rest, as 27 capitol poolthey say, is history. But the European history of the area goes back even further, to 1609, when a fellow by the name of Henry Hudson sailed a ship up the river that now bears his name. This led the Dutch to lay claim to the area; by 1624 the Dutch West India Company had built a trading post on the west bank of the river and named it Fort Orange. There were soldiers for protection, employees to conduct business, and farmers to provide food. By the 1640s a fur trading community had evolved north of the Fort; it took the name Beverwyck. Fast forward; the Fort became less profitable to the Company; there was a devastating Hudson River flood; New Netherland fell to the English. Beverwyck was renamed Albany in 27 cec pool1664, in honor of the Duke of Albany, who later became England’s King James II. The English built a new fort, and that brings us back to the Dongan Charter of 1686. Those are the bones of the Albany story; after a visit to the Empire State Plaza I’ll begin to flesh it out. That’s where the castle-like State Capitol and the sleekly modern Cultural Education Center do a face off, across shimmering pools. » read more

 
 
 

A Good Ride

25 blue ponchosLinda Burton posting from Albany, New York – Some days are more perfect than others. Today was one of my more perfect days as I drove from Buffalo to Albany. My shoes were still wet from yesterday. But who can complain, when your shoes are soaked by the roaring waters of Niagara Falls. The event is a watery blur in my mind and my pictures don’t help; they mostly show shiny blue ponchos, required clothing on a Maid of the Mist boat ride. I was wearing one myself, but it didn’t prevent the torrent of water that sloshed in over my shoes. Again, and again, and again. 25 thruway signChildren shrieked with laughter and mothers gasped as the boat pulled perilously close to American Falls, and then equally close to the Canadian side, and the even bigger Horseshoe Falls. I pulled the front of my poncho down to cover my non-waterproof cameras and blinked the water out of my eyes, unable to hear the narrator, just listening to the roar. And getting wet. Now, that was a good ride; one of those things in life everybody ought to do at least once. I was feeling pretty chipper as I loaded the car this morning in my squishy shoes under blue sky in 70 degree air, perfect. On the outskirts of Buffalo I entered the Toll Plaza 25 pembrokefor the I-90 Thruway and got my ticket for another good ride, straight through to Albany. The New York Thruway isn’t fancy and the pavement looks old, but there were no potholes, no construction cones, and few trucks. And best of all, every thirty miles there was a service plaza offering at least three restaurants in a food-court setting, fuel pumps, and information about New York. I stopped at the Pembroke Plaza first, coffee in mind. » read more

 
 
 

Talent Is

Linda Burton posting from Helena, Montana – “To have talent is no credit to its owner,” Charlie Russell said in 1925. “What man can’t help he should get neither credit nor blame for.” Charles Marion Russell (1864-1926) moved to Montana when he was sixteen, seeking the life of a cowboy. It wasn’t his talent, however; he was fired from his sheep-ranching job in just a few months. He followed Jake Hoover for a while, hunting and trapping; then hired on as a wrangler at a cattle ranch near Missoula. He was finally living the cowboy life, going on cattle drives; he continued this for seven years. He also spent a year with the Blackfoot Indians, learning their ceremonies, hunting methods, and tribal legends. He sketched and drew these things he experienced during a time of Montana’s vanishing frontier – the 1880’s and 1890’s. And Charlie Russell found his talent. He created more than 4,000 paintings, drawings, and sculptures in his lifetime, becoming one of the world’s best-known and most authentic western artists. Today his statue represents Montana in Statuary Hall in Washington, DC. As I read the story of this remarkable man, I see two significant marking points – in 1886 and in 1896 – when the talent he was so modest about began to be recognized. » read more

 
 
 

Marcus Whitman, Missionary Doctor

Linda Burton posting from Olympia, Washington – We saw a lot of faces today. Faces of capitol visitors like ourselves, and faces of history, in bronze statues and busts both inside and out, in renderings of the face of George Washington in the shining state seal and on banners furled from balconies, in portraits of former governors hanging on the wall of the Governors Office, and even on the magnificent Tiffany chandelier hanging in the rotunda. But at the end of the day one face and one story in particular stood out. We aimed for an on-the-hour tour – son Rick, grandkids Andrew and Kayla, and me – and arrived just as a bus-load of Japanese students on a summer study program came in. We began clicking cameras at the same time; the Tour Volunteer manning the front desk stepped up to sort us out for Japanese or English-speaking guides. Above the fray I spotted a hale and hearty looking figure; a statue in bronze who appeared to be looking across the room and beyond. I walked over and read the name inscribed across the bottom: Marcus Whitman. His story is one of good intent, with a tragic ending. Listen. » read more

 
 
 

An IPPY!

Linda Burton posting from Edmonds, Washington Fifty State Capitols has an IPPY now! I’m talking about the book, Fifty State Capitols, The Architecture of Representative Government, authored by Jim Stembridge and published by Coho Publishing. Jim stopped by yesterday on his way back to Salem from New York, where he accepted the award, and I got to meet his wife Joan, and the big black dog that helped him research the capitols, Ruth. I was glad to be able to congratulate Jim in person on such an accomplishment, and pleased that he brought me a copy of the newly bronze-stickered book. An IPPY! Jim’s book received the 2012 Bronze Medal in the Architecture category by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. It was an event that involved the best of independent published works internationally; just look at the photo of Jim accepting the award; blue ribbons around his neck and a big smile on his face. Something to be proud of! » read more