‘A+ City Posts’ Category


He Never Set Foot

15 columbus statueLinda Burton posting from Columbus, Ohio – A statue of Christopher Columbus nestles under the buckeye trees on the southwest corner of the Ohio Statehouse grounds. It isn’t quiet there; the statue faces busy High Street and a main stop for the COTA buses; to his left across State Street the marquee on the Ohio Theater flashes for events; a highrise hotel on the corner welcomes visitors to Columbus. But Chris looks peaceful enough, reflectively studying the globe in his hand. A few blocks away, in Battelle Riverfront Park, the Santa Maria floats gently on the Scioto 15 santa maria 2River. It’s a replica of course, open for public tours, and offering educational programs about life, and sailing, in Christopher Columbus times. Chris is a major presence in Columbus, Ohio, even though he never set foot anywhere remotely near. The “explorer’s mystique” surrounds his name; it has been chosen for cities and parks all over the world; his statues are everywhere too. The one on the Ohio Statehouse grounds isn’t a heavy-duty marble; it is crafted of hammered copper plates joined together with rivets and was created in the workshops of W H Mullins Company in Salem, Ohio in 15 columbus statue 31892, as the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage approached. Americans looked for ways to recognize what many felt was the beginning of the nation’s history; in Columbus Monsignor Joseph Jessings, founder of Pontifical College Josephenium, commissioned a statue and put it on the grounds of the Seminary. In 1932 the statue was given to the state, and has remained on the Statehouse grounds since. The base was added in 1992, the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage; it was rededicated on Columbus Day; presiding were the Mayors and Governors from Columbus, Ohio and Genoa, Liguria, the Italian city and state thought to be Columbus’ birthplace. » read more


Saturday’s Scene

29 aged cheddar wrappedLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – Cave Aged Bandaged Cheddar from Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin sells for twenty-five dollars a pound. I bought $8.50 worth; yes, I finally found that Wisconsin cheese I’ve been looking for. I discovered it at the Dane County Farmers’ Market last Saturday, on Capitol Square, right in the heart of downtown. I can state with almost a certainty that you’ve never been to a Farmers’ Market like this one; it claims to be the largest producers-only farmers’ market in the United States. And all those open-air tents against the background of the capitol make it without doubt the prettiest farmers’ market in the country. The DCFM has been happening since the 70’s; blue tents and white shelter as many as 300 vendors selling everything from cheeses and meats to vegetables and flowers. It happens every Saturday during the 29 fm postersummer from 6:30 AM to 2 PM; Wednesdays too, although the weekday market doesn’t draw as many vendors, or crowds. There are just a few strict Do’s and Don’ts – it always happens, regardless of weather, that’s a Do; and all items must be produced locally by the vendor. No resale is allowed, and no pets are allowed at the market. Any vendor you see waited a long time for an invite to sell at the DCFM; the average wait is five years. The best chefs want to buy at the market, and the 27 onionsbest producers want to sell there; DCFM producers regularly receive national and international recognition for the quality of their products. I could see that as I walked around the square; red torpedo onions shining like a work of art; bundles of garlic rowed up like pretty girls at a party; lemon scones plump with blueberries; fresh sweet corn. And award-winning cheese. » read more


Hmong Americans

17 mapLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota –Saint Paul’s population is 15% Asian, third highest Asian population in the list of capital cities. That’s according to the 2010 US Census, which also denotes specific ethnicity; it tells us that 260,073 people of Hmong descent live in the United States, with the largest Hmong American community right here in Saint Paul. The United States opened its doors to Hmong war refugees with the Refugee Assistance Act of 1975 following the communist takeover of Laos; more than 18,000 Hmong had died in support of US forces during the Vietnam conflict. By 1978 about 30,000 Hmong had immigrated; primarily men directly associated with the war efforts. When the Refugee Act of 1980 was passed, families 17 h american daywere permitted to come. Political controversy surrounded the remaining Hmong refugees after the 1980 immigration wave – should they be repatriated, allowed to immigrate, or left in the refugee camps in Thailand? Eventually tens of thousands of Thai-based Hmong refugees were granted US immigration rights, leading to highly emotional reunions of long-separated Hmong families. As of the 2010 US Census, the largest Hmong American populations were in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Michigan, with the Saint Paul metro area being home to the largest group. It is a strong and tightly woven community, as immigrants adapt to American culture while still maintaining their homeland 17 mcdonaldsroots. Organizations in Saint Paul that serve the Hmong community are the Hmong American Partnership, founded in 1990 to help Hmong refugees adjust to life in America; the Hmong Cultural Center, founded in 1992 to enhance cross-cultural awareness; and the Hmong Archives, founded in 1999 to collect and preserve Hmong heritage. And the Hmong Village on Johnson Boulevard is a favored destination for any resident of Saint Paul who loves papaya salad, or Pho. » read more


The Scoundrel And The Saint

11 pigs eye sketchLinda Burton posting from Saint Paul, Minnesota –Every city has both scoundrels and saints in its past, and Saint Paul is no exception. It may have a “saintly” name today, but it started out as Pig’s Eye. Sit back and listen to this tale of two men, and the legacy they left behind. The first character I introduce is Pierre Parrant, a French Canadian born near Sault Ste Marie, Michigan around 1777; he made his living as a fur trapper. He acquired the name “Pig’s Eye” when he became blind in one eye; he began to have troubles with the law when he started bootlegging. Pig’s Eye Parrant claims two distinctions – he was the first person of European descent to live in what became Saint Paul; and he operated the first business there. The second character I want you to meet is Lucien Galtier. He was born around 1811 in Saint Affrique, in the south of France. He became a Roman Catholic priest, and was sent to the 11 lucien galtierUnited States as a missionary at the time people were settling near Fort Snelling in Minnesota territory; he arrived at his new post in April 1840. The distinctions he claims are several – he was the first missionary in the area, he built the first churches in what are now the cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul, and he is responsible for the name of the city of Saint Paul. The church he began in Saint Paul now occupies its fourth building in the city; sitting atop Cathedral Hill and overlooking downtown, it is the third largest church in the United States and a National Shrine. The city of Saint Paul, beginning with the contributions of two men who tackled the wilderness in strikingly different ways, became capital of the state of Minnesota. » read more


Knee High By The 4th of July

01 cornfieldLinda Burton posting from Des Moines, Iowa – “Oh What A Beautiful Morning!” Remember that Rodgers & Hammerstein tune from Oklahoma? Driving through the Iowa countryside a few days ago, with early summer cornfields rolling across the hills to my right and to my left, I thought of a line from that song “….the corn is as high as an elephants eye….” Then I laughed, because the corn I saw was just beginning to get a grip on growing; it’s pretty darned early in the season here. “That corn is only knee high,” I thought. Later I learned that’s the catch-phrase of corn farmers: “We look for the corn to be knee high by the 4th of July,” I was told. That’s the 01 harvest barnassurance that everything is on track; “elephant’s eye” corn isn’t expected until late September; most harvesting happens in October and sometimes into November. Then there’s a lot of harvesting going on; in 2012 Iowa corn farmers grew almost 1.88 billion bushels of corn, on 13.7 million acres of land; 2013 projections indicate 2.45 billion bushels on 13.97 million acres. Iowa has produced the largest corn crop of any state for more than two decades; in an average year, Iowa produces more corn than most countries! And it’s been the dominant 01 pork logocrop in Iowa for more than 150 years. The reasons are simple – a growing season that is long enough and warm enough, ample rain, and deep, rich soil. Iowa also produces livestock whose waste includes nutrients that are key to fertilizing the fields for better corn production. According to Iowa Agriculture farm statistics, in 2012 there were 195,000 sheep and lambs on hand, 3.9 million cattle and calves, and 20 million hogs. And, by the way, Iowa is the number one pork producing state in the country too. » read more


Attracted To Des Moines

29 caucusesLinda Burton posting from Des Moines, Iowa – When you decide to run for President, where do you go first? Hint: Des Moines, Iowa. Iowa caucuses have been the first major electoral event in nominating the President of the United States since 1972; presidential candidates tend to set up headquarters in Des Moines early on. But politics isn’t the only reason people are attracted to Des Moines; it’s a major center for the insurance industry too; called the #1 spot for US insurance companies, and dubbed the third largest insurance capital of the world. Forbes magazine ranked Des Moines the Best Place for Business in 2010, and #1 in America’s Best Cities for Young Professionals in 2011. Do the names Principal Financial Group, Aviva Insurance, the Meredith Corporation, Ruan Transportation, EMC 29 fingersInsurance Company, and Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield ring a bell? They are headquartered in Des Moines. How did this up-and-going city get its start, and where did it get its name? Who got here first? The city was incorporated as Fort Des Moines September 21, 1851, so named because there was a fort here at one time. The word “Fort” was dropped in 1857 and it’s been Des Moines ever since; as for the fort, it was abandoned in 1846 but was the core from which the city grew. Its exact location was lost over time as flood deposits from the Des Moines 29 excavateRiver covered it over, but recently discovered remains are now being excavated. At Site 13PK61, the Office of the State Archaeologist is methodically unearthing foundations, fireplaces, tools, and food debris left by the fort’s occupants and the residents of the early town of Fort Des Moines, as well as earlier Indian people that may have lived in the area. Which brings me to the prehistoric villages. » read more


Digging Topeka

05 topeka nameLinda Burton posting from Topeka, Kansas – “It is novel, of Indian origin, and euphonious of sound.” Rev S Y Lum is purported to have said that about the word “Topeka” when he proposed it for the city’s name on January 1, 1855. He also claimed it was “a name not found in the list of post offices of the United States, nor in any lexicon of the English language.” Fry W Giles, one of the founders of Topeka, recorded that the founders liked the name – “since it is composed of three consonants 05 skyline 3alternating with three vowels, it is easy to pronounce.” It was adopted unanimously the next day. Topeka. I was in track-down mode, looking for the name origin of the city. Little did I suspect that potatoes would be part of the story I found. John Dunbar, a professor at Washburn University in the 1870’s, wrote that the name “Topeka” is composed of three words common in the languages of the Iowa, Omaha, and Kansa Indians; “to” means potato, “pe” means good, and “okae” means to dig. He believed that the word Topeka literally means “a good place to dig potatoes.” To dig potatoes? I had to dig deeper. Who originally used the name? Do potatoes really grow around here? I learned that Missionary Johnston 05 wagon campLykins drew a map in 1849 while living at the Potawatomi Baptist Mission and used the word “Topeka” as the name of the Smoky Hill fork of the Kansas River. His map was published in 1853; likely the city founders had seen it when they named Topeka in 1855. And I found much written about the “Psoralea esculenta” or prairie potato, by explorers and settlers crossing the Kansas River and heading west. Like John Fremont, who led multiple surveying expeditions through western territories. » read more


Brown v Board

03 brown nhs outsideLinda Burton posting from Topeka, Kansas – “We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place.” Such was the opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren in the 1954 Supreme Court Decision Brown v Board of Education. In a former schoolhouse on a side street in downtown Topeka, you can walk through a history of events that led up to that landmark decision, and what has happened since. The building, now a National Historic Site, once served as Monroe Elementary, and it still has a schoolhouse feel; in the hallway you pass drinking fountains set low enough for a kindergartner to reach; 03 fountainsthere’s the smell of chalk, and echoes in the hall. Monroe Elementary was one of four all-black elementary schools in Topeka when it was selected by NAACP strategists in 1950 as part of a larger plan to bring the “separate but equal” doctrine into the courts. With NAACP guidance thirteen sets of parents agreed to attempt to enroll their children in white schools, not expecting to be admitted, and then file complaints. Linda Brown (b 1942) was a third grader at Monroe at the time her 03 Linda Brown familyparents Leola and Oliver Brown decided to participate; alphabetically “Brown” was the first name on the lawsuit; forever after Brown v Board of Education is the name associated with the end of public school segregation in the United States. The full story, however, is multi-layered and complex; the exhibits in the Brown v Board of Education National Historic Site take you through the key points, even going further back in time than the 1896 Supreme Court decision when Plessy v Ferguson put the “separate but equal” doctrine legally into place. Race and the American Creed is the place to start; it’s a movie in the auditorium. » read more


A Real Deal

23 signing statueLinda Burton posting from Jefferson City, Missouri – It’s time to talk about the Louisiana Purchase. The LP is one of those American History standards we are taught early in school; that memorable moment when the United States doubled in size in just a day under the wise leadership of President Jefferson, who soon after hired Lewis and Clark to explore the new land. Now that I’m here, in the city named for that president, by the river that served as the pathway for exploration by the Discovery Corps, I am inspired to dig deeper into the details. Inspired, and intrigued; I came across a monument when I walked behind the capitol today; an imposing sculpture just beyond a lovely fountain, high on the bluff above the Missouri River. It’s a theater-like setting, three men on a stage, a recreation in bronze of an event that happened long ago. I moved closer to read the 23 signing statue and bridgeinscription; Monroe. Livingston. Marbois. 1803. That’s all it said, although Signing of the Treaty was engraved below. Back in my room, I began to accumulate more facts. The date represented was April 30, 1803; the location was Paris, France; the men were James Monroe, Robert Livingston, and Francois Barbé-Marbois. Marbois (1745-1837) was France’s Minister of the Treasury under Napoleon Bonaparte; Livingston (1746-1813) was the US Ambassador to France. Monroe (1758-1831), who would become fifth president of the United States in 1817, was sent by Jefferson to join Livingston in France; as designated minister plenipotentiary, he had full authority to transact business on the President’s behalf. Jefferson didn’t send Monroe to buy the Louisiana Territory however; his mission was to buy the port of New Orleans. What happened was a surprise that Thomas Jefferson didn’t hear about until July 3. » read more


A Trace Of Times

15 cozy dog overallLinda Burton posting from Springfield, Illinois – It was a time warp. Two just-up cozy dogs and a side of rings sat before me on 50’s-era formica, a squirt of mustard puddled beside them in the cardboard cup. Over by the door two eight-foot cozy dogs complete with hairbow and gloves stood in loving embrace. Over in the corner two cozy customers stood mesmerized by memorabilia plastered floor to ceiling on the restaurant walls. Outside, two cozy dogs atop the sign explained: Cozy Drive In Home of the Famous Hot Dog On A Stick. And beyond that, the highway once known as Route 66 15 cozy dogscarried the midday traffic on what is now Sixth Avenue. Times may change, but the past is safe in here. I swirled my corndog in the mustard, bit off the end, and began to read the back of my newly purchased map. Route 66 runs from the shores of Lake Michigan in Chicago to the Pacific Ocean at Santa Monica, California. Begun in 1926, it was built under several Federal Aid Highway Acts and was one of the largest public works projects to take place in the US. Route 66 helped create a distribution of America’s population from the areas affected most by the great depression to 15 cozy dog drawingnew areas in the west. From 1945-1965 many unique businesses opened along the route to service the increased travel prompted by the post-war economic boom. Restaurants, motels, and novelty shops created miles of neon signs that marked the way of Route 66. “And I’m in one of those restaurants right now,” I thought, as I unfolded the map to read about other spots along the route still there to offer nostalgic travelers a trace of times gone by. » read more