February 2018

Posted by Ellen

On this day in 1952, Princess Elizabeth acceded to the throne of Great Britain, following the death of her father, King George VI.

She was staying in this treehouse at the time, high above an elephant watering hole, at a wildlife-viewing resort in Kenya called Treetops Hotel. The king had died in his sleep back at Buckingham Palace, and Elizabeth did not learn that she'd become queen until the next day, upon her return to a royal lodge in a less remote part of Kenya.

She was 26 years old at the time, already married and mother to her first two children. She's definitely still Queen of England.

Treetops Hotel was burned in 1954 during the Mau Mau uprising, but it has been rebuilt.

Posted by Ellen

In Beijing, if you're not sure you're parked legally, you really don't want to see that forklift coming down the street.

Posted by Ellen

Today, Philadelphia is a town of winners, at least to the extent that Eagle-ness rubs off on regular people. But this room in center city Philly was filled recently with a bunch of losers.

The girls, mostly about twelve years old, were guests at a birthday party held in an escape room. If they had managed to solve all the riddles and puzzles within a set time, they could have escaped the room and been deemed winners. But they failed.  So it goes.

Posted by Ellen

For a hundred years, up until 1971, Chicago's Union Stockyards and surrounding meat-packing plants made the city the meat capital of the universe. The industry gave the neighborhood a definite aroma, but of course, it was still the scent of money.

The city had to make the Chicago River run backwards in order to keep the animal waste out of municipal drinking water.

The stockyards burned to the ground in 1939, but they'd been newly rebuilt by the time of this photo in 1941.

Posted by Ellen

When Philadelphia's Northeast Manual Training School opened its doors in 1905, the idea of a public high school to prepare poor boys to work in modern industrial trades was progressive, even radical. But Philly was booming with industry--in fact, just a block over from the new school building was the Quaker Lace factory, with over a hundred clattering power looms that could be heard in every classroom.

The building itself was collegiate Gothic in style, with gargoyles all around and a crenellated turret in the middle.

The school changed its name and mission several times; it became a comprehensive high school, originally for boys only, named Northeast, until 1957, when a new Northeast High School was built in the new residential district closer to the edge of the city.

Then the building became Edison High, which achieved a particularly sad notoriety: no other high school in America outdid Edison in graduating young menwho were killed in the Vietnam War. Sixty-four Edison alumni are memorialized on a bronze plaque outside the school.

But since 1992, Edison High School has operated in a different building a few blocks away, and that's where the bronze memorial sits today. The original school site was used briefly for a bilingual middle school and then abandoned altogether, like almost all the mills, factories, and foundries that surround it.

In 2010, the lace factory burned to the ground, in an eight-alarm blaze attributed to arson; it is said that drug dealers in the neighborhood burned the long-abandoned structure because they believed police were using it as an observation post.

In 2011, the old Manual Training School building also burned, in a fire also deemed suspicious in origin. The site was under contract to a developer who wanted to put a shopping center there.

Remains of the school were demolished a few months later, but the gargoyles, it was said, were carefully preserved for use somewhere else. Where? We have not been able to find out.

Posted by Ellen

A man wears his cat in a backpack for an evening stroll past cherry blossoms in Shanghai.

Posted by Ellen

These logs near Longview, Washington,  apparently escaped their fate somewhere between clearcut and mill. They have been floating in a brackish backwater of the lower Columbia River for so long that a mat of green algae has grown thick and glossy in the shelter of their trunks.