streetscape

Posted by Ellen

Presidents' Day has already come and gone, and they still haven't taken down the Valentine's decorations.

Posted by Ellen

In 1860, when grand homes were being built along Walnut Street west of Rittenhouse Square, the need arose for grand stables nearby.

An entire block of a side street–then called Heberton, now Chancellor–was upgraded to house the carriages and steeds of the new Rittenhouse elite. The street was paved with granite blocks and widened to twice the usual side-street width, so that carriages could be driven directly in and out of stable doors, instead of being dragged by humans into the street and then turned before hitching the horses.

Five of the stables have survived; they are now condos and office suites, with garage parking in back. The block is a popular site for wedding photography.

In back of the stables is a much narrower street–Millowney then, St. James now–that housed the servants.

Posted by Ellen

Night comes to NE 78th Street in Seattle.

A few stray power lines hint at the electrical substation down the hill but don't even come close to hiding the Olympic Mountains on the horizon.

Posted by Ellen

On the sidewalk in Antalya, Turkey.

Posted by Ellen

We offer a robust winter sports program here in Kater Street. See, for example.

Posted by Ellen

Caught by the camera just as he finishes up his unauthorized street decor, this graffiti artist in Queratoro, Mexico, appears to have done a pretty darn good job painting a quetzalcoatl, the feathered serpent of the ancient Aztecs.

Posted by Ellen

In 1899, snow was shoveled off busy Manhattan streets, loaded into wagons, and hauled down to the docks, where it was dumped in the river. 

Nowadays, the EPA doesn't like for states or municipalities to dump dirty snow from city streets into rivers or, as in the case of Portland, Maine, into the ocean. Portland used to throw its snow from downtown into the harbor, but it now builds mountains of snow, dump-truckload after dump-truckload, in an empty field near the airport.

New York City trucks its snow to melting machines, known as snow dragons, which can melt thirty tons of snow an hour and discharge the meltwater into the city sewer sytem. In an emergency, however, such as a ridiculously huge blizzard, we are told that the EPA will look the other way while the city rids its streets of snow the old-timey way.

Posted by Ellen

Last January, when this picture was taken, Rittenhouse Square looked plenty wintery. The snow hasn't been as deep this January, but the cold has been, if anything, even deeper. Which just goes to show, except that actually it doesn't.

Posted by Ellen

Who dreams of a rainy Christmas? That's what we are headed for this year, as in many years past, here along the east coast of North America.

In 2010, it rained on everybody's Christmas parade in Kuching, Malaysia, but people seemed reasonably happy nonetheless, even afterwards on their way home.

Hereabouts, the winter rain has been nondenominational, this year dampening Hanukkah as well as threatening Christmas, and doing a real number on Festivus. Maybe we'll have a white New Year's.

Here's to holiday warmth and cheer, despite the mess the world is in.

Posted by Ellen

"Boys from Dead Ox Flat waiting for the school bus in the morning. Malheur County, Oregon."

Dorothea Lange took this picture in October 1939 for the Resettlement Administration. During the mid-1930s, the desert country of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho attracted thousands of Dust Bowl refugees seeking construction work on the Owhyee dam and irrigation project; as the project came on line between 1935 and 1939, thousands more refugees sought agricultural work on the newly irrigated cropland.

The name on the mailbox behind the boys is revealed in another of Lange's photos of the same scene: H.E. Hudgins. According to the 1940 census, Herbert and Jessie Hudgins lived thereabouts--but with only two children, an eleven-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. Herbert Hudgins worked as a ditch rider, assigned to travel the length of the new canals and laterals, cleaning out debris and opening and closing the check boards that control the flow of water to different growers' acreage.

The boys look to be wearing new clothes and fresh haircuts, perhaps because the photo was taken on the first day of a new school year. The picture is dated from the month of October, but this was a time and place where school would not begin until after the year's harvest was in.