Monday, 7 December 2009

Good cheer!

The joys of festive food - a load of hot air?

So I'm usually Bah! Humbug about December, but I thought I'd try today to join in the Festive Spirit and bring Tidings of Comfort and Joy To All Mankind. It's hard but...

OK, reasons to be cheerful:

No 1: There a was a fair bit of glorious Edinburgh and a glimpse (are you reading this Malcolm?) of one of my favourite contemporary buildings, the Storytelling Centre, on telly last night. This was on The South Bank Show, with National Treasure Carol Ann Duffy. CAD said after Venice it was her favourite city, one of the world's most beautiful, and how I agree.

 Let's hope also that in the first UNESCO City of Literature, the plans (Malcolm Fraser/Edinburgh World Heritage) to enhance the 'literary quarter' (please call it something else than quarter though... ) come to a fruitful conclusion. So I've put that on the wish list to send up the chimney to Santa.

Pics probably copyright of someone so if anyone wants a credit or have them removed tell me...

No 2: Here's my favourite Christmas Lights video. Don't try this at home folks, not if you live anywhere near me or value your carbon footprint:

No 3: The excellent blogpost by @WillWiles (see linked blogs) re London 2010, as predicted twenty years in the past, which has this weekend gone mega on Twitter, with many re-tweets:

Edinburgh residents might enjoy this page, predicting the Age of the Tram (hah!):

Pic courtesy of Spillway, Will Wiles blog, shamelessly reproduced here, in the cause of advancement of  knowledge

Great read,  and even better, this find of Will's gives me an excuse now that I can use when the OH is telling me I should have a clearout of all the 'archive material' (my view) 'clutter' (his) for hanging on to all those quirky back issues of things I can't bear to part with.

No 4: Another fascinating blog from Charles Holland @fatcharlesh on Twitter

I have a deep interest in all things connected with fortifications, and the allied topic of defensive dwellings, probably as a result of living in a landscape dotted with 'em, many even more ancient than those at Dover.

Slightly connected, in as much as the Underground was used as refuge in WWII from the bombs, is this site:

exploration of those ghostly disused stations on the London Underground.

For more on the history of the tube, there's always Christian Wolmar's book, and don't let this review put you off as there's no obligation to read the bits you aren't interested in, although it probably says something about me that there was none of it I wasn't interested in:

Wolmar does have an eye for the choice phrase, unearthing such Victorian gems as a description of the stations as “commodious”, the fetid underground air as like “crocodile’s breath” and a newspaper report about the under-used (and eventually closed) Aldwych branch which described a labourer who travelled “in lonely grandeur to the Strand”.

No 5: A little more cheering news from Chicago!

see previous blogpost for the bad news:

Friday, December 4, 2009


We are elated to bring you good news from the Illinois capital of Springfield. Today, the Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council (IHSAC) voted unanimously in a roll-call vote to support our nomination of the Michael Reese Hospital Campus to the National Register of Historic Places.

This is a major step forward in our campaign to bring to light the incredible and unique architectural assets of the Michael Reese Hospital Campus, which of course comprises the only built work of Walter Gropius in the State of Illinois.

Earlier this year, the City of Chicago’s Landmarks Commission, acting in a purely advisory capacity, voted twice that the Campus and our nomination did not meet the criteria required for listing on the National Register. Today’s action by the IHSAC, which is a binding vote that effectively rejects Chicago’s objections, confirms the invalidity of the shortsighted and damaging position issued by Chicago’s Landmarks Commission.

The Illinois Historic Sites Advisory Council is a non-biased body that is strictly charged with overseeing nominations to the National Register of Historic Places in a scholarly and open fashion. The Council is comprised of volunteer, expert members from all around the State of Illinois. As a body that solely addresses matters pertaining to the National Register of Historic Places, the Council is the ultimate authority in the State of Illinois concerning nominations such as our own.

The Council meets four times per year. After Chicago’s initial rejection of our nomination, and despite its advisory role, the Gropius in Chicago Coalition acted in good faith, meticulously responding to each of Chicago’s numerous concerns. This revision process unfortunately caused us to miss the October meeting of the IHSAC, making today’s meeting the first available time for our nomination to be heard in its revised state.

Meanwhile, Chicago rejected our nomination a second time, despite revisions, and had concurrently begun to demolish the historic resources at Michael Reese Hospital.

Today’s vote by the Council reaffirms the importance of Michael Reese Hospital. The Council’s vote signals that the Michael Reese Campus as it stands today, regardless of the deliberate losses from Chicago that have eroded its historic value, still remains an important part of the cultural legacy of the State of Illinois.

Read on:

No 6: The latest in the series of Pevsner Architectural Guides: Newcastle and Gateshead by Grace McCombie (who is a co-author of Northumberland Pevsner) has just arrived, and I can curl up in front of the fire and enjoy.

Pic by me, taken from the top of the Keep; click for HUGE

Above shows Newcastle: the Bridge Hotel, 1901 by Cackett and Burns Dick (serves a good pint), Armstrong's Swing Bridge, 1868-76, and Stephenson and Harrison's High Level Bridge, 1845-9, crossing the Tyne. The High Level Bridge won a 2009 Europa Nostra Award:

...The High Level Bridge in North East England was built by engineer Robert Stephenson and opened by Queen Victoria in 1849. Consisting of an upper deck for train traffic and a lower deck for road vehicles, the bridge is the oldest of those currently spanning the river Tyne and is one of the UK's most historic railway structures.

Not all humbug then.


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