30 April 2009

The 21 Page Run-on Sentence

Two things kept me out of civil engineering:
  1. The old military saying, "mechanical engineers build weapons, civil engineers build targets."
  2. Property descriptions used in surveying. They describe the exact boundaries of a piece of real estate in precise and excruciating legal detail. I minored in english and writing, and just could not stomach such highly concentrated inane drivel.
Recently I stumbled upon the mother of all property descriptions, that of the entire City of Cincinnati. It also contains the mother of all run-on sentences, extending for 21 single-spaced pages. Good to know I made the right choice.

Markings on the Curbs

OK, I realize this is pretty trivial, but I have noticed these markings on a lot of the old granite curbs. Sometimes there are channels cut out for downspout drains, and sometimes there are even iron eye-hooks set in the stone. Here are a few photos snapped while walking around the past few months:

An arrow:


A "T":

An "F":

A "GF"?:

Another T:

An "E":

A triangle, this one in concrete:

An "A":

Blobs or squares:

A 'D"?:

An E:

box with lines down:

Box with a dash:

Dash in a box:

A summary of the above shapes:

I think the left half are all water valve symbols. I would guess the E is electric and T for telephone?

Conservatives Should Care About Transit

"Public transit and walkable neighborhoods are necessary for the creation of a country where families and communities can flourish." - by David Schaengold

29 April 2009

The Times Star Building

I seized the opportunity provided by a nice day to get some pictures of a fantastic building I don't think a lot of folks know about. It is the Times Star building on Broadway. It was designed by a name familiar to Cincinnati architecture, Samuel Hannaford. Although the cornerstone says 1931, the Wikipedia article states it was built in 1933 (I assume it took two years to complete).

I remember the first time I caught a glean of the gold leaf at the top of the building.

There is a lot of carving on this building. Here are a couple shots of the Eagle sculptures found on the building.

Of course since the Times Star was a paper, the building has a lot of homages to names in printing and publishing. I recognized Aldus, mainly because of Aldus Pagemaker and Freehand.

I was intrigued to discover the Newsboys entrance on the South side of the building. It includes a silvered relief of a newsboy. I guess to soften the blow that they couldn't use the main entrance.

The detail on the window grate in the front is pretty astonishing. You may want to click this picture to zoom in on the detail.

And the main entrance is just over the top. I need to get a wider lens, or feel braver stepping back onto Broadway:

I did not have the time or temerity to go inside, I'll save that for another day. I am always amazed by what this city has to offer when you take the time to look around at some of these buildings.

If you are interested in more, The Greater Cincinnati Memory Project has a few old shots of the Times Star building.

In my search for information on the building, I found the article Death of the Times-Star from August 4, 1958 on Time's web site. It recounts what led to the Times Star closing. I found it interesting that the employees received the news via telegram and that it was precipitated by Scripps-Howard's (owner of the Post) purchase of the Enquirer in 1956. Of course The Post ceased operations only recently to leave only the Cincinnati Enquirer standing as a daily paper.

28 April 2009

Eyck on Playgrounds

These playing children demonstrate the latent possibilities of urban renewal in general. With the aid of a little concrete, wood, aluminum there have come into existence social centers: places where children and parents meet, true extensions of the doorstep - for it is on the doorstep that the outside and inside worlds, the spheres of collective life and of individual life, intersect. Here at any rate the child has moved to the center. Since the artist is essentially an ally of the child, the job has been particularly rewarding... It is surely for the artist - whatever his medium - to introduce grace and beauty where they have vanished or gone into hiding. - Aldo van Eyck, architect who helped design 736 playgrounds in Amsterdam , mostly in the 50s and 60s.

Cities: “If they are not meant for children they are not meant for citizens either.”

27 April 2009

14th and Vine Condos Update

One thing I try to do is correct myself or apologize when I was wrong. When I saw the original drawings for this building, I was pretty negative on it. But now that it is almost completed, I have to say it is looking good.

In the original rendering, the walls were shown blue. I didn't know it would be brick. For a building like this, details matter, and they have paid attention to some important details, such as the stone base and the alumacore detail around the uplighting. I think it all comes together. Sorry for the cell-phone pics:

Overall view from across the street:

The corner is transparent:

Uplighting detail

Storefront glass garage doors:

Also, the building across the street is just begining to take shape:

Imagination Alley

More murals were being added to the pocket park in the 1300 block of Vine yesterday, and it was hot, like summer hot. Visualingual highlighted this park pretty good last month.

They were adding a mosaic to the ground: 

And boys will climb: 

[Where: 1317-1319 Vine Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]

25 April 2009

Shillitos Time

Maybe the first phone number I ever dialed, 721-1700, still functions to tell you the current time and temperature of Cincinnati. Today with cell phones and computers all around us, all keeping the time, it is probably not used very often. But maybe once a year or so it comes in handy...

24 April 2009

A Family Chooses Pittsburgh

Article about a young family, that surveyed all their relocation options and ended up choosing downtown Pittsburgh because of its vibrancy & child friendliness. Some of the benefits they found are also available here. I wonder why they never considered Cincinnati? If I could hazard a guess, it would be the conservative reputation that precedes us.
...we considered all the usual progressive suspects, such as Portland, Seattle, Burlington, Austin and Asheville.... we also looked at Madison, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Philly, Baltimore, and DC. Burlington and Asheville were too small. Madison was too cold. Chicago and DC were too expensive. Crime stats knocked out Philly and Baltimore. ... one city seemed just right: Pittsburgh.

If it sounds surprising to you, you’re not alone. Despite our own initial shock, it seemed to make sense on paper. Could Pittsburgh be the city we were looking for? Crime was lower than other comparable cities. The downtown neighborhood seemed compact and walkable, and there were plenty of public transportation options to keep us connected....

23 April 2009

R Crumb's Short History of America

And Crumb asks "what next?.." Well we have had 30 years of development since this was drawn, and I think the 13th panel of the above intersection would show larger cars and maybe some vacant stores. And the shame of it is that a few miles further out of town, they may still be on panel #10 or 11, headed down the same path.

A year after publishing the above series, Crumb added the following three scenarios:




In reality, we have gotten a bit of all three of these final panels. Some cities (or parts of cities) look more like the Disaster panel, and after the disinvestment and abandonment, the final two are often tried as solutions. I would equate the Futurama panel to grand Urban Renewal plans in which everything is demolished and new modern buildings are built. The Ecotopia is closer to a Hippie version of the New Urbanist model, with all the walking and biking, though much more rural. I was thinking that someone should draw a more realistic and optimistic new panel. What would it look like?

Crumb Family Official Site Go there to buy a poster of this.

22 April 2009

Kaid Benfield to Visit

Kaid Benfield; Director of the Smart Growth Program for the Natural Resources Defense Council, will be in Cincinnati next month. After reading some of his blog, he reminds me of Glen Brand who was the spokesperson for the Sierra Club in Cincinnati a few years ago. Glen was always talking about changing our development patterns as a way to be green. Benfield has a blog post here about OTR.

From his bio on his website:
...I believe there is a positive, solution-oriented story to tell about smart, sustainable development, and we in the environmental movement have an obligation to do better than we have in the past to articulate it and to speak up in favor of pragmatic, attractive solutions.

I am unabashedly pro-development when I recognize that it provides beneficial alternatives to sprawl or conventional, unsustainable land use....

I won't hesitate to criticize UNsustainable development, and I also won't hesitate to criticize those who cloak themselves as environmentalists for selfish, anti-environmental ends...

Bangs Closing

Bangs Mkt is closing. There has been a store at the northwest corner of Race and 14th Street for over 100 years. The current proprietors have owned the store since the 1980s. Once a true corner grocery with a wide selection and deli counter, it has evolved into a pony keg type place that just sells snacks, malt liquor and cheap wine. The building is going to be rehabbed as part of the second phase of OTRCH's City Home project. After this month, if you still need to get your fortified wine, there is a newer store of this type that opened last year at 1546 Elm, ...or there is always Kroger's.

[where: 1401 Race Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202]