January 31, 2015

1432 SPAIN (Extremadura) - Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida (UNESCO WHS)

The Roman colony of Emerita Augusta (present day Mérida) was founded in 25 BC by Augustus, to resettle emeritus soldiers discharged from the Roman army from two veteran legions of the Cantabrian Wars: Legio V Alaudae and Legio X Gemina. Three years later it became the capital of the new Roman province of Lusitania, which included approximately all of modern Portugal south of the Douro river and part of modern Spain (Extremadura and a small part of Salamanca, in Castile and León). The well-preserved remains of the old city include, in particular, a large bridge over the Guadiana, an amphitheatre, a theatre, a vast circus and an exceptional water-supply system. It is an excellent example of a provincial Roman capital during the empire and in the years afterwards.

1431 UNITED KINGDOM (Bermuda) - Somerset Bridge

Somerset Island is one of the main islands of the chain that makes up Bermuda, and lies in the far west of the territory. The village of Somerset lies in the northern part of the island, which is connected to Boaz Island in the northeast and the Bermudian mainland in the south by bridges. One of these bridges is Somerset Bridge, the smallest working drawbridge in the world. On a series of Bermuda pound banknotes issued from 2009, the bridge is featured on the reverse of the pink five pound note.

1430 UNITED STATES (Idaho) - The map of the State of Idaho

Bordered by the Canadian province of British Columbia to the north, Montana to the northeast, Wyoming to the east, Nevada and Utah to the south, and Washington and Oregon to the west, Idaho is a mountainous state with an area larger than that of all of New England. The landscape is rugged (snow-capped mountain ranges, rapids, vast lakes and steep canyons) with some of the largest unspoiled natural areas in the US (the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area is the largest contiguous area of protected wilderness in the continental US). Its highest point is Borah Peak (3,859m), and Shoshone Falls plunges down rugged cliffs from a height greater than that of Niagara Falls.

1429 BURKINA FASO - At the market

In Burkina Faso, agriculture represents 32% of its gross domestic product and occupies 80% of the working population, although only 13% of the total land area is under annual or perennial crops. It consists mostly of rearing livestock, and in the south and southwest the people grow crops of sorghum, pearl millet, maize (corn), peanuts, rice and cotton. In general is a subsistence agriculture, due to the highly variable rainfall and to poor soils, but also due to primitive methods. As a result, Burkina Faso is not self-sufficient in food. In this postcard can be seen two men trying to sell some agricultural tools, which don't seem to be industrial products, but rather made by craftsmen. 

January 30, 2015

1428 RUSSIA (Republic of Karelia) - Cape Besov Nos petroglyphs

In addition to the Pogost Kizhi, Lake Onega has another well known and very interesting site, placed on Cape Besov Nos (Devil's nose), on the eastern coast of the lake: about 1200 petroglyphs scattered over the 20 km area. The engravings are 1-2 mm deep, depict animals, people, boats and geometrical shapes of circular and crescent shapes, and date back to 4th-2nd millennia BC. The main part of this petroglyphs have been found at the western sector of the site. The bedrock here has many color anomalies, cracks and upheavals which makes the place very attractive. Descriptions from previous centuries tell about the hollow sound coming from the inside of the rock when working around it. One peculiarity of Besov Nos carvings is also the abundance of unique petroglyphs. Also common figures here have unique features which has brought on still more discussion about the meaning.

1427 SRI LANKA - Mihintale, the cradle of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

The peak Mihintale (the plateau of Mihindu), located near the city of Anuradhapura, is the site of several religious monuments and abandoned structures, but also a pilgrimage site, because it is believed by Sri Lankans to be the place of a meeting between the Buddhist monk Mahinda (the son of Emperor Ashoka of India) and King Devanampiyatissa, which inaugurated the presence of Buddhism in the island. Its various shrines are connected by a total of some 1,840 steps, built in the reign of Bhathika Abhaya (22BC-7AD), that ultimately lead to the summit, steep enough to require deep breaths and a meditative pace. Mihintale was neglected from the beginning of the 11th century and abandoned from the middle of the 13th century as a result of the collapse of the Rajarata civilization. Only in the beginning of the 20th century attention was again paid to this complex and the structures we see today have been restored.

1426 JAPAN (Chūgoku) - The Hirose Family, Hiroshima, 1987

"Families Struth discovered parallels with his street scenes in the classic family portrait, moved here too by the desire to invoke the unfamiliar and the unconscious from behind a clichéd and generic surface. His family portraits are always taken under the same conditions: the initiative must come from the artist (with a very few exceptions, Struth’s portraits are not commissioned); the family in question, in consultation with Struth himself, determine the location for the shoot and its framing in their garden or home; finally, while it is up to the family to decide on how to arrange themselves and what poses to strike, they are always asked to look directly into the camera." it says on the website of Kunsthaus Zürich, an art gallery in the Swiss city of Zürich.

January 29, 2015

1425 UNITED KINGDOM (England) - The Old Light on Lundy Island

Lundy is the largest island in the Bristol Channel, lying 19km off the coast of Devon, approximately one third of the distance across the channel between England and Wales. It is 5 km long from north to south by about 1.2 km wide, and its highest point is at 142m. There are two ways to get to Lundy, in the summer months with a passenger ferry, and in the winter months with the helicopter. As of 2007, there was a resident population of 28 people, including volunteers (it is a Marine Conservation Zone, because of its unique flora and fauna). There are 23 holiday properties and a camp site for visitors. Its history, begun in Neolithic, was extremely interesting and tumultuous. It was along time a refuge for people in trouble with the rules and even with the law, a source of problems and disputes.

1424 NICARAGUA (León) - Church of La Recolección in León

Located along the Río Chiquito, at about 90km northwest of Managua, and at 18km east of the Pacific Ocean coast, León was founded by the Spaniards as León Santiago de los Caballeros, and has long been the political and intellectual center of the nation. It is rich in monuments and historical places and among these is Church of la Recolección, located at the so called Bank Street (Calle de los Bancos); a busy street housing several banks. Covered in a dark and well-worn yellow, its Mexican baroque façade is considered one of the most important in the city. Built in 1786, by Bishop Juan Félix de Villegas thanks to contributions made by parishioners, it has three naves, and the altars are in neoclassical style. Almost a century later, in 1880, another building was constructed next to the church: the Recolección school.

January 28, 2015

0990-0995, 1009, 1422-1423 UNITED STATES (New York) - The bridges in New York City

0990 - Brooklyn Bridge & Downtown Manhattan

Posted on 26.01.2014, 21.02.2014, and 28.01.2015
New York City is home to over 2,000 bridges and tunnels, some of which were premieres or set records. For example the Holland Tunnel was the world's first vehicular tunnel when it opened in 1927, and the Brooklyn, Williamsburg, George Washington, and Verrazano-Narrows bridges were the world's longest suspension bridges when were opened in 1883, 1903, 1931, and 1964 respectively. The first bridge in New York, King's Bridge, was constructed in 1693, over Spuyten Duyvil Creek between Manhattan and the Bronx. Now the oldest crossing still standing is High Bridge, which connects Manhattan to the Bronx over the Harlem River. On the other hand, the George Washington, High Bridge, Hell Gate, Queensboro, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Macombs Dam, Carroll Street, University Heights and Washington bridges have all received landmark status.

0991 - Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

New York features bridges of all lengths and types, carrying everything from cars, trucks and subway trains to pedestrians and bicycles. The George Washington Bridge, spanning the Hudson River between New York City and Fort Lee (New Jersey), is the world's busiest bridge in terms of vehicular traffic, but also, togheter with Verrazano Narrows Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge, is considered among the most beautiful in the world. Others are more well known for their functional importance such as the Williamsburg Bridge, which has two heavy rail transit tracks, eight traffic lanes and a pedestrian sidewalk.

1009 - Brooklyn Bridge - View from the pedestrian walkway

The Brooklyn Bridge stretches 1.825m over the East River, connecting  Lower Manhattan at Canal Street with Downtown Brooklyn at the Flatbush Avenue Extension, is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the United States, and also the first steel-wire suspension bridge constructed. Designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, it was completed in 1883, and has become in a short time an icon of New York City. The architectural style is Neo-Gothic, with characteristic pointed arches above the passageways through the towers, built of limestone, granite blocks (quarried and shaped on Vinalhaven Island, Maine), and Rosendale cement.

0992 - Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan

Roebling designed a bridge and truss system that was six times as strong as he thought it needed to be. Because of this, the Brooklyn Bridge is still standing when many of the bridges built around the same time have vanished into history and been replaced. At the time it opened, and for several years, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Its paint scheme is "Brooklyn Bridge Tan" and "Silver", although it has been argued that the original paint was "Rawlins Red". Since the 1980s, it has been floodlit at night to highlight its architectural features. The bridge originally carried horse-drawn and rail traffic, with a separate elevated walkway along the centerline for pedestrians and bicycles. Since 1950, the main roadway has carried six lanes of automobile traffic.

1422 - The Brooklyn Bridge silhouetted
by a glittering downtown New York skyline at dusk

A bronze plaque is attached to one of the bridge's anchorages, which was constructed on a piece of property occupied by a mansion, the Osgood House, at 1 Cherry Street in Manhattan. It served as the first Presidential Mansion, housing George Washington, his family, and household staff from April 23, 1789 to February 23, 1790, during the two-year period when New York City was the national capital. The centennial celebrations on May 24, 1983, saw a cavalcade of cars crossing the bridge, led by President Ronald Reagan. In 2006, a Cold War-era bunker was found by city workers in the Manhattan tower. The bunker, hidden within the masonry anchorage, still contained the emergency supplies that were being stored for a potential nuclear attack by the Soviet Union.

0993 - Manhattan Bridge at twilight

The Manhattan Bridge is the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River (following the Brooklyn and the Williamsburg bridges), connecting Lower Manhattan (at Canal Street) with Brooklyn (at Flatbush Avenue Extension). The main span is 448 m long, with the suspension cables being 983 m long (its total length is 2,089 m). It is considered to be the forerunner of modern suspension bridges and this design served as the model for many of the long-span suspension bridges built in the first half of the 20th century. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level, split between two roadways. The original pedestrian walkway on the south side of the bridge was reopened after forty years in June 2001.

1423 - Manhattan Bridge, looking up
 Berenice Abbott / gelatine silver print
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Designed by Leon Moisseiff, who later designed the Tacoma Narrows Bridge (that collapsed in 1940), it was opened on December 31, 1909. A year later, Carrère and Hastings drew up preliminary plans for an elaborate grand entry to the bridge on the Manhattan side (in Chinatown), as part of the "City Beautiful" movement. The arch and colonnade were completed in 1915, and the decoration includes pylons sculpted by Carl A. Heber and a frieze called "Buffalo Hunt" by Charles Rumsey. On the Brooklyn side, the bridge ends in the popular neighborhood DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

0994 - Verrazano-Narrows Bridge

The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is a double-decked suspension bridge that connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, marking the gateway to New York Harbor. It is named for both the Florentine explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano (the first European to enter New York Harbor and the Hudson River), and for the body of water it spans: the Narrows. It has a central span of 1,298m, and was the longest suspension bridge in the world at the time of its completion in 1964. Its massive towers can be seen throughout a good part of the New York metropolitan area, and all cruise ships and most container ships arriving at the Port of New York and New Jersey must pass underneath it.

0995 - Queensboro Bridge & Midtown Manhattan (aerial view)

The Queensboro Bridge (also known as the 59th Street Bridge) is a double cantilever bridge over the East River, which connects the neighborhood of Long Island City in the borough of Queens with the Upper East Side of Manhattan, passing over Roosevelt Island. The plans were finished in 1903 and construction soon began, but lasted until 1909 to be completed, due to delays from the collapse of an incomplete span during a windstorm and from labor unrest (including an attempt to dynamite one span). The bridge doesn't have suspended spans, so the cantilever arm from each side reaches to the midpoint of the span. Until it was surpassed by the Quebec Bridge in 1917, the span between Manhattan and Roosevelt Island was the longest cantilever span in North America. In December 2010, the bridge was renamed Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in honor of the former mayor Ed Koch, a decision unpopular among Queens residents and business leaders.