October 19, 2014

1307 RUSSIA (Murmansk Oblast) - Kirovsk, in the Arctic Circle

Founded in 1929 as Khibinogorsk, the name that it wore until 1934, Kirovsk is a town located at the spurs of the Khibiny Mountains on the shores of the Lake Bolshoy Vudyavr, 175km south of Murmansk, on the Arctic Circle. Its occurrence was due to the expedition led by Alexander Fersman in 1920s, which discovered large deposits of apatite and nepheline. By the end of 1930, its population grew to ten thousand people, and a mining and chemical plant was under construction. It was renamed after Sergei Kirov, a prominent early Bolshevik leader killed in 1934 by a gunman at his offices in the Smolny Institute. Now, the population of Kirovsk it's about 29,000.

October 18, 2014

1306 TOGO - Women from the north of the country

Togo, one of the smallest countries in all of Africa, a strip of land between Ghana and Benin, with exit to the  Gulf of Guinea, is a tropical, sub-Saharan nation, highly dependent on agriculture. The largest religious group in country are those with indigenous beliefs. In Togo, there are about 40 different ethnic groups, the most numerous of which are the Ewe and Ouatchis in the south. Also found are Kotokoli or Tem and Tchamba in the center and the Kabye people in the north. Other Ethnic groups include the Mina,  Mossi, and Aja people. I believe that the women and the children on the postcard are Kabye. The Kabye are primarily known for farming and cultivation of the stony Kara Valley area, but they also live in northern Benin under the name of Lokpa or Lukpa. Kabye profess that the first human being was an androgynous being who descended from the sky, which is said to be male, to the Earth, which is female. Kumberito landed between two small mountain ranges where the Kabre community is currently located.

1301-1305 UNITED STATES (Hawaii) - Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (UNESCO WHS)

Fountaining and lava flow
from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō on January 31, 1984

The Hawaiian islands were (and continue to be) continuously formed from volcanic activity initiated at an undersea magma source called a hotspot. As the tectonic plate beneath much of the Pacific Ocean moves to the northwest, the hot spot remains stationary, slowly creating new volcanoes. Due to the hotspot’s location, the only active volcanoes are located around the southern half of the Big Island. In 1916, this area, which encompasses Kīlauea, one of the world's most active volcanoes, and Mauna Loa, the world's most massive subaerial volcano, was designated national park, become a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987, as "a unique example of significant island building through ongoing volcanic processes".

Kilauea - Halemaumau fire pit eruption, December 26, 1967

The park gives scientists insight into the birth of the Hawaiian Islands and ongoing studies into the processes of vulcanism. Volcanic eruptions have created a constantly changing landscape, and the lava flows reveal surprising geological formations. For visitors, the park offers dramatic volcanic landscapes as well as glimpses of rare flora and fauna. Climates range from lush tropical rain forests, to the arid and barren Kaʻū Desert. The park is also rich in archaeological remains particularly along 'the coast with native villages, temples, graves, paved trails, canoe landings, petroglyphs, shelter caves and agricultural areas. Extensive ruins of stone structures dating back to the time of Pa'ao (a high priest) in 1275 are present.

Kilauea lava show

Mauna Loa, meaning Long Mountain in Hawaiian, has probably been erupting for at least 700,000 years, and may have emerged above sea level about 400,000 years ago. Mauna Loa is a typical shield volcano in form, taking the shape of a long, broad dome extending down to the ocean floor whose slopes are about 12° at their steepest, a consequence of its extremely fluid lava. Lava eruptions from Mauna Loa are silica-poor, and very fluid; eruptions tend to be non-explosive and the volcano has relatively shallow slopes. Its most recent eruption occurred from March 24 to April 15, 1984. No recent eruptions of the volcano have caused fatalities, but eruptions in 1926 and 1950 destroyed villages, and the city of Hilo is partly built on lava flows from the late 19th century.

Kilauea and Mauna Loa

Kīlauea, at 300,000 to 600,000 years old and going above sea level about 100,000 years ago, it is the second youngest product of the Hawaiian hotspot and the current eruptive center of the Hawaiian-Emperor seamount chain. Because it lacks topographic prominence and its activities historically coincided with those of Mauna Loa, Kīlauea was once thought to be a satellite of its much larger neighbor. Structurally, Kīlauea has a large, fairly recently formed caldera at its summit and two active rift zones, one extending 125km east and the other 35km west, as an active fault line of unknown depth moving vertically an average of 2 to 20mm per year. Its entire known history has been an active volcano, and except for a brief pause between 1934 and 1952, has never experienced any prolonged period of rest. Kīlauea's current eruption dates back to January 3, 1983, and is by far its longest-lived historical period of activity, as well as one of the longest-lived eruptions in the world.

Kilauea and Mauna Loa

Puʻu ʻŌʻō, often translated as "Hill of the ʻŌʻō Bird", is a cinder cone in the eastern rift zone of the Kīlauea volcano which has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1983. By January 2005, 2.7 cubic kilometers of magma covered an area of more than 117 square kilometers and added 0.93 square kilometers of land to the Southeast coast of Hawaiʻi. So far, the eruption has claimed 189 buildings and 14 kilometers of highways, as well as a church, a store, the Wahaʻula Visitor Center, and many ancient Hawaiian sites, including the Wahaʻula heiau. The coastal highway has been closed since 1987, as it has been buried under lava up to 35m thick.

October 16, 2014

1300 PANAMA - Pollera de gala (Festive polleras)

There are many traditions that have been adopted as characteristic of Panama's nationality, but among all of these probably no single expression stands higher than the pollera, the women's national dress. Along with the other traditional Latin American dresses, the pollera descended from the Spanish dress of the 16th and 17th centuries, although it's hard to indicated its exact point of origin. Behold what wrote Nieves de Hoyos, director of the Museo del Pueblo Espanol, in an article published in the Revista de Indias of December, 1963: "The origin is in Spain, but not from the regional Spanish dress, which contrary to general opinion did not develop its current form until the eighteenth century or later. The pollera in Panama evolved from the Spanish feminine dress of the seventeenth century, not from the court dress with its grand hoops covered with velvets and embroidered silks embellished with laces, gold, and silver threads - the dress which immediately comes to mind to most people because they have frequently seen the pictures of Velazquez. In the seventeenth century, as in any other time, contemporary with the beautiful court dresses there was the daily house dress, which in this epoch was generally white with a full skirt of two or three ruffles embroidered or appliqued in floral designs. This description is, simply, the pollera."

October 15, 2014

1299 FRANCE (Aquitaine) - Pont Jacques Chaban-Delmas in Bordeaux

Lying along the Garonne River, 24km above its junction with the Dordogne and 96 km from its spilling into the Atlantic, in a plain east of the wine-growing district of Médoc, Bordeaux became a prosper city because it was the place from which the famous wines went to other horizons. The city is built on a bend of the river, and is divided into two parts: the right bank to the east and left bank in the west. Historically the left bank is more developed because when flowing outside the bend, the water makes a furrow of the required depth to allow the passing of merchant ships, which used to offload on this side of the river. On this bank is its historic center, Port of the Moon, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But Bordeaux isn't only a city of the past, but also one of the present.

October 14, 2014

0954, 0955, 1298 UNITED STATES (Arizona) - Grand Canyon Railway

Posted on 08.01.2014 and completed on 14.10.2014
The Grand Canyon Railway (GCR) is a 103km-long passenger railroad, which operates between Williams (Arizona) and Grand Canyon National Park South Rim. The first train arrived to Grand Canyon on September 17 1901. Competition with the automobile forced the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway to cease operation of this railway in 1968. Its fate seemed sealed, but in 1988 was bought by Max and Thelma Biegert, who restored it, and the first train has ran on September 17, 1989. The Grand Canyon Depot, owned by the National Park Service, remained the northern terminus for passengers of the line. In 1995 the GCR introduced vintage diesel locomotives, reconditioned 1970s EMD F40PH (in the second postcard), and a year later steam locomotive No. 4960 (in the first postcard) made its first run on the line after being fully restored. No. 4960 (a 2-8-2 locomotive) was built in 1923 by Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, and operated a freight and coal hauling service for the Midwestern Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad until the late 1950s.

In 2006 the GCR carry about 240,000 passengers, which reduced automobile traffic to the South Rim by 10%. In the same year Xanterra Parks & Resorts bought the Railway, but sold it in 2008 to Philip Anschutz. In 2009, as a result of popular demand, the Railway reinstated limited steam operations at the Williams Depot. After converting locomotive No. 4960 to run purely on waste vegetable oil (WVO), it began conducting steam trips on its special event train dubbed the "Cataract Creek Rambler". Over the winter of 2011/2012, engine 4960 underwent its 15-year overhaul and inspection, and returned to service in 2012 for a special Centennial Run on February 14, celebrating 100 years of Arizona Statehood. Since then, it continues to pull GCR excursions once per month during the summer months from May through September, and for special occasions.

The F40PH - a four-axle 3,000 hp  B-B diesel-electric locomotive, built in several variants between 1975 and 2000 - was originally intended to haul short- to medium-length trains on Amtrak's shorter routes. Hundreds of F40PH units were built, and many can be found in use on passenger, tourist and freight railroads today. Due to the high-pitch noise generated from its engine, the units have often been nicknamed "screamers." The largest fleet of these locomotives now operates in the Chicago metropolitan area on the Metra system, totaling 117 units. The locomotive GCRX 237, formerly AMTK 237 (in the second postcard), built in 1977 by the Electro Motive Division of General Motors at their La Grange, Illinois plant, was purchased by the GCR in 2003, at the same time with AMTK 239 and 295. In 2009 the owner decided to rebuild this locomotive, on the one hand to adapt it to its goals and on the other for environmental upgrades. More details about the rebuilding can be found here.

October 13, 2014

1297 SOUTH KOREA (North Gyeongsang) - Gyeongju Historic Areas (UNESCO WHS)

Formerly the capital of the ancient kingdom of Silla (57 BC-935 AD), which ruled about two-thirds of the Korean Peninsula between the 7th and 9th centuries, Gyeongju, located at the coast of the Sea of Japan, has a vast number of archaeological sites and cultural properties from this period, being sometimes known as one of the largest outdoor museums in the world. The protected areas, designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, encompass a remarkable concentration of outstanding examples of Korean Buddhist art, in the form of sculptures, reliefs, pagodas, and the remains of temples and palaces.

1296 NEW ZEALAND (North Island) - Waihi, the Heart of Gold

Located in the Coromandel Peninsula, one of the great gold mining districts of the world, Waihi is a little settlement (4,503 inhabitants at the 2006 census) notable even for its history as a gold mine town. The township grew around the mining operations since the discovery of gold in 1878, and was a major centre of union unrest in New Zealand during the early years of the 20th century. Mining stopped in 1952 after a total of 160 km of tunnels had been driven into the quartz of Martha Hill, not because the Martha had run out of gold, but rather because of fixed gold prices, lack of manpower, and increasing costs. Mining in the Coromandel Peninsula had otherwise ceased by the 1980s. However, mining later resumed, with some protests against it during the 1987 consent process. As of 2009, the mine comprises about 25-30% of the local economy.

1295 MOZAMBIQUE - Inhambane, Land of Good People

Located 470 km northeast of Maputo, Inhambane, Terra de Boa Gente (Land of Good People), one of the oldest settlements on Mozambique's eastern coast, is now a sleepy historic town with only about 55,000 inhabitants. The settlement owes its existence to a deep inlet into which the small Matamba river flows. Two protective sandy headlands protect the harbor and form a sandbank. Muslim and Persian traders were the first outsiders to arrive to the area by sea and traded pearls and ambergris. The area became well known for its local cotton spinning and production by the Tonga tribe.

October 12, 2014

1279-1294 UNITED STATES (New York) - Trinity Church in Manhattan

Trinity Church from Wall Street in nowadays

Located in lower Manhattan, near the intersection of Wall Street and Broadway, this Anglican church has served as an urban landmark since the 19th century, and even was a welcoming beacon for ships sailing into New York Harbor. Actually the current Trinity Church, a classic example of Gothic Revival architecture designed by architect Richard Upjohn and finished in 1846, was the third builded on the site, and at the time of its completion its 86m spire and cross was the highest point in New York until being surpassed in 1890 by the New York World Building. It offers a full schedule of prayer and Eucharist services throughout the week and is also available for special occasions such as weddings and baptisms.

Trinity Church from Wall Street in 1946

In 1696, Governor Benjamin Fletcher approved the purchase of land in Lower Manhattan by the Church of England community for construction of a new church. The parish received its charter from King William III on May 6, 1697. Its land grant specified an annual rent of sixty bushels of wheat. The first Trinity Church building, a modest rectangular structure with a gambrel roof and small porch, was constructed in 1698. According to historical records, Captain William Kidd lent the runner and tackle from his ship for hoisting the stones. Anne, Queen of Great Britain, increased the parish's land holdings to 215 acres in 1705. In 1709, William Huddleston founded Trinity School as the Charity School of the church, and classes were originally held in the steeple of the church. In 1754, King's College (now Columbia University) was chartered by King George II of Great Britain and instruction began with eight students in a school building near the church.

Trinity Church looking North & World Trade Center

The church was destroyed in the Great New York City Fire of 1776, which started in the Fighting Cocks Tavern, destroying nearly 500 buildings and houses and leaving thousands of New Yorkers homeless. Six days later, most of the city's volunteer firemen followed General Washington north. The Rev. Samuel Provoost, was appointed Rector of Trinity (1784-1800) in 1784 and the New York State Legislature ratified the charter of Trinity Church, deleting the provision that asserted its loyalty to the King of England. Whig patriots were appointed as vestrymen. In 1787, Provoost was consecrated as the first Bishop of the newly formed Diocese of New York. Following his 1789 inauguration at Federal Hall, George Washington attended Thanksgiving service at St. Paul's Chapel, a chapel of the Parish of Trinity Church. He continued to attend services there until the second Trinity Church was finished in 1790. St. Paul's Chapel is currently part of the Parish of Trinity Church and is the oldest public building in continuous use in New York City.

Trinity Church looking North before 1966

The second Trinity Church was torn down after being weakened by severe snows during the winter of 1838-1839. In 1843, Trinity Church's expanding parish was divided due to the burgeoning cityscape and to better serve the needs of its parishioners. The newly formed parish would build Grace Church, to the north on Broadway at 10th street, while the original parish would re-build Trinity Church, the structure that stands today. Both Grace and Trinity Churches were completed and consecrated in 1846. The architect Richard Upjohn, founder of the American Institute of Architects, designed the Church in a Neo-Gothic fashion complete with sandstone and stained-glass windows, two features previously unheard of at the time. Overall, the exterior is very linear in design with emphasis on the vertical lines giving the impression that everything is pointing upward. Upjohn's designe reflected a "High Church" fashion with holy images that appeared glamorous to the eye. The one curious aspect of the predominantly Gothic architecture is that there are no flying buttresses.

Trinity Church looking North

The interior of the Church is Gothic in design as well. The altar contains many Gothic-like lines which are high and pointed. Numerous reredos depicting several religious figures are enclosed in the altar. In 1976 the United States Department of the Interior designated Trinity Church a National Historic Landmark because of its architectural significance and its place within the history of New York City. On July 9, 1976, Queen Elizabeth II visited Trinity Church. Vestrymen presented her with a symbolic "back rent" of 279 peppercorns. King William III, in 1697, gave Trinity Church a charter that called for the parish to pay an annual rent of one peppercorn to the crown. During the September 11, 2001 attacks, as the 1st Tower collapsed, people took refuge from the massive debris cloud inside the church.

The nave and altar of Trinity Church

In 1876-1877 a reredos and altar was erected in memory of William Backhouse Astor, Sr., to the designs of architect Frederick Clarke Withers. Trinity had a long association with the Astor family, dating to 1804 when John Jacob Astor took over Vice President Aaron Burr’s 99-year ground lease on the Richmond Hill estate - property owned by Trinity Church. From 1804 until 1866, the Astor family earned millions in real estate by subleasing Trinity’s land. The Astors were prominent members of the Episcopal community throughout the 19th century. Some belonged to Trinity Parish, while others worshipped at chapels and churches around the region. The Altar is almost 3,5m long, and is constructed of pure white statuary marble supporting capitals carved in natural foliage dividing the front and side into panels. In the centre panel, which is carved with passion flowers, is a Maltese cross in mosaic, set with cameos, a head of Jesus being in the centre, and the symbols of the Evangelists at the extremities of the four arms; this panel is flanked by two kneeling angels, the one in adoration and the other in prayer. The other panels in front, which are carved with ears of wheat, are also in mosaic, and contain the Pelican and the Agnus Dei, and those at the side, the Sacred Monograms.

Altar and Retable of the Astor
Reredos of Trinity Church

The design of the reredos is in the perpendicular style of Gothic, so as to be in keeping with that of the Church. It is constructed of Caen stone, elaborately carved. In the lower portion on each side of the Altar, are three square panels filled with colored mosaics in geometrical patterns. Above the line of the super-altar are seven panels of white marble, sculptured in alto-relievo, representing incidents in the life of Jesus immediately preceding and subsequent to the Last Supper. The reredos is divided into three bays by buttresses, which contain under canopies on their face four Doctors of the Church (St. Gregory, St. Augustine, St. Ambrose, and St. Jerome). In the center bay, under a large multifoiled arch, forming a Baldachino, is represented the Crucifixion in high relief.

Altarpiece from the Baptistry of Trinity Church

The baptistery is on the north side of the nave, and its altarpiece dates from the early 14th century and is in the Florentine School. Trinity Church has three sets of impressive bronze doors conceived by Richard Morris Hunt to recall Lorenzo Ghiberti's famed doors on Florence's Baptistery. These date from 1893 and were produced by Karl Bitter (east door), J. Massey Rhind (north door) and Charles Henry Niehaus (south door). The doors were also a gift from William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor in memory of John Jacob Astor III. The north and east door each consist of six panels from Church So I got the postcard in my opinion is reliable. and the south door depicts the history of Manhattan Island and Trinity Parish in its six panels.

Panel III (the Annunciation) of the front bronze door of Trinity Church

The door of the main portal consists of two leaves surmounted by a tympanum. Each leaf has three panels, and these constitute pairs. The events should be followed from bottom to top, in an ascending scale, the gradual development of the scheme of Salvation. When the doors are open, and one faces the altar, panels Nos. I, III and V will be found on the left leaf of the door, and panels Nos. II, IV and VI on the right. Panels I and II depict the period preceding the coming of Christ (the expulsion from Paradise and the dream of Jacob). Panels III and IV depict the time when Jesus was on earth (the Annunciation and the empty sepulchre). Panels V and VI present two visions taken from the Apocalypse (the worship of the Church in Glory, and the triumph of Divine Justice over an ungodly and rebellious world). Recumbent figures border the panels and are allegorical depictions representing; Morality, Sin, Time, Tradition, Eternity, and Divine Justice.

Panel III (Washington Entering St. Paul's Chapel after his Inauguration
as President) of the south bronze door of Trinity Church

The south door has also six demi-relief panels, each depicting a scene in the history of Manhattan and the Trinity Church: Hendrik Hudson on the Half moon Discovering Manhattan Island; Dr. Barclay Preaching to the Indians; Washington Entering St. Paul's Chapel after his Inauguration as President; The Consecration of Four Bishop's in St. Paul's Chapel; Consecration of Trinity Church; and The Dedication of the Astor Reredos. The doors are of rich design and skillful workmanship, and may be seen to the best advantage when they are closed.

Section of the West Chancel window stained glass

Stained-glass windows can be seen from the sides of the Church all the way to the front. The most remarkable of these stained-glass windows is the chancel window towering above the altar. This brilliant design resembles a Gothic pointed arch and depicts Jesus, St. Peter, St. Matthew, St. Mark, St. Luke, St. John, and St. Paul in a dazzling array of colors. Many other religious figures are depicted in this window, including representations of the Trinity and the Eucharist.

All Saints Chapel in Trinity Church

All Saints' Chapel was built as a memorial to The Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix (1827-1908), Rector of Trinity Church from 1862-1908. Also known as Dix Memorial Chapel, it is an addition to Trinity Church designed by Thomas Nash and built from 1911-1913. The chapel is used primarily for prayer and an occasional private service. During the Rev. Dr. Morgan Dix’s forty-six year rectorship, the Parish of Trinity Church grew in a number of ways, adding six chapels and five charities, and the old Varick Street rectory was converted into Trinity Hospital. He was intellectually curious, and pursued research on a wide variety of theological and historical topics. Dix was a patron of the arts, and was active in the development of musical standards at Trinity during his rectorate. His literary activities included numerous publications, most notably a biography of his politically and militarily prominent father, John A. Dix.

Trinity Churchyard - burial ground

There are three burial grounds closely associated with Trinity Church: Trinity Churchyard (at Wall Street and Broadway), Trinity Church Cemetery and Mausoleum on Riverside Drive (at 155th Street), and Churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel. Trinity's beautifully kept chuchyard predates the church's establishment by Royal Charter in 1697. Among the 1,186 graves are those belonging to William Bradford, printer to the U.S. Goverment for more than half a century; to Robert Fulton, the first person to successfully apply steam power to ship locomotion; to Franklin Wharton, the third Commandant of the United States Marine Corps; to James Lawrence, an famous naval officer; to Albert Gallatin, the founder of New York University; and to Alexander Hamilton, framer of the Constitution and first Secretary of the Treasury.

Alexander Hamilton's Grave

Alexander Hamilton (1755 or 1757-1804) was a brilliant aide to Washington during the war, as chief of his staff. He came to prominence in the new Republic as the youngest of the 55 framers of the U.S. Constitution, and one of its most influential interpreters and promoters. He was the first secretary of the Treasury and founded the country's first central bank, and also the founder of the first American political party. Hamilton was mortally wounded in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

Alexander Hamilton's Grave

In the churchyard, in addition to Hamilton's grave, there is a memorial to the unknown martyrs of the revolution buried on the grounds. There is another Society of the Cincinnati memorial for the 16 officers of the Continental Army and Navy buried in the cemeteries maintained by the church. There is also a memorial to the thousands of Americans who died in prison ships in New York harbor. A reminder of Trinity's regal beginnings is the heroic statue in the southeast part of the cemetary near Broadway. It is of John Watts, the last Royal Recorder of the City of New York, who died in 1863. He served the newly independent country as Congressman, endowed an orphanage, and was a co-founder of a public health clinic.

The sculpture Trinity Root, by Steve Tobin

During the September 11, 2001 attacks, as the 1st Tower collapsed, people took refuge from the massive debris cloud inside the church. Falling wreckage from the collapsing tower knocked over a giant sycamore tree that had stood for nearly a century in the churchyard of St. Paul's Chapel, which is part of Trinity Church's parish and is located several blocks north of Trinity Church. Sculptor Steve Tobin used its roots as the base for a bronze sculpture installed in September 2005 in the south courtyard of the church, named even Trinity Root. Tobin financed the $330,000 sculpture himself, taking out a home equity loan to do so.