The Château of Chenonceaux

Sitting aside and crossing the Le Cher River, the Château of Chenonceaux is easily one of the greatest achievements of humans carefully adapting the built environment with the natural environment. Instead of trampling on the natural world, the renovation of what had been an old Medieval fortress was transformed into a residence that worked with…

The Château of Chambord

Oops, the Château of Chambord was undergoing massive restoration of its distinctive towers when we visited, but we still had a good time. Below is a view of what the château looks like without scaffolding. Designed for King Francis I, Chambord was never actually finished, and was rarely occupied during his reign. It however is…

The Gardens of Versailles

Business up front, party in the back, as they say. The backside of Versailles facing the extensive gardens is made up of three flat elevations with large swaths of reflecting ponds and gravel paths on the first terrace. Looking out over the lower terraces, the various fountains, which were all off on the day we…

The Luxembourg Palace

Another influential palace is the Luxembourg, constructed by Marie de Medici, the Florentine wife of Henry IV, who was assassinated. Their son was Louis XIII, and after numerous plots against by his own mother, he finally exiled her out of the kingdom. The famous Marie de Medici cycle was designed to fit in a giant…

The Forgotten Bircher Boulevard

I thought I would look into greater depth regarding the former Bircher Boulevard, which while still preserved as a highway exit off Interstate 70, has largely been destroyed. I looked at the houses on the south side of the former boulevard back in April of 2019, and I can only imagine what happened to the…

Civil War Monument, Central Park, Jacksonville, Illinois

Jacksonville was a center of the Abolitionist movement, apparently, and it is reflected in its Civil War Memorial. There are a lot of names listed on its base for a relatively small town. At the top is the allegorical figure of Columbia, sculpted by Leonard Crunelle and obviously cast in bronze. The inscription on the…

Central Park, Downtown Jacksonville, Illinois

Jacksonville was founded by groups of “Yankees,” from New England, many of whom were graduates of Yale University. I can’t help but think the influence of the large town commons and greens of cities such as New Haven played a part in the design of Central Park, the outsized town square of Jacksonville. The center…

Eden Park Reservoir, Cincinnati

I’ve long been interested in the now largely abandoned practice in Western civilization of combining utilitarian structures with pleasure grounds in urban and even rural environments. Take Compton Hill Reservoir Park in St. Louis or Druid Hill Park in Baltimore, for example. Such practices go far back in history until at least the Renaissance and…

Former Site of Union Park, Soulard

Along Russell Boulevard in Soulard is an interesting row of buildings, some quite old such as this one above and below which now houses artists’ studios (as well as an amazing terracotta frieze which is sadly obscured by a gnarled tree). I was alerted by a friend who once lived here. If anyone has a…