Exploring the Architecture of Oakland, Old and New

Exploring the Architecture of Oakland, Old and New

One of the things I love about American cities is the wonderful mix of architecture. From Victorian houses to the grand designs of the early 20th century, to sweeping modern skyscrapers. The city of Oakland, just a short metro ride from downtown San Francisco, was no...

The Mission District Murals of San Francisco

The Mission District Murals of San Francisco

San Francisco is famous for its colourful and provocative street art. You can find it everywhere, with a thousand or more murals across the city. But the greatest concentration is in the Mission District, with whole streets full of vibrant murals and mosaics. Balmy...

The Stairways of San Francisco

The Stairways of San Francisco

San Francisco is built on 49 hills – not just ordinary slopes, but tall steep inclines. Yet the city’s early planners and developers chose to lay out the roads in a grid pattern, paying no heed to contours. This resulted in some very steep streets, causing problems...

The Historic Houses of Alamo Square, San Francisco

The Historic Houses of Alamo Square, San Francisco

One of the pleasures of San Francisco is its historic architecture. Of course, the city is full of the impressive modern buildings that you’d expect in any American city. However there are also rows of well preserved Victorian houses. They seem to be everywhere, on...

Going Japanese in San Francisco

Going Japanese in San Francisco

The links between San Francisco and Japan stretch back to the end of the 19th century, when the first emigrants arrived in the city. Today San Francisco has the largest remaining Japantown area in the US. And in 1957 it strengthened its relationship with Japan by...

Sculpture and Art on New York’s High Line

Sculpture and Art on New York’s High Line

Even on a cold winter’s day New York’s High Line is a popular place. It is somewhere to escape from the noise and the traffic, a peaceful spot where you can enjoy the fresh air and the plants. With the added bonus of outdoor art and sculpture as you walk through the...

Unicorns and Abbeys at the New York Cloisters Museum

Unicorns and Abbeys at the New York Cloisters Museum

I’d heard about the Cloisters Museum long before I ever went to New York. This is the home of a series of medieval unicorn tapestries; unicorns have been a mild obession of mine ever since I discovered the Cluny tapestries in Paris. But I soon found that there is far...

Exploring Spanish History in San Juan Capistrano, California

Exploring Spanish History in San Juan Capistrano, California

Somehow I didn’t expect to see the ruins of an old stone church behind the high wall. After all, we were in the United States, the so-called New World. But this was San Juan Capistrano, the oldest town in California. A place jam-packed with historic houses, and an old...

History and Margaritas at El Pueblo de Los Angeles

History and Margaritas at El Pueblo de Los Angeles

One of the things I love about California is the profusion of different cultures: Chinese, Japanese and, of course, Mexican. I also take a perverse delight in ferreting out historical sites among the glass and concrete of the gleaming modern cities. So it’s no...

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