Philly Forum 2014

forum2014

This week Philadelphia welcomes Forum 2014: A Keystone Connection, the Statewide Conference on Heritage / Byways to the Past. The 2014 conference is a partnership between the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions, Preservation Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, and the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission.

Transportation, historic preservation, history, technology – this conference looks like it’s going to be great. Tickets sold out! Will you be there? I’ll be presenting on Thursday July 17 as part of the session, Crossing into History: Compatible Bridge Design in Historic Districts. Here’s the panel summary and speakers:

Bridges are not always mere conduits for transportation, but can play important roles in shaping, or affecting, the identity of a place.  While some bridges are small and unnoticeable, others are visual representations of a particular period in time and important elements of historic settings.  What happens when a bridge in an historic setting cannot be rehabilitated?   How do you design a new bridge that is compatible with the setting but does not end up looking historicized?  Is it better to design a bridge that is modern and does not attempt to imitate history or is it possible to develop compatible new designs that reflect their setting.  This session will explore these issues and offer insight into appropriate context sensitive design.

Moderator:

  • Monica Harrower, Cultural Resources Professional, PennDOT District 6-0

Speakers:

  • Michael Cuddy, Principal, TranSystems
  • Mary McCahon, Senior Historian, TranSystems
  • Barbara Shaffer, Planning and Environmental Specialist, Federal Highway Administration
  • Dain Gattin, Chief Engineer, Philadelphia Streets Department
  • Emanuel Kelly, FAIA, Philadelphia Art Commission
  • Kaitlin O’Shea, Historic Preservation Specialist, Vermont Agency of Transportation


Join us to learn about historic bridges, replacement projects, and historic districts!

News: Vote for the Best Bridge

Voting for the 2013 Othmar H. Ammann Awards has been extended to January 11, 2014. (You can thank these polar vortex/arctic blasts/ice storms).

Lime Creek Bridge north of Fulda, Minnesota. Photo taken in December 2010. Courtesy of Jason Smith, The Bridgehunter's Chronicles. Click for source.

Lime Creek Bridge north of Fulda, Minnesota. Photo taken in December 2010. Courtesy of Jason Smith, The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles. Click for source.

The Othmar H. Ammann Awards honors the Swiss-American, internationally known bridge engineer. Read more about the awards on The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

Why vote? To raise awareness for the world’s significant bridges. As Jason Smith, writer of The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles blog, this is like the Bridge Bowl.

The categories include (among others):

  • Bridge of the Year
  • Mystery Bridge
  • Best Photo
  • Best Preservation Example
  • Spectacular Disaster

Check it out and show bridges some love. Get your ballot here. Vote by Saturday January 11, Winners announced January 13, 2014.

Minneapolis By Bike

Nice Ride Minnesota offered the perfect way to tour the beautiful Minneapolis. Here are some of the sites along my travels: bike paths, bridges, museums, and buildings, all on a gorgeous day!

The famous Spoonbridge & Cherry sculpture at the Walker Art Museum.

The famous Spoonbridge & Cherry sculpture at the Walker Art Museum.

One of the holes at the mini-golf of Walker Art Museum.

One of the holes at the mini-golf of Walker Art Museum.

Walker Art Museum

Walker Art Museum

17 blocks of Eat Street!

17 blocks of Eat Street!

Nicollet Mall

Nicollet Mall

Downtown Minneapolis

Downtown Minneapolis

Cruising on the bike along the bike path.

Cruising on the bike over bridges.

The views from everywhere are spectacular and full of texture

The views from everywhere are spectacular and full of texture

The art museum at the University of Minnesota campus.

Weisman Art Museum at the University of Minnesota campus.

The houses are beautiful on Nicollet Island.

The houses are beautiful on Nicollet Island.

Hennepin Avenue bridge (this one was built in 1991).

Hennepin Avenue bridge (this one was built in 1990 and is the 3rd bridge here).

More views from the University of MN campus looking to the Minneapolis skyline.

More views from the University of MN campus looking to the Minneapolis skyline.

University of MN.

University of MN.

Railroad bridge through Nicollet Island.

Railroad bridge through Nicollet Island.

My one concern: where was I supposed to find ice cream? Otherwise, thanks for the hospitality, Minneapolis!

Photos of Minnesota’s SIA 2013 adventures will continue to appear; I can’t get enough! 

SIA 2013: Mighty Mississippi

Tales from SIA 2013 continue with Friday’s tour named, “Mighty Mississippi: A Twin Cities Riverboat Cruise with the Experts.” (There are typically four tours from which to choose on the Friday.)

Mighty Mississippi!

Mighty Mississippi!

The tour began via bus, which would bring the group from St. Paul into Minneapolis. The tour began with the 7th Street Improvement Arches, which are 1884 masonry arch bridges constructed in the helicoidal (spiral) method. These bridges were on a former rail line, but are now the corridor is an active bike path in St. Paul.

Helicoidal construction in the Seventh Street Improvement Arches.

Helicoidal construction in the Seventh Street Improvement Arches.

Seventh Street Improvement Arches, with the bike path.

Seventh Street Improvement Arches, with the bike path.

Continuing into Minneapolis we saw the city skyline and many mills lining the Mississippi River. After seeing the (newest) Hennepin Avenue Bridge and Nicollet Island, we strolled across the Stone Arch Bridge with a NPS ranger who gave a history of the river corridor. The Mississippi River is a National River & Recreation Area, managed by the National Park Service.

Pillsbury "A" Mill in Minneapolis.

Pillsbury “A” Mill in Minneapolis.

The SIA group walking across the bridge.

The SIA group walking across the bridge.

What a lovely skyline: historic buildings and new buildings all in one.

What a lovely skyline: historic buildings and new buildings all in one.

Everyone boarded a riverboat in the Upper St. Anthony Falls Lock & Dam. To those of us (like me) who had never been in a dam & lock before, this was very exciting!

Learning how a dam & lock operates, as we travel down.

Learning how a dam & lock operates, as we travel down.

And then once through the lock & dam, the views of the city were spectacular, especially the Stone Arch bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge from the river.

The Stone Arch Bridge from the river.

The Gold Medal Flour sign can be seen on the grain elevators on the left.

The Gold Medal Flour sign can be seen on the grain elevators on the left.

The tour on the riverboat included many, many bridges, historic and new. While touring these bridges, our guides included bridge experts, historians and the boat operator, who offered history and significance of the bridges and surrounding resources. Here are just a few images from the day:

The new I-35W bridge in te background and 10th Ave (Cedar Ave) bridge in the foreground.

The new I-35W bridge in te background and 10th Ave (Cedar Ave) bridge in the foreground.

Up close and personal with all of the bridges.

Up close and personal with all of the bridges.

Minnesota is lucky to have many open spandrel concrete arch bridges.

Minnesota is lucky to have many open spandrel concrete arch bridges.

This is the Omaha Railway Swing Bridge, which the operator opened for us to see!

This is the Omaha Railway Swing Bridge, which the operator opened for us to see! Here it is shown completely open as we floated down the river.

A miniature stone arch bridge.

A miniature stone arch bridge. The Mendota Road Bridge.

A new bridge: The Smith Avenue High Bridge in St. Paul.

A new bridge: The Smith Avenue High Bridge in St. Paul.

Back in St. Paul: the Chicago Great Western Railway Vertical Lift Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge.

Back in St. Paul: the Chicago Great Western Railway Vertical Lift Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge.

Among many bridges,there were other interesting sites to see along the river including the abandoned Island Station Power Plant.

Abandoned Minnesota? The Island Power Plant.

Abandoned Minnesota. The Island Station Power Plant.

Part of the St. Paul skyline.

Part of the St. Paul skyline.

And that is only some of the scenes from the tour. It was a beautiful day (the clouds only threatened us for a short while in the afternoon). The tour included lunch as well. It was a perfect day on the river. Hats off to the organizers and sponsors: the SIA, Mead & Hunt, and the Historic Bridge Foundation. If you love bridges, history and water, this was the perfect tour on the SIA. Come join us next time!

To read additional details about the tour, read a post by Amy Squitieri of Mead & Hunt on the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles blog. And if you can name some of the bridges pictures, please do. There were way too many to commit to memory in one afternoon! Here are more of Minnesota’s historic bridges.

*Note: Click on any image for a larger, clearer version.

SIA 2013: Minnesota Nice

As mentioned, the annual Society for Industrial Archeology meeting was held in the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis this year. The annual meeting/conference is typically a day of tours on Friday and a day of paper sessions on Saturday, with receptions and additional tours on Thursday and Sunday. Well organized, welcoming, interesting and fun, this year was no exception. Let me recap, starting today with an overview of the SIA conference. First and foremost, St. Paul and Minneapolis are great. And yes, “Minnesota Nice” is an apt description of my time there.

Based in the lovely city of St. Paul, a welcoming reception on Thursday greeted everyone with good food, drinks, mingling and a lecture about local history.

The welcome reception was held at 317 on Rice Park.

The welcome reception was held at 317 on Rice Park.

The library across the street from 317 on Rice Park.

The library across the street from 317 on Rice Park.

And best of all about the welcoming reception is that I finally got to meet Raina Regan, a long time social media friend. It’s funny how you can meet someone for the first time but feel like you’ve actually known each other much longer. Oh, the powers of social media. Aside from historic preservation, we bond over our love of cat photography.

Raina and me.

Raina and me. Obviously I was too excited to smile with my eyes open!

Downtown St. Paul, looking towards the St. Paul Hotel, the conference home base.

Downtown St. Paul, looking towards the St. Paul Hotel (center), the conference home base, and the Landmark Center (right).

For Friday’s tour I opted for the Mighty Mississippi tour, which took us up and down the Mississippi River to gaze at (and learn about) the beautiful bridge stock that Minnesota is lucky to call its own. The tour itself deserves its own post, but here’s a preview.

The Mighty Mississippi tour began in Minneapolis, on the Stone Arch Bridge, before we got on the boat to cruise the river.

The Mighty Mississippi tour began in Minneapolis, on the Stone Arch Bridge, before we got on the boat to cruise the river. It was an absolutely gorgeous day and the views of Minneapolis were spectacular from this bridge.

The Stone Arch Bridge and the Minneapolis skyline.

The Stone Arch Bridge and the Minneapolis skyline.

Saturday was the paper sessions, held in the St. Paul Hotel. From bridges to industrial communities to bordellos to mills and mines, the papers were informative and interesting. I always love giving a presentation, and I hope my audience enjoyed the topic as much I did. Considering it was right after lunch, playgrounds (recess!) were the perfect topic for that hour.

Getting ready in the morning, last looks!

Getting ready in the morning, last looks!

Presenting on the Giant Stride. Photo thanks to Raina Regan!

Presenting on the Giant Stride. Again, I was quite excited. Photo thanks to Raina Regan!

A Saturday banquet was held in the Wabasha Street Caves, once home to speakeasies in the 1930s. But before that, the caves were hollowed out by mining for silica in the mid 1800s. It’s a neat place and the guide shared ghost stories with us.

Inside the Wabasha Street Caves.

Inside the Wabasha Street Caves.

It’s always great to see familiar faces, to meet new people to exchange ideas between our fields. After all, this is a conference that attracts preservationists and engineers and everyone in between. The SIA is a wonderful crowd and I thank them yet again for a great time in a new place.

Later this week look for more about the Friday tour, Minneapolis adventures and much more. 

The Traveling Flamingo

Mr. Stilts is still out and about in the Midwest, making the rounds through St. Paul and Minneapolis. Here are a few photos so far, with tales of conferences, adventures, and sights to come.

20130603-100638.jpg

20130603-100654.jpg

20130603-100708.jpg

20130603-100733.jpg

April Flamingo-grams

Not that we’re halfway through May or anything like that. Here are April adventures, mostly in and around Vermont, with some excursion to CT and NY. (Hover over each photo for the caption.)

March Flamingo-grams February Flamingo-grams January Flamingo-grams Thanksgiving Flamingo-gramsNovember Flamingo-gramsOctober Flamingo-grams

News: Historic Bridge Conference

Do you like bridges? Summertime? Travel? New places? State fairs? Cornfields? Tours? Scholarly papers? Meeting new people with similar interests? If so, consider attending the 5th Annual Historic Bridge Conference, held August 9th – 12th, 2013 in Iowa. It will be the perfect combination of all of the above, and then some. Here is some conference information, provided by Jason Smith of The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles.

Each year since 2009, the Historic Bridge Weekend  Conference has  taken place in August or September, and each year, it has drawn in more people who are  experts in historic bridges, preservation or history, as well as those who are either bridge enthusiasts or have a keen interest in how these vintage structures were built and how they played a role in American History.

This year’s Historic Bridge Weekend is coming to America’s heartland, the state of Iowa, where the history of transportation and infrastructure and the development of America as a whole go together like bread and butter.  The Lincoln and Jefferson Highways meet in the state. Iowa was the first state to introduce the No Passing Zone signs. Kate Shelley made her heroic deed by stopping a passenger train from falling through a bridge washed away by flood waters.

And the bridges?  Iowa takes pride in its bridge building. The first bridge designs, like the Marsh arch, the aluminum girder and the Thacher truss originated from Iowa.  Numerous bowstring arches were built throughout the state. Many big-name bridge builders from Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania made their mark in Iowa, while the state had its own bridge building companies located in Clinton, Ottumwa and Des Moines, which dominated the American landscape during the first half of the 20th Century.

This year’s Historic Bridge Weekend will take place August 9th through the 12th and will focus on the eastern half of Iowa, where many historic bridges dating as far back as 1870 still exist today.

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County, IA. Photo courtesy of Jason Smith. Click for source.

Upper Paris Bridge in Linn County, IA. Photo courtesy of Jason Smith. Click for source.

The agenda will include tours throughout the state, paper presentations, and a dinner each night. It sounds like a great weekend conference, and an excellent reason to tour America’s heartland. Bring your cameras and practice your photography as Jason Smith is working on The History of Truss Bridges in Iowa and welcoming contributions.

For those who are interested in participating in the dinner and presentations, please RSPV Jason D. Smith at the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles at: flensburg.bridgehunter.av@googlemail.com or JDSmith77@gmx.net by no later than 15 July.  Information on the bridge tours and the dinner and presentations will be provided through e-mail.  Lodging and camping possibilities are available upon request.

Maybe some of you haven’t had the opportunity to attend a conference yet, or are hesitant to do so because you’re not a bridge expert, for example. Maybe you just like bridges. Don’t worry! Conferences are meant to be educational, and if you have an interest in the conference subject then you are sure to learn a lot and meet interesting people. Smaller conferences with tours and many opportunities for networking and conversing are very rewarding, much more than those conferences purely focused on paper presentations. So, if you’re considering this Historic Bridge Weekend, go for it! In addition, Iowa is a beautiful state. (And might I recommend a visit to Field of Dreams, in addition to all of those lovely bridges.)

Find the Bridgehunter’s Chronicles on Facebook, too.

If you’re attending, let me know! And remember, in the Preservation ABCs: B is for Bridge.

Preservation ABCs: R is for Railing

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

————————–

R is for Railing

railings

A variety of railings. Top left: a modern cable railing in a historic railyard turnable (Montpelier, VT). Top right: a pedestrian railing on a truss bridge (Woodstock, VT). Bottom left: An elaborate Federal style balustrade (Rutland County, VT). Bottom right: a joint on a simple storefront railing (Randolph, VT).

Porch railings, stair railings (balusters & banisters), bridge railings, pedestrian railings, even small handrails – all of these might be small elements of our historic buildings and structures, yet they contribute to historic integrity and have the potential to make quite an impression, subliminal or obvious. Varying in height, detail, material and purpose, railings are elements that have changed over time; they are part of architectural style classifications just as doors, windows and interior details.

Due to deterioration of metal or rot of wood, railings exposed to the elements are often replaced. In terms of transportation, pedestrian railings and bridge railings are often replaced due to new crash ratings and safety standards. In public buildings, railings are often replaced because the old one doesn’t meet height requirements. And structures that did not have originally have railings often have later additions, perhaps on stairs or fire escapes – wherever one might be needed. Some might be historically appropriate to the architectural style of the building or structure; however, there is a chance that this new railing addition is an inappropriate, generic selection or 2x4s or standard w-beam (on bridges that is) when it should be something else. Modern railings on historic structures are often meant to fade into the background, such as cable rails, in order to not convey a false impression of what is historic on the structure.

In fact, railings might be something you notice without thinking about it. Next time you are walking or driving over a bridge, look to the side. What is the railing? Does it tell you about the bridge? When you walk into a building, what do you hold onto as you enter? How about when you climb the stairs or stand on a balcony? And then consider this: do you think the railing has been replaced? Even if you haven’t studied architectural history, does this railing seem like it matches the building?

Before replacing a railing consider if it can be rehabilitated. Minor repairs or a creative solution, like adding a parapet to get pedestrian height might solve your problem.

What do you think about railings?