CenturyLink Field

CenturyLink-Field
Photo by: Cptnono, CC

On July 28th, 2002, the 67,000 seat CenturyLink Field in Seattle Washington opened its doors to the public. The field is a state of the art and very modern. For those wishing to take in a Seattle Seahawks football game or a Seattle Sounders Soccer game, this amazing field contributes to the perfect experience.

History of the Field

CenturyLink Field has had two other names over the course of its existence. It was originally called Seattle Seahawks Stadium and the name remained for less than two years when, in June, 2004, the name was changed to Qwest Field. The name change occurred after Qwest Communications gained naming rights. In June, 2011, Qwest was purchased by CenturyLink. This led to the third name change to occur and the name may remain in place for several more years.

While the field carries the name of a private enterprise, the stadium is actually a publicly held entity. The Washington State Public Stadium Authority owns the stadium. The decision to create a new stadium was left to the voters who did approve the funding for the construction of the venue. The actual vote was state-wide, rather than just in Seattle. The vote took place in June of 1997 and the actual construction of the field took place between 2000 and 2002.

To help oversee the creation of the stadium, Paul Allen, the owner of the Seahawks, created an organization called First & Goal Incorporated. Allen contributed a great deal to the design process of the stadium. He was leader in the decision to create an open air venue that offers views of the Downtown Seattle skyline.

Ellerbe Beckett was the architect who drew up the plans on the project. Overall, the cost of construction was $430 million. The general contractor who worked on the stadium was the Turner Construction Company.

The surface of the field is made up of Astroturf. Both soccer and football events are held on the field. NCAA football is also played at the field with the Washington Huskies being the chief team to utilize the stadium. There are also two soccer teams that play here.

Multi-Purpose Stadium

While football, soccer and concerts are what most people associate with this stadium, there are other purposes that the venue serves. The stadium itself is not the only component to entire facility. With the complex, there is the Event Center and the WaMu Theater. Both of these venues can host their own events. The seating capacity is much smaller in these areas. Concerts are common at the venues and so are trade and consumer shows. Other sporting events can be held here as well.

During the Halloween season, for example, there is an event called Freak Night and it celebrates the spooky nature of the holiday. There are other holiday themed events that take part at various other times during the year. Ski Dazzle is another event that takes place in winter and it draws in large crowds.

The Seattle Auto Show is another extremely popular happening held at the field. Both classic cars and the cars and futuristic models are put on display at this very popular exhibition.

Those wishing to host a private event at the field can do so. Contacting event services is all that is required to learn more about how the process of booking the venue works.

Additional Information

The stadium is located at 800 Occidental Ave South in Seattle, Washington. The phone number to the front office is (206) 381-7555. The hours for the main business offices are 8:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. The field itself is not very far from the central business district in Seattle. Therefore, access by various different freeways and mass transit is possible. For those who drive to the venue, a parking garage is available on the premises. The website of the venue also offers traffic updates for those worried about any difficulties commuting to the stadium.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 22, 2013 at 4:10 pm | No comment

Woodland Park Zoo

Woodland-Park-Zoo
Brown Bear Exhibit
Photo by: Beeblebrox, CC

The Woodland Park Zoo is situated in North Seattle, Washington. The zoo covers 92 acres of land and is home to more than 1,000 animals. The 92 acres are divided into bioclimatic zones, allowing animals to roam freely in the habitat areas. If you are looking for a park to take your family to, Woodland Park Zoo will not disappoint. There are many wonderful animal exhibits and plenty of things for everybody to see and do.

Animals

The park houses a variety of animals including giraffes, tigers, and gorillas. There are a number of incredible exhibits that you can see at the zoo. They include the African Savanna and Village, The Raptor Center, Tropical Asia, the Northern Trail, Bug World, Australasia, the Tropical Rainforest and the Humboldt Penguin exhibit. There is also a wonderful butterfly exhibit but it is only open from May through September.

Maps and Directions

The park is very large and it is easy to spend the whole day at this location. The zoo offers lots of maps with directions to help visitors navigate the area. Every guide is available in big print with easy to follow directions to all the different places the park has to offer. Some of the provided map tour options include an Art Tour Guide, a Monkey Tour and a Field Trip Guide.

Hand Carved Carousel

Woodland Park Zoo has a hand curved carousel that was made in 1918 by Philadelphia Toboggan Company. The carousel of that has 48 hand-carved horses is regarded one of the best carousels left in the U.S. It is also among 150 carousels of its kind left in the world. It is housed in the pavilion to protect it from the elements. It is an excellent place to hold a party. The pavilion has two rooms that can be reserved for parties of up to 15 guests. In 2011, the park installed solar panels to power the carousel.

Concerts

If you love music, then this park will not disappoint. The zoo hosts a number of outdoor musical concerts throughout summer months, known as Zoo Tunes. The Woodland Park Zoo is also a wonderful place for beer and wine tastings with samples from more than 25 breweries and wineries.

Activities for Kids

Woodland Park Zoo is a great destination for families with kids. Though the zoo may not be the largest of all, it provides a day of fun that will not be forgotten. Zoomazium is great play area for children the ages of 2 to 8 to play. Also, there are play structures made to look like trees for kids to climb on. There are also many places to explore, special performances and various animals that you can pet. The zoo does offer an animal contact area full of farm animals. Guests are permitted to pet the goats and sheep during the summer months.

Camps and Classes

Woodland Park Zoo has camps for people of all ages. Whatever your interest is, there is something for everyone. Camp topics include Animal Architects, Animal Survival and Animals on the Fly to name a few. They offer zoo day camps to kids between the ages of three and fourteen. Camps go for half or full days and last up to 14 days. They also offer school outings and summer camps for teens. Woodland Park Zoo also hosts over-night escapades for both kids and adults to solve mysteries and learn how zoologists investigate animal behaviors during the night.

Food

With all the wonderful animals and scenery to enjoy with your family, a tour to the park can be a whole day escapade. There are a number of dining options for hungry guests. The zoo does offer snack carts and Woodland Park Zoo also has big open areas where you can enjoy a picnic-style lunch. Unlike other zoos, this location does not force you to purchase pricey food.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 21, 2013 at 3:57 pm | No comment

Seattle Public Library

Seattle-Public-Library
Photo by: Bobak Ha’Eri, CC

Seattle Public Library, commonly referred to as SPL, is a public library that lies in Seattle, Washington. The library was established by city authority in 1890. There are 26 branches in system; most of these branches are named after neighborhoods where they are located.

Branches

The SPL system is comprised of the Central Library and 26 other branches together with the mobile library system. Some of the branches include: Beacon Hill, Ballard, Broadview, Capitol Hill, Delridge, Columbia, Green Lake, High point, Greenwood, Lake city, Chinatown, Magnolia, Magnolia, Northgate, Queen Anne, South Park, Rainer Beach, Wallingford, Montlake, Fremont, North East located in View Ridge and West Seattle.

Collection

Since 2011, the central location of this library holds over 930,000 books. The collection of books includes an oral history collection, federal document depository, state document depository, an aviation history collection, some historical documents of Seattle and genealogy records. Between all 26 branches there are about 1 million cataloged physical media including CDs, books, DVDs. All locations have un-cataloged collections of different books that can be borrowed without a library card.

History

The first attempt to build a library happened in a meeting that took place on July 30th, 1868. The meeting was between 50 residents. However, it took decades for something to happen. Ladies Library Association started to focus more on making a public library in 1888. They decided to raise some funds and were promised land to use for the project. However, their efforts were discontinued after the Seattle Fire of 1889. In 1890, the city charter officially established a public library as one of the branches of city government. The library was founded by using a 10% share of the city fines, licenses and penalties.

The very first library was opened on April 8th,1891. The library was opened as one reading room on 3rd floor of the Occidental Block, later known as the Seattle Hotel. During the first decade, the library was shifted from one place to another; in 1894, it moved across 2nd Avenue to Collins Block and then later to Rialto. In 1898, this library moved to the former Yesler mansion. On January 1st, 1901, Yesler mansion burned down – destroying most of the library collection. Some library records were salvaged including 2,000 volumes of the kid’s collection.

The new Carnegie library was built close to the former university campus; this library occupied the whole block between 4th avenue and 5th avenue and between Spring street and Madison street. The land was bought at a price of $100,000. In 1903, a design of the building was selected and ground was broken in 1905. The library was then dedicated on December 19th, 1906.

During 1915, the library began collecting different books in English and other languages. By 1916, over 67,000 people had borrowed books from this library. As of 2006, the Seattle Public Library had 699 staff members and circulated 3,151,840 books plus an additional 1,613,979 for children’s books, 570,316 talking book and Braille materials plus over 3,895,444 CDs, videotapes and DVDs. The system provides 1,134 public computers.

In 2012, Seattle voters decided to pass a seven- year levy that would restore services. This levy made it possible for all branches to open on Sundays. This also added to maintenance and the repair money and provided new money to buy physical materials, computer equipment and other electronics.

Architecture

Most of the facilities in Seattle Public Library are great architectural works. These structures reflect aesthetics of several different periods. The SPL opened in 2004 was designed by Joshua Prince and Rem Koolhaas. In 2007, this building was voted number 108 on the American Institute of Architects list of America’s 150 favorite structures in United States. This building was awarded a 2005 national AIA Honor- Award for Architecture. Six of the current libraries are on National Register of the Historic Places. Several other buildings have also been designated as great landmarks by Seattle’s Landmarks Preservation Board. The New Ballard Branch was one of 1st buildings in Seattle to include green architecture. This library is also equipped with solar panels to decrease electricity demands.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 20, 2013 at 3:48 pm | No comment

Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI)

Museum-of-History-&-Industry-(MOHAI)
Photo by: Dennis Bratland, CC

The Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) has been one of the Seattle’s top museums since its founding in February of 1952. MOHAI is committed to enriching lives through preserving, sharing and teaching the history of the Puget Sound region and Seattle. Through lectures, exhibits, workshops, educational program as well as community events, the museum fosters an appreciation for the varied history, social, cultural, and economic history of the region.

History

The Seattle Historical Society was created in 1911 on the anniversary of the founding of Seattle. Chartered 3 years later, the group worked very hard for 50 years to open the museum that would later tell the city’s history. MOHAI was opened on February 15th, 1952. The museum has grown in the last few decades to become the state’s biggest private heritage organization, hosting more than sixty thousand visitors every year from different parts of the country.

Why Visit

MOHAI is among the most children friendly museums in Seattle and is a renowned field trip destination. If you wish to learn more about the history of this city, a tour to MOHAI is a good option. Also, there is a nice blend of interactive and static exhibits. MOHAI is pleasantly close to downtown and the Seattle Center. This makes combining a trip to MOHAI with other places in the city easy. One visit to this museum is not enough to explore everything.

MOHAI’s Library

If you want to do some research for your personal interests or school the museum’s Sophie Frye Bass Library is a great resource. The library has more than 1.5 million historical images and books, manuscripts, maps, motion pictures, ephemera materials as well as sound recordings. MOHAI’s library is usually open by appointment. It serves reference and research needs of the students, scholars, journalists and interested individuals.

Exhibits

The museum’s permanent collection includes upwards of 100,000 objects. However, this does not mean you will see all 100,000 on display when you visit. About 2% of the collection is on display at any one time combined with special or temporary exhibits. This ensures that visitors are likely to view new items on every trip. The items range in date from the 1800’s to more recent times. They are from every aspect of local history, from handcrafted baskets to WW II arsenals and beyond. Exhibits comprise of physical items, images, interactive displays, antique cars and aviation equipment.

Things to Do Nearby

Within a few blocks of the museum’s South Lake Union location are numerous restaurants. Restaurants such as Buca Di Beppo, Chandler’s Crabhouse, Daniel’s Broiler, and Joey Lake Union are all within walking distance. Along Lake Union, there are a number of nicer dining options. MOHAI’s location puts it in close proximity to the downtown and Seattle Center. Seattle Center is eight blocks to the west. Here you will find a number of eateries in the Center House food court, and even more places dotting the perimeter.

Getting There

MOHAI is situated in Lake Union Park. The easiest way to get to the museum is by taking public transportation. Several buses run near MOHAI. A South Lake Union Streetcar has a stop in front of the museum. The streetcar services can be boarded close to the Westlake Center at 5th and Olive Streets.

Parking

The most convenient parking lot is at 1200 Westlake Avenue North. This lot is owned by Standard Parking, but MOHAI guests can get great rates at $5 during weekdays and $4 during weekends for up to 10 hours. Make sure that your ticket is validated at the museum. Guests can also find enough parking on the street.

Admission Fee

Admission is free for the members and youths under the age of 14. On the 1st Thursday of every month, admission to the museum is free for everyone.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm | No comment

Space Needle

Space-Needle
Photo by: Yatharth, CC

Like the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Willis Tower in Chicago, the space needle in Seattle immediately separates the city’s skyline from any other in the world. It is a major landmark in the Pacific Northwest and a big draw for tourists from all over the planet. It has an observation deck that provides guests with a bird’s eye view of the entire city including the surrounding islands, Mount Rainier, Elliott Bay and the Olympic and Cascade Mountains.

Concept

The initial design for the Space Needle was a combination of two designs. The first was by Edward Carlson who visualized it as a balloon tethered to the ground; the idea came to him while dining at a restaurant on top of Stuttgart Tower in 1959. He scribbled the plan for the “restaurant in the sky” on a place mat. The other design was by famed architect, John Graham. His concept was for a revolving restaurant, inspired by a UFO style. The combination of the two ideas is what gave rise to the present day Space Needle that features a disc on top of a flared spire.

Construction

The Space Needle was constructed for the 1962 world fair. Its construction was financed privately; the site was bought for $75,000 in 1961, 13 months before the world fair was scheduled to begin. The Construction started on April 17th, 1961 and lasted about eight months. The foundation was 120 feet across and 30 feet deep; the hole was filled by 467 cement trucks in a single day. The steel tower was affixed to the ground by 72 30-foot long bolts. Construction was completed December 8th,1961. The construction alone cost $4.5 million.

Size and Statistics

The tower is 138 feet wide and 605 feet high. The foundation weighs 5,850 tons including 250 tons of reinforced steel; in total, the building weighs 9,550 tons. There are 25 lightning rods fitted on the roof in order to reduce the impact of lightning strikes. The Observation deck is 520 feet from the ground and there are 848 steps separating the deck and the basement.

The 1962 World’s Fair

The Space Needle was opened as the center of attention at the world’s fair held in Seattle. The Fair had a 21st century theme and the futuristic design of the Space Needle was a call to embrace the future. Even the colors of the building incorporated the space age theme. The roof was painted “Galaxy Gold,” the center has an “Orbital Olive” color and the legs are “Astronaut White.” The initial poster for the World’s Fair featured a beam of light rising atop the Space Needle; this light beam would later on be referred to as the Legacy Light. The Legacy Light was first lit on New Year’s Eve, 1999. It is used to commemorate special occasions in Seattle and honor national holidays.

Amenities

The Space Needle has a 200 seat revolving restaurant, an observation Deck and a gift shop at the base. The restaurant uses a turntable that has a 125-ton track-and-wheel system to rotate. It also features a banquet facility.

Elevators

Guests can ride to the top on either one of two high speed elevators that ascend and descend at 10mph. A ride to the observation deck takes about 43 seconds. When it snows, visitors riding the elevator up get the amazing sensation that snow is moving from the ground as opposed to coming from the sky. The elevators are slightly slowed down on windy days.

Visitor Information

The Space Needle is open to visitors all year round, with exception of special events and construction. An entry ticket costs $17 for adults, $15 for active military and seniors, and $9 for children below the age of 13. You can find the exact opening times on the official website.

Fun Facts

The Space Needle was initially named “The Space Cage” and its rotating restaurant was referred to as the “eye of the needle.” It was initially built to withstand earthquakes of up to 9.5 on the Richter scale; in 1965, an earthquake of 6.5 rocked the building; there was no structural damage but the quake caused water in the toilets to slosh out. Since its opening, only three people have successfully committed suicide by jumping off the Building; six more attempts have been made after safety mesh was erected around the Observation deck. On a hot day, the buildings steel can expand by as much as an inch. The Space Needle houses the second revolving restaurant on the planet.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 18, 2013 at 2:38 pm | No comment

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle-Art-Museum
Photo by: Minnaert, CC

Although popular for its love of coffee, Seattle is not renowned for that alone. With a population of over 602,000, Seattle has been ranked as one of America’s most literate cities. With their rich heritage and culture, Seattle has impressed the world with its museums. Among the most popular sites is the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). The museum is comprised of three facilities throughout Seattle, Washington spanning over 312,000 square feet.

You can see art from all over at Seattle Art Museum. The museum is strong in modern art, but there are also fantastic collections of American and European art that range from ancient Mediterranean works to pieces from Renaissance, medieval, and baroque periods. The museum offers thrilling artistic experiences for people of all ages. Here, guests can enjoy an array of changing exhibitions, lectures, the Museum Store as well as the Museum Restaurant.

The Seattle Asian Art Museum

The museum has a sister museum known as the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Discover the beauty of Asian art at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. Nestled in Capitol Hill’s stunning Volunteer Park, this art modern structure houses a collection of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Indian, Southeast Asian and Himalayan art. Simply take a free gallery tour and discover the splendor of Asian art and culture. The museum opens its doors free of charge every first Thursday and Saturday of the month.

Olympic Sculpture Park

The museum’s waterfront Olympic Sculpture Park is an industrial site that was turned into a green space. It is definitely worth a visit for people who love art. Dotted with modern art works by renowned artists likes Richard Serra, Mark di Suvero, and Alexander Calder, this park is set against a magnificent backdrop of Puget Sound as well as the Cascade Range with a 2,200 foot pedestrian path leading to the beach. It opens its doors on a daily basis and it is free of charge.

Seattle Asian Art Museum Traveling Exhibit

The Seattle Asian Art Museum hosts a number of traveling exhibits every year and is home to numerous works of art deco as well as post modern art and architecture. One of their many pieces, which always attracts visitors, is Kanye Quaye’s coffin in the shape of a Mercedes Benz. It was added to the collection in 1991. This was during the period that the main collection of the museum was moved to its present location at 100 University Street in December.

The Seattle Art Museum Programs

The Museum is home to many programs designed to benefit visitors. One of the popular attractions here is the film program. They present an array of film series and events all year round. The museum also creates a vibrant and festive ambiance by commissioning live performers representing the music and dances of different cultures from around the globe. The Seattle Art Museum welcomes more than 20,000 students every year with their first-rate educational summer program featuring interactive workshops to help give kids a solid understanding of art and how art relates to their lives.

Attractions for Kids

The Seattle Art Museum has areas that are good for kids. The art ladder has a craft area for children and art installations designed to be visually appealing and interesting for kids of all ages. You can also check out art installations in the lobby as well as a gigantic Joseph Borofsky statue. Inside the museum, there is a quiet play area for kids with a great selection of fantastic toys, costumes, blocks and drums. The shop has a nice collection of toys and books that engage kids with visual arts. The second Saturday of every month is Family Fun Day, with kid-focused performances, tours, and workshops from 10:00 A.M. to noon.

Opening Days

The main part of the The Seattle Art Museum is located in the Downtown Seattle just south of the Space Needle. The museum is open from Wednesday to Sunday and stays open later on Thursdays and Fridays. The museum does charge an admission fee, but visitors can get in free of charge if they visit the last Thursday of the month.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm | No comment

Burke-Gilman Trail

Burke-Gilman-Trail
Photo by: Dennis Bratland, CC

The Burke-Gilman Trail runs primarily along a disused railroad alignment in and around Seattle, Washington. It winds for 27 miles through King County, and was originally owned by the Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway. The trail runs along Lake Washington and its associated Ship Canal, before running through Marymoor Park to Issaquah. A section of the trail through Ballard is missing, although construction of this has been proposed in order to fill in the “missing link” of the trail.

History and Background

The Seattle, Lake Shore and Eastern Railway company was founded in 1885 by Daniel Gilman and Thomas Burke, together with their associates. It was briefly operated by the Burlington Northern Railroad from 1970, but the line was abandoned the following year. The idea to transform the unused tracks into a rail trail came fairly quickly, with the first portion of the trail opening in 1978. This ran for just over 12 miles, starting at Gas Works Park in Seattle and ending at Tracy Owen Station in Kenmore. Over the following years, several incremental extensions were made to the trail.

By the 21st century, extensions to the Burke-Gilman Trail existed at its western and northern extremities. In the latter case, the extension runs from Shilshole Bay to Golden Gardens Park, while the western extension covers the 11th Avenue area. There is also now a railroad exhibition – the Northwest Railway Museum – near Snoqualmie Falls. The gap in the current trail is centered near the waterfront at Salmon Bay. This remains a heavily industrialized area, and one of the reasons for the lack of progress in adding this “missing link” to the trail has been concern for the safety of walkers and cyclists in a place still used by trucks and trains.

Management and Usage

Existing areas of the trail can become congested at peak times, but most citizens’ groups, as well as the City of Seattle itself, are strongly in favor of the completion of the trail. Some of them suggest that the safety warnings given out by business leaders are excessively alarmist and not justified by the facts on the ground. They also point out that, when it is necessary to undertake extensive construction work, the necessary powers already exist to close specific parts of the trail to the public. This most recently occurred in 2011, when a two-mile stretch within Lake Forest Park was closed for several months to enable redevelopment work to take place.

Most of the trail is off-road, although there is one significant on-road section in Ballard itself. King County and Seattle have designated the trail as part of what they refer to as the “Locks to Lakes Corridor.” Management of the trail is the responsibility of the City of Seattle within its city limits, whereas beyond Northeast 145th Street King County takes over. Largely because of its mostly off-road nature and good management, the Burke-Gillman Trail has become extremely popular with a wide range of leisure users, including joggers, skaters, and cyclists. It is also used for cycle commuters traveling between the Eastside and Seattle itself. There are several landscaped viewpoints with vistas across Lake Union and the greater Seattle neighborhood.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 16, 2013 at 4:56 pm | No comment

California Academy of Sciences

California-Academy-of-Sciences
Photo by: WolfmanSF, CC

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the largest and oldest museums of natural history in the entire world. The Academy began as a society for offering educational information in 1853. In 1989, the academy buildings were damaged significantly leading to the closure of the institution. The Academy finally opened on September 27th, 2008. This institution is committed to undertaking research and looking for new and innovative ways to inspire and engage the public. A visit to the Academy can prove to be a great family day out because of the various intriguing exhibits that one can see in the different sections of the institution.

Morrison Planetarium

This is the largest digital dome in the world. The dome has a 75-foot diameter projection screen, which is tilted at a 30-degree angle. A fusion of scientific research, software and technology leads to production of accurate experiences on the 75-foot diameter screen. The planetarium can hold 290 people and guests love it because the imagery created on the screen gives the feeling of flying and rather than simply watching a movie.

Philippine Coral Reef Gallery

This coral reef is one of the deepest coral reef displays in the world. The coral reef is 25 feet in depth and holds around 212,000 gallons of water. The coral reef is home to different animals like stingrays, blacktip reef sharks and many other colorful fish.

Tusher African Hall

Penguins, chameleons and cichlids make the African Hall a great place to visit. The most famous creatures in the African Hall are the penguins whose home is modeled like Boulders Beach in South Africa where the penguins live in the wild. Through the Tusher African Hall, you get to experience African landscapes as well as cheetahs, zebras, lions and antelopes through the glass windows.

Northern California Coast Gallery

The Northern California Coast tank holds 100,000 gallons of water. The tank is a replica of the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. There is a walkway along the surface that gives the visitors an opportunity to smell the seawater and see the tide pools being drained, or filled with water. There is also a small beach where the water spills. Beneath the surface of the water, one can see a number of animals like sea stars, anemones, herring rockfish and sardines.

The Swamp Gallery

This is home to an albino alligator known as Claude. There are also several snapping turtles in the swamp. The gallery has a great view as people can see the animals from an underwater window as well as from the surface. This gallery is a favorite place for many people because of the opportunity to see the incredibly rare albino alligator.

The Rainforest Exhibit

The Rainforest exhibit is housed in a four-story 90-foot glass dome. This is the largest glass dome in the world to hold a rainforest exhibit. Visitors get the opportunity to walk in a real rainforest with the temperatures and humidity being maintained like those in a real rain forest. The rainforest is home to over 1,600 animals, including amphibians, reptiles and birds. This rainforest contains a wide array of plants like Theobrama cacao, the plant from which people make chocolate, West Indies mahogany, and different types of shrubs. The interesting thing about this Rainforest exhibit is that each level contains a specific rainforest setting, which includes Madagascar, the Amazon, Costa Rica and Borneo.

Kimball Natural History Museum

This is one of the most amazing museums in the world. The Kimball Natural History Museum addresses two important things: the evolution of the earth and the maintenance of life on earth. The California Academy of Sciences has conducted over 150 years in research. They have over twenty million specimens from which they can research different things. You get to learn more about different types of earthquakes and the diverse ways different communities prepare for these natural phenomena.

The California Academy of Sciences is one of the best places you can go and learn more about the earth and the history of its evolution. You also get to see different creatures closely, which is something that you may never have experienced. The research carried out at this institute is reliable and the knowledge gained can be passed on to people who would like to know more about science.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 16, 2013 at 1:45 pm | No comment

Columbia Center

Columbia-Center

Columbia Center is an important landmark in Seattle. It has the distinction of being the tallest building in the downtown Seattle skyline. At 932 ft, it is currently the 2nd highest structure on the West Coast and the tallest in the State of Washington. The skyscraper has 76 floors above ground and 7 stories below ground. It is located at the block formed between 4th and 5th Avenue and Cherry and Columbia Streets.

The building was originally called Columbia Seafirst Center, named after its largest tenant – the Seafirst Bank. After Seafirst bank was bought by Bank of America, the name of the building was changed to the Bank of America Tower. With the new name, the building was nicknamed BOAT, derived from the initial of each word of Bank of America Tower. In 2005, the name of the building was changed to Columbia Center, after Bank of America reduced its presence in the building.

The building hosts the world’s biggest firefighter competition where more than 1,500 firefighters from across the world compete by sprinting up the stairs of 69 floors in full firefighter gear.

The construction of the building began in April 1982 and was finished in May 1985.

Design

The amazing skyline tower was designed by Chester L. Lindsey architects, and was built by Howard S. Wright Construction Company. The base of the building is clad in Rose Purino Carnelian granite. Because of the three geometric arches that constitute the building, Columbia Center appears like three towers standing side by side.

The lobby of the tower consists of three floors of retail and dining that acts as a cafeteria for the occupants of the building. The center of the building has a magnificent waterfall sculpture. There is an observation deck on the 73rd floor. The top two floors are occupied by the Columbia Tower Club, which houses a bar, restaurant, library and meeting room. There is an underground concourse that connects the building to the Bank of America Fifth Avenue Plaza and the Seattle Municipal Tower.

There are a number of big brand names that rent office space in the tower, including DLA Piper LLC, Amazon.com, Bank of America and many more.

Panoramic View

If you want to get a view of Seattle from its tallest building, the best is from the observatory deck of the Columbia Center. It’s viewing deck offers spectacular views of nature and the surrounding the city. In 2013, the 270 degree Sky View was remodeled into a 360 degree viewing area, thus giving a breath-taking view of the entire city. From this dizzying vantage point, you can look down at the roofs of the other towering skyscrapers.

The observatory deck at Columbia Center is open daily from 10 AM to 7 PM. A visit to the deck will cost adults $12.50, kids above the age of five $9, seniors and military will have to pay $9 and kids under five can visit for free.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm | No comment

de Young Museum

de-Young-Museum

The de Young Museum, located in San Francisco, is a superb fine arts museum. It is situated in the Golden Gate Park area of the city. Fully titled the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, it is named in honor of a 19th century journalist and collector. It concentrates on American artwork, although it also contains some costumes from Africa and the Pacific. The museum’s collections are considered to be of international importance, especially in the field of American art.

Historical Background

The de Young Museum originally formed a part of the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition. The following year, it opened as a museum in its own right, utilizing a building in a pastiche of Egyptian style. The severe San Francisco earthquake of 1906 caused considerable damage that necessitated the building’s closure for more than a year. M. H. de Young therefore planned a new structure, which was designed by Louis Christian Mullgardt. This was finished in 1919, at which point the park commissioners took over responsibility.

An additional section in the center was added by de Young in 1921, at which time the tower that was to become the museum’s trademark was also constructed. It was at this point that de Young’s contributions were officially recognized with the addition of his name to the museum’s title. The west wing was built in 1925, but over the next two decades several large structures had to be demolished for safety reasons. These demolitions included the original Egyptian house, which became unsafe as early as 1929, and a large structure in cast concrete which was removed 20 years later.

Newer Structures

In more recent years, it has come to be acknowledged that the steel supports of some of these earlier structures had been badly damaged by salt from the Pacific sea air, and so a different approach would be needed to replacement buildings. Work on setting up new structures was delayed for some years, partly because severe damage had been caused by the effects of the 1989 earthquake in Loma Prieta. It was to be almost another decade before serious efforts to rebuild the museum to modern standards fully resumed.

Although a competition to design a new museum had been won in 1999, it was six years until the replacement building was ready. This was partly due to San Francisco’s susceptibility to earthquakes, which necessitated an imaginative approach to its architecture, including sliding plates allowing it to move with the ground during earth tremors. The city’s voters almost derailed the new project, twice rejecting bond measures on the grounds that the urban park location was unsuitable. The current building is entirely clad in copper, with more than five acres of new landscaped grounds.

The Museum Today

The de Young Museum’s stock is among the most impressive of any museum in California. Its centerpiece is the collection of American art, which contains more than a thousand paintings, as well as 800 sculptures. These date back to 1670 and range up to very recent works. It is supplemented by two important bequests from the Rockefeller family collections. Meanwhile, the museum’s collection of costumes and textiles forms the largest of its type anywhere in the United States, and includes more than 12,000 separate pieces.

The city’s Fine Arts Museums, of which de Young now forms a part, decided in 1988 to commit to collecting contemporary artworks from around the world. This has led to a large number of acquisitions in fields such as conceptual and installation art, as well as new media such as video. In recent years, several important works have been brought into the collection, in particular sculptures by Cornelia Parker and Zhan Wang, as well as Sean Scully’s 2005 piece Wall of Light Horizon. The museum emphasizes works by Californian artists such as Jim Christiansen, Bruce Nauman, and Rachel Neubauer, though art by foreign artists such as Barbara Hepworth is also featured.

The de Young Museum’s other principal collections concern Pacific and African art. The African collection comprises over 1,400 items, with particular strength in the Sudanese and west-central Africa regions. The museum made the decision to arrange these works by theme rather than by strict geographical origin, thereby hoping to make their inherent qualities clearer. The Pacific, or Oceanic, collections are among the oldest at the museum, dating back to the 1890’s. The museum holds more than 3,000 pieces, including Maori wooden carvings and a large house post from Papua New Guinea.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 15, 2013 at 12:59 pm | No comment

Hiram M. Chittenden Locks

Hiram-M.-Chittenden-Locks

Hiram Chittenden Locks can be referred to as a complex of two locks that is located on the western end of the Salmon Bay in Washington’s Lake Washington Ship Canal. Locally, they are known as the Ballard Locks. These locks and the associated facilities serve 3 purposes: to prevent sea water from the Puget Sound from mixing with fresh water from other lakes, to move the boats from water level of lakes to Puget Sound water level and vice versa, and finally to maintain the level of fresh water in Lake Union and Lake Washington at 6.1 – 6.7 meters just above sea level.

This complex includes 2 locks; a small 9 by 46 meter lock, and a large 24 by 251 meter lock. This complex includes a 72 meter spillway with 6 gates to aid in water-level control. A fish ladder is also integrated into the locks for the migration of the anadromous fish, especially salmon. On the grounds, there is the visitor’s center and Carl S. English Botanical Gardens. The locks are basically operated and maintained by United States Army of Engineers. They were officially opened on July 4th, 1917. The very first ship passed through here on August 3rd,1916. These locks are named after Army Major Hiram Chittenden.

The Locks Proper

The small lock is used when the lake receives less inflow and therefore the boat traffic is quite low. The 2 locks are important since they allow the draining of one the locks for maintenance without having to interfere with the entire boat traffic. The larger lock can be drained for about 2 weeks, mostly in November, while the small lock is also drained for the same period, mostly in March. These locks are capable of elevating a 230 by 24 meter vessel 7.9 meters above the level of Puget -Sound to the freshwater Salmon Bay level in just 10 to 15 min. The locks can also handle both the pressure boats and the commercial vessels such as the kayaks and cargo ships. Over one million tons of building materials, cargo, fuel and other seafood products pass via the locks every year.

Spillway

On the southern side of the smaller lock, there is spillway dam with some tainter gates that are used to regulate freshwater levels of lakes and ship canal. These gates release or store the water in order to maintain the water level to just above sea level. The maintenance of the lake level is very necessary for mooring facilities, floating bridges and vessel clearances below the bridges.

Salt Water Barrier

If excess salt water is allowed to enter the Salmon Bay, salt could interfere with the freshwater ecosystem over time. To avoid this, the basin was dredged above the large lock. Heavier salt water then settles in the basin and is later drained via pipe that discharges downstream of locks area. In 1975, the salt water drain was rectified to divert salt water from the basin to the fish ladder. In 1966, more improvements were made when a hinged barrier was placed upstream of the large lock to restrict saltwater intrusion.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 14, 2013 at 4:56 pm | No comment

Crissy Field

Crissy-Field
Photo by: Paxson Woelber, CC

Crissy Field is a stunning park site located within the Golden Gate National Parks. Crissy Field is 100 acres of wild, windswept shoreline that has become one of the country’s most popular and beautiful urban walks, with panoramic views on both directions. It is also a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. People come here to enjoy the beaches, promenade and recreation opportunities.

Once considered as a major dumping ground, Crissy Field has been transformed into spectacular national parkland. The site is included within the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and the Presidio of San Francisco.

History

Crissy Field has a history that is rich and varied. This landscape design has several widely divergent goals, including restoring a naturally functional wet land as a habitat for flora and fauna, restoring a historical grass airfield and expanding and widening recreational opportunities to a broader number of residents and visitors to the Presidio. Up until the late 1700’s, Crissy Field was a pristine salt marsh used by Native Americans as an area to harvest shellfish. Later on, the area was taken over by the U.S. Army, and the tidal wetland was converted as wasteland for dumping and draining. Later on this dumping ground functioned as a culturally significant military airfield between 1919 and 1936.

In the early years, the Field was mainly used for viewing artillery firing, aerial photography and special civilian missions. Although the area was considered ideal for air operations, there were several factors (excessive wind and fog hampering the flying conditions and construction of Golden Gate Bridge affecting the local flights) that led to the closure of the U.S. airfield.

In 1994, after the Crissy Field was closed, the National Park Service took up the control of the area and cleaned it up. This beautiful landscape opened to the public in 2001.

Restoration of Crissy Field

Crissy Field is a shining example of what revitalization and restoration can do for a destination. It is hard to believe that airplanes once landed where native grass now grows or that piles of concrete or asphalt once covered the 18 acre tidal marsh. Once declared as a derelict concrete wasteland by the National Park Service, the land was restored by environment monitoring and with the help of Golden Gates National Park Conservancy.

The charge of restoration was given to the Hargreaves Associates San Francisco Landscape Architecture firm. As part of site restoration effort from 1998 to 2000, individuals and groups from schools, colleges, corporations and civic organizations put in more than 100,000 native plants to help restore natural beauty at Crissy Fields. The newly restored Crissy Field consists of rebuilt sidewalks, boardwalks and trails.

Features

Today, Crissy Field has become an urban national park, and is quite popular among both residents and tourists. The site reflects the grandeur and the beauty that surrounds it. There are plenty of activities that you can indulge in- such as strolling along the promenade, having day picnic with family, checking out the meadows and marshes, signing up for a stimulating program or just sitting and enjoying the spectacular views of Bay and Golden Gate Bridge. The new restored tidal wetlands are now home to more than 17 fish species and 135 species of birds. The native vegetation around the tidal marsh provides views of wild life.

Crissy Field Center is an environmental education center that organizes several camps, programs and educational activities for school kids and youth. There are several walking and biking tours organized by the community. Most of these programs are free of cost, or at a low cost.

When you become tired of strolling across the shoreline you can take rest at the Warming Hut. Warming Hut is a terrific café at the western end of Crissy Field. It is a favorite spot for families, strollers, bikers and tourists. Here you can get fresh delicious food made from organic or local produce.

Location and Hours

Crissy Field is located at 1199 East Beach Dr in San Francisco, California. It is open Monday through Sunday from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. There is not fee to enter the area.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 14, 2013 at 12:38 pm | No comment

Most Famous Streets in the U.S.

There are countless streets, avenues and boulevards that pave the cities of the United States, but only a few – by name alone- can evoke specific feelings and associations. These streets have been featured in movies and books or are constantly on the top of a tourist’s list when they visit the area. They provide entertainment, hold significant meanings and are rich in history. Below is our list of the most famous streets in the United States.

1) Wall Street – New York City, New York

Wall-StreetWall Street in New York City has become synonymous with the financial marketplace of the United States. Notably, Wall Street is home to the New York Stock Exchange – which is the largest of its kind in the world. The actual area Wall Street is known for stretches .7 miles from Broadway to South Street and is also home to the American Stock Exchange, the NASDAQ Stock Market and the New York Mercantile Exchange. For many Americans, Wall Street represents wealth, power, corruption and greed. A large number of people blame Wall Street leaders for the financial collapse and list it as a major cause of the current “Great Recession.”

2) Pennsylvania Avenue – Washington D.C.

Pennsylvania-Avenue
Photo by: JSquish, CC

Pennsylvania Avenue is also known as “America’s Main Street” as it is a connector for the United States Capitol and the White House. This part of Washington D.C. is home to many celebrations, political protests and various parades. The Avenue stretches for 5.8 miles, but the 1.2 mile section from the White House to the Capitol building is widely regarded as the most important segment. Sites of interest along Pennsylvania Avenue include the J. Edgar Hoover Building, which serves as the F.B.I. headquarters and the Robert F. Kennedy Building, which is the Department of Justice headquarters. Every president traditionally parades down the Avenue immediately after taking their oath of office.

3) Broadway – New York City, New York

Broadway-Street-SignBroadway is possibly the only street on the list that is easily recognized in just one word. Its name carries a lot of meaning and often people associate Broadway with the starting point for many actors’ careers. Broadway is actually made up of avenue, street and boulevard sections. The best known portion of Broadway is certainly the boulevard that goes through Manhattan which includes the central hubs of the American theater industry. It is the oldest north-south road in all of New York City. There are 40 professional theaters situated on and around Broadway in Manhattan. Broadway is inherently linked to the Tony Awards as only shows playing at one of these theaters can be nominated for a Tony.

4) Bourbon Street – New Orleans, Louisiana

bourbon-StreetStretching for 13 blocks through the historic French Quarter of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is notorious for its restaurants, bars and strip clubs. The building facades that line the street are representative of the Spanish and French traditions of New Orleans. Bourbon Street is fairly quiet during the daytime and becomes a bustling hot spot at night. Many festivals are held in New Orleans throughout the year, with the most popular being Mardi Gras. These celebrations can cause Bourbon Street to be so packed with people that it is nearly impassable. The most popular portion of the street is “Upper Bourbon Street” which is an 8 block section where most of the attractions are found. Interestingly, there are open container laws that permit the consumption of alcohol in the streets of the French Quarter.

5) Hollywood Boulevard – Los Angeles, California

Hollywood-BlvdHollywood Boulevard is probably best known for having The Hollywood Walk of Fame. For over one mile the sidewalks are filled with more than 2,500 stars that list the names of famous actors, directors, musicians, fictional characters, producers and more. This part of Hollywood Boulevard alone attracts over 10 million people a year. Another point of interest along the street is the Chinese Theater which hosts movie premiers and notably has the footprints, handprints and signatures of many celebrities imprinted in the concrete by the entrance. There are other tourist attractions here like Madame Tussauds wax museum and the Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Odditorium. From the boulevard you can also get good views of the Hollywood Sign.

6) Las Vegas Boulevard – Las Vegas, Nevada

Las-VegasAlso known as “The Strip,” Las Vegas Boulevard is the gambling capital of the world. Here, massive and lavishly themed casino-resorts line the road and offer endless entertainment. The strip itself is a 4.2 mile section of Las Vegas Boulevard South and it technically lies within the boundaries of Winchester and Paradise, Nevada. Besides the copious amount of gambling opportunities found here, there are also many other things to do. You can watch the choreographed water fountain, light and music show in front of the Bellagio where water is shot up to 460 feet in the air, catch one of Criss Angel’s famous magic shows, see a comedy act, take in a concert featuring one of your favorite artists or even ride some thrill rides at the Stratosphere Tower.

7) Lombard Street – San Francisco, California

Lombard-streetLombard Street is unique because the street itself is the actual attraction. It is famous because of its one block section between Leavenworth and Hyde Streets that has eight very sharp hairpin turns. Lombard Street is known as the “crookedest” street in the world. It was constructed in 1922 and it was designed this way in order to allow cars and pedestrians to safely travel down Russian Hill since it has a 27% grade. Additionally, such a road would was deemed to be too hazardous for pedestrians, especially those in wheelchairs. Although this road meanders through a residential area, after taking an unforgettable car ride down Russian Hill there are still plenty of other tourist attractions to enjoy in the immediate vicinity.

8) Rodeo Drive – Beverly Hills, California

Rodeo-Drive
Photo by: Torsten Bolten, CC

If you are looking to spend a couple thousand dollars on just one or two items or if you just want the opportunity to spot some celebrities, then Rodeo Drive is the place for you. The focal point of Rodeo Drive is just a three block stretch between S. Santa Monica Boulevard and Wilshire Boulevard. Top designer brands like Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tiffany’s, Lacoste, Giorgio Armani, Gucci and Coach have shops located here. In just this small area there are over 100 boutiques and hotels. If you feel as though you have not gotten your shopping fix once you explore here, there are plenty of more shops on the neighboring Dayton Way, North Beverly Drive and Wilshire street.

9) Sunset Boulevard – West Hollywood, California

Sunset-BlvdThe famous part of Sunset Boulevard is a 1.5 mile section in West Hollywood that is widely known as “Sunset Strip.” The Strip is recognized for its top notch night clubs, restaurants, concert venues and boutiques. This street is associated with its plethora of colorful billboards as well. A large amount of celebrities live in and around the area as there are luxurious and elite condominium complexes here. Additionally, the Hollywood Hills just above Sunset Boulevard are home to an overabundance of multi-million dollar mansions that many celebrities call home. After wandering the Strip you can take a drive past the homes of stars like Halle Berry, Cameron Diaz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Al Pacino and James Franco.

10) Michigan Avenue – Chicago, Illinois

Michigan-AvenueMichigan Avenue in Chicago is the location of many attractions for both locals and visitors to enjoy. Perhaps the most notable segment of this road is the “Magnificent Mile” – a high end shopping area that goes from the Chicago River to Oak Street. Shops here include Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barneys New York, Bulgari, Montblanc, Rolex, Juicy Couture and Neiman Marcus, to name a few. There are also world-renowned restaurants and hotels in this location. Other attractions along Michigan Avenue comprise of the Chicago Water Tower, Grant and Millennium Park and the Art Institute of Chicago. Michigan Avenue is also known for its breathtaking holiday lights displays during the winter season.

October 13, 2013 at 6:11 pm | 1 comment

Washington State Ferries

Washington-State-Ferries

The Washington State Ferries can be referred to as an automobile and passenger ferry service. The ferry serves the communities in San Juan Islands and Puget Sound. This is known to be largest passenger and also automobile ferry fleet in the entire United States and the 3rd largest in whole world. When based on number of cars carried, at 11 million each year, this service is the largest in world.

History

This ferry system traces its origin to the Mosquito Fleet; a collection of smaller steamer lines that serves Puget Sound area. The steamer lines served this are during the late 19th century and also during the early 20th century. By beginning of the early 1930’s, only 2 lines remained. The two lines were Puget Sound Company also known as Black Ball Line plus the Kitsap Country Transportation Company (KCTC). However, in 1935, there was a strike and this forced KCTC to shut down, leaving only Black Ball Line.

Toward the end of 1940’s, Black Ball Line decided to increase the fares; this was to compensate for the increasing wage demands from ferry workers unions. However, the state disagreed with this and this led to the fall of Black Ball Line. In the year 1951, the state purchased almost all of the Black Ball’s ferry assets for about $5 million. At first, the state wanted to run the ferry service but only until the cross-sound bridges were built. However, they were not approved and therefore the Washington State Department of Transportation runs this system up to date.

Fleet

Since 2002, there are about 22 ferries found on Puget Sound; they are all operated by the state. The biggest vessels in the fleet can accommodate up to 2,500 persons and about 200 vehicles. The ferries are painted in distinctive green and white trim paint scheme. They also have double-ended open car decks and bridges on every end so they do not have to turn around.

Routes

Washington State Ferries’ routes are part of state highway system. Some of the routes include: Seattle to Bremerton, Edmonds to Kingston, Keystone to Port Townsend, Clinton to Mukilteo and Seattle to Bainbridge Island.

From 1986 to 1989 and 1990 to 2003, passenger-only service ran on the Seattle-Bremerton route. However, this was later shut down due to limited profits and because of the continued lawsuits of locals residing on the waterway used by the ferry service. The lawsuits were to stop the high-speed ferries from running at full speed. Slow speeds made the actual crossing time similar to the auto -ferry operating on same route; this made the passenger-only service very redundant.

Today, the passenger-only ferry route that is between Vashon Island and Seattle is designated the State Route 339; without a road portion on the end.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 13, 2013 at 4:55 pm | No comment

Exploratorium

Exploratorium-San-Francisco
Photo by: Amy Snyder, CC

Human perception, science, and art all come together via displays at The Exploratorium, one of the most popular of all the museums in San Francisco. The goal of the museum is to change the way the world learns. In many ways, the museum may have achieved that goal. It continues to successfully promote this goal with each and every new exhibit it presents.

History

The Exploratorium is considered one of the most important science museums in the world. The legendary physicist Frank Oppenheimer founded the museum in 1969. The original location of the museum was at the Palace of Fine Arts and it remained there until early January, 2013. In April, 2013, the museum moved to a new location in the Embarcadero on Piers 15 and 17.

What Sets the Museum Apart

The appealing nature of this museum would be its focus on self-teaching and exploration. There are quite a number of interactive exhibits and they all contribute in some way to enhancing the ability to learn about the sciences. The museum offers a major departure from the more commonly stoic nature most museums present. The number of participatory exhibits at the museum is in the range of 1,000 so visitors certainly will not become bored on their treks.

The origins of this novel approach to running a museum date back to when Oppenheimer was a high school teacher in Colorado. Oppenheimer had previously worked on the Manhattan Project, but was blacklisted from his profession due to testimony before Congress at the HUAC hearings. Through working with young adults, he gained insights into how to offer a hands-on approach to learning.

In 1959, he received a grant from the National Science Foundation and this allowed him to invest his time exploring more inquisitive science endeavors. The seed for the museum seems to have been planted at this time. In 1967, he moved to San Francisco to work on establishing a new science exhibit at the Palace of Fine Arts. The San Francisco Foundation offered him $50,000 to cover the costs of the project. This new project would evolve into the Exploratorium museum and it opened its doors two years later.

Organization of the Museum

For those visiting the museum, the ability to navigate its various exhibits has been made easy thanks to the simple way they are organized. Light and sound, living systems, electrical tinkering, and human behavior are among the ways the numerous galleries have been categorized. One of the most interesting exhibits in the new location is the Bay Observatory Gallery, as it centers on the uniqueness of the local weather and environment.

What Visitors Can Expect to See

There are scores of unique and original exhibits anyone traveling to the museum can enjoy. Skateboard science, a biological examination of how a cow’s eye works, the early history of Polynesian navigation, and a look at the Mars rover are just a few of the brilliant exhibits that can be seen by visitors.

Various different events are held at the museum all throughout the year. One event looks at the origins of San Francisco fog. There are even events that are based on cinematic endeavors and these events also include screenings.

Checking the calendar regularly reveals all the various events as they are updated. A trip to see a specific event can be planned after reviewing the calendar.

Visiting the Museum

There are many different ways to visit the museum. The most basic way would be to purchase a ticket for general admission. School trips are also possible and so are group tours.

The basic ticket prices are as follows: adults 18 to 64 are charged a $25 admission. Youth, seniors, teachers, students, and those with disabilities are charged $19. Members and California public school teachers can be admitted for free.

Location and Hours of Operation

Those wishing to visit The Exploratorium will find it at Pier 15 in San Francisco, CA. The phone number to the front service desk is (415) 528-4360. The venue is open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. On Thursday, the museum is also open from 6 P.M. to 10 P.M. for patrons over the age of 18. The museum is closed on Mondays with the exception of certain holidays.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 13, 2013 at 12:21 pm | No comment

Highest Grossing Movies of All Time

The following is a list of the highest grossing movies of all time after being adjusted for inflation. This list gives a more accurate depiction of which movies were the most successful since movie theater ticket prices have increased greatly over time. The movies that made the list are from several different decades and it shows that a wide variety of movie genres have been very popular over the years.

10) Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Snow-WhiteThis 1937 animated film was produced by Walt Disney. The film had a budged of just under $1.5 million and in total has made approximately $1,746,100,000. This timeless story was adapted from the German fairy tale created by the Brothers Grimm and it was Disney’s first full length feature production. The movie has resulted in a Broadway musical, a theme park attraction and a video game. The 11th Academy Awards gave Walt Disney an honorary Oscar for the film and the American Film Institute named Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs the “greatest American animated film of all time” in 2008. Disney utilized the money he made off of this movie to build what is today’s Walt Disney Studios.

9) Jaws

Jaws-MovieJaws was a 1975 summer blockbuster based on Peter Benchley’s novel Jaws. The movie made $1,945,100,000. It was directed by Steven Spielberg and the story centers on a massive man-eating great white shark that kills swimmers who go in the waters of Amity Island. Eventually a police chief (Roy Scheider), marine biologist (Richard Dreyfuss) and shark hunter (Robert Shaw) join forces to try and kill the menacing shark that is terrorizing the local waters. The film is notorious for its ominous music that warns of the shark’s presence. Jaws won 3 Academy Awards for Best Original Dramatic Score, Best Film Editing and Best Sound. John William’s music in the movie also won an additional Grammy Award and Golden Globe Award.

8) Doctor Zhivago

Doctor-ZhivagoThe 1965 romantic-drama film Doctor Zhivago was based on the 1957 Boris Pasternak novel of the same name. The initial book had to be smuggled out of the U.S.S.R. in order to be published as the government was not accepting of the work. The book itself was a New York Times best-seller for 26 weeks mostly due to it being seen as an anti-communist symbol. The film was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 5 for: Best Original Score, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Art Direction. Doctor Shivago was also awarded 5 Golden Globes.

7) The Ten Commandments

The-Ten-CommandmentsThe Ten Commandments is a retelling of the story of Moses (played by Charlton Heston) based on the Bible. This film was directed by Cecil B. DeMille and was released in 1956. In total, when adjusted for inflation, the movie would have made $2,098,600,000. The movie is over 3.5 hours long and was the most expensive film made up to that time ($13.27 million). The film was nominated for 7 Academy Awards but only won one for Best Special Effects – perhaps due to the scene where Moses parts the Red Sea. In 1999 The Ten Commandments was picked to be preserved in the United States National Film Registry through the Library of Congress because of its historical, cultural and aesthetic significance.

6) E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial

ET-MovieThis 1982 science fiction movie that was directed by Steven Spielberg made $2,216,800,000 and only had a $10.5 million budget. The story centers on an alien who is accidentally left behind by his ship. A young boy named Elliot encounters the alien, who becomes known as “E.T.,” and the two become friends. They have to hide E.T. from the government and Elliot’s mother while trying to find a way to get E.T. home. The film was nominated for 9 Oscars and won 4: Best Original Score, Best Sound, Best Sound Effects Editing and Best Visual Effects. At the 40th Golden Globe Awards, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial won Best Picture (Drama category) and Best Score.

5) The Sound of Music

The-Sound-of-MusicThe Sound of Music, which was released to theaters in 1965, is an American musical film that was directed by Robert Wise. When adjusted for inflation, The Sound of Music made $2,269,800,000. The film stars Julie Andrews as Maria – a trouble-causing would-be nun at an Abbey in Austria. She is called upon to watch over the seven children of a widowed naval captain. The film revolves around the tension between the strict captain and the easygoing Maria as well as the family’s eventual fleeing from the Nazis. The film won 5 Academy Awards, including: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Sound Mixing, Best Film Editing and Best Music. Additionally, it received five Oscars and two Golden Globes.

4) Titanic

Titanic-MovieThe 1997 romance-disaster film, Titanic, drew crowds to the theaters and raked in $2,413,800,000 in revenue. Director James Cameron created an emotional film in which Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) fall in love during the ship’s ill-fated journey across the Atlantic Ocean. At the time it was created, Titanic was the most expensive movie ever made – having an approximate budget of $200 million. The movie won four Golden Globes and was nominated for 14 Academy Awards. It won a record-tying eleven Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Picture, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing, Best Visual Effects, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, Best Original Song, Best Original Dramatic Score and Best Sound Effects Editing.

3) Star Wars

Star--WarsThe 1977 hit space movie Star Wars: A New Hope pulled in a remarkable $2,710,800,000 and has had a massive cult following ever since. The movie solidly placed creator and director George Lucas on the map as one of the greatest names in the industry. Star Wars is so popular that it has seen comic books, video and computer games, books and television series created based off of it. This film was nominated for 11 Academy Awards and won 7 of them for Art Direction-Set Direction, Costume Design, Film Editing, Music, Sound, Visual Effects and a Special Achievement Award. Star Wars is often thought to be one of the best science fiction films ever created. There have been a total of 6 Star Wars films and Star Wars Episode VII is set to be released sometime in 2015.

2) Avatar

Avatar-MovieThis 2009 blockbuster science fiction action film, which was directed and written by James Cameron, grossed an astonishing $2,782,300,000. Filming was supposed to begin back in 1997, but James Cameron decided that the technology necessary to fulfill his vision were not yet available. The film is set in the mid-22nd century and centers on the theme that Earth has used up all of its natural resources and has now taken to mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on a planet named Pandora. Human activities on Pandora put them at odds with the native Na’vi humanoids that live there. Avatar won three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects and Best Art Direction. It also won Golden Globe Awards for Best Director and Best Motion Picture in the drama category.

1) Gone with the Wind

Gone-with-the-WindThis classic romance story was based on the 1936 Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Margaret Mitchell. The film was released in 1939 and took in an all-time high $3,301,400,000 when adjusted for inflation. This movie is set during the Civil war and tells the tale of the beautiful Scarlett O’Hara (Vivien Leigh) and her strong desire to marry a man named Ashley Wilkes (Leslie Howard). Later in the film Scarlett realizes her true love for Rhett Butler (Clarke Gable) and marries him, but the marriage does not work out. At the 1940 Academy Awards, Gone with the Wind was nominated 13 times and won 10 Academy Awards. Hattie McDaniel became the first African American to win an Academy Award (Best Supporting Actress) for her role as Mammy.

October 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm | No comment

Safeco Field

Safeco-Field
Photo by: Cacophony, CC

Safeco Field is a baseball stadium in Seattle, Washington. It is the home to the National League Baseball team Seattle Mariners. The stadium, which opened in 1999, has a retractable roof and provides seating for around 47,000 people. Safeco Field, which is named as part of a 20-year deal with a local insurance company, is situated in the SoDo district, close to Interstate 90. Besides professional games, the field is also utilized by high school championships as well as seeing occasional use for football and wrestling.

Historical Background

Until the 1990’s, the Seattle Mariners played their home games at the older Kingdome, but as time went on, it became increasingly clear that this stadium was outdated and unable to cope with the demands of modern baseball. The group that owned the team went so far as to threaten to take it out of Seattle. An initial ballot measure to provide funding was defeated by the electorate of King County in 1995. Later that year, on-field success for the Mariners softened local attitudes, and the state legislature allowed other means of fund-raising. Construction of the new stadium commenced in the spring of 1997, ending in July 1999 with Safeco Field’s debut game coming just a few days later.

Naming rights to the stadium were sold for an estimated $40 million, but Safeco itself has recently been taken over by Liberty Mutual, meaning that it may at some point choose to substitute its own name before the 20-year deal is up. Men who had been instrumental in helping to get the new field built, such as Ken Griffey, Jr., have frequently been granted extremely warm welcomes when they have returned with other teams. The latest changes to the stadium came in 2013, with an improved scoreboard setup and fences being shifted a little closer to home plate. This change was seen as moderating Safeco’s perceived pro-pitcher bias.

Stadium Details

When Safeco Field was being built, a trend was emerging for ballparks to have a retro feel, and the Mariners’ home follows this quite closely. It has a facade of bricks, similar to many 1960’s stadiums, as well as being located in a densely populated area rather than out of town. These features blend with more recent developments such as the roof and a number of corporate hospitality suites. The roof itself is not the all-enveloping, climate-controlled structure found in other stadiums, since Seattle does not have the extreme climate that would require this. Instead, it is primarily designed simply to keep rain and snow away from the field and spectators, to allow games to go on in inclement weather conditions.

Safeco Field’s scoreboard system ranks among the most impressive in any Major League Baseball Stadium. The field features no less than 11 different electronic screens, including an HD LED display that was installed in 2013. This is the largest in any MLB stadium, with a total area of over 11,000 square feet. Other scoreboards include an out-of-town display which keeps patrons updated with inning scores from other Major League games. Additionally, there are two play-by-play boards and several auxiliary displays. As a notable contrast to these modern screens, a manually operated scoreboard, worked by hand, stands just outside of left field.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm | No comment

San Francisco Opera

San-Francisco-Opera
Photo by: Leonard G., CC

San Francisco Opera popularly known as SFO is an American company in San Francisco. The company was founded in 1923 by Gaetano Merola. During the time of formation, the company was the largest of its kind in North America. The Opening Night Gala is referred to as one of the most popular events in both musical and the social life in the San Francisco area.

History

The very first performance of this company was La bohene, with Giovanni Martinelli and Queena Mario on September 26th, 1923. This took place in the city’s Civic Auditorium and was conducted by Mr. Merola. His own involvement in opera had been going since he first visited San Francisco Bay in 1906. Merola launched this company in 1922; he was convinced that city could fully support full-time opera and would not depend on visiting companies that had been in San Francisco since the Gold Rush days. By 1921, Merola was planning his very 1st season; this was presented at the Stanford University’s football stadium in 1922. The event had a group of different singers like Giovanni Martinelli and Carmen. Merola decided to raise some funds to make his project a success. He appealed to the city’s elite and managed to get 2,441 contributions of $50 each from the founding members.

Within 9 years after the opening season, War Memorial Opera House was created. This building was designed by Mr. Arthur Brown; he was the architect who also created San Francisco’s city hall. This new opera house was inaugurated on October 15th, 1932.

Kurt Herbert Adler

Kurt Adler came to the U.S. in 1938 after experience and great training in numerous aspects of music theatre in Germany, Australia and Italy. For 5 years, Kurt worked to create the chorus of Chicago Opera Company. He was invited by Meralo in 1943 to be the chorus director. After the death of Merola in 1953, Adler was officially confirmed as the General Director.

Adler had several aims when taking over this company. One of them was that he wanted to expand the season. Another purpose was to present totally new talent. In order to achieve this; he sought out up-and-coming singers. His third aim was to develop stronger relations to the opera stage directors; this was in attempt to strengthen dramatic and other theatrical elements of works.

By the 1970’s, SFO was very successful and offered its audience the chance to see internationally known singers. During the summer of 1972, San Francisco Opera held 50th anniversary celebrations that included a special free concert held in Sigmund Stern Grove. Adler conducted most of the program, which featured performances by several surviving performers who had previously appeared with this company during its own history. Adler retired in 1981. After his retirement, Terence McEwen took over the company. He was in charge between 1982 and 1988. He announced his retirement in 1988 and Lotfi Mansouri took over afterward.

Toward the end of the 2001 season, Mansouri announced retirement after being in the company for 14 seasons and spending 50 years in opera world. Pamela Rosenberg succeeded him. She stayed in the company between 2001 and 2005. She later returned to her home in Germany to work for another company.

David Gockley

On January 1st, 2006, David Gockley became the general manager the SFO. During the same year, this company and Washington National Opera started a co-production of new Ring cycle. This production used some imagery from several different eras of popular American history. SFO decided to present Das Rheingold in 2008, Die Walkure in 2010 and three Ring cycles in 2011.

In December of 2007, SFO announced presentation of four operas to movie theatres across the U.S. Since 2008, this company has increased its operas performances by 8 in the Grand Opera Cinema Series.

So as to consolidate the various office spaces scattered all over San Francisco, San Francisco Opera plans to take over the fourth floor of the War Memorial Arts Center after the building retrofit is finalized in 2015. The company has therefore begun a campaign to name several portions of the new space after the donors. The center aims at providing additional office space and costume storage; two multipurpose rooms for rehearsing, social events, board meetings and a 300 seat performance venue.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 12, 2013 at 12:02 pm | No comment

Museum of Flight

Museum-of-Flight

The Museum of Flight is home to 150 unique aircraft representing the amazing history of air and space voyages. Located just outside of the King County International Airport, the museum remains one of the most interesting venues to visit when traveling to Seattle.

History

The origin of the Museum of Flight can be traced to the founding of the Pacific Northwest Aviation Historical Foundation, an organization that started in 1965 to oversee a unique project. The foundation worked to restore a recently discovered 1929 Boeing 80A-1, which was recovered from an Alaska landfill. The restoration took over 16 years and, during this time, a great deal of work was done to help establish a venue in which it could be displayed. Eventually, the aircraft would be fully restored and became a centerpiece of the privately owned, nonprofit museum. The museum would officially open its doors in 1965 and it was immediately given accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums.

The museum has grown exponentially over the years. 400,000 visitors explore the museum annually and 140,000 students take part in aviation learning programs on its premises.

Collection of Aircraft

The 150 aircrafts on display in the museum reflect the amazing history of air and space engineering and design. Among the main attractions on display is the City of Everett, which was the first Boeing 747 to ever take flight. The VC-137B SAM 970, the retired first presidential jet that served as part of the presidential fleet from 1959 to 1996. The unique the Gossamer Albatross II, a craft that is human-powered, is another one of the interesting exhibits.

The spacecraft collection at the museum is equally captivating. Mock ups of the Apollo 17, the North American Aviation Apollo Command Module 007A, the Boeing Lunar Roving Vehicle Engineering, and the Soyuz TMA-14 Descent Module are all on display.

Library

A comprehensive library that is geared to cover the history of air and space travel has been compiled at the museum. There are well over 65,000 books covering all manner of aerospace subjects. The library is open to the public and provides a wealth of research material for those wishing to learn about the history of aviation. The Dalhberg collection is also part of the museum and it covers the lengthy history of military aviation.

Events

There are numerous events that are held all through the year and these events celebrate the past, present, and future of aviation. Recent events have featured celebratory honoring displays for Amelia Earhart, Astronomy Day, and lectures featuring stories from legendary excursions in aviation history. Such events are definitely enlightening and educational and visitors frequently enjoy them.

Visitor Information

An adult ticket is $18. Children’s tickets are $10 and seniors are $15. The only two days out of the year the museum is closed is Christmas and Thanksgiving. The Museum of Flight is located 9404 E. Marginal Way in Seattle, WA. The museum is open from 10 AM to 5 PM every day. The main phone number of the museum is 206-764-5720.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm | No comment

Longest Living Animals

The oldest confirmed human was a 122 year old French woman named Jeanne Calment, but this pales in comparison to the life expectancy of other species that live on this planet. In fact, there are some animals that live to be hundreds or even thousands of years old. Amazingly, there are even two recorded species that might technically have the capability of living forever. Below is our list of the world’s longest living animals.

1) Turritopsis Nutricula Jellyfish

Turritopsis-NutriculaThe Turritopsis nutricula is often referred to as the “immortal jellyfish.” Once this species has become sexually mature it is capable of reverting back to the polyp stage and essentially starting its life over. The jellyfish accomplishes this through cell transdifferentiation in which its cells can turn into other types of cells. For example, its muscles can change into eggs or sperm and life regeneration can begin again. Most Turritopsis die when they are eaten by other animals or if they get a disease while in the initial polyp stage. It is unclear how long one of these creatures lives as knowledge of their regenerative capabilities was not discovered until the 1990’s. Additionally, it is hard to monitor them in their natural habitat and the life rejuvenating process is very quick. This makes it nearly impossible to get an accurate estimate of their age.

2) Hydra

The hydra is a tiny freshwater polyp that is related to coral, sea anemones and the jellyfish. Similar to the Turritpsis nutricula jellyfish, the hydra has regenerative powers. Every time you cut one of these tiny creatures apart, each piece quickly develops into a new hydra. Hydras do not appear to age at all. Their bodies are tubular in shape and have a mouth on one end that has poisonous tentacles. The hydra uses its tentacles to paralyze insects and crustaceans after which it consumes them. They only grow to be a little less than an inch long; however, they can consume prey that is up to twice their size. These strange creatures move around by utilizing a cup-like foot or pulling themselves along with their tentacles and then “somersaulting.”

3) Antarctic Sponge

Antarctic-SpongeFound in the cold waters of the Antarctic Ocean, the Antarctic sponge is a slow-growing multicellular organism. Some of the sponges located here have been estimated to be at least 1,500 years old. This particular creature is without a protective shell, thus it is easy for predators such as turtles or fish to harm or kill them. This makes it even more amazing that some of these sponges have lived for so long. Interestingly, sponges do not have digestive, circulatory or nervous systems, but rather rely on water flow to survive. As water runs through them they get oxygen and food. The water also carries away waste.

4) Ocean Quahog

Ocean-Quahog
Photo by: Manfred Heyde, CC

The Ocean quahog is an edible clam which has been confirmed to live for more than 500 years. Notably, this mollusk is thought to be an example of negligible senescence, which means that it does not show signs of aging. The Ocean quahog has many names, including: the Icelandic cyprine, black quahog, black clam and mahogany quahog. They are found in the Northern Atlantic Ocean in both deep and shallow waters (25 to 1,300 feet) where they are frequently harvested for food through the process of dredging. The age of a quahog can be established by counting growth rings that appear on its shell. As they get older they tend to grow more slowly, hence the growth rings get closer and closer together. This can make it difficult to determine the exact age of a specimen.

5) Lamellibrachia Tube Worm

Lamellibrachia-tube-worm
Photo by: Charles Fisher, CC

Lamellibrachia tube worms are colorful, slow growing, deep sea creatures that live next to hydrocarbon vents that exists on the ocean floor. It is common for them to live for more than 170 years, with some estimated to reach over 250 years of age. Some of the oldest ones can grow to be more than 10 feet long. The most widely known area where they exist is in the northern portion of the Gulf of Mexico at a depth of around 500 to 800 meters. These tube worms use a special body extension called a root to collect hydrogen sulfide from the environment in order to survive.

6) Freshwater Pearl Mussel

Freshwater-Pearl-Mussel
Photo by: Joel Berglund, CC

The freshwater pearl is a type of endangered mussel that is known for making high quality pearls. The search for valuable pearls is the main cause of their near extinction. Valery Ziuganov, a Russian malacologist, recently discovered that this species shows signs of negligible senescence. This means that the freshwater pearl mussel does not show signs of aging. Valery Ziuganov, along with several other scientists, published a detailed report in 2000 that backs up the belief that these freshwater pearl mussels can often live to be between 210 and 250 years old. Today this species is protected in nearly every European country.

7) Tortoise

Tortoise
Photo by: Childzy, CC

The oldest known vertebrates on the planet are tortoises and it is not entirely uncommon for one to live into its late 100’s. The oldest unconfirmed tortoise was an Aldabra giant tortoise at the Alipore Zoo in India named Adwaita which many people believe to be around 250 years old. Other famous ancient tortoises include a Galapagos tortoise named Harriet who lived to be 175, a spur-thighed tortoise named Timothy who died at the age of 165 and a Seychelles giant tortoise named Jonathan who is estimated to be 178 years old.

8) Red Sea Urchin

Red-sea-urchin
Photo by: Taollan82, CC

It was initially thought that red sea urchins only lived for around 15 years. Recent studies, however, revealed that these creatures frequently live to be over 100 years old and some have been found to be over 200 years in age. By measuring isotope carbon-14 levels in the red sea urchin scientists were able to determine their ages and also get a better idea for their growth rates. The largest and oldest red sea urchins have been found off the coast of British Columbia and near Vancouver Island. This species protects itself from predators with its sharp spines that stick out in all directions. Interestingly, they also use these spines as stilts to walk around the ocean floor. Red sea urchins only live in the Pacific Ocean – mainly along the North American coast.

9) Bowhead Whale

Bowhead-whaleMaking the list as the oldest known mammal, the bowhead whale has been estimated to reach ages of over 200 years. Originally it was thought that most bowheads only lived 60 or 70 years like most other whales, but recent studies and findings suggest otherwise. For example, one whale that was captured near the Alaskan coast was found to have the tip of a harpoon lodged in its neck fat. Research showed that the harpoon was manufactured and probably used around 1890. Other amino acid racemization tests of bowhead whale eyes have dated them to be 150 to over 200 years old. It is worth noting that some in the scientific community find these tests to be unreliable.

10) Tuatara

TuataraThe tuatara is a lizard-like reptile that is found in New Zealand. Tuataras have very slow growth rates as they do not reach full size until around the age of 35. They can live to be over 100 years old and some experts say that a tuatara living to be 200 would not be out of the question. Tuataras are the only known closely-related living descendants of dinosaurs. They are endangered – with only about 60,000 left in the world. These animals remain fertile very late into their lives. Recently, in captivity, a 110 year old tuatara named Henry mated with an 80 year old female tuatara named Mildred and they produced 11 healthy babies. Henry is still in very good health and is expected to live for several more decades.

October 11, 2013 at 2:56 pm | No comment

Marin Headlands

The Marin Headlands, a hilly peninsula located north of San Francisco across from the Golden Gate Bridge connects two peninsulas and counties. The Marin Headlands are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and are famous for the great views they offer of the Bay area, especially the Golden Gate Bridge. The Marin Headlands were home to Native Americans who moved between the two peninsulas.

This area receives more rain due to the area forming its own clouds that turn into precipitation. Although the area gets considerable amounts of rain, the gusty winds coming off of the Pacific Ocean prevent the formation of forests.

You can access Marin Headlands using different roads and routes. If you are using a car or bicycle, you should take the Alexander Ave exit, which is after the Golden Gate Bridge and turn left under the freeway. Conzelman Road is to the right and will take you up along the bluffs. You may also take Bunker Road that leads you directly to the headlands through a tunnel that is one-way.

Since the Marine Headlands are part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, they offer a wide array of attractions. One can enjoy bird watching at different spots on the Headlands. You can also see other animals in the area, and there are superb trails on the Gerbode and Tennessee valleys in addition to great beaches.

Hawk Hill

As its name suggests, the place offers a spectacular view of the migration of birds like hawks, eagles and falcons as they fly south during the winter. The main migration period is usually between September and November and one will be able to see as many as one thousand birds in one day.

Wildlife

These headlands are also home to mountain lions, the black tail deer, coyotes, rabbits and raccoons. Other animals include two main types of foxes, bobcats and skunks. The Pacific Ocean surrounding the Headlands is also full of different sea animals like grey whales, surf scooters, common murres and harbor seals.

Nike Missile Site

This is the only restored Nike Missile site in the whole United States. Therefore, it is a very important historic site. You get to have a close look at this anti aircraft missile site that was constructed during the Cold War. At the site, there are huge missiles and missile tracking radar equipment in addition to other weapons that were used during the cold war.

Point Bonita Lighthouse

This Lighthouse is located at the entrance of the Marin Headlands. It was the last lighthouse on the California coast to be manned. It is the only Lighthouse people can access through a suspension bridge. If you would like to visit the Lighthouse, you will need to go on Mondays, Saturdays and Sundays at specific times. Therefore, it is advisable to call earlier on to know when they are open to the public.

Rodeo Lagoon

This Lagoon is at the heart of Marin Headlands and offers a habitat for butterflies and birds. The Lagoon is a great place for bird watching, as you will get to see ducks and other birds resting or feeding in the shallow wetlands. The Rodeo Lagoon is also home for an endangered small fish known as the goby.

Gerbode Valley

This is the only valley that is not split by a road. This valley is popular among cyclists, hikers and equestrians. However, there is a lot of activity during the weekends; therefore, if you would like some time alone as you hike or cycle, the best time to go would be during weekdays, as you will have the trail all to yourself.

Marin Headlands is a great place for one to take some time off and relax because it is a vast, beautiful wilderness that is quite close to the metropolitan area. Therefore, one can visit this place and enjoy its beauty without having to spend a lot of money or time getting there.

San Francisco Famous Landmarks

October 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm | No comment

5th Avenue Theater

5th-Avenue-Theater
Photo by: Ltvine, CC

The 5th Avenue Theater is a popular historical theater building that is located in Seattle, Washington. This building has hosted many theater productions and motion pictures since it was opened in 1926. It is owned by the University of Washington and it was actually once a part of the original campus. The theater, which is located at 1308 Fifth Avenue in the popular Skinner Building, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since the year 1978.

The theater has 2,130 seats and employs over 600 actors, directors, musicians, designers, choreographers, technicians, box office staff, stage hands and administrators. This makes it the largest theater employer in the region. This theater company is supported by corporate donations, individuals, government sources and box office ticket sales. The current subscriber season programming includes six to seven shows each year. It also hosts a number of special events and even offers a variety of education and outreach programs to school children and adults. These programs reach over 61,000 students, performers and audiences every year.

Architecture

The theater is located in the Skinner Building which is a historic office block that ranges between 5 and 8 stories with several retail shops on ground level. This theater is surrounded on 3 sides, with its entrance facing its namesake avenue. Apart from the auditorium with an original seating capacity of 3,000, the theater also contains a grand entry hall and a mezzanine that at one time featured a tea room, a waiting room and a women’s lounge.

The interior architecture of this theater is a unique imitation of Chinese wooden temple construction. The 2 story rectangular lobby features some red stenciled columns that are wrapped in plaster rising to the timbered roof structure. Two male lion statues guard the stairway to the second level gallery that serves the theater balcony. Together the original statues, other light fixtures, furnishings, and decorations remain intact. Beyond the decorative features of this building, 5th Avenue Theater also contained unique technical features when originally built.

History

The president of Pacific Northwest Theaters, Inc, Mr. Harry Arthur believed Seattle to be a place of increasing importance in the motion picture industry in mid 1920’s. Arthur’s company decided to absorb a chain of 40 theaters by 1926. C. D. Stimson was a large holder of the theater company’s stock. He sat on the board of directors of Metropolitan Building Company and Pacific Northwest Theaters and developed what was later known as the Metropolitan Tract.

Stimson promoted establishment of a theater district similar to the one which had developed around a theater he built in California. The planned Skinner Building with theater owned by Arthur’s company would complete Stimson development project. Robert Reamer, an architect, joined the Metropolitan Building Company and designed the Skinner Building together with the 5th Avenue Theater. The construction started in October, 1925. The process took 11 months and cost about $ 1.5 million.

Grand Opening

5th Avenue Theater celebrated its grand opening on September 24th, 1926. This opening program included silent film, “Young April,” “The Night Club” and several others. This night was also marked by festivities outside the theater with dance bands being placed to provide entertainment. A crowd of between 50, 000 and 100,000 people participated in the events.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 10, 2013 at 2:55 pm | No comment

Heaviest Land Animals on Earth

It is difficult to find agreement on what the largest land animals are as one must take into account height, weight, mass and length. Hence, we decided to make a list by weight. Some similar animals are grouped together; for example, although there are three species of elephants of varying weights and characteristics, a top 10 list would become redundant if we posted every type of elephant, all 5 species of rhinoceros and so on. Additionally, there will always be outliers where a specific animal grew much larger than normal. With that being said, please enjoy our list of the heaviest land animals.

1) Elephant

African-Bush-ElephantThere are three main species of elephants: the African bush elephant, Indian (Asian) elephant and African forest elephant. The largest of which is the African bush elephant – it sometimes reaches a weight of over 15,000 lbs. That’s approximately the weight of 7.5 average-sized cars. Furthermore, they can stand at over 13 feet tall. It is easy for an elephant to eat hundreds of pounds of food in a single day and drink around 50 gallons of water as well. To accomplish this, they spend around 15 hours a day grazing and drinking. Elephants have a vegetarian diet and are generally harmless unless agitated. They also have a fairly high intelligence; having self-awareness, problem solving capabilities and emotional connections.

2) Hippopotamus

HippopotamusAn adult hippo can be anywhere from 9.5 to 14 feet long and weigh from 5,000 to 8,000 pounds. The heaviest known hippopotamus was approximately 9,900 pounds. The male hippo continues to grow throughout its life. They spend most of their time in rivers, lakes and swamps trying to stay cool. The name “hippopotamus” itself aptly means “river horse.” These animals, after staying in water most of the day, will emerge at dusk to graze for several hours. It is not uncommon for a full-grown hippo to eat up to 150 pounds of grass in a 5 to 6 hour span.

3) Rhinoceros

RhinocerosOf the five main types of rhinoceroses (White, Black, Indian, Javan and Sumatran) the largest are the white rhinos. The average white rhinoceros weighs in at around 7,700 lbs, but the largest ever recorded tipped the scales at nearly 10,000 pounds. They can grow to be nearly 14 feet long. Interestingly, white rhinos are not white and black rhinos are not black. They are, in fact, both grey in color with the main distinction being that white rhinos tend to be slightly larger and have differently shaped lips. These huge creatures might look overweight and slow, but they have a top speed of up to 40 miles per hour. Sadly, the white rhinoceros is now an endangered species as they have low birthrates and many are unnecessarily killed for their horns which superstitious people believe have healing powers.

4) Walrus

WalrusA full-grown adult male walrus will typically weigh around 3,700 pounds. There have been confirmed reports of some exceeding 4,400 lbs. Walruses tend to eat clams, but other foods they will ingest include: crabs, sea cucumbers, mollusks, shrimp and sometimes even seals. On an average day a walrus can eat up to 250 pounds of food and it is not uncommon for one walrus to eat thousands of clams in one day. Dominance is established by weight and tusk size. The heaviest bull with the longest tusks is almost always the leader, with smaller males and those with broken tusks having low social rankings. Because of their massive size, the only threats to walruses are polar bears, killer whales and humans.

5) Giraffe

GiraffeGiraffes are the world’s tallest animal and can grow to heights of up to 20 feet. The average male giraffe can weigh around 3,500 pounds, but some have been found to tip the scales at nearly 4,200 lbs. A fair amount of the giraffe’s height lies in its neck which can sometimes be almost 7 feet long. Giraffes have massive hearts in order to pump blood all the way up to their brains. A giraffe heart can weigh a whopping 25 pounds and produce approximately twice the blood pressure of a human heart. Additionally, their intestines have been found to be up to 260 feet in length. Giraffes typically feed on acacia leaves and other shoots and grasses. They use their long (up to 20 inches) tongues and the roofs of their mouths to pull leaves off of trees.

6) Gaur

GaurAlso known as an Indian bison, the guar is the tallest type of wild cattle in existence. They can weigh up to 3,300 pounds and be over 7 feet tall at the shoulders. It is not entirely uncommon for a gaur to grow to lengths of over 10 feet. Both males and females have horns that can be over 45 inches in length. Because of their size, a gaur’s only true enemies are saltwater crocodiles, humans and tigers. When threatened, gaurs will frequently make a circle around the younger and more vulnerable members of the herd in order to protect them. They have also been known to form a phalanx and walk toward tigers in order to scare them away.

7) Wild Asian Water Buffalo

Wild-Asain-water-buffalo
Photo by: Steve Garvie, CC

Wild Asian water buffaloes can weigh in at 2,600 lbs and be nearly 10 feet in length. The larger buffaloes easily reach over 6 feet in height at the shoulder. Their horns are the longest of any other bovid and they have been found to have a spread from tip to tip of up to 79 inches. These buffaloes are endangered, with an estimated 4,000 or less left in the world. Their numbers have decreased by 50% in the past 30 years. Habitat loss, interbreeding with domestic buffalo, hunting and diseases are the main cause of their dwindling numbers. They can still be found in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Bhutan, Myanmar and Nepal.

8) Saltwater Crocodile

Saltwater-crocodileThis type of crocodile is the largest living reptile. The average male saltwater crocodile can weigh around 2,200 pounds and be around 17 feet in length. Rare gigantic saltwater crocodiles have been found to weigh up to 4,400 pounds and be up to 23 feet in length. This species is capable of taking down and killing larger animals such as the wild Asian water buffalo and the gaur. The saltwater crocodile has the most powerful bite of any living creature. In fact, it is capable of crushing a full grown cow’s skull. These animals are very territorial and predacious. They are not very picky eaters and will often attack any animal that comes close. Saltwater crocodiles have been observed preying upon deer, wild boar, monkeys, jackals, kangaroos, pythons, orangutans, antelope and many other species.

9) American Bison

American-bisonThe American bison is the largest land animal in the Americas. Large bison can weigh around 2,200 pounds, but the record heaviest known bison had a weight of 2,800 pounds. American bison can be over 11 feet long and more than 6 feet tall at the shoulder. Even though they are very large, bison can run at a speed of nearly 40 miles an hour. A bison’s horns can grow to be up to two feet long. This animal encounters people frequently in Canadian and U.S. national parks and they will charge and attack a human if they feel threatened. Bison were hunted by humans to near extinction in the 19th century and are slowly making a comeback. Currently their main enemies are wolf packs.

10) Wild Yak

Wild-yakWild yaks can be over 7 feet tall and 11 feet in length. Males are about 1/3rd larger than females and can weigh up to around 2,200 pounds. Yaks are unique and often noted for their long shaggy hair which keeps them warmer in the colder climates that they tend to inhabit. They actually have a dense undercoat of fur that is overlaid with the longer hair. Wild yaks have very broad hooves that enable them to walk more easily over thick snow. They tend to be fairly docile and easy to train. Wild yaks can be found in the Himalayan area of Asia, near the Tibetan Plateau and up into Russia and Mongolia.

Heavy Animals Honorable Mentions

– Giant Eland up to 2,200 lbs
– Banteng up to 2,000 lbs
– Alaskan Moose 1,500 lbs, record of 1,800 lbs
– Kodiak Bear 1,500 lbs
– Polar Bear 1,500 lbs

October 10, 2013 at 12:24 pm | 2 comments

Best Festivals in the U.S.

Festivals are times of extraordinary experiences. Whether it be the atmosphere, venue, or music, it is a place where creativity and fun blend together. People love to go to festivals to forget their troubles, woes, and anxieties. The following is our compilation of the best festivals in the U.S.

Mardi Gras – New Orleans, Louisiana

Mardi-Gras The Mardi Gras celebrations in The Big Easy last for a little over two weeks. The last day of Marti Gras is always the day before the first day of the Christian observation of Ash Wednesday which marks the first day of Lent. The final day of the festival usually sees around 250,000 people flock to the heart of the city. The events include parades, music and live performers. It is common for festival goers to dress up and wear colorful masks for the festivities. The area of the city called The French Quarter is the wildest section where mostly younger adults will party and sometimes get out of control. For families it is best to avoid this area and enjoy the parades and events that are all actually held in other parts of the city.

Summerfest – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Summerfest-picture This is the world’s largest music festival as confirmed by the Guinness Book of World Records. Milwaukee’s Summerfest grounds play host to an eleven day eleven stage music extravaganza along the shores of Lake Michigan. There are bands performing on each stage all day long and every night concert-goers have to pick which headlining show to go see. Besides the bands that play, there are events for families, stand-up comedians, vendors and a plethora of local foods and brews to sample. Some of the recent big name bands that have played at this festival include: Fun., Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, New Kids on the Block, Billy Idol, Imagine Dragons, MGMT, Silversun Pickups, Styx, Switchfoot, REO Speedwagon, Jimmy Eat World and many more.

Taste of Chicago – Chicago, Illinois

Taste-of-Chicago Taste of Chicago is the world’s largest food festival that takes place in July in Chicago’s Grant Park. The festival has seen attendance numbers of over 3.5 million people in the past. Each year the park hosts many different food vendors that offer pretty much any kind of food you can think of trying. There are also cooking classes and food shows, stages for live music performances by famous artists, activity areas for kids and informational booths that promote various products and give tips on healthy eating and cooking methods. Some bands that have played at Taste of Chicago in recent years include: Neon Trees, Fun., Company of Thieves, Jennifer Hudson, Death Cab for Cutie and Dierks Bentley.

Burning Man – Black Rock Desert, Nevada

burning-man Burning Man is a one week annual festival that takes place in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. It always starts on the final Monday of August and ends on Labor Day. The celebration is named after the practice of burning a huge wooden structure that is shaped like a man on Saturday evening of the festival. The beginnings of the event were small, with only a small gathering of people in 1986. Today the festival attracts approximately 50,000 people a year. There are no venders or bathroom facilities at Burning Man, so it is imperative that you bring food and any items that you might need for your stay. While here you can trade supplies and art, talk philosophy and tell stories with new friends, watch musicians play instruments and visit extensively themed camping areas that people put a lot of time and effort into creating.

National Cherry Blossom Festival – Washington D.C.

Cherry-Blossom Every spring Washington D.C. plays host to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. The celebration commemorates Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo giving Japanese cherry trees to the city as a sign of friendship. The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held in 1935 and has been. The events usually begin in late March and last until around the middle of April. While here you can take part in many activities including: watching the opening ceremony and musical performances, attending the Pink Tie Party, flying a kite at the Blossom Kite Festival, watching the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks show and viewing the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

Sundance Film Festival – Park City, Utah

Sundance-Film This festival showcases independent U.S. and international films. Held each year in Park City, Utah in January, the festival typically goes for about a week and a half. The event has been running since 1978 and was originally called the Utah/US Film Festival. In 1984 the Sundance Institute took over the operations and renamed the event. It has provided major breaks for directors such as Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, Todd Field and Robert Rodriguez. Some notable movies that have been boosted by the event include “Garden State,” “Saw,” “Super Troopers,” “Reservoir Dogs,” “The Blair Witch Project,” “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Napoleon Dynamite.” Every year the festival committee selects 200 films to exhibit out of thousands and thousands of submissions. There are also music performance at the festival for attendees to enjoy.

Music City Festival & BBQ Championship – Nashville, Tennessee

Music-City This two day festival offers plenty of live music to take in, tasty food to sample and a great car and bike show. Amateurs and professionals can enter into the Bar-B-Que competition for a change in taking home part of the $25,000 in prizes. All of the events take place at The Lawn at Riverfront Park located in downtown Nashville next to the Cumberland River. A great thing about this festival is that all of the proceeds go to various charities each year. The cookout tournament is officially sanctioned with the winner being declared the champion of the state of Tennessee. Visitors can also pay to be a guest judge and vote to decide who wins the People’s Choice Award. There is music all day long that lasts until 11 PM.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Balloon-Festival Check out this festival to be part of the world’s largest hot air balloon event. The festivities last for nine days and feature approximately 750 hot air balloons from around the globe. There are many things to see and do while here, including: taking a hot air balloon ride, watching balloon races, seeing all of the creatively shaped and colored balloons, watching chainsaw competitions, enjoying delicious food and watching a fireworks show at night. One of the highlights of the festival comes on the last day when they have a “Mass Ascension” as all of the balloons take off into the sky in what has been called a wondrous display.

Halloween Festival of the Dead – Salem, Massachusetts

Salem-Halloween This spooky celebration is held in the town famous for burning suspected witches in the past. The Halloween Festival of the Dead lasts for a little over a week and has different themed events for each day such as: Speaking to the Dead, Conjuring Spirits, a Halloween Ball and Ghost Hunting. While at the festival you can learn about the history of Salem, enjoy everyone’s creative costumes and even dress up as something scary or creative yourself. There are plenty of things for both kids and adults to enjoy. One highlight is the 21+ Vampire’s Masquerade Ball that features gothic music, a gothic fashion show and adult beverages. If you are a fan of Halloween or just want to experience this time of year in a place that is notoriously linked with ghosts, goblins and witches, then this is the festival for you.

Lollapalooza – Chicago, Illinois

Lollapalooza-picture Lollapalooza was started as an idea to have a farewell tour for the band Jane’s Addiction by lead singer Perry Farrell in 1991. The idea grew into the concept of having a massive music festival. Except for a couple year hiatus, the three day event has been going strong and in 2013 brought in crowds of over 100,000 each day to Grant Park. The festival is known for featuring alternative rock, indie, punk rock, hip hop and heavy metal bands. Some of the past year’s most famous bands have been: The Cure, Black Sabbath, The Killers, Tegan and Sara, Vampire Weekend, Florence and the Machine, The Postal Service, Imagine Dragons, The Lumineers, Lana Del Rey and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to name a few.

October 9, 2013 at 6:40 pm | No comment

Discovery Park

Discovery-Park
Photo by: Joe Mabel, CC

Discovery Park is a 534 acre park located on shores of Puget Sound in Seattle, Washington. This is the largest public park in this city and contains nearly 12 miles of walking trails. A lighthouse can be seen from West Point, as well as the whole city of Seattle. On the southern side of North Beach strip, there is a sewerage treatment plant although it is totally concealed from marsh, beach and the trail. This park was built on the historic land of Fort Lawton, with most of Fort -Lawton Historic District falling within the park. Beaches, forests, prairies and some bluffs dominate this park.

Ambiance

Discovery Park is one among the most unique places in this city to view beautiful wildlife such as birds and other marine mammals. According to Seattle Audubon Society, there are about 270 species of birds in this park and nearby rivers. The Shilshole and Elliot Bays are a home to California sea lions and harbor seals. Most visitors love hiking around the Loop Trail.

The shoreline can be accessed via a road or trail. However, you need to get a permit before driving your car to the beach. The free permits can easily be obtained at the Environmental Learning Center located in the Eastern Parking Lot. The permits are specially designed for qualified individuals. South beach is on the windward side of Peninsula. Elliot Bay and North Beach are on the leeward side and offer excellent views of Shilshole. Between the northern and southern beaches, there is West Point and West Point Lighthouse. A coniferous forest is found on the northern bluff region and is easily accessed from a road that will lead to the beach.

Some Deciduous woods can be seen surrounding the 2 parking areas and the visitor center. A huge meadow with some small trees and other shrubs overlooks the south bluff. Red alder, western red cedar, bigleaf maple, Douglas fir, bitter cherry and western hemlocks make up a huge percentage of the entire tree cover in Discovery Park. Some invasive species like Scot’s broom, Holly and English ivy are all over the park.

History

Discovery Park is a relatively recent creation. It was opened in the early 1970’s. This land was surplus to U.S Army’s Fort Lawton. This site had previously been given to the Army by city authority in 1898. The fort was opened in 1900. The Army then decided to sell this back to city in the year 1938, but unfortunately the city refused due to maintenance concerns. Most of this land was given back to city in 1972, and later dedicated as the Discovery Park in 1973. Fort Lawton still continued as the Army Reserve facility up until the February 25th, 2012 when it officially closed.

Issues

Today, this park has a few issues such as a tendency to attract some wild animals. In May of 2009, a black bear was seen and on September of that same year, a cougar was spotted. The beach also has a history of some sporadic clothing-optional use in remote areas of the shoreline.

Seattle Famous Landmarks

October 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm | No comment

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