Friday, November 29, 2013

Vancouver's Jewel - Stanley Park

 West of the Downtown area, a beautiful natural setting. . .

Prospect Point, late 1800s, Stanley Park, Archival photo, VC

In the late 1800s. . .

The 1000-acre (400+ hectare) park originated as a First Nations Reserve on First Narrows, one of the crossings between the Lower Mainland and the North Shore of Vancouver, BC. In the photo above, the figures are looking across to North Vancouver

One of the first resolutions of the Vancouver council in 1886 was to petition the federal government to turn the 'Reserve on First Narrows' (an aboriginal settlement) into a public park. In September 1888, Stanley Park opened, leased by the Federal Government and named after the Governer-General at the time, Lord Stanley of Preston. It was meant to stay a nature park, to offset the hustle and bustle of city life, and to remind the citizens of the beauty that surrounds Vancouver.


In 1938, the Lions Gate Bridge was opened to connect Vancouver to the North Shore, via a causeway through the park.

The Lions Gate Bridge, circa 1940s, Archives,Stanley Park

From the park level above, looking down at the approach to the Lions Gate Bridge. Those mountains on the other side are on the North Shore.

Causeway to Lions Gate Bridge, Vancouver, by DG Hudson

One of the representative lions, below, indicates where the Lions Gate Bridge goes beneath.

Lions over the bridge in Stanley Park, by DG Hudson

The terms, the 'Lions Gate' refers to The Lions, a pair of mountain peaks north of Vancouver. Northbound traffic heads in their direction. Two lions stationed at the pillars where the bridge begins, also remind us of the name of the bridge.


Stanley Park Seawall, circa 1930s

Then. . .

Stanley Park Seawall, Park Archival Image, Vancouver

And Now. . .

A beautiful walkway which follows the seashore line of Burrard Inlet and the park drive. Stanley Park's Seawall is one of Vancouver's best known locations and is used daily by walkers, runners, skaters, flaneurs, etc. This is an ideal spot for photo ops.

Stanley Park Seawall, Vancouver, BC, by DG Hudson

You might see the occasional politician from back east trying to catch a bit of sun while walking or jogging at English Bay or on the Seawall! We saw one of these rare creatures this summer. They tend to travel with an entourage and attract media.


A little background. . .

Before the park was created, there were others who lived here. . .

Siwash Rock family, Stanley Pk, Vancouver City Archives

Archaeological evidence suggests a human presence in the park dating back 3000 years or more. Unfortunately, creating the park displaced the aboriginal tribes which first populated this area. Fourteen archeological sites were registered, per a UBC professor, as evidence of human settlement prior to the Europeans. Much of this historical evidence was found when excavating the areas selected for the Aquarium, Second Beach and other new additions to the park.


Freighters in Burrard Inlet, seen from Stanley Park.

Vancouver BC View from Stanley Park, by DG Hudson

Designated a national historic site of Canada, Stanley Park today consists of green forests with old growth trees, two distinct beach areas, First Nations totems, sports ovals, picnic areas and tennis courts. Scenic views of the surrounding mountains and cityscapes blend into a west coast panorama.

In honor of Stanley Park celebrating 125 years. . .

This post is Part I of a series about Stanley Park, using my own photos in comparison with archival images of the early days in Vancouver. More to come.

Inspired by an excellent special feature on the history of the park in the Vancouver Sun newspaper. The Vancouver Sun, Westcoast News, Saturday, August 17, 2013, Stanley Park, the natural wonder. . . since 1888. Byline: John Mackie. His in-depth articles provide more information.


Ever heard of or visited Stanley Park in Vancouver? Do you know of a similar city park in your area? Have any of your parks suffered damage from rainstorms, windstorms, fire or lightning?

Please share in the comments, and thanks for dropping by. I'm always listening.


Stanley Park

Stanley Park birthday - 125 years

Stanley Park story - including Images

wiki for Stanley Park

Lions Gate Bridge


Thursday, November 14, 2013

PARIS - A Flâneur's History Walk

A Flâneur's walk is pleasure when it has no purpose other than to look upon the world and wonder.  Of course, afterwards, the flâneur offers his observations.

Étienne Marcel
Provost of Paris

Etienne Marcel and Hotel de Ville, Paris by DG Hudson

Étienne Marcel, who was born into a wealthy Parisian merchant family, served as Provost of Paris in 1302 and 1310 – 31 July 1358. A provost is a seignorial officer in charge of managing burgh affairs and rural estates, and administering local justice.

In 1357, Étienne found himself at the head of a reform movement that tried to institute a controlled French monarchy. What monarchy at that time would willingly accept such changes? This reform movement threatened the royal power of the Dauphin, the heir to the throne. On the night of July 31, when Marcel would have opened the gates to his compatriots, he was killed by the guards at the Porte Saint-Antoine, one of the gates into Paris. During the following days, all his colleagues were also dispatched. The Dauphin re-entered Paris. Did the Parisian bourgeoise arrange for Étienne's death or was the guard loyal to the Dauphin?

(Note: Our rental apartment in the Marais was a few blocks away; we walked near the spot where this historical event took place on our way to Pere Lachaise Cemetery.)


At the Musee d'Orsay, Esplanade

Three of the Six Continents, allegorical statues placed in the esplanade.

Three of the Six Continents statues, Musee d'Orsay, by DG Hudson

The statues of the Six Continents were designed for the L'Exposition universelle in 1878 at the Trocadèro palace. Six female statues are embellished with various details identifying the continent they represent. Recovered from Nantes where they had been discarded, the statues were exchanged for a painting by Sisley which would be displayed at the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Nantes. The six pieces, created by six different artists, represent Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Australia/Oceania.


Every Flaneur's dream
The Eiffel Tower draws people.
People are interesting to watch.

Eiffel Tower, and Champ de Mars, by DG Hudson

The Iron Lady, the Eiffel Tower, provides ample opportunity for any flâneur to observe various types of people. Some will be travellers taking silly or serious shots, while the ubiquitous bicycles glide by, and the tour buses unload. Visitors from all over the world want to see the symbol of Paris.

For more posts on the Eiffel Tower:

On a recent travel show I learned the Eiffel Tower sometimes becomes a skating rink near Christmas. It's another of those little touches that Paris does which sets it apart. This is done for the people of Paris. (as is the faux beaches complete with sand in the summer)


Are you interested in statues? Do you wonder who they are, if you don't know (historical figures)? Do you stop to read plaques commemorating statues or other city sculptures? Where have you seen statues or monuments that made a big impression on you?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, and thanks for dropping by. I'm always listening.

Sculptures from 1878 at Musee d'Orsay
Flâneur means a saunterer or a person who strolls about city streets observing life. Champ de Mars, Paris, originally used for military drills and gathering place for large events.


Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Louvre and Versailles - Ceiling Art

How often do you expect to find art on the ceiling? In the medieval churches and also in museums and art galleries, be aware that art is everywhere. This is especially evident in Paris.

In the Louvre galleries. . .

Louvre Museum, Ceiling Art, Paris, by DG Hudson

Gilded molding and a variety of painted scenes in ceilings are used to create certain effects. Art distracts the eye and reduces a high ceiling; the visual warmth of the gilding and recessed lighting complements the marble of the walls as well as the sculptures. The example shown above is from a main gallery at the Louvre Museum.


In the corners of embellished walls and ceilings. . .

Louvre Museum, Corner Art, Paris, by DG Hudson

In an upper corner of the Louvre ceiling, an elaborate wall sculpture with royal insignia, and deep windows surrounded by painting above and in between. This viewpoint is on a lower level. Art sculptures compete for floor space, hanging frames provide a window on other times, and above our heads, art fit for a king.


At the Palace of Versailles. . .

At Versailles, the palace of the Sun King, Louis XIV, painting and gilt embellishment decorate a curved painted ceiling with a filigree design. A scaffold would be needed to get a closer look.

Versailles Ceiling Art by DG Hudson


Which way is Up?

The angle of this next photo may be disorienting, as it looks upward. Versailles surprises the visitor with its beautiful craftmanship, its opulence, and its grand scale. Much of the ceiling art is restored one square inch at a time when repair is needed. Maintenance of the estate is funded by tours and occasional art displays.

Versailles - Private chambers ceiling and wall, by DG Hudson


And in this Corner. . .

Art covers many architectural devices in this ceiling at Versailles, such as curves, medallions, and edging patterns. The total effect is a feast for the eyes, but it drained much of the French treasury to decorate this estate. Wise minds prevailed when Versailles was restored to its original glory. Such places bring history alive and remind those who govern that the treasury is for the country and its people, as well as the king or rulers.

Versailles Ceiling Detail, by DG Hudson

Each small section is a finished work of art which can be seen in the closeup below.

Versailles, Closeup Ceiling detail by DG Hudson
Restoring Versailles and the Louvre to their former grandness is an effort that is celebrated by those who love art and history. Keeping history intact and preserving art and architecture is something the modern world still needs to remember. Don't destroy heritage for modern sleekness. There's no joy of discovery of the fine detail when all you've got is a smooth surface that reflects. The cost of creating equivalent buildings or art works today would be prohibitive.
Some of the photos had to be lightened to see the detail. These upper areas of castles can appear dim when you are on location. Lights near art works are usually minimal for preservation purposes.
Have you seen ceiling art in museums, galleries or churches? What do you think of art on the ceiling? Do you mind looking up to see? Would you want to see it up close? Even on a scaffold?
Please share in the comments and thanks for dropping by! This arty moment brought to you by DG.  Good luck to all NANO-ers if you happen to stop by.