There is a proposal in Pittsburgh to introduce a new feature to its riverfronts: swings. I am excited about this possibility as a swing lover and as someone who wants to see more welcoming and engaging spaces along Pittsburgh’s rivers. One of the inspirations for this idea are swings found in Cincinnati’s riverfront park. Last summer, I happened upon that park in a search for bridges by Roebling. On an ordinary summer evening, this enormous riverfront park was filled with people of all ages enjoying the various activities from walking paths to playgrounds to interactive art installations.
Istanbul exercise equipment
Istanbul exercise equipment
Istanbul exercise equipment
Previously, when walking around Istanbul, I experienced jealousy at seeing the number of parks with adult exercise equipment installed. This sort of acknowledgement that adults enjoy playing outdoors as much as children seemed lacking in parks across the United States. Cincinnati’s park showed me that inviting adults to play outside is embraced in some parts of our country.
More images from Cincinnati’s riverfront park
Pittsburgh has kayak and bike rentals for adults to play outside. The walking trails, Fountain at the Point, and Watersteps attract people to enjoy the outdoors and the rivers. However, if this swing proposal pans out, Pittsburgh may move up into the next tier of engaging outdoor spaces with the introduction of free play equipment for adults on par with Cincinnati and Istanbul.
Not being a dog person, I have been fascinated by different dog behaviors and treatment that I have seen in traveling. In New York City, I was surprised to see people bring their pet dogs onto public transit, both on the metro and on the bus. I wasn’t sure if this behavior was like eating on the buses in Pittsburgh–it’s not permitted, yet people do it anyway–or if pets are allowed on public transportation in NYC. It also seemed unusual to me that most of the dogs I saw were small. But then, thinking it through, I decided it made sense as if you live in a stereotypical tiny New York apartment, you wouldn’t have the space to keep a big dog.
In Pittsburgh, dogs seem to be more like what you would find in suburban areas. They are often big and they tend to bark a lot and strain toward people they pass on the street. After coming back from New York City, I realized that you don’t see dogs in downtown Pittsburgh. However, as more people have moved downtown, dogs on the streets downtown have become much more common. Including ones that are pushed around in what look like baby strollers, but given how some people feel about pets, they might have been strollers designed for dogs.
Istanbul dogs were quite different from the average dog in America. I believe most of them were strays, but they appeared to be quite self-sufficient (such as the ones in the photo above). They minded their own business and let everyone around go about their business. It was quite refreshing to me to see numerous dogs that did not feel the need to bark their heads off just because someone was walking by. I regret that I did not get a picture of the most notable dog I passed. He had a human companion, but no leash, instead he was decked out in sunglasses and other bling like mardi gras beads.
Figuring out how to design an accurate representation of the Parthenon out of cake and cookies (see post) was an intriguing task that set me on a new hobby of designing models of existing buildings out of deserts. Beginning with my second Architectural Dessert Masterpiece, all my creations are based on buildings/structures that I have personally encountered in my urban explorations.
I created my second desert building in December 2011. While eating the Parthenon the previous year, suggestions were put out about how to create other shapes and buildings such as using jello and creating round shapes. I was particularly engaged by the idea of how to create a dome. I had not figured out how to create a dome such as those on capital buildings in the US, but I thought I could create one that would be close to those on the mosques I visited in Istanbul. I chose the Blue Mosque as a visually interesting structure that would require a diversity of desserts to create.
Gingerbread cookies seemed to be the best way to design the frame of the building given the variety of heights and shapes of the building. I used sugar cookies for the larger domes and half domes. I knew someone growing up who was able to create perfectly rounded sugar cookies, no matter how I try I have never been able to create the same effect. My sugar cookies worked well for the medium-sized domes, but I had to put two cookies together for the larger domes. M&Ms made great small domes–they were also the base unit that determined the scale of my model. I think another reason why I chose to create a mosque was so I’d have an excuse to use the Pirouette cookies again, this time as minarets. I love these cookies, but hardly ever get them. Using my piping set, I was able to create pointed tops on the minarets and add balconies.
This was by far the most time-consuming Architectural Dessert Masterpiece to create (at least of the four I’ve made so far) because of having to design the required sizes and shapes for the gingerbread cookies and cutting them out and then also baking sugar cookies, which somehow always takes forever. I also played with “whitewashing” the gingerbread walls, but the method I tried didn’t create the desired effect so I gave up on it.
Eating Architectural Dessert Masterpieces is also an interesting experience, as they often require creative thinking to destruct them. With the Parthenon, I employed a karate-chop method for cutting through the wafers. On the other hand, with the Blue Mosque a free-for-all of pulling it apart with your fingers seemed most appropriate.
I decided it was time to add some variety to my bridges post. Last year I spent two weeks in Istanbul. While I was not as absorbed in my bridges quest at that time, I found that thinking about the bridges in Pittsburgh and London caused me to reflect on the bridges in Istanbul. Considering how much water there is in Istanbul, there are very few bridges. I can only recall seeing three: the Galata Bridge, Ataturk Bridge, and the Bosphorus Bridge. (Apparently my memory is a little rusty as I just looked up a map of Istanbul which shows there were four bridges that I would have seen, this obviously reflects the fact that I was not in my bridges phase at that time.) Of these four bridges, I only crossed the Galata Bridge, but I walked under the Bosphorus Bridge and took some pictures of it.
The Galata and Bosphorus bridges are very different in age and use. There has been a Galata Bridge since the middle of the 19th century and a bridge over the Golden Horn (the body of water the Galata Bridge spans) since at least the 6th century. The Galata Bridge has many uses. There are wide sidewalks that accommodate pedestrians, three lanes in each direction for cars, and tracks down the middle of the bridge for the trams. While I worked very hard not to get any of them in the picture above, the bridge is usually lined with fisherman and street vendors sell freshly caught and cooked fish. Below the street deck are numerous restaurants. One day, we had fish sandwiches for lunch at one of these, which were surprisingly good (I’m not much of a fish fan). The line of one of the fisherman on the street deck above can be seen in my picture from the restaurant. The Galata Bridge not only provides access between two points, but also provides people access to their livelihoods and to decent meals. This shows that bridges do not have to be just about funneling traffic from one place to another; they can be a lively and interactive space in the city.
On the other hand, the Bosphorus Bridge, built in the 1970s as the first bridge to span the Bosphorus strait, is purely a funnel (as far as I observed). It looks like it could be in New York or almost any other US city. The purpose of the Bosphorus Bridge is like that of most of Pittsburgh’s river bridges–to provide vehicular access across a body of water.