Monday, May 18, 2015

White House Extensions

Proposed Extensions to the White House by Robert Owen, 1891-1901

Robert Owen proposed to extend the White House by creating two replicas of the original structure, rotate them 90 degrees and place them on either side.

This was one of several designs in the late 19th century for expanding or relocating the Executive Mansion to provide more space for the growing government.

Source: Library of Congress.

next episode: Paris

Thursday, May 14, 2015

St. Petersburg

The Nevsky Prospect, the main street of St. Petersburg

The Hermitage Museum in the Winter Palace

(photos by RfA, 2009)

next episode: White House

Sunday, May 10, 2015

German invasion of the Low Countries

German troops pass through a heavily damaged Rhenen, May 1940 (source). 

On the morning of May 10th, 1940 the Dutch awoke to the sound of aircraft engines roaring in the sky. Germany had commenced operation Fall Gelb and attacked the NetherlandsBelgiumFrance and Luxembourg, in the case of the Low Countries without a declaration of war given before hostilities.

next episode: Petersburg

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Liberation Day

On Monday May 7th, 1945 the Canadian Allied forces entered Amersfoort. The photo shows the Kamperbinnenpoort in the background (source: Nationwide Liberation Day is celebrated on May 5th. On May 4th the victims of World War II are commemorated.

next episode: war

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Jan Steen - Girl Eating Oysters

Jan Steen - Girl Eating Oysters (ca. 1658-1660, Mauritshuis, The Hague)

This is the smallest painting Jan Steen ever made. A young woman (Grietje van Goyen) looks at us coquettishly while sprinkling salt on an oyster. Spread out on the table before her is a beautifully painted still life, consisting of oysters, a Delft blue pitcher next to a glass of wine, and a silver tray containing a half-eaten roll, a little mound of salt and peppercorns spilling out of a paper cone. More oysters are being prepared in the kitchen in the background.

In those days oysters were thought to be an aphrodisiac. Steen alludes to these erotic connotations, making it seem as though this women offers not just oysters but herself as well. As if not wanting to leave us in any doubt, Steen drops yet another hint: behind the woman is a bed with closed curtains.

(source: Mauritshuis)

next episode: Liberation!

Monday, April 27, 2015

King's Day

The Museumplein ('Museum Square'), the Van Gogh Museum is visible at the right with the Concertgebouw ('Concert Building') in the background.

Today is King's Day in The Netherlands. It used to be called Queen's Day (in Dutch: Koninginnedag, try to pronounce that) but since 2013 we have a king instead of a queen.

It seems like the whole nation dresses up in orange (one of the surnames of the queen king is 'from Orange') and visits Amsterdam. Since I don't like large crowds, and I have no desire to witness the annual massive train congestion first hand, I stay at home.

next episode: steen

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vicksburg Waterfront (II)

Vicksburg waterfront with the Mississippi River, ca. 1909 (Detroit Publishing Co)

Coca Cola was first bottled in Vicksburg by Joseph Biedenharn, who owned a small candy store on Washington Street. He shipped it to the plantations in the Delta. Excerpt from a photo found on

next episode: king

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford

Mary Pickford (Toronto, April 8, 1892 – Santa Monica, May 29, 1979) was a motion picture actress, co-founder of the film studio United Artists and one of the original 36 founders of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

next episode: Vicksburg

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Ford's Theatre

An interactive view of Ford's Theatre.
You can get a 360 degrees view by dragging with the mouse. Zooming is also possible. 

Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865 at the Ford's Theatre in Washington.

After the assassination and the execution of the conspirators John T. Ford was given permission to reopen his theatre. He announced the play “The Octoroon”, but after a large uproar he was forced to close his theatre and to sell the building to the government. It was in use by the Office of Records and Pensions (run by the War Department) when on June 9th, 1893 the three upper floors collapsed  causing the death of 24 men.

The building after the collapse in 1893 (NPS photo).

John T. Ford, theater proprietor .

(This is a repost from 2 years ago) 

next episode: mary p.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln, May 7, 1858 (photo by Abraham M. Byers)  

April 14-15 will mark the 150th anniversary of Lincoln's assassination. 

Abraham Lincoln, August 9, 1863 (photo by Alexander Gardner)

An overview of all his photos can be found here.

next episode: the inevitable theatre

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Evelyn Holt

Evelyn Holt

Evelyn Holt (1908 - 2001) was a highly popular German film actress in the late silent and the early sound era. The rise of the Nazis finished her blossoming film career. The reason: her original name looked too Jewish. She managed to survive by a career at the Komische Oper in Berlin, but when she married a Jewish publisher her stage career was halted as well. In 1938 the couple emigrated first to Switzerland, then in 1940 to Britain, and finally to the US. Evelyn Holt stayed in the US until her death in Los Angeles in 2001, but she never performed in a film again.

next episode: an island


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