Sunday, November 27, 2011

General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Bridge

General Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Bridge (Library of Congress)

Over time numerous design proposals had been made for a bridge connecting Washington D.C. with Arlington Memorial Cemetery. In 1887 architectural firm Smithmeyer & Pelz proposed a bridge in honour of General U.S. Grant, featuring medieval-looking towers and turrets, la bit like the London’s Tower Bridge, which was designed in 1884.

The first proposal (Library of Congress)

Actually this was their second proposal, the first plan was a bit more modest. Finally in 1932 the present low-to-the-ground Memorial Bridge was opened.

The designs are part of the new exhibit at the National Building Museum: ‘Imagine Washington D.C. as it could have been’.

next episode: Amsterdam

Friday, November 25, 2011

Napoleon in Amersfoort

The keys of the city of Amersfoort, presented to (and left behind by) Napoleon.

Tuesday October 29, 1811 Napoleon visited Amersfoort. Facades were decorated, and two wooden triumph arches were erected. The government wrote the city counsel a letter to announce this visit:

"… un evénement qui rendra la ville d'Amersfoort immortelle à la posterité."

Haha, sure. He drove through Amersfoort on his way from Utrecht to palace ’t Loo in Apeldoorn. About 5 o’clock in the afternoon, while the horses were changed, the keys of the city were presented.

A small speech was delivered, and even before this speech had reached its conclusion he was already gone at full gallop (he wanted to reach his destination before sundown).

next episode: Amsterdam

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

La Belle Ferronnière

La Belle Ferronnière, attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, 1490-1496 (Louvre Museum, Paris)

Currently this painting is part of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition in The National Gallery in London.  This is the most complete display of the Italian master’s surviving paintings ever. Only 20 known paintings by Leonardo Da Vinci did survive, the National Gallery has brought together 9 of these paintings for the exhibition.

next episode: keys to ...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Gene Tierney Day !

Gene Tierney  


Birth name: Gene Eliza Tierney
Occupation: Actress
Birth date: November 19, 1920
Birth place: Brooklyn, New York
Children: Antoinette Daria (1943-2010) and Christina "Tina" (1948-)
Autobiography: "Self Portrait" (1979)
Death date: November 6, 1991
Death place: Houston, Texas
Burial location: Glenwood Cemetery, Houston

next episode: Leonardo

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Territory of Colorado: Secession of Southern California

Secession of Southern California
The proposed Territory of Colorado (based on the boundaries of the counties in 1859)

I want to make a series of posts concerning countries which just didn’t make it into reality. While I was investigating this I also noticed there have been a lot of embyo US states which just didn’t make it into real statehood. In honor of commenter Nate I’ll start with the secession of Southern California.

In 1859, nine years after California joined the Union, Assemblyman Andrés Pico submitted a bill that called for the secession of the southern counties along the northern border of San Luis Obispo County. These cow countries were annoyed by the unfair tax laws; they had to pay twice as much property tax as the mining regions, while they had only 5% of the population of these mining regions.

The southern region would have become a federal territory named after the Colorado River (the present state of Colorado wasn't named until 1861). The legislature passed this bill (the ‘Pico Act’), two-thirds of voters in the affected counties approved it, and it was signed by the Governor John B. Weller. But in Washington, due to the crisis in 1860, the proposal never came to a Congressional vote.

Andrés Pico

next episode: a Brooklynite  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

A touch of Dutch

If you want to have some insight in the cultural differences between the Dutch and the US you could take a look at this overview made by an ex American expat in the Netherlands. For instance this fun fact: did you know that in Holland the cows say 'Boo' instead of 'Moo'?  

next episode: Napoleon, or dogs, or ..  

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Napoleon in Amsterdam

The entry of Napoleon into Amsterdam by Matthieu van Bree (painting finished in 1813).

Last week it was exactly 2oo years ago that Napoleon visited Amersfoort. I’m still searching for more info about this visit, meanwhile a painting of his visit to Amsterdam, Sunday October 9, 1811. It is one of the largest paintings in the Netherlands (20 x 13 feet). It is currently in restoration while on display in the Amsterdam Museum.

The painting in the Amsterdam Museum, notice the lookalike (photo

next episode: dogs

Friday, November 4, 2011

From Pheasant Island to global World War

King Louis XIV of France meets Philip IV of Spain and his bride Maria Theresa (Philip’s daughter) at Pheasant Island, June 1660.

On Pheasant Island the French princess Elisabeth de Bourbon (age 13) met her Spanish husband Philip IV of Spain (age 10), while at the same time his sister Anne of Austria (age 14) met her husband Louis XIII (age 14), the brother of Elisabeth, on November 25th, 1615. Both couples were already married by proxy the day before.

In 1660 Louis’ son, the (in)famous Sun King Louis XIV of France met his bride Maria Theresa of Spain (daughter of Philip) at the island. After the wedding, Louis wanted to consummate the marriage as quickly as possible, however the new queen's mother-in-law (and aunt) arranged a private consummation instead of the public one that was the custom.

Charles & Marie Louise

In 1679 Philip’s son king Charles II of Spain met his bride Marie Louise d’Orleans at the island. Because of all this inbreeding Charles II was severely intellectually and physically disabled. He was unable to chew, and his tongue was so large that his speech could barely be understood. After the marriage Marie Louise became depressed and died at age 26. Charles remarried, but both marriages were childless. 

After Charles' death in 1700, the lack of a heir led Louis XIV of France (you may know him of his soundbite "L'État, c'est moi") to gain control over the large Spanish empire. This provoked a massive coalition of the English, Dutch, Austrians, Prussians and Portuguese and resulted in the War of the Spanish Succession; a bloody global war fought on four continents and three oceans. The war ended when the Treaty of Utrecht was concluded, 20 km from Amersfoort, in 1713.

next episode: Napoleon?


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