Rich in architecture, teeming with milestones in industry and music, but vexed by crime, corrupt politicians, and a collapsed population and tax base, Detroit, Michigan, is a perplexing place. On the one hand, prospective visitors are put off by its remarkably bad reputation. On the other hand, it’s one of the most intriguing cities in the United States that I’ve ever been to — and without a problem. From my base at the fantastic Inn on Ferry Street, I explored everything this city has to offer — delicious ethnic foods that range from Arabic to Polish, the outstanding Detroit Institute of Arts, the ruins of Brush Park and the decimated automotive industry, and its famed architecture, including one of my favorite skyscrapers in the world, the Guardian Building. Read more about it >
Downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma, was quiet on a Monday evening. Only a couple of restaurants were open for dinner — an improvement over Sunday evening, when even Arby’s closed at six. The closest of these to my hotel was located inside the historic Mayo Hotel, which I had visited earlier in the day at the start of my tour of the city’s art deco treasures. That short-lived but long-enduring style flows into The Boiler Room, where you can enjoy a contemporary meal and still party like it’s 1929. Read more >
Snuggled along the coast of Hawke’s Bay on New Zealand’s North Island, the small city of Napier owes its current fame to an earthquake that destroyed it. On February 3, 1931, a massive 7.8 earthquake leveled most of the city, killing 258 people in the temblor and the ensuing fires. With its citizens eager to rebuild their city as quickly as possible, construction projects sprouted up all over town in the next few years. Art Deco happened to be the architectural style of choice at that time, and, as there were so many simultaneous projects, the city achieved a uniformity rarely seen in urban environments. Today, after Miami, it’s the best city in the world to appreciate Art Deco architecture and style. Read more about Napier’s best buildings >
Designated historic districts in cities throughout the United States provide a tangible glimpse into their past as well as the opportunity to experience a unique urban environment. Long before the era of modern, uninspired skyscrapers and insipid glass-and-steel boxes that increasingly make cities less distinguishable from one another, these places developed as areas not to be mistaken for any other. Thanks to historic preservation movements and landmark commissions, they survive today to entertain, educate and enchant us. These are my top five historic districts in the United States. Read more >
You just thought of that giant granite rock in Yosemite National Park, right?
Now try a little change in mindset — and letter case — and you’ll conjure up the Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, the largest manmade half dome in the Western Hemisphere. It’s chock-full of museums and attractions, but the real star is the building itself. Read more >