Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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In a Glass by Themselves

City Hall, Buffalo, New YorkWe rarely give much thought to the ordinary glass objects around our homes—our windows and mirrors, baking dishes and light bulbs, orange juice pitchers and cereal bowls. But once you start to consider its myriad uses, from the mundane to the extraordinary, you’ll develop a new appreciation for this versatile material that begins with melted sand and ends up as fantastic artwork. Read about the world’s best glassworks >


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Big Treasures in a Tiny Capital

Brock House, Montpelier, VermontThe compact downtown area of Montpelier, Vermont, tucks a lot into it: farm-to-table dining establishments, independently owned shops, history, natural beauty, cultural attractions. Strolling among them is delightful, especially if you appreciate architecture. The city has a surprising number of noteworthy buildings, belying its diminutive size. Read about the top five buildings in Montpelier, Vermont >


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The Legacy of Carl Ludvig Engel

Pulpit, Turku Cathedral, FinlandI had no idea who Carl Ludvig Engel was. But as I made my way around Finland, his name kept popping up. I would be awed by a fantastic cathedral and later on find out Engel was the architect. I would admire a stately municipal building and then discover that Engel was the architect for that, too. And his name kept reappearing, in houses and theaters and parks. I was soon on the hunt for more of Engel’s works, and they were pretty easy to find. Read about Engel’s top five works >


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Milwaukee’s Gilded Age Glory

Germania Building, Milwaukee, WisconsinStaying at a hotel in downtown Milwaukee that used to be a Gimbels department store gave me easy access to many of the city’s best attractions, including the remnants of its Gilded Age. Industrious immigrants, including a tidal wave of Germans and other Eastern Europeans, boosted the city’s population so that, by 1900, it was the 14th largest city in the United States. The work of these determined newcomers coincided with America’s explosion of industrial achievements and economic expansion, and they left behind a legacy of fantastic structures in their “German Athens.” Read about the top five buildings in Milwaukee >


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Superb Structures in the “City of Soul”

Standard Life Building, Jackson, MississippiThe capital of Mississippi was within easy striking distance from my accommodations in Vicksburg, the wonderful Baer House Inn. In less than an hour, I had pulled into Jackson and was wandering its peaceful streets. In this city that is celebrating its 200th birthday this year, I found very little of its pre–Civil War built environment, thanks to its nearly wholesale destruction during that bloody conflict. However, a handful of survivors and some newer additions, all concentrated in a small walking distance, keep the city architecturally interesting. Read about the top five buildings in Jackson >


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Cleveland’s Architectural Glory Days

Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument, Cleveland, OhioSpending a long weekend in February in Cleveland, Ohio, seemed, in retrospect, a bit odd. It’s cold, it’s gray, it’s dreary, and even the animals in the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo looked lethargic and in desperate need of spring. But even in the dead of winter, this lakeside city offers some fine diversions, such as the second-largest performing arts district in the United States, a market that celebrated its 100th birthday a few years ago, and excellent museums. It also boasts some outstanding architecture from the era when the city was one of the 10 largest in the United States. Read about the top five buildings in Cleveland >


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French Flair in North America

Maillou House, Quebec CityA French enclave on an English-speaking continent, Québec is a wonderful anomaly. Although Montreal is the Canadian province’s economic powerhouse, Québec City is its solid, more obvious connection to its French past, and its present — French is still the native language of more than 90 percent of its half-million citizens. Roaming its streets and alleys of low-rise stone houses, magnificent churches, and tempting cafés, I couldn’t help but feel transported to 18th- and 19th-century France. Among its beautiful edifices, there’s one building that’s so iconic to the city that it’s impossible to think of one without the other, and that you’re anywhere but in the capital of Québec. Read about the top five buildings in Québec City >


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Beautiful Buildings in Vermont’s Top City

College Street Congregational Church, Burlington, VermontPart university town, part commercial center, part New England perfection, Burlington, Vermont, the largest city in the state, feels like a close-knit community, a palpable vibe I detected in the congenial farmers market, where I purchased butternut donuts, and along the Church Street Marketplace. Its pedestrian mall, championed by an architecture student who was inspired by the people-only Strøget in Copenhagen, Denmark, is part of the city’s handsome built environment that includes fine structures on two college campuses, a restored Art Deco theater, plenty of churches, and a hotel that used to be a newspaper office. Read about the top five buildings in Burlington >


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Buildings of Distinction in Tampa, Florida

Kress Building, Tampa, FloridaWith a booming population and a port that ranks at number seven in the United States (and number two in Florida for cruise ships), Tampa has been experiencing significant development, and redevelopment, for years now. Amid all that newness, I was glad to see the survival of some of the older things, particularly some stand-out buildings that defined the city for so long. Read about the top five buildings in Tampa >


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Architecture in Alberta That Rivals Its Scenery

Old City Hall, Calgary, AlbertaBanff, Alberta, was one of the first places I remember ever wanting to see. It took a few decades, but I finally put together a two-week loop around Alberta that started in Edmonton and ended in Calgary, with gorgeous Banff nicely sandwiched between. During that time, I reveled in Alberta’s unmatched scenery — ice fields, waterfalls, dramatic mountains, deep lakes, and deeper forests. But I also was treated to some striking architecture that adds even more interest to this western Canadian province. Read about the top five buildings in Alberta >