Stephen Travels

And he's ready to take you with him.


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Post’s Present

Old New York Times BuildingGeorge Browne Post should be a household name, but for most people, he is not. And that’s a shame. Post (1837–1913) was one of the United States’ most prolific, most creative, and most respected architects. We can curse the evil wrecking ball for shunting Post to the forgotten architects bin. If you were to scan a list of all his brilliant works, far too many would bear an asterisk with the note “demolished”: the Erie County Savings Bank in Buffalo, New York; the Cotton Exchange, Western Union Building, World Building, and Collis P. Huntington Mansion in New York City; the old Borough Hall in the Bronx, New York; the Bonner-Marquand Gymnasium at Princeton University; the Prudential Building in Newark, New Jersey; the Bank of Pittsburgh—all gone. Those that remain, however, are reminders of Post’s enviable talents that attracted such clients as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Joseph Pulitzer, and The New York Times. Read about the top five works by George Browne Post that still remain >


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Going Directly to Jail

Prisoner's Gate, The Hague, NetherlandsGoing to prison while on vacation is not exactly on anyone’s itinerary, especially if you’ve seen Midnight Express. But sometimes a look at life behind bars is a worthy way to pass an hour or two, especially when the jails themselves provide some fascinating history and some pretty impressive buildings. Read about the top five jails >


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Philadelphia’s Old Churches Always Offer Something New

Lutheran Church of the Holy Communion, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaWith so many historic sites to see in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, ranging from Benjamin Franklin’s gravesite to the massive food mecca inside Reading Terminal Market (one of the world’s best indoor markets) to the oldest residential street in the United States, it’s hard to pick which ones to head to when you have only three days in the city. My recommendation is to sprinkle visits to some beautiful churches into your itinerary; you’ll be rewarded with artistic beauty and some fascinating tales. Read about the top five churches in Philadelphia >


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The Churches of Pittsburgh: Very Diverse, All Beautiful

From the top of Mount Washington, I took in the fantastic view of the skyline of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, one of the best urban views in the United States. Connected to the land across the Monongahela and Allegheny rivers by its iconic yellow bridges, this pie-shaped section of the city rises heavenward with its shiny skyscrapers, which (unfortunately) effectively hide one of the city’s lower-rise assets: its gorgeous houses of worship. Read about the top five churches in Pittsburgh >


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Devon: A Standout Seafood Restaurant in Philadelphia

After spending the better part of the afternoon strolling around Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, I sought a little relaxation in the inviting Rittenhouse Square, one of the five original open-space parks planned by William Penn and created in the late 1700s. On a shade-covered bench, I admired the floral displays around me, watched a wedding photo shoot, and enjoyed the antics of the adorable dogs parading by me. When I had had my fill of people-watching, I was happy to find my dinner destination just across the street at Devon Seafood Grill, often considered one of the best seafood restaurants in the city and one of the top 100 places to dine out of more than 4,000 Philadelphia restaurants. Read more >


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Going Green Around the World

Decanter Set, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaWith spring almost at the doorstep for many of us, we begin to think of shedding extra layers of thick clothing and weatherproof boots, stowing away our rock salt and shovels, and not having to de-ice our cars every morning. Buds will soon appear, and gray will morph into green bursting all around us, bringing with it all signs of rebirth and new life. Of course, nature doesn’t hold a monopoly on green; there are plenty of nonliving objects that are green that you can see and fall in love with all year. Read about the world’s top five greens >


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Cuban Food in a Very American City

Alma de Cuba, Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaAfter spending the day walking around the streets of the quintessential American city of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, exploring key American sites like Independence Hall, Benjamin Franklin’s grave, and the Liberty Bell, I headed to dinner at a restaurant located in a very American-looking three-story Federal-style townhouse, painted a soft pastel yellow. Was my dinner traditional American? Nope. It was Cuban. And it was delicious. Read more about Alma de Cuba >


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The Firehouses That Burn the Brightest

Jasper Fire Hall, Jasper, AlbertaThe word “hero” is employed far too often to describe someone who simply does his or her job, or someone you might have a shred of admiration for. In fact, the word is quite in danger of verbicide. The shortstop who makes a great catch is not a hero; your favorite reality star is certainly not a hero. In a world that is seriously lacking in true heroes, it’s heartening to know that there is one group that deservedly earns the accolade every day: firefighters. And societies have acknowledged their selfless bravery and critical role by constructing some highly impressive buildings for them from which they perform their duties. Read about the world’s top five firehouses >


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Opa! It Will Be All Greek to You at Poros in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Poros, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaGiven the diversity of dining options in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania — Polish, Thai, German, Peruvian, Italian, and so on — deciding on where to have dinner becomes a perplexing, but pleasant, problem. And strolling around the weekly farmers market in landmark Market Square, when more than 30 vendors purvey a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, fresh-pressed juices, milk, cheese, honey, and breads, will certainly put you in a gastronomic frame of mind. You can act immediately on that particular mental state without leaving the square by settling in for dinner at Poros, a stylish Greek estiatorio that’s a fine credit to its culture. Read more >


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Bird Hunting Inside Hotel Monaco in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Hotel Monaco, Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaHaving already stayed at the Baltimore property of Hotel Monaco, I knew what to expect when I checked into the Pittsburgh location: a spotless, comfortable, exceptionally quiet room; great service; perfect location. What I wasn’t anticipating, however, was the whimsical bird motif throughout — subtle little popup appearances in unexpected places, making my weeklong stay in this superior hotel an enjoyable guessing game as I hunted for new feathered friends every day. Read more >