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Special places

I enjoy web sites that speak about their authors’ special regard for places, and I collect some favourite examples here. I hope you too enjoy my little collection.

Warning: some of these sites are rich and complex — you weren't planning to do anything else today, were you?

August 2016

Lighthouses for aeroplanes


Concrete arrows and the US airmail beacon system is a post on the Sometimes interesting blog describing a system that has left strange concrete arrows across the American landscape. In con­trast to marine lighthouses which have stood for centuries and are still lit every night, these aerial navigation aids had a short service life.

In 1924 the US Postal Service began to build a network of giant concrete arrows which pilots could see from the air during day­light, with flashing lights on towers for night navigation. By 1933 radio direction-finding systems had been developed, and the beacon system became obsolete.

A 1928 postage stamp celebrating the airmail beacon system.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under USA + Archaeology + Lighthouses
September 2015

ArtMapping Venice


This is a blog about building a website to bring together his­toric artworks of Venice, maps to locate the places depicted, and tools to search and sort. It is the work of three students of Digital Hu­man­it­ies at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne​—​Tania Palmieri, Ertan Kazikli and Orhan Ocal. The text is in English, heavily laced with acronyms: API, JSON, KML, XML and suchlike.

In ArtMapping Venice the authors explain their process of se­lect­ing which methods and tools to use. It is this work-in-progress aspect that makes it interesting for me​—​as well as the delights of the city and the artworks it has inspired.

A partial screenshot from the website, showing an old print of the Piazza San Marco (in the white box), overlaid on a Google Maps oblique aerial view of the place as it is now.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under Italy + Urban infrastructure
March 2014

TLV Buildings


Avner Gicelter is a young designer from Israel. On the TLV Buildings blog he posts each week an illustration of a building from his home city. He says I want to share my love for Tel Aviv and its unique and stunning architectural styles.

17 Hanevi’im Street, by Avner Gicelter.

Four buildings from March 2014.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under Israel
February 2014

Jackie Chan at the Old Museum


I don’t watch many martial arts action films, but this segment on YouTube caught my attention. It is set in the Old Museum Bu­il­ding in Brisbane, and uses the spaces of the exhibition hall for some exciting action. The exhibition hall was built in 1891, and was the home of the Queensland Museum from 1899 until 1986. I am doing some work on the building at the moment, which adds to my interest.

The clip is from the 1996 film Jackie Chan’s First Strike. More details are at the IMDb, where it rates 6.5 stars (out of 10).

Jackie Chan hanging from the mezzanine. Bad men with sticks are on the floor below, waiting for him to fall.

The hero fighting a baddie with sticks. There is a lot more of this to come.

Part of the celebrated ladder fight sequence. Those windows in the background were added to the building in 1899 when it was converted for the museum.

It’s great to see the Old Museum in a movie, but I’m not de­spe­ra­te to see the whole film. As the reviewer Roger Ebert says​—​It’s as if the movie has been made of, by and for 13-year-old boys, and while you watch it you feel like one. If I see the DVD in the video store I might even borrow it, and tickle my inner 13-year-old.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under Australia + War
September 2013

The age of buildings in the Netherlands

Broken link

The tools and the data for online mapping keep getting better. This web map was created by Bert Spaan using open cadastral data.

A screen capture showing part of central Amsterdam. The large light-blue building is the Opera House. Those are canals shown in black.

The map covers the whole of the Netherlands, and all of its 9,866,539 buildings. You can scroll and zoom all over the country.

Legend showing colours for different building ages.

This site was pointed out to me by Thom Blake, who saw it on the MapBox blog.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under The Netherlands
March 2013

Drone flight over an aqueduct


The World Heritage Listed Pontcysllte Aqueduct carries the Llangollen Canal over the valley of the River Dee in Wales. It was completed in 1805 and is the longest and highest aqueduct in Britain.

This video, convinced me that a remote controlled Aibot X6 hexacopter is a great tool for inspecting hard-to-get-to places. I want one.

Akke Monasso, Pontcysyllte Aqueduct, via wikipedia.

Also, see this video animation showing how the aquaduct was built.

Permanent URL. 
Use it to bookmark or link to this item.   filed under Wales + Industry + Landscapes

On this page
Lighthouses for aeroplanes
ArtMapping Venice
TLV Buildings
Jackie Chan at the Old Museum
The age of buildings in the Netherlands
Drone flight over an aqueduct

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