Philip Johnson was a Harvard educated architect who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Andy Warhol and Mark Rothko. His contributions to modern American architecture are pivotal and vast, as he worked on projects such as the Seagram Building in NYC (among many others) but his Glass House in New Canaan marks the apex of his career.
After working in the city as the director of MOMA's department of architecture, Johnson bought land in New Canaan and began work on what would be his vacation home for nearly 60 years and ultimately his masterpiece:
Through out his years of residence, Johnson continued to build on the property and ultimately created somewhat of an architectural Disneyland. A tour of his compound offers not just the opportunity to set foot inside his home where he relaxed, entertained and ultimately died, but also a glimpse into his entire world of design:
Highlights include structures scattered around the property and a bunker beneath ground curated with some of America's most famous modern artists. Below a Frank Stella from his private collection:
New Canaan became a hub of design when the Harvard Five, a group of architect students hailing from the ivy league college, took up residence in the town and began to build. Between the 1940's and 60's, several homes designed by the five began sprouting up around town giving New Canaan a reputation as a particularly mod place.
Though a tour of Johnson's glass house is somewhat pricey, it also includes a nice drive through the neighborhood of New Canaan where you are also able to view some of the work of the Harvard Five.
Visits to the glass house are seasonal with tours beginning in May and ending in November. Right now would be a great time to get tickets and go with the leaf peeping season upon us.
This trip is worth the savings - not only do you get to have alone time with some very exclusive artwork but Johnson's legacy really inspires and strolling the grounds of the glass house is a truly unique experience that shouldn't be skipped. The guides themselves are also very knowledgeable and tell Johnson's story in great and interesting detail.
Getting There: Metro North New Haven Line, New Canaan Stop. The Glass House visitor center is basically across the street from the train station. A shuttle from the center will take you to the compound.
Cost: Tickets for a 90 minute tour are $30/person. A 2 hour extended tour will set you back $45
What to bring: Shoes that won't aggravate you while doing a lot of standing. Come armed with lots of good questions - the guide I had was eager to talk architecture. Also, make sure you've had a good meal before the tour kicks off, rumbling stomachs are embarrassing in front of strangers.
Monday, September 27, 2010
So! I am experimenting with trail mix recipes. This is my first concoction, just a slight deviation from the original GORP recipe - cocktail peanuts, raisins, diced apricots, M&Ms and Life cereal. It turned out alright, but I think it could've benefited from some seasoning.
Next on the list - Cheesy Mix.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
The hike up to Overlook Mountain is haunting and eerie. From the 1820's to the 1940's the Catskills were the premiere place for New York's elite and adventurous to vacation. Overlook Mountain was one of the finest places to stay with its 300 room hotel and its extensive view of the Hudson Valley.
Also at its top is a fire tower which is climbable for people who can stomach heights. This view defines nosebleed section:
Located outside Woodstock, this hike is truly a treat, but requires a car. Get to Woodstock and from there take Rock City Road (Route 33) through the Glasco Turnpike which will turn into Meads Mountain Road. Do this for three miles until you reach the parking lot. You will know you are in the right place because the parking lot faces a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery. Don't try to use the bathrooms here, they are hard to find and the people in the Monastery are a little unhelpful. Hold it and head up the hill.
Getting there: Car and maps
What to bring: This hike is a doozy. Bring lots of water and then bring even more extra water. The hike is five miles and running shoes will get you up the hill just fine. Don't forget a camera because people won't believe you when you say you can almost see the city from Woodstock.
Friday, September 3, 2010
John Bachmann's bird's eye renderings of various regions of the US during the 19th century made him a prominent lithographer of his time. His maps were as imaginative and playful as they were accurate. I was lucky enough to see the original bird's eye view of New York City this fall at the New York Public Library's exhibit of maps of the Hudson, but a quick internet search turned up several of his works.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
Its hurricane season! For west coasters, this doesn't mean much, but for east coasters this promises high winds, epic surf and entertaining, apocalyptic local news casts. Hurricane Earl is the storm de jour and New York weather people have been working themselves into a frenzy downgrading the storm on an hourly basis. This morning the Statue of Liberty was facing submersion but now it seems likely that we may just experience some violent gusts.
New York has had around 84 "tropical storms" touch down in its region since the 17th century. The worst being in the 30's that killed 600 people on Long Island:
A 'warm core' is basically what makes a storm a hurricane and is also what creates cyclones that interestingly rotate counter-clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere:
The tradition of naming tropical storms was devised to keep them separate from each other and lists of names have sometimes been decided years in advance. While most regions name their tropical cyclones, Japan numbers theirs. Boring!
Here is Earl's path, see you this weekend: