9 results

Rosie the Riveter National Historical Park

During World War II the city of Richmond grew from 24,000 to 100,000 people as the four Richmond shipyards ramped up production for the war effort.

Workers produced 747 Victory and Liberty ships, more than any other US industrial location. Many of those workers were women and African-Americans entering the industrial workforce for the first time.

Rosie the Riveter emerged as a cultural icon representing those women, and the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park commemorates those workers and tells their stories.

On many Fridays home front workers who worked in Richmond during WWII are available to answer your questions.

Website | Wikipedia

1 link

1414 Harbour Way South, Richmond, CA 94804 - Map

12 December 2019

Donner Memorial State Park Visitor Center

The Donner Party is notorious as the single greatest tragedy to occur during the American westward migration of the early 19th century.

32 members of the Donner and Reed families, plus their employees, set out west from Independence Missouri on the 12th of May 1846, in nine wagons at the rear of a train of almost 500.

On July 19, 1846 their group made the fateful decision to form the Donner Party under the leadership of George Donner, and split off to take the newly declared Hastings Cutoff. This new route promised to shave 350 miles off the journey to California.

Unexpected delays on the route caused them to miss the short window of time for an easy crossing of the Sierra mountains, and the party (now numbering 89) was trapped snowbound around Truckee Lake (now Donner Lake).

Most of the Californian military were involved in the Mexican–American War at the time, which greatly hampered relief efforts. Of several attempted rescues, the first arrived four months after the party had become trapped. It took three relief efforts to complete the rescue.

Of the 89 people trapped near Donner Lake, 41 died and 48 survived.

Did the survivors turn to cannibalism? Although some denied it, consensus among historians is that up to 19 of the party were indeed cannibalized.

The Donner Memorial State Park was established in 1928, around the original Pioneer Monument which was constructed between 1901 and 1918.

The visitor center has numerous well designed displays explaining the story of the Donner Party and the context of westbound migration in the 19th century.

The state park has some excellent hiking trails. We found something’s spine on one of them!

Website | Wikipedia

4 photos

12593 Donner Pass Road, Truckee, CA 96161 - Map

11 January 2020

Hyde Street Pier

This historic ferry pier now hosts a collection of ships, including an 1886 square rigged sailing ship (the Balclutha), a 1907 steam tugboat (the Hercules) and Eureka, a side-wheel paddle steamboat built in 1890 which is now the largest existing wooden ship in the world. The museum is run by the National Park Service so if you have their annual pass you can get in for free.

Website | Wikipedia

2905 Hyde Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 - Map

23 October 2019

Monarch Bear Grove

This somewhat hidden circle of stones in Golden Gate Park has a history that incorporates druids, press barons, Spanish monasteries and the grizzly bear on the California state flag.

William Randolph Hearst spent several decades building the largest newspaper and magazine chain in the world, starting in the 1880s.

In 1889, Hearst sponsored an expedition to capture one of the last remaining grizzly bears in California. The mission was successful, and a bear was brought back alive and put on display in the city. A bear pit was designed by architect William Polk and the bear - named the Monarch Bear - lived in captivity for 22 years, during which time it was used as the model for the bear on the 1911 version the California state flag.

Following the First World War Hearst and other American industrialists competed to snap up as many of Europe's antiquities as they could get their hands on, taking advantage of that continent's urgent need for cash.

Hearst went as far as buying parts of two ruined Spanish monasteries, which he arranged to have disassembled and shipped over to the United States.

Then the Great Depression struck, and Hearst found himself unable to afford the reconstruction of his Spanish monasteries. One of them - Santa María de Óvila - was sold to the city of San Francisco on the condition that it be re-assembled into a museum in Golden Gate Park.

World War II intervened with those plans, and the monastery stones ended up scattered around the park for several decades.

At some point, somebody arranged some of the stones into circles, on the location of the old Monarch bear pit. The site is now known as Monarch Bear Grove and is cared for by members of OBOD - the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.

Most of the monastery stones were moved up to northern California and used to construct a chapter house near Redding in 2005 - but the stone circles in Monarch Bear Grove remain.

Website | Wikipedia

3 links

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, California - Map

15 December 2019

Teddy Bear Kingdom

One of five museums within Huis Ten Bosch, Japan’s 375 acre Netherlands-themed theme park near Nagasaki, Teddy Bear Kingdom celebrates the glamour of teddy bears.

Over 700 bears from all over the world are on display, including a Steiff bear made by the company that first popularized the toy in the early 1900s.

Did you know the teddy bear moniker was in honor President Theodore Roosevelt? He features in a sequence of dioramas that tell the history of the teddy bear.


1 link

1-1 Huis Ten Bosch Machi, Sasebo, Nagasaki 859-3292, Japan - Map

6 December 2019

Conservatory of Flowers

A building of unknown origins. The conservatory was bought as a kit by James Lick for his estate in San Jose, then purchased as a gift for the city of San Francisco after his death in 1876. it was assembled as the first formal structure in Golden Gate Park in 1879. The origin of the kit itself is unknown, though it is thought to have come from somewhere in Europe.

Today it hosts over 1,700 plant species, including some rare tropical plants that are over 100 years old and the world’s largest public collection of high-altitude orchids. Their Corpse Flowers attract a substantial crowd when they bloom for 2-3 days every 7-10 years.

Website | Wikipedia

5 photos and 1 link

100 John F Kennedy Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118 - Map

25 November 2019

Hazel-Atlas Sand Mine

The Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in the East Bay is a 6,000 acre regional park incorporating 60 miles of trails, 3 deserted mining towns, a 19th century cemetery and a former sand mine, which today is open for guided tours.

The mine opened in the 1920s to produce silica sandstone for the glass industry. Their top customer was the Hazel-Atlas Glass Company plant in Oakland, who later purchased the mine and operated it until 1945.

Tours take 90 minutes and cover 1300 feet of the old sand mine. Reservations are recommended as they frequently sell out. The Greathouse Visitor Center is located underground in a large chamber excavated in the 1920s and features a small museum with displays about the history and geology of the area.

Website | Wikipedia

10 photos and 1 link

Somersville Road, Antioch, CA 94509 - Map

1 January 2020

Griffith Observatory

The Griffith Observatory opened in 1935 using funds bequeathed to the city of Los Angeles for the purpose of making astronomy accessible to the public.

Griffith Jenkins Griffith was a Welsh-American who made money through mining syndicates during the California gold rush, trading on his expertise as a journalist covering mining for the Alta California newspaper.

After moving to Los Angeles in 1882 he married Tina Mesmer, the air to the quarter million dollar Briswalter fortune... but only after ensuring that the entire fortune would be transferred to his name.

He used his wife's money to climb the ranks of LA society, building a reputation as a philanthropist through the donation in 1896 of 3,015 acres of ranch land to the city for use as a public park - Griffith Park.

A teetotaler in public, Griffith was secretly a drunk. He grew increasingly paranoid and in 1903 forced his wife Tina at gunpoint to swear on a prayer book that she was faithful to the marriage and was not involved in a perceived attempt to poison him.

Despite her attestations, he shot her in the head. She survived but was blinded in her right eye. Griffith was arrested three days later and was sentenced to just two years in San Quentin. His lawyer had blamed the incident on “alcoholic insanity”.

In 1908, upon visiting Mount Wilson Observatory Griffith declared "If all mankind could look through that telescope, it would change the world." He offered the city money to build an observatory in 1912, but they refused, wary of further association with an attempted murderer.

Griffith died in 1919 and the city accepted the money he left in trust for both the observatory and the nearby Greek Theater. They have since become respected landmarks of Los Angeles.

Today the observatory hosts several exhibit areas, an astronomical telescope and a Tesla coil. Their Zeiss 12-inch refracting telescope has been looked through by 8 million people - more people than any other telescope on earth.

Website | Wikipedia

6 photos and 1 link

2800 East Observatory Road, Los Angeles, CA 90027 - Map

5 January 2020

Jigokudani Monkey Park

As ski resorts developed in the 1950s, Japanese macaques (often referred to as snow monkeys) were forced to migrate to the lower mountain regions including the human occupied areas of Yamanouchi.

A guesthouse there called Korakukan featured an outdoor onsen - a hot spring bath - and the monkeys imitated human bathers and started enjoying the hot baths themselves.

Since the human population didn't particularly want to share their baths with the monkeys, a compromise was reached: in 1964 a set of hot spring baths were constructed for the monkeys to enjoy by themselves.

Guides make food available to the monkeys, encouraging them to stay in the area all year round. They are still very much wild creatures though, and they return to the safety of the forests in the evenings.

We stayed at the nearby Kokuya ryokan - a 400 year old guesthouse with eight of its own private hot spring baths - and it was absolutely magical.

Website | Wikipedia

7 photos and 1 link

〒381-0401 Nagano, Shimotakai District, Yamanochi, Hirao, 6845, Japan - Map

31 December 2019