Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 215

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 215

…I got a special use permit for the stable, so keep you and “our” horses noses clean…Carbon 14 Coaches-001

“I just talked to Constance and she said that they need 3 convertible carriages for the 28th,” Fanny is speaking to the co-owner of Carbon-14 Coaches, Eddie Dombroski. His footman/cousin Rex is where he always is, with the horses. The two of them have assembled three wagons and six horses, every one of them living the kings’ life behind Worth Moore’s new Near North Chicago Louis Sullivan residence. (The coach house concept is quickly losing its relevance in modern Chicago, with automobile garages replacing the buildings where the horses and carriages used to be kept)

“It’s a good thing we hired some new coachmen – two of them are 70 years old for crying out loud – but this will be like falling off a log for them, they were born in 1880 for crying out loud! They are used to the horse ‘n buggy.  I can’t keep from poking the floorboard for the gas and brake.”

For crying out loud.

“You do not need any accidents, Eddie. I got a special use permit for the stable and out of the ordinary liability insurance, so keep the place and your nose clean.” Attorney Moore is ankle deep in horse apples, knee deep in hay and up to his neck in angst.

“Not to worry Worth old boy, Rex has everything under control. I remember when we were kids and I was out visiting his pop’s farm, two of the cows and a goat got through the fence and were walking down the Burlington Northern train tracks on their way to Downers Grove.Well Rex and me jumped on a couple of their hay-burners and went over to round them critters up, which was good because there was a mile long freight train loaded with coal trying to get to the city and the engineer was furious because it takes him 5 miles to get up to speed from a dead stop. But we went over to the General Store and bought him a carton of Camels and a Baby Ruth and he was happy.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 180

Overrated! – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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World’s Most

Overrated Cities

The urban environment is powerful and evocative, reflective of the people, places and times that saw the construction of specific communities. Cities can be iconic, but they can also be overrated. They say you should never meet your heroes, but in this list, you might come to the conclusion that it’s equally unwise to visit your favorite cities. They may not live up to your lofty expectations after all…

You may or may not agree with me. This is just one traveler’s opinion. It could be I had:

  1. one lumpy mattress,
  2. two bad taxi rides or
  3. three  bad meals.

10. Paris

Paris may be iconic for its Eiffel Tower, culture, and architecture, and for being a romantic and meaningful place to get away. However, Paris is reputed to be overrated, so we’re going to check out the somewhat startling facts about this exceptionally famous French metropolis. Referred to as the City of Love or the City of Lights, Paris does have a variety of most famous human artifacts to appreciate or places to check out that are of historic or cultural fame and significance. Paris even has its own Disneyland. While seen as romantic and a place of love, Paris in fact might ironically be defined as a place to get lonely. Yes, there is much to appreciate architecturally and in the form of art and culture but Paris is well known as a place where bids for politeness do not constitute the highest priority in day to day life.

Paris has actually suffered the fate of being voted no less than Europe’s most overrated city, topping the list due to its unfriendliness. Visitors have often complained about unduly curt or unwelcoming treatment by locals. While Paris is a dream destination for foreign visitors around the world, it seems that becoming tired of serving foreigners without perfect French is an attitude clearly conveyed by enough Parisians. Apparently condescending attitudes and bluntness are ubiquitous in Paris to the point where visitors may not only feel disappointed but downright depressed. Finding that Paris does not measure up has created such severe symptoms as to be labelled as Paris Syndrome.

9. Rome

The Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, the Pantheon, and the Trevi Fountain. In iconic Rome, Italy, the list goes on, and there’s plenty to see for those interested in some more modern history too. The Vatican is also a stone’s throw away. While the famous ancient city does have remarkable architectural sites that are rich in history of religious, civic, and political significance, as well as being the scene of great conflict and drama, Rome itself is a place that one might say has seen better days in some regards. The ruins of ancient structures in Rome have been preserved for visitors but unfortunately, a number of modern amenities have come to resemble a less appealing version of what might be called another form of ruins.

Despite a steady injection of funds through tourist dollars, work to improve problematic transportation, sanitation, and municipal infrastructure shortcomings in Rome have lagged exceptionally. As money keeps coming in and the city remains crowded with tourists, a lack of efficiency and even strikes have left much to be desired, to put things mildly. Remarkably, sanitation problems, including garbage being left to the point of mass overflow, led to threats of European Union sanctions. Furthermore, visitors have complained about disreputable conduct from touts taking on the roles of taxi drivers, cash exchangers, and guides. Rome might attract millions of visitors yearly, but the city suffers some of Europe’s lowest repeat visit rates.

8. Sydney

The iconic Sydney Opera House of Sydney, Australia is so famous that one might say it is touted rather than simply promoted. Images of Sydney are also so curiously focused on the Down Under city’s famous opera house that you might make that image and the general character of the city synonymous in your imagination. However, the fact that the Sydney Opera House is such a focal point of the city’s depictions might hint, to the analytical mind, that perhaps this is the case because there is really little else that is all that remarkable in Sydney. Furthermore, the opera house itself is so overrated that the entire presentation begins to fall upon critical inspection.

The design of the opera house is the work of Danish architect Jørn Utzon, who won the contest to design it out of 233 contestants in 1956, with construction beginning in 1959 and lasting 14 years instead of the originally anticipated four years. Despite the fantastical appearance of the Sydney Opera House, the acoustics have presented many problems and it has not been the world star venue it was intended to become. With the acoustics of the opera house being widely criticized, makeshift solutions have often had to be sought due to some parts of the building being too big and others too small. The pit in the opera theatre has been identified as too small, causing acoustic difficulties, with the concert hall being overly large, causing sound to get lost. Interestingly, Australian music magazine Limelight gave the opera theatre the worst rating for acoustics out of 20 venues of significance, while giving 18th place to the concert hall.

7. London

London, England has a history going back to the Roman Empire with everything from sites of Royal interest at Buckingham Palace, Big Ben as a monument for the most die-hard clock fans, those infamous red double decker buses, and perhaps the odd unexploded German bomb lying somewhere waiting to be discovered, decades past the rabid fighting of World War II. The largest city in England and the United Kingdom, the capital of England suffers pollution in the Thames that was once so bad people were dying from it, and air pollution had the same effect by a different means of causing ill-health. Despite the mix of grandeur and squalor, visitors to London may find themselves disappointed by the crowding and also the lack of friendliness despite being surrounded by people, as London has the questionable distinction of being voted the second most unfriendly city worldwide.

Then there’s the sometimes garish and disjointed modern construction that has grown up in the city. While historic squalor and wartime damage have been definitive events in London’s history, visitors will be surprised by how iconic traditional buildings and perceptions of English culture and architecture in London are dwarfed by modern architecture. The skyline of London definitely appears rather random, with buildings in the financial district described in comparison to a cheese grater, a scalpel, and a walkie-talkie in some prominent examples.

6. New York City

New York City may not be the political capital of the United States but the grand city is certainly the de facto financial capital of America (and some might argue the world). With such iconic elements portrayed in popular culture, literature, news, movies, and daily discourse, New York occupies a larger than life place in the minds of the American public and further. Those who live there know what it is like, but first time travelers may be in for a disappointment upon actually arriving.

From 1785 to 1790, New York was actually America’s capital city. In recent history, the tragic 9/11 attacks represented the single worst incident to strike any North American city. While many cities are destinations for visitors, there has been a surprisingly significant level of effort — to the point of sacrificing comfort — just for the sake of living in New York City. Due to grand real estate costs, living in tiny, overpriced, and sometimes substandard accommodations has become commonplace. For visitors, sites such as the Empire State Building, Wall Street, and Statue of Liberty are certainly icons of great interest, but the actual city will produce a feeling of being dwarfed by two things. These are the enormity of the buildings, crowds, and traffic-jammed streets, and the enormity of the tab run up to stay in the city.

5. Shanghai

Shanghai is so well known that it has become an almost clichéd stand-in for popular imaginations of the People’s Republic of China. Yet while Shanghai is an important Chinese city with enormous economic, historical, and cultural significance, it is a city with a significant legacy of influence by Western culture and hotspots of past east and west conflict. Known for its modern towers, including the aptly named Shanghai Tower, and a myriad of modern architectural wonders, Shanghai is also defined by “The Bund” — a block of iconic European colonial buildings now repurposed for a variety of uses. Yes, Shanghai may feel too “westernized,” a valid perception based on the composition of the city by those seeking the “real China.” It certainly is the place to get coffee and hamburgers in China.

While modern architectural creations may define the Shanghainese skyline, the “waterline” of Shanghai is largely defined at its most famous points by these magnificent but undeniably foreign European buildings, the work of “Laowai” — or foreigners — in China. The foreign presence in China has been a tumultuous one, with many flash points relating to trade and attempts at colonization. So, why is Shanghai perhaps overrated as a place to experience China? While interesting, there are many other places, such as Xi’an in Shaanxi province, with the Terra Cotta Warriors close by, remote hill forests in Sichuan and incredibly spicy cuisine, ancient temples in Henan province, and of course the many access points to the Great Wall that more accurately reflect traditional Chinese culture over a more Westernized one.

4. Rio de Janeiro

Depicted in countless movies and artistic images, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is known for being located below the huge Christ the Redeemer art deco statue that contrasts with the extraordinary natural features of Rio de Janeiro combining steep hills, the sea, and perched buildings. The world famous statue constructed above the city is 98-feet tall with a 92-foot arm span, built on the 2,300-foot tall Corcovado Mountain in Tijuca Forest National Park. While famous for everything from car race hosting to nightlife and urban tourism, Rio de Janeiro is actually not so great to look at once you are down amongst the buildings, many of them generic in architectural form, lacking a sense of place, and often run down.

While Rio is often promoted as a center of culture, activity, and interest for travelers in search of a lively and exotic destination, the Brazilian city is becoming a hotbed of criminal activity. Crime rates have risen so drastically that violence is feared throughout the city, costing an immense number of tourism dollars. People are becoming smart enough to stay away from many parts of Rio much of the time, to the point where lost revenue in the year 2017 totaled an incredible $200 million.

3. Barcelona

Spain is both renowned for positive cultural aspects, notorious for being host to events with which many people do not approve (including bullfighting), and as the site of a brutal civil war in its 19th century history. With all of the complexity and intrigue of Spanish architecture and historic and modern culture, Barcelona is a famous destination that draws visitors globally every year, but something is clearly wrong when disappointment follows the arrival of the discerning traveler. What exactly is the problem with Barcelona? While the city is a cultural icon, the true Spanish cultural experience has unfortunately been, shall we say, diluted by the emergence of an extraordinary quantity of tourist traps replacing a quality experience.

At the same time, overcrowding of this already highly populated parcel of Spain is making additional visitors face immense challenges in simply getting around to see the place once they’ve arrived. Esteemed Spanish writer extraordinaire Miguel de Cervantes put the praise of Barcelona into the mouth of his fictional character Don Quixote, describing the city as nothing less than a “fountain of courtesy, shelter of strangers, hospice to the poor, land of the valiant, avenger of the offended, reciprocation of firm friendship, a city unique in its location and beauty.” Yet the crowded-ness of the city and tendency for many people to treat it as a short stop interestingly leads many people to be less responsible given that they will be in the area for a limited time, further adding to the aggravation many visitors experience.

2. Athens

Afforded near mythical status for being so ancient and the place where countless Greek Gods and Goddesses are described as having their origins, Athens is a richer place in history and culture than it is today in the flesh — or rather, in the brick and mortar. While the development of ancient democracy, philosophy, and faiths in a place where such famous humans such as Socrates and deities such as Zeus and Venus have their claim is bound to make Athens a revered site in popular imagination, there is much to disappoint, according to some visitors. The city of the Acropolis and other impressive architecture actually consists of vast arrays of run-down buildings that are often crowded together without very much shade in many areas. The Acropolis itself is known for being less spectacular and archaeologically, architecturally, and historically pristine than is popularly imagined.

Try to get to it, and you could be turned back by heat due to the barren nature of the grounds where the ancient relics stand, and monumental levels of overcrowding. Add that to the sometimes suffocating air pollution that Athens experiences. Upon arrival at the Acropolis, the scaffolding significantly takes away from appreciation of the architecture, creating the feel of a construction site. While ancient people built the monumental sites expediently, modern repair works have taken decades and still remain underway, resulting in not only scaffolding but all manner of construction equipment anti-climatically lying about the grounds of the most iconic structures of Athens.

1. Amsterdam

World famous Amsterdam. This city is an active metropolitan area situated on flat land, including areas that have had to be reclaimed from the ocean. Subject to flooding, massive urban construction has required more than just a little engineering to be sustainable. Amsterdam may be geographically flat and lacking in mountains, but it has been viewed as a place of where people can get high in the drug use sense without fear of legal reprisals. So-called “coffee shops” function more as marijuana lounges in Amsterdam, where use of the almost universally banned drug is tolerated by the authorities.

Furthermore, red light district activities draw more than a fair share of visitors, since prostitution is legal. However, a variety of issues, as well as a simple lack of interest when it comes to more standard comforts, render Amsterdam a place that is not just overrated but leaving something to be desired when it comes to mainstream human comforts.Amsterdam’s food is lagging behind the attention given to the marijuana focused “coffee shops,” being monotonous and simple for the most part, while the architecture of the coastal city is less than spectacular in many instances, with exceptionally plain construction defining much of the municipal jurisdiction.


Overrated! –

WIF 10 Cent Travel

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 38

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 38

Chapter Four

 REVELATION

…There is no 39th floor lady, see?…

The ground floor, good old Mother Earth, terra firma has never felt so comforting to one Constance Caraway. The elevator at 33 LaSalle has stopped one floor shy of the basement parking garage. Out on the street, automobiles provide a background for a sidewalk filled with pedestrians, so unexpectedly reassuring.

An added bonus: not one related relative story from one Eddie Dombroski on the way down..

You would think that having just experienced something inexplicable, that the leader of this expedition would guide them out of harm’s way. Instead of following Eddie back out to their car, she stops at the front desk to speak with the doorman. So should have Eddie stopped 20 feet away.

“What’s with the 39th floor? Do you know anyone from WORLD AGNOSTICA?” She hands him their card.

The polite professional Negro employee of many years, judging from his gracious interaction with the comers and goers, stares at Constance as if she had a single blue eye in the middle of her bang covered forehead, saying nothing.

“Isn’t that the strangest thing you’ve ever seen?” she rewords.

Without a response, she becomes annoyed.

“Have I become invisible?”

“There are only 38 floors in this building Miss.”

Now it is she who falls is mute.

“The Penthouse Suite is occupied by the Foreman State National Bank.”

“Excuse me, but we were on the top floor, the 39th, you know World Agnostica!”

“Who are “we”,” he inquires to the woman standing alone in front of the desk.

“Me and ………Ed……. well, he was with me.” The 20 foot rule has bolted out the lobby doors.

“This is not at all funny,” she proclaims while dashing to the right of five elevators, the one she had taken up. “Look, number 39 is right here.”

The lone person who, is patiently waiting to begin his ascent, is snickering at the crazed woman who is chasing phantoms.

There is no 39 lady, see?” states the doorman.

No odd numbered 39 on the top of row of 8 with 5 to each row. Most buildings are designed without that anomalous odd final story.

“I’ve been here since they opened her up in ’29, know her better than I know my wife. If there is a 39, I’ll quit right now and ask for a devorce!”

Leaving a job of 21 years is as inadvisable as it is for Constance to carry this conversation any further. She just shakes her head and blends into the bustling crowd outside.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 37

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 36

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 Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 36

It’s like a half-dozen people are talking all at once, but I can’t pick out a single word they’re saying

The right elevator takes Constance up to the #39 she had pushed, noticing that that the lighted button wasn’t as worn as all of the others. After several stops and starts on the way, for the other comers and goers, she alone disembarks at the final floor of the building. She steps out into an incomplete level, without form or function; no carpeting, no paint, no lighting and not a single soul to be seen.

“Wasn’t expecting this,” her words are swallowed up.

She begins looking into each of the six doors on the floor, every one as pristine as the next, starting with 39660. Empty.

39661, empty.

662, 663, 664 + 665 all empty, yet spotless, floor to ceiling.

Before she attempts to gain access to the remaining 39666, an impatient Eddie pops out of the same lift and of course he adds his commentary, “They sure skimped on the furniture, Con!”

“Nothing much here, yet I feel like we are not alone.” She looks back at where she’s been. “Look at my footprints, they last for two or three seconds then disappear.”

“Footprints? Do you see the steam coming out of your pretty little mouth?” Eddie is getting the creeps. He watches his own breath leave a trail, “It’s cold, but not that cold in here.”

“Do you hear that?” she asks, reacting to the sound of whispers.

“Hear what? I had a grenade go off inside a bombed out building at the Battle of Verdun, Verdun France in the Big War, didn’t see that lousy kraut hiding behind a wall. My buddy shot him before he could throw it, but it did go off… my ears still ring some to this day…”

It’s like a half-dozen people are talking all at once. The chatter is non-stop, but I can’t pick out a single word they’re saying, like babbling.”

“I’ll take your word for it. Can we leave?”

“No, I have one more office to check.”


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 35

Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 35

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Constance Caraway P.I. ~ Episode 35

…I may need the back-up, but stay 20 feet behind me and let’s pretend we’re not together…

Once the initial shock of discovering Fanny safe ‘n sound has set in and the requisite debriefing is out of the way, Constance leaves her in Martin’s care for the remainder of the day. The excitement meter needle has been redlining for the last day. It needs to return to normal levels.

33 North LaSalle

Eddie is re-gathered for the task of taking his employer to 33 N. LaSalle Street. She is going to see what she can find out about World Agnostica, at the address listed on that fortuitous business card. What is their deal?

“That building at 33 LaSalle is one of the last skyscrapers built before The Depression. I don’t get many fares from there… bankers are cheapskates and their secretaries are heavy smokers. I pretend not to see ‘em.”

“That’s a bank building, interesting?”

“I don’t know if you know, being an out-of-towner, but 39-blank, blank, blank means you’ll be going to the 39th floor?”

“Thanks for the tip in higher arithmetic Eddie,” she looks up at the top of the building. “If I’m not back in 30 minutes, call the Coast Guard.”

“The Coast Guard is another name for the sissy’s navy. I don’t think they have guns on their boats… my Uncle Fred (not a cousin?) rescues ducks or something…”

“I was only kidding. On second thought, instead of waiting, let’s park the car and you come in with me. I may need the back-up, but stay 20 feet behind me and let’s pretend we’re not together.”

“If anyone asks me what I’m doing, I’ll tell them I’m here for a mortgage on my house.”

“Meet me on the 39th floor and don’t talk to anyone,”

He visually zips his mouth shut.

“You’ll need a lock for that Eddie!” the out-of-town sleuth quips.


Constance Caraway P.I.

Forever Mastadon


page 34

Unusual Buildings Around the World – WIF 10 Cent Travel

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Strange/Great Buildings

From Around

the Globe

There is no doubt that art and architecture can depict the unusual. And when artistic licence meets the concrete world of construction, the results can be nothing short of mind-boggling. In this account, we take a tour in which we discover a horizontal skyscraper, a circular skyscraper, a robot building, a bizarre towering castle of wood, and the world’s largest bread basket, among other constructions that will expand your mind and even end up on your travel itineraries.

10. Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center (Shenzen, China)

When is a skyscraper a skyscraper in name and shape, but not in behavior and function? When it is a fairly typical looking skyscraper that has been painstakingly constructed to lie on its side! The building logically would look totally typical if you were to turn your head 90 degrees to the side when you examine it, for the building’s position is what makes it weird. Why? Because the structure is an eerie sideways skyscraper, built horizontally along the ground but in the form of a skyscraper. Strange and thought provoking. The brainchild of Steven Holl Architects, the Horizontal Skyscraper – Vanke Center in Shenzhen, China may look normal in shape, in sharp contrast to the oddity of its physical position

Standing on supporting pillars, the building is actually the length of the height of the Empire State Building, while its physical location is stretched along an immaculately landscaped garden with grass, woody plants and pools of water. The construction of the building extended from 2006 to 2009. While bizarre, the building has both ample glass and ample class. It serves its purposes including office and conference centre functions plus apartments and hotel suites, creating both a distinctive place to work and live while providing a modern and iconic place to visit. Considered a winner, the project was recognized with a 2010 Honor Award from the American Institute of Architects, showcased as an example of excellence.

9. The Wooden Skyscraper (Archangelsk, Russia)

A house of cards may not stand well, but a wooden skyscraper? If one is creative enough to think out of the box and crazy enough to construct a monster castle of boards, then one may well be on their way to scraping the heavens with a tower of mere timber. A work of a madman, a convict, and a potential mad genius, albeit one flouting building regulations in a concerning way, the Wooden Skyscraper of Archangelsk in Russia is a towering monstrosity that is best described as a monument to one man’s personal journey to Babel in the sometimes frozen North.

Known as Sutyagin House, the 144-foot building was begun in 1992 by underworld lord Nikolai Petrovich Sutyagin in defiance of both building regulations and architectural challenges. Impressive in stature, massive but clearly rickety upon close inspection, the giant building stood in the face of all imaginable building regulations before its reign of rebellion was brought to a close. Rising spire-like but resembling a skyscraper merged with a supervillain’s castle, the massive wood structure dominated the local region for years before deteriorating during his time in prison. After his release, city authorities finally succeeded in having the structure, which had been built based on inspiration from Japanese and Norwegian wooden structures and intended as a status symbol and as accommodation, to be demolished.

8. Robot Building (Bangkok, Thailand)

Technology and state of the art buildings often go hand in hand, but it is almost unheard of for a full size skyscraper to actually look like a robot. Technologically advanced buildings may boast their advancement with the right materials, shapes, and structural elements, but simply being constructed to look like artificially intelligent, non-living humanoids is a brave mechanical step in a radically novel direction. Built with an array of superficial features added on to a body, torso and head like structure, the high tech United Overseas Bank headquarters in the form of a robot building in Bangkok, Thailand forms a globally unprecedented and exceptionally striking project.

While looking just like a robot might seem laughable as a merging of architectural and technological oddity, the construction also constitutes a spectacular and unique example of creating a building with “robo-morphic” architecture. The idea was to reflect the high-tech nature of the bank through architecture and the work certainly did its job. The half window, half wall bump out eyes, antennae and ears combine nicely with the abdomen, torso and head to make a pretty cute, albeit huge and stationary robot headquarters. And where did Thai architect and genius Sumet Jumsai get his inspiration? He created the vision for the building based on the idea he developed by seeing his son’s toy robot after the Bank of Asia commissioned him to design them a new headquarters building.

7. Genex Tower (Belgrade, Serbia)

Eastern European architecture can gain the look of science fiction constructions, sometimes merging the modern and the castle-like in one building. Strange, awkward-looking in the eyes of some but also undeniably impressive in sheer size, the Genex Tower of Belgrade is an architectural monstrosity dating back to times of great conflict. Looking like a bizarre cross between the CN Tower and the Brandenburg Gate on steroids, the structure is extraordinary for its gate-like shape coupled with its narrowness and sheer height.

Built as the novel and daring planned creation of architect Mihajlo Mitrovic forms a massive arch built with two skyscrapers, the taller reaching a height of 377 feet, further distinguished with a huge yet remarkably incongruous revolving restaurant perched 459 feet above the ground. The restaurant’s circular shape is a prime example of the irregularity and incongruity of the different structural components of the tower’s form and strange spatial layout. The connecting section of the building that creates the arch shape consists of a two story bridge walkway extending between the unified towers. Walking between the two towers is a startling experience, with nothing below for hundreds of feet as you boldly walk the relatively short distance bridging the giant towers.

6. Burj Khalifa (Dubai)

Acclaimed as the tallest building on the planet, the Burj Khalifa is remarkable not only for its sheer size and height at 2,716.5 feet and more than 160 stories. The building holds a multitude of world records, including tallest building in the world, highest occupied floor, most stories of any building globally, highest outdoor observation deck, tallest service elevator, and tallest free-standing structure. (Oh, and there was also that time Tom Cruise climbed up the side.) Constructed of the gigantic building was started in 2004, while the exterior of the building reached completion in 2009 prior to the opening of the structure in 2010.

Built in part to increase tourism revenue, the construction was supported by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a bid to create an extraordinarily striking creation that would garner a significantly greater global recognition of Dubai. Containing hundreds of apartment and hotel suites, the building also boasts swimming pools and elevators that include equipment that can reach speeds of 33-feet-per-second. Constructed primarily from reinforced concrete with significant quantities of steel structural elements, the tower has both a stepped appearance and narrow spires that reflect Islamic architectural styles characteristic of Dubai.

5. Goldin Finance Tower (Tianjin, China)

Remarkable for its incredibly ordinariness and simplicity in shape coupled with impossible height and slenderness, the Goldin Finance Tower of Tianjin, China reaches an astonishing height of 1,957 feet but is essentially cube shaped and remarkably spindly. Almost a third of a mile high, the building has been likened to a huge walking stick due to its spindly appearance and supertall design as it nears completion. With 117 stories contained within its vertical rise, the Tianjin central business district landmark is deceptively ordinary in its almost stereotypical skyscraper shape. However, the sheer height of the building combined with its relatively narrow and square base shape in fact accentuates the dramatic appearance of the building, giving it the incredibly striking appearance of a giant square stick.

Unlike more bulbous or spire adorned tall buildings, the Goldin Finance Tower is at its heart a functional building that devotes the bulk of its construction to practical usage thanks to its continuous square shape that rises to great heights without being reduced to narrow spires and vanity constructions. With four prominent corner reinforcements rising vertically, the building contains finely designed, rectangle-shaped window patterns that add to the meticulous and functional look of the building’s construction. Inside, the construction includes sky lobbies and the world’s highest swimming pool, adding more distinctive elements to the already dramatic looking tower.

4. AlDar Headquarters (Abu Dhabi)

Built in Abu Dhabi, the bizarre AlDar Headquarters might shock first time visitors or lead to a false UFO crash report. Why? Because the enormous but beautiful structure is in fact the world’s first circular skyscraper. Towering at 360 feet tall, the building represents unity, stability and rationality as well as infinity and was completed in 2010. The structure resembles a gigantic plate that has been stuck into the desert ground, widened slightly and then packed with office space. The two sides of the building are interspersed with a continuous edge of windows that resembles a band that has been used to join two halves, but further increases the sideways landed UFO appearance of the structure.

Reinforcing beams crisscross the outsides of the building, creating the appearance of a myriad of diamond shape structures on the sides. On a smaller scale, within each diamond like face section, multitudes of diamond like lines define the shapes of multiple window panels grouped together. The result is the convex outer shape the building, which resembles two plates put together in form. While many buildings have been constructed with rounded foundation, the creation of a towering circle that is actually placed to stand upon its side like a UFO or a giant wheel is in fact unprecedented in architectural achievements.

3. Dancing House (Prague, Czech Republic)

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is remarkable, but its lean was certainly not intended and apart from the lean, its architecture is normal. Conversely, the Dancing House in Prague, Czech Republic was purposely built in such a manner that it may look at first glance to be in a state of collapse. Started in 1994 and finished in 1996, the structure consists of two leaning figures that represent dancers Fred Astair, depicted by the concrete tower, and Ginger Rogers, intended to be represented by the leaning glass tower that stands on concrete legs. The combination of the two indeed looks just like a man and a women in the moment of embrace while enjoying a graceful and intimate dance.

The result of architectural collaboration between American architect Frank Gehry and Croatian architect Vlado Milunic, who recruited Gehry to work with him in fulfilling the request of Dutch company Nationale Nederlanden to build an iconic headquarters building. The building where the Ginger Rogers structure stands had been destroyed during WWII by Allied bombing, while the structure that represents Astair, which survived largely intact, was the home since childhood of Václav Havel, who later served as Czech president and commissioned a study of the site by Milunic after Milunic shared his vision.

2. Longaberger Headquarters Basket Building (Newark, Ohio)

Is it bigger than a breadbasket? Well, this turn of phrase may be less useful as a generalization of measure when the breadbasket in question is not just over a foot long, but is an entire office building. Not a full skyscraper, but a building so remarkable in scale for what it represents and as a subject, we have to take our hats off to the Longaberger Company Headquarters building in Ohio. Why? Because the entire building is not only constructed as a gigantic bread basket but it actually looks like one, built to include even a textured exterior design that replicates the look of a woven basket.

The building is fully realistic, complete with metal handles weighing nearly 150 tons that are specially heated to keep them in good condition. The 7-story building was able to accommodate 500 employees, with a intricate and remarkable authentic macroscale weaving design. The spaces in between the replicated weaves formed the windows of the remarkably distinctive building. After facing financial challenges, the company, which specializes in baskets, pottery, and other home décor relocated to a “normal” building in 2016, to the disappointment of some and the satisfaction of others who expressed a preference for working in a more practical building.

1. Fake Hills (Beihai, China)

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The hills may be said to have eyes in horror films, but in Beihai, China, those hills that you see may definitely be filled with human eyes as people go about their business in a bizarre but awesome building complex that has been fashioned in the form of a hilly skyline. The Fake Hills represent a very bold expression of the urban planning concept of harmonizing building form and character with the surrounding environment. Extending lengthwise and paralleling the beach except for one unit at right angles, the fake hills form a silhouette of foothill like appearance that are accompanied by lush gardens interspersed with lower individual buildings in between the structures and the beach.

The main structure is unified and narrow, with a curving outline but having a straight across edge that is intended to contain numerous amenities and access points, allowing people to walk along the width of the laterally compressed hills as they undulate up and down. In December 2016, Beijing based MAD completed the first phase of the project as the fake hills get up and running toward being able to accommodate a rich diversity of uses. The towering hills are intended to reflect the hilly coastal scenery of the southern Chinese port city in which they stand, adding depth and character in a dramatic manifestation of economic development efforts compared to the more mundane form of standard apartments.


Unusual Buildings Around the World –

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Man-made Islands – WIF Travel

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Amazing

Man-Made

Islands

The gradual formation of the Earth has given us some impressive islands, which are home to some of humankind’s biggest cities and even countries. While humans can’t make islands as impressive as mother nature, we’ve certainly have made some very cool ones. These are 10 of the most amazing artificial islands from all around the globe.

 10. Notre Dame Island (Canada)

In order to get ready for the 1967 International and Universal Exposition, the city of Montreal, Quebec, needed to build a metro system. In order to build one, they needed to dig out 15 million tons of rock, and they came up with an ingenious way to use it – they built Notre Dame Island in the Saint Lawrence River.

Today, the island is home to several tourist attractions, including the Jacques Villeneuve Circuit, which is where the Canadian Grand Prix is held, and it’s also where the Montreal Casino is located.

9. Wilhelmstein (Germany)

Wilhemstein is found on Lake Steinhude, which is the largest lake in northwestern Germany. Its construction was ordered by William, Count of Schaumburg-Lippe, and it was built between 1765 and 1767. Fisherman would take rocks over in their boats and then drop them in the water until the island was formed.

The island is 134,548 square feet and was originally designed to be a fortified hideaway for the Count. Today it is a museum and a tourist attraction.

8. Treasure Island (USA)

The artificial island with the best name started off as a sandy shoal off the coast of San Francisco. The city decided the shoal was a hazard for boats, so construction on the island started in 1936, overseen by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 25 million cubic yards were taken from all over the bay to make the island, which is a mile by a mile-and-half. It was completed in 1939, just in time for the Golden Gate International Exposition. After the exposition came to an end in September 1940, the Navy took it over and it became Naval Station Treasure Island. It was closed in September 1997 for civilian use.

Today, the island is best known for its flea market and annual music festival called Treasure Island Music Fest, because if you’re holding a concert at a place like Treasure Island, you don’t really need a clever name.

It also has a restricted area of abandoned houses because the soil is contaminated with radioactive waste. The Navy never explained why there was radioactive waste, but there are two theories. The first is that they repaired ships there that may have been exposed to nuclear radiation during nuclear bomb testing in the Pacific. Another theory is that they purposefully covered a ship in radiation to train servicemen to wash off the radiation.

For decades, the Navy hid the fact that the island was contaminated with radioactive waste and then refused to investigate it when it was made

public. It was only in 2010 that they started to clean up the area.

Last year, after 20 years of planning, it was announced that 8,000 homes, a hotel, and parks are to be built on the island, which will cost $5 billion.

7. Hulhumalé (Maldives)

Found in the Indian Ocean, Maldives is a tropical country and home to a 0.7 square mile man-made island called Hulhumalé. People first moved onto the reclaimed island in 2004, and as of 2016, it is home to 40,000 people.

When developing the island, there was a focus on sustainability and the island was designed to be climate change resilient. It’s also the only smart city in Maldives; there is a smart grid built into the city and it has a state of the art traffic light system.

On the island, you can find hotels and restaurants, but the main attraction is the beautiful beach, which has water that is full of marine life. Water sports, like snorkeling, are available and boat trips are quite popular.

6. THUMS Islands (USA)

The THUMS Islands were constructed in 1965 in Long Beach, California. They’re a set of four artificial islands, and the name is an acronym for the five companies who had it constructed – Texaco, Humble (now Exxon), Union Oil, Mobil, and Shell. From the companies who built it, you’ve probably gathered that there aren’t any homes on the island, and you’d be totally correct. Instead, the islands are oil drilling facilities.

The problem facing the developers when constructing the islands is that oil drilling facilities aren’t exactly the prettiest structures and the area where they planned to build the facility was full of million dollar beach front properties. So to make it less of an eye sore, they hired architect Joseph Linesch, who was known for his work on theme parks like Disneyland. The final product is what The Los Angeles Times calls “…part Disney, part Jetsons, part Swiss Family Robinson.”

 The island is still used for oil drilling and as of 2015, there were about 1,550 active drills.

5. The World (United Arab Emirates)

The United Arab Emirates’ biggest and most populous city, Dubai, has several impressive man-made islands and one of the most interesting projects is the World Islands. Construction started on the islands in 2003, but momentum on the project came to a halt because of the 2008 financial crisis. Since then, the 300 islands that make up the seven continents have started to sink into the Persian Gulf.

In 2014, the project came back to life and construction restarted on the islands. The developers said that it will have lavish hotels and restaurants, along with half-submerged, half-skylit floating homes that are called seahorses. They cost $2.8 million each and 70 percent have already been sold.

4. Amwaj Islands (Bahrain)

Bahrain is a small country in the Persian Gulf and it is home to a group of beautiful artificial islands called the Amwaj Islands.

Construction on the islands started in 2002 and from the beginning it was designed to be a smart city. Cisco and Oracle were given contracts to develop fiber optic networks for all the homes and businesses on the islands.

The islands have different sections and one of the most impressive areas is Al Marsa, also known as the Floating City. The houses are surrounded by deep canals, which allows home owners to park their boats in front of their homes, making it look like a very modern version of Venice, Italy.

Another impressive area of the islands is the Central Lagoon, which is the commercial area of the islands. In the Central Lagoon, there is nearly 600,000 square feet of commercial space including open-air markets and two dozen restaurants.

3. IJburg (Netherlands)

In cities where there are housing shortages, governments and real estate developers have to get a little creative when it comes to building new homes. One city that is having a particularly difficult time with a lack of housing is Amsterdam. One of their solutions is a series of artificial islands called IJurb.

Construction on the islands started in 1996 in IJmeer, which is a lake east of the city. There are three islands: Steigereiland, Haveneiland, and Rieteilanden, and they are connected to each other and the mainland by bridges.

As of 2015, there were 20,000 residents living in IJurb, but once construction is completed, it will provide homes for 45,000 people. Also on the islands are schools, shopping centers, hospitals, restaurants, and beaches.

Within IJurg, there is a neighborhood called the Waterbuurt or the Water District. In that neighborhood, the homes are floating houseboats that are moored to jetties. People who don’t mind spending a little bit more even have a dock outside their home where they can dock their boat.

2. The Pearl-Qatar (Qatar)

Qatar is an oil rich country in the Middle East, and even though it may be physically impossible to play soccer there because of the extreme heat, it’s set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. A few tourists coming to enjoy the World Cup will be able to stay on one of the most unique man-made islands in the world, the Pearl-Qatar. Construction on the infrastructure of the island took about 10 years and it was completed in 2014.

It has nearly 20 miles of coastline and on the island there are three five-star hotels, 492,000 square feet of international retail, restaurants, and entertainment. This includes a 64,000 square foot family entertainment center.

As of 2014, there were 12,000 people living on the island, but that number is expected to increase four-fold by 2018.

1. Palm Jumeirah (United Arab Emirates)

On both sides of the World Islands are the two Palm Islands. On the left is Palm Jumeirah and on the right is Palm Jebel Ali. Palm Jebel Ali has yet to be finished and it’s unclear when it will be completed. When the construction is finally done it’s expected to house 250,000 people, and it will have four theme parks. Construction on Palm Jumeirah went a bit smoother and in 2006 people started to move to the island.

When it was completed, it added 320 miles to the coastline. Amazingly, out of the two islands, Palm Jumeirah is the smaller one and it’s only about half the size of the Palm Jebel Ali. It’s home to several hotels, resorts, restaurants, and shopping centers. It also has a monorail to get around.

All three of Dubai’s artifical islands were built by dredging up millions of cubic feet of sand from the seafloor, and then sprayed into the pattern of the islands using GPS. Then, for the Palm Jumeirah, seven million tons of mountain rock were used to form a seven-mile breakwater around the 17-fronded palm tree to protect the island from waves and ocean storms.


Man-made Islands

– WIF Travel