The Aurora Bridge (officially called the George Washington Memorial Bridge) is a cantilever and truss bridge that carries State Route 99 (Aurora Avenue North) over the west end of Seattle’s Lake Union and connects Queen Anne and Fremont.
The bridge is 2,945 ft long, 70 ft wide, and 167 ft above the water, and is owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Transportation. The bridge was opened to traffic on February 22, 1932. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
It was designed by the Seattle architectural firm Jacobs & Ober, with Ralph Ober as the lead engineer on the project. Ober died in August 1931, of a brain hemorrhage while the bridge was still under construction. Federal funding programs were not yet available, so the bridge was funded by Seattle, King County, and the state of Washington.
The bridge is 2,945 feet long and raised 167 feet above the water. A 150-foot long Warren truss suspended span connects the two cantilevers in the middle. There are also Warren turns spans at either end that connects the cantilevered spans to the highway.
The construction on the bridge began in 1931, and it’s dedication was held on February 22, 1932, George Washington’s 200th birthday. There is a time capsule installed on the bridge by the widow of Judge Thomas Burke. It will be opened in 2032.
The bridge was the final link in what was then called the Pacific Highway (later known as U.S. Route 99), which ran from Canada to Mexico. The bridge crosses the Lake Union section of the Lake Washington Ship Canal. Unlike earlier bridges that required a drawbridge, this one is tall enough for ships to pass under.
Did You Know?
This was the region’s first bridge constructed without streetcar tracks. This helped it earned a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
If you visit the bridge, make sure to look out for the Fremont Troll under the bridges’ north end. It’s a large sculpture of a troll with a real Volkswagen Beetle in its clutches. The sculpture was installed in 1990, and made possible by contributions from Seattle’s Neighborhood Matching Fund.
In 2007, the bridge was given a sufficiency rating of 55.2% and evaluated to be “better than minimum adequacy to tolerate being left in place as is”. Its foundations and railings met the acceptable standards and no immediate corrective action was needed to improve it. However, it underwent extensive seismic retrofitting in 2011.
Wat Buddharangsi is a Theraveda Buddhist temple, in the Thai tradition, located in Homestead, just south of Miami. It was built in 1982 to house a congregation that has been around since 1979, and it continues to expand with the South Florida Thai-American community and with an increasing number of non-Thai visitors. Visitors from many backgrounds have described the area as a peaceful and beautiful oasis in the fast-paced Miami metro, a place to meditate or just appreciate the unique grounds. The temple welcomes anyone with an interest in Buddhism and also offers a variety of religious and non-religious events.
The centerpiece of the temple is a 5-ton, 23-foot tall Buddha statue. It’s made mostly of brass but also contains copper, silver, and gold. Visitors can place a gold leaf on the Buddha’s head as a prayer for wisdom, or on the heart as a prayer for love or good health. The statue is named “PHRABUDDHADHAMMACHINARAJ” and is based on a statue with the same name in Phitsanulok, Thailand. It was created for Miami’s Thai Buddhist community in 1997 before the temple was built.
A Growing Community
The complex also includes modest apartments for about six monks who live there at a given time. Visitors can ask them for blessings, and they perform marriages and other religious ceremonies for the community.
It was designed by Nopporn Poochareon, a Thai-American general contractor and owner of Thai restaurants in Miami. Man of the materials, as well as some of the workers, were sourced from Thailand to keep the temple true to the Thai tradition.
Rockefeller Park & Greenhouse
Rockefeller Park is the largest park entirely inside Cleveland’s city limits. The park connects a string of parkland that extends from the suburb of Shaker Heights to the shore of Lake Erie. To celebrate Cleveland’s Centennial in 1896, oil tycoon John D.Rockefeller and his wife, Laura Spelman Rockefeller, pledged to deed the city 270 acres of land and donate hundreds of thousands more for the park’s beautification and upkeep—a total of $550 k in turn-of-the-century dollars! The announcement drew cheers from the Centennial celebration’s crowd, and in gratitude, the park was named in their honor.
Rockefeller Park Greenhouse
The plans to build a greenhouse on a portion of the park began in 1902, and the first building opened in 1905. Initially, the purpose of the greenhouse was solely to grow plants that could be transferred to other parks and gardens to beautify the city. Over time, the greenhouse grew to be a botanical destination on its own.
Today Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is a small, four-acre botanical garden with a wonderful assortment of specialty plants, seasonal floral displays, and themed gardens. Are you looking to explore firsthand some beautiful botanical finds? Come indoors to see the greenhouse’s cacti and orchids, an indoor water garden, a fern showhouse, and more.
In December, the gardens and greenhouse are converted into an elaborate holiday display, filled with poinsettias.
There are also six outdoor gardens. The Iris Garden is a delight in springtime. During the summer, the Latin American Garden displays succulents, flowering plants, and tropical fruits found in Central and South America. The Japanese Garden evokes a soothing, tranquil feeling through its materials, plants, and traditional Japanese design. The Mall is a manicured formal garden with statues that symbolize the four seasons, and a Peace Garden leads you through an old-fashioned gazebo to perennial, herb, and rose gardens. A highlight for all visitors, including the visually-impaired, is the Betty Ott Talking Garden. Here plants have been selected for their appeal to all the senses and are planted in raised beds that allow you to get up close to see, touch, and smell them. Descriptions are given in audio, and garden signage is both in English and Braille. As for the park, the outdoor space is filled with arching trees native to Ohio.
There is something in bloom at Rockefeller Greenhouse all year round. Admission is free, and it’s open from 10 to 4 every day, even on holidays. Its small size makes it easy to explore, and it’s often less crowded here than in some of the other parks, making it a hidden gem. Visitors enjoy escaping from cold, winter weather and getting a taste of the desert or tropics in the warm, indoor greenhouses.
More Points Of Interest
Points of interest at Rockefeller Park include the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, four architecturally historic stone bridges, and Doan Brook. The Cultural Gardens and the stone bridges are on the National Register of Historic Places. The park also offers a lagoon, picnic areas, tennis courts, playgrounds, and walks.
Who doesn’t love love? In 2002, married artists Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen built the Cupid’s Span installation to honor romance. Located in Rincon Park along the Embracdero, the piece shows partial images of a bow and arrow lodged in the ground. The 60-foot sculpture is made of fiberglass and steel, making it a sturdy and long-standing piece of construction.
For Cupid’s Span, it’s essential to know why the work of art was created. Because San Fransisco is known as the home port of Eros, Oldenburg and Bruggen saw fit to create a monument honoring this space of love and creativity. The meaning relates to Cupid, the mythological god of desire, attraction, and affection. His counterpart is Eros, signifying that Cupid’s Span unites all aspects of the myth into one giant artwork. There is also a mythological account of Eros shooting an arrow into the Earth to bring fertility. All in all, Cupid’s Span is a mythological reimagining of ancient ideas and principals.
Oldenberg and Bruggen also chose to make this piece because of its similarity to the Golden Gate Bridge. While the meaning behind the work of art is more transcendental, the physical component is meant to emulate and pay tribute to the city’s famous bridge. Both works of steel and both suspended in their own way, Cupid’s Span and the Golden Gate Bridge represent the golden ideals of the city and how those can manifest when people come together to create something amazing.
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