Monday, June 29, 2009

Liverpool waterfront: June 2009

Went home for the weekend to take some snaps of the all-new-and-improved technicolor Liverpool waterfront. The Liver building looks as Liver Building as ever, but there are now loads of new high-rises winding their way north from the Pier Head. From a distance they look fantastic (including the blue one that looks like a ciggie lighter), but up close they seem a bit unloved and rather forlorn and empty.

Interestingly, in amongst all the glass-and-steel-that-won’t-look-at-all-dated-in-ten-years there’s still some old bits remaining, including a decrepit landing stage (above) that looks like the last people to pay it any attention were the Luftwaffe in 1941. No doubt soon it’ll play host to another hotel/apartment/office building that, like many of the others in the city, will be a monument to one of the many generous planning department lunches that took place with suspicious regularity between 2001-2006.

One building that looks as good now as it did on the day it was completed in 1934 is the stunning Queensway Tunnel ventilation shaft off The Strand (above), which provides fresh-ish air to the cars travelling between Liverpool and Birkenhead below. As you can see from my pictures, the structure is a classic piece of art deco design, with then-fashionable Egyptian-style touches, a pair of Buddhas(!) and a sculpture on the side of a fella dressed as a pilot. Why he’s there is anyone’s guess, though I suspect it’s a nod to the aviation revolution that was beginning to change forever the way we (and goods) would travel. A revolution, ironically, that would significantly harm the transatlantic trade – and thus the city – of Liverpool. No matter, it is a magnificent structure and one worth having a snoop around on your way from the city centre to the waterfront. Click on the pics to see them in full high resolution.

The far uglier ventilation shaft for the second tunnel, the Kingsway is here. You needn’t bother going to have a look at that.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Abandoned towns from around the world

Like all men I am genetically programmed to be fascinated by creepy old settlements emptied of their populations. On this thread at, the author has collated loads of photos of these places from around the world. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but some of the images are truly mind-blowing. I’m especially a big fan of the pictures of Gunkanjima (below), a once heavily-populated island off Japan that was used for coal mining until it was abandoned in 1974. After a brief Google search I found some more pictures from here. My favourites are immediately below.

Friday, June 19, 2009

“The worst riot ever seen in Norwich”

It’s 1977 and Man Utd are playing Norwich City. The after-match aggro – and only this decade-specific adjective can be used to describe what occurs – is a flashback to more innocent times when every young man looked like Bobby Sands before he went into the Maze and nouvelle cuisine was having garlic mushrooms with your well-done steak.

The graphic depictions of muscle vests, fellas walking on asbestos roofs for no apparent reason and coppers with carpet-like moustaches cowering under a hail of missiles is one to warm the cockles of any fan of retro-thuggery. And while the voice-over journalist has the ‘Jesus-this-is-tiresome’ intonation of all commentators who covered these activities, his efforts are put in the shade by the overweight chap who appears near the end holding – and wait for this – a 1977 Silver Jubilee union jack bowler/top hat. If you, Mr Hat, are reading this then I salute your sartorial efforts from the space-age 21st Century. Come back, football needs people like you.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Palma, Mallorca – the perfect “mini metropolis”

I recently came back from Palma, the capital of Mallorca. I didn’t write about it for a few days as I contracted some horrendous lurgy in the hotel’s dirty swimming pool (brown bubbles – nice), but with a week or so’s reflection, I’m able to put the place into some perspective.

Feeling like a Seville-by-the-sea, the city combines miles of beaches with stunning medieval architecture and the sort of forward-thinking infrastructure that makes moving about easy. There are loads of buses, an ace little metro that connects the north east of the island with the capital and a wondrous cycle path that traverses all of the Bay of Palma (see final pic). In short, it works.

Reading this month’s Monocle magazine I was pleased to note that they’ve opened another one of their shops there. The store is located in Santa Catalina (above), which is Palma’s most hip quarter, a grid of roads to the west of city centre lined with low-rise terraces, many of which house bars, boutiques and excellent restaurants. It’s like Hoxton with better weather and less wankers.

The pictures here show a little of what this city offers. Give it a try.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Great pictures of Frankfurt

…courtesy of the uber-competitive, exceptionally bitchy ‘Best Skyline in Europe’ thread on Skyscraper City.