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Great British Castles

Thursday, Jun 7 2018 by

With all the focus on the recent royal wedding between Prince Harry and Megan Markle, it’s a perfect time to take a virtual tour of some of Britain’s amazing castles. There’s Windsor, where Harry and Megan were married, and Buckingham in London, but there are many more castles all throughout Great Britain that can take your breath away.

Windsor Castle

Windsor Castle, located outside London, is the largest inhabited castle in the world, with a permanent staff in residence since the queen and her entourage stay there most weekends. It was built by William the Conqueror, and has continually been inhabited by aristocracy and royalty since then, making it the longest-inhabited castle in Europe.

It has a classic fortification encompassing 13 acres, complete with a small town, a church, a motte and bailey design, and a keep in the center of the castle grounds.

Windsor Castle (Birds Eye)
Windsor Castle

The King Henry VIII Gate is a prominent and attractive entrance to the lower ward of the castle grounds.

King Henry VIII Gate at Windsor Castle (StreetView)
King Henry VIII Gate at Windsor Castle

St. George’s Chapel has recently gained international fame as the venue for the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Marke in May 2018. The Gothic structure can hold about 800 people for such events. It is the resting place of many kings, queens and other royalty, including Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, George V and George VI and their wives, and it is the planned resting place of the current queen, Queen Elizabeth II and her immediate family members.

St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle (Birds Eye)
St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle

Buckingham Palace

Easily the most famous castle in Great Britain, Buckingham Palace is located in Westminister, a small city within London. It has been the main royal residence since Queen Victoria, and now serves as the administrative center for Queen Elizabeth II.

Buckingham Palace (Birds Eye)
Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace itself is an iconic part of the royal image. Tourists from around the world gather to view the royal residence, hoping to catch a glimpse of Prince William or Harry, and have a little fun thinking about what it’s like to be royalty.

Buckingham Palace (StreetView)
Buckingham Palace

Visitors love to see the changing of the guard, a ritual as famous as the palace itself. The Queen’s Guard, in their iconic red jackets and tall bearskin hats, march back and forth in front of the main gate, keeping the queen safe and tradition in tact.

Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace (StreetView)
Changing of the Guard, Buckingham Palace

Warwick Castle

Warwick Castle is an ancient castle originally built at the time of William the Conqueror and reinforced over the next few hundred years as it played vital roles in several wars throughout England’s history. It played a crucial role in the coming to power of the first major royal dynasty, the Plantagenet family.

Warwick Castle (Birds Eye)
Warwick Castle

The castle has iconic medieval features including large towers, the motte and bailey design, and a dungeon complete with torture devices. The castle has daily showcases of castle life including jousting and tournament events. Additionally, exciting amateur but accurate battle reenactments often take place outside and around the castle.

Medieval encampment at Warwick Castle (StreetView)
Medieval encampment at Warwick Castle

Stirling Castle

Anyone who has seen Braveheart or is familiar with Scottish history will know how important Stirling Castle is. Stirling Castle is built on a large hill that has been home to fortifications and settlements since at least the third century CE. Some even believe it is where King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table met.

Stirling Castle (Google Maps)
Stirling Castle

The first castle was constructed around 1110, and was a major center of Scottish government by 1200. Most of the castle structures and fortifications were built in the 1400s and 1500s. Several battles between England and Scotland during the Wars of Scottish Independence were fought here, including the famed Battle of Stirling Bridge where the outnumbered Scots routed the English. However, success was fleeting and the war continued for several more decades. England and Scotland continued to fight one another until their eventual unification in 1707.

Stirling Castle (StreetView)
Stirling Castle

William Wallace, the hero of the Battle of Stirling Bridge, was so famed for his bravery and merciless efforts for Scottish independence that when he was captured by English forces, the King ordered him hanged, drawn and quartered. Wallace is now a Scottish national hero, and the Wallace Monument in Stirling honors his memory.

William Wallace statue (StreetView)
William Wallace statue

Hever Castle

Hever Castle in Kent, England, has been around since the 1200s and was enlarged and enhanced in the 1400s, with a distinct Tudor influence on the design. The strong Tudor influence can be felt throughout the castle and the grounds, including a Tudor style garden maze.

Hever Castle maze (Bing Maps)
Hever Castle maze

However, it later fell into disrepair and it wasn’t until American millionaire William Waldorf Astor purchased it that it was renovated for use as his private residence. It was eventually sold and is now open to the public.

Hever Castle (Google Maps)
Hever Castle

It was particularly important in Tudor England, as it is the childhood home of Ann Boleyn, second wife of Henry VIII. It was later given to Anne of Cleves, the fourth wife of Henry VIII.

British history is much older and broader than even these castles can show, but they are am important and famous part of the history and country. Anyone who wants to really get a feel for the island’s history must make sure to stop at at least one castle!

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Romantic Cities Around the World

Wednesday, May 30 2018 by

Ah, true love. No matter where you are, when you’re with the one you love, it feels like you’re in paradise. Everyone knows Paris is a great place for lovers, but it’s not the only place in the world that two can fall more in love. If you’re in love, visit one of these cities. Your love will feel even stronger because of the magic in the air.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

With tango as the city’s unofficial pastime, how can Buenos Aires not be on the list of romantic destinations?

Nothing is more romantic than strolling through a beautiful park, and Rosedal de Palermo is one of the best. With a combination of manicured paths, secluded corners, rose gardens and fountains to enhance the romance, this is one place to be when you’re in love.

Rosedal de Palermo (Google Maps)
Rosedal de Palermo

After your stroll, you and your love might spend a romantic evening at the theater. Teatro Colon, built at the turn of the last century, has grandiose chandeliers, raised balconies, vaulted ceilings and beautiful detailing that inspire romance and connection no matter where you sit.

Teatro Colón (Google Maps)
Teatro Colón

Kyoto, Japan

Smaller and more intimate than than Tokyo, Kyoto is the perfect place for lovers because of the unique combination of history, delicate architecture and natural beauty.

Sakura Alley, also known as Cherry Blossom Alley, is a veritable tunnel of trees, especially when the trees blossom in the spring. Imagine two lovebirds walking hand in hand down the lane, blossoms above them, falling from the trees and pooling at their feet. It’s picture perfect!

Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley (StreetView)
Sakura (Cherry blossom) alley

Jishu Shrine may be the most important place for lovers in Japan. Known as “the Cupid of Japan” the shrine has two stones where, if a person can walk from one to the other with their eyes closed, their wishes for love will be fulfilled. It has so much success that there are plaques from grateful couples who have visited the shrine.

Photo Credit: Fast Japan

Marrakesh, Morocco

Located at the feet of the Atlas Mountains, Marrakesh seduces all who visit with it’s beautiful vistas, lush greenery and exotic smells and sounds.

The Majorelle Gardens are an oasis in the desert of Marrahesh. Visitors can experience much of the native flora and fauna, including rare bird species native to North Africa. They can also rest at pools full of beautiful lilies and enjoy the smells of a lush African garden.

Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat) (Google Maps)
Majorelle Garden (Yves Saint-Laurent's retreat)

Jemaa el-Fnaa is the ancient city’s town square and market. During the day, visitors can mix with locals, buy juice or water and be entertained by trained monkeys and snake charmers. In the evening, the market becomes more animated, with food stalls, retail shops, cafes and entertainment taking place all around. The dynamic feeling of the square makes you feel more alive and more in love than ever before!

Jemaa el-Fnaa (StreetView)
Jemaa el-Fnaa

New York City, New York

New York is always the place to be, and there’s no exception for lovers! The energy and spirit of the city can’t help but energize visitors and leave them feeling passionate about life and love.

Central Park is the perfect place for lovers. A refuge in the middle of the city allows lovers to relax, focus on their emotions and make memories among beautiful landscapes. There’s no bad time to visit the park, and couples will always leave with greater passion for one another.

The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park) (Google Maps)
The Blockhouse (Oldest Building in NYC's Central Park)

The Empire State Building does love well. Each Valentine’s Day it lights up with a heart to celebrate love.

Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night (StreetView)
Empire State Building and One World Trade Center at night

Visitors can go to the top and take in the breathtaking views of the city, or they can spy the landmark throughout the city, taking in the building’s grandeur from wherever they are in the city.

Empire State Building (Birds Eye)
Empire State Building

If you’re in love, whether it’s new or old, visiting these cities will be sure to increase the passion, love and companionship that you and your partner share.

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Female Icons and Their Amazing Homes

Thursday, May 10 2018 by

Many people dream of making it big in fashion, music or entertainment, but having success in these careers requires a lot of hard work, dedication, talent and luck. These women have worked hard and achieved lifelong dreams of success and influence, and have luxurious lifestyles and amazing homes to show for it.

Meryl Streep

Well-known and regarded as the best actress in a generation, Meryl Strep has been active in Hollywood for more than 40 years, earning a record 21 Academy Award nominations and three Oscars. She has countless other nominations and awards to her credit as well. Her reputation is iron clad, and she has used her reputation to advocate for pay and publicity parity among men and women in Hollywood.

She and her family have primarily resided in a private estate in Salisbury, Connecticut since 1985, where her sculptor husband has a large studio for his work and where they could raise their four children.

Meryl Streep's House (Birds Eye)
Meryl Streep's House

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour, fashion influencer and icon, was born and raised in England, and started her fashion journalism career there under the tutelage of her father. She moved to New York City and worked for several magazines and publications before settling in at Vogue as the creative director and eventually it’s editor. Since then, she has been a major figure in New York fashion circles, with her signature bob and sunglasses. The book and film The Devil Wears Prada was based on her and the magazine.

Anna was married for about 15 years, and has two children from the marriage. She has long owned a townhouse in an exclusive enclave in Greenwich Village.

Anna Wintour's House (StreetView)
Anna Wintour's House

She also owns a home in Mastic Beach, on Long Island. She has said the community is “white trash” but loves the area regardless.

Anna Wintour's house (Birds Eye)
Anna Wintour's house

Beyonce

Beyonce rose to fame as part of the music group Destiny’s Child, and has since become one of the biggest superstars of all time. She has a successful acting career, as well as fashion lines, music management and her success as a solo artist. She has become a crossover influencer, with devoted fans across the globe nicknamed the BeyHive. She is one of the best selling artists of all time, the most-nominated Grammy artist, and even has college courses taught on her music, cultural influence and impact on society.

She married fellow musician Jay-Z in 2008, and while their relationship has been mostly private, the powerhouse couple have ruled over the music industry for a decade. They have three children, and several homes across the country.

After leasing several homes in and around Los Angeles, the couple bought a mansion for nearly $90 million in 2017. It has 30,000 square feet of interior space, a spa, many luxurious amenities and four outdoor pools.

Jay-Z and Beyoncé's House (Google Maps)
Jay-Z and Beyoncé's House

Also in 2017, Beyonce and Jay-Z purchased a $26 million home in East Hampton, NY. The 100 year home sits on two acres. The previous owner rotated the entire home 90 degrees so the living room overlooks the pond and is perfect for sunset viewing.

Jay-Z and Beyonce's House (Birds Eye)
Jay-Z and Beyonce's House

Oprah Winfrey

There’s no one category to hold Oprah Winfrey: Television host who defined and redefined the concept, actress, producer, media mogul, and all over media icon.

Oprah rose to prominence as a daytime talk show host in the 1980 and became famous for her personable and frank interviews, openness with her audience and charisma. Her book club became so popular it would rocket authors to the best seller list overnight. Appearing on her show had the potential to create lasting fame and success for her guests, like Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz, who have gone on to have successful television careers of their own.

She has also starred in, produced and backed several box office and critically successful films. She ended her talk show in 2011, but has continued to produce, sponsor and support television and film projects, as well as run a monthly magazine.

Oprah has a 65 acre estate named The Promised Land in Montecito, CA. She has renovated and expanded the estate since purchasing it in 2001. The mansion itself is over 23,000 square feet.

Oprah Winfrey's House (Google Maps)
Oprah Winfrey's House

Not to be outdone by her California home, Oprah has a 163 acre estate in Kula, on the Hawaiian island Maui. In addition to a lovely white mansion, she has an expansive garden that grows over 100 types of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs. It is truly a paradise.

Oprah Winfrey's House (Bing Maps)
Oprah Winfrey's House

These icons have shown how it’s done-find something you love, something you can do better than anyone else, and work harder than anyone else is willing to work. If you do that, you too can reach the pinnacle of success in your area of expertise. And maybe, you too can own a piece of your own personal paradise.

 

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MLB Stadiums You Have to Visit

Wednesday, Apr 11 2018 by

Baseball season is just around the corner, and fans across the United States and Canada will be rushing to their favorite stadium on opening day with all the hope and excitement of a new season and a fresh chance for a World Series win.

Baseball isn’t just about the game, though, it’s about the experience, from getting tickets to entering the stadium, getting your hot dog and joining the crowd to cheer on your team, yelling at the umpire, and singing along at the seventh inning stretch like your team’s win depends on it.

If you want to have a truly great fan experience at a baseball game, you should definitely visit these stadiums this season.

Wrigley Field

One of the oldest and most legendary stadiums, Wrigley Field has been in use since 1914, and the Cubs have been playing there since 1916. Nicknamed “the Friendly Confines” the stadium is regularly listed among the best places to catch a game.

Wrigley Field (Birds Eye)
Wrigley Field

The stadium has been renovated but retains its retro design, and green ivy that grows along the outfield wall adds to the charm. It has a unique atmosphere and dedicated fans that make watching a game here an experience to remember.

Wrigley Field (StreetView)
Wrigley Field

Dodger Stadium

Dodger Stadium is the largest stadium in the stadium in the league, and one of the oldest too. The Dodgers were originally from Brooklyn, but a dispute with the city led the owner to move the team to Los Angeles in 1957.

The stadium hosts great games because the fans are dedicated and intense, and the field itself seems to make for great games. There have been 12 “no hitters” including two “perfect games” in the stadium, which is a remarkable feat. Not only are the games great, but the Dodger Dog is considered the best hot dog of them all.

Dodger Stadium (Birds Eye)
Dodger Stadium

Camden Yards

Camden Yards in Baltimore is known for the great game day atmosphere. The entire neighborhood comes alive for home games. The food is amazing too, often being ranked as the best or among the best of all the MLB parks. Even though Camden Yards was only built in 1992, it is still among the oldest parks, and has a great historical feel due to the design.

Oriole Park at Camden Yard (Birds Eye)
Oriole Park at Camden Yard

Baltimore is home to baseball’s greatest legend, Babe Ruth. He grew up in a working class family and baseball was his ticket out of a life of hard labor. He ended up being the best home run hitter of the ages, setting records that lasted for half a century and creating a legacy that lives on today. Outside the stadium there is a statue honoring the hometown hero, depicting him as a young player, looking forward to his future in baseball.

Babe Ruth statue (StreetView)
Babe Ruth statue

Yankee Stadium

The New York Yankees have been around since 1901, and have won more World Series titles than any other team. The team played in the original Yankee Stadium for 85 years, until they moved in 2008 to the current Yankee Stadium. Because the old stadium was so famous and historic, the new stadium had to be sure to pay proper homage to the original stadium, including a similar exterior, iconic designs like the frieze on the upper deck, and a significant amount of memorabilia displayed throughout the stadium.

Yankee Stadium (Birds Eye)
Yankee Stadium

A construction worker who was a fan of the rival Boston Red Sox placed a Red Sox jersey in the foundation, but after he told coworkers, they exhumed the jersey. Later he claimed to have left other memorabilia as an attempt to put a curse on the stadium, but it clearly did not work, since the Yankees won the World Series the year they began playing in the new stadium. What a way to break it in!

New Yankee Stadium (Google Maps)
New Yankee Stadium

Fenway Park

Fenway Park in Boston is home to the Boston Red Sox. It is not the fanciest or newest stadium, and is one of the smallest stadiums, but it is possibly the most beloved stadium in all of baseball, and one of the most famous sports venues in the world. It has been around since 1912, when it hosted the World Series in its inaugural season, which the Red Sox won.

Fenway Park (Birds Eye)
Fenway Park

The fans are incredible, and love to watch their team. The team has sold out over 450 games in a row! Because of the stadium’s age, it has undergone several renovations, leading to some unique features in the stadium. The Green Monster, the giant green wall in left field, is so famous that it has lent its name to the Red Sox mascot, Wally the Green Monster.

Outside the Gate B entrance to the stadium is a statue named Teammates, of players Ted Williams, Bobby Doerr, Johnny Pesky, and Dom DiMaggio,  who played together in Boston for seven seasons.

Boston Teammates statue (StreetView)
Boston Teammates statue

After taking a look at these stadiums, it’s hard not to be excited for opening day, no matter what team you’re cheering for!

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Homes of "The Voice" Stars

Saturday, Mar 10 2018 by

The 14th season of The Voice is underway and has a new coach sitting in the red chair. Starring in the United States’ most popular reality television show, the show’s coaches enjoy a significant amount of fame and success, and it shows in the amazing homes and properties they own.

Blake Shelton

One of two judges on the show since it began in 2011, Blake Shelton has been very successful as a coach, with a member of his team winning in five of the past twelve seasons. His personal life has been tied into the show, as he divorced his wife Miranda Lambert and then started dating Gwen Stefani while the two were both on the show.

Shelton is a country boy at heart, and after his divorce from Miranda Lambert, he bought his Oklahoma home in Kingston, Oklahoma, on Lake Texoma.

Blake Shelton lake house (Google Maps)
Blake Shelton lake house

Additionally, his Ten Point Ranch in Tishomingo, Oklahoma, was for sale as of August 2017.

Blake Shelton 10 Point Ranch (Google Maps)
Blake Shelton 10 Point Ranch

Jennifer Hudson

Perhaps no one knows better the rigors of participating in a musical talent competition than Jennifer Hudson, who was a finalist on the third season of American Idol, the famous American singing competition show. She has since been successful in both the music and acting industries.

She joined the other coaches for the thirteenth season on The Voice, coinciding with a record release in early 2017. She has always maintained strong ties to her Chicago roots, with a home in Burr Ridge, outside Chicago.

Jennifer Hudson's House (Birds Eye)
Jennifer Hudson's House

Adam Levine

Like Blake Shelton, Adam Levine has been a judge on all thirteen seasons of The Voice. His personal life has changed almost as much as Blake’s,  including marrying Behati Prinsloo in 2014, having a baby girl with her in 2016, and preparing for another girl due in 2018. He and Behati bought a beautiful mansion with a pool, lots of privacy and plenty of space for their girls in Los Angeles, California in 2017 for about $18 million.

Adam Levine & Behati Prinsloo's House (Google Maps)
Adam Levine & Behati Prinsloo's House

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus now has two seasons of coaching under her belt, and it is just one of many aspects of her dynamic and successful career in music and entertainment. Her role on the show is entertaining, to say the least. She is as dynamic in her personal life as she is in her professional, with multiple homes and places to crash throughout southern California.

Since 2015, she has owned a home in Hidden Hills, an exclusive gated community in Los Angeles, purchase for roughly $15 million.

Miley Cyrus' House (Birds Eye)
Miley Cyrus' House

One LA house isn’t enough for Miley, though, since she bought another house in Malibu, on the coast of California just a short drive from downtown Los Angeles. This home was purchased in 2016 for $2.5 million.

Miley Cyrus's House (Google Maps)
Miley Cyrus's House

After rekindling her relationship with actor Liam Hemsworth, the couple purchased a beautiful home in Franklin, Tennessee, for $5.8 million.

Miley Cyrus' House (Google Maps)
Miley Cyrus' House

Carson Daly

Carson Daly has had a long career in entertainment and music, and has been the host of The Voice since the beginning. He does other hosting for NBC, including on the morning show Today and hosting of special events such as the annual New Year’s Eve show on television.

He maintains a lower profile than the other celebrities on the show, choosing to spend time with his wife and three children. He has owned the Santa Monica mansion since 2006.

Carson Daly's House (Birds Eye)
Carson Daly's House

The coaches and host of The Voice all work hard and help others learn about successful singing, entertaining and show business, so it is a very good thing they have awesome places to rest after a long day of work on set.

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Five Presidents Who Changed the Presidency

Friday, Mar 2 2018 by

The United States has witnessed the peaceful transition of presidential power among 45 presidents, which is a remarkable feat any way you look at it. Not all residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue were remarkable, but it’s interesting to look back on some of the more influential and important presidents.

White House, The (Google Maps)
White House, The

George Washington

General George Washington, the first President of the United States, is probably the most revered and respected leader, some 200 years after he left office. Washington did many important things for the US, including leading the colonial forces during the Revolution, but his most revolutionary act was not seizing power for himself after the war was over. The world did not know how the former colonies would govern themselves, but Washington could have easily taken control of the government from his position as head of the military. Instead, he took a step back from public life, let other Founding Fathers create a lasting structure of government, and only took power given him through free and fair elections by the people.

After only two terms as president, he retired from public life, establishing a precedent for the regular peaceful transition of power that is a hallmark of American government today. When he retired, he returned to his beloved Mt. Vernon in Virginia, where he is buried alongside his wife Martha and other family members.

George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation (Birds Eye)
George Washington's Mount Vernon Plantation

Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson served as the third president of the United States, but his greatest contribution to the success of the county came long before, when he wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776. This document officially declared the colonies free from British rule and helped rally people to the cause of the Revolution. Even in 1776, it was not certain the colonies would leave Great Britain, or if they would stick together if they won the war, but Jefferson’s words helped create a sense of unity among people from the 13 colonies.

Indeed, Jefferson considered this one of his most enduring accomplishments, as indicated by the inscription of his tombstone, which reads:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

For some reason he chose not to mention being the third president of the United States. Visitors can see this for themselves when they tour his plantation home Monticello outside Charlottesville, Virginia.

Monticello (Birds Eye)
Monticello

Abraham Lincoln

One of the country’s most well known and well regarded presidents, Abraham Lincoln’s early years were spent in poverty in the frontiers of Kentucky and Indiana. After serving one term as a US Representative from Illinois, Lincoln served in the state’s government and then became the national face of the new, anti-slavery Republican Party. From this position, Lincoln was elected President in 1860, initiating actions that led to the Civil War in 1861.

Lincoln’s many accomplishments include enacting the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed many slaves and demonstrated the country’s commitment to equality, giving profound speeches including the Gettysburg Address, and carrying the country through the crisis of the Civil War. During his second inaugural speech, Lincoln implored the two sides to come together and find unity and lasting peace.

However, Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865, five days after the war ended. After a long tour by train so mourners could pay respects to his body, he was laid to rest at his home in Springfield, Illinois.

Abraham Lincoln's House (Birds Eye)
Abraham Lincoln's House

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt, like Lincoln, navigated the United States through difficult times, including the Great Depression and World War II. He was the only president to serve more than two terms, being elected to four terms and dying in office in 1945, near the end of World War II.

FDR was reelected to an unprecedented third and fourth terms during World War II, providing continuity during the global struggle. Before that, during the Great Depression, FDR established many government programs that provided jobs for out of work Americans and established many social safety nets including a national minimum wage, Social Security and financial regulations intended to limit or prevent another Great Depression. His most important contribution was his longstanding involvement with other Allied leaders before and during World War II. America’s eventual involvement and FDR’s commitment turned the tide and led to an Allied victory shortly after Roosevelt died on April 12, 1945. He was buried in the family’s Springwood estate in Hyde Park, New York. However, his death in office after four terms led to the ratification of the 22nd Amendment, limiting presidents to two terms in office.

32th President of the USA - Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house (former) (Birds Eye)
32th President of the USA - Franklin D. Roosevelt’s house (former)

John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy was possibly the most charismatic president of the 20th century, and his administration was filled with Cold War era politics that spilled over from World War II. His diplomatic interactions with Soviet as well as other world leaders helped deescalate Cold War situations and create back channels of communications between the world leaders to help avoid future political crises. He also had positive impacts in domestic policy and culture, furthering civil and gender equality, encouraging civic engagement, and motivating an entire generation to shoot for the stars, as he ramped up the US space program.

Kennedy’s greatest legacy will always be his persona, providing a youthful, dynamic and engaging image of the presidency. His beautiful wife Jacqueline and young family helped bolster the image of the presidency. His life was cut short when he was assassinated on November 22, 1963, in Dallas Texas. An X marks the spot on the street where he was killed.

The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot (StreetView)
The X marks the spot where President Kennedy was shot

His funeral was a national event, and he was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

John F. Kennedy burial site (Google Maps)
John F. Kennedy burial site

The residents of the White House always aim to do their best, and it’s fascinating to look back on their varied legacies and see whether their legacies hold up to history. These five presidents left a great impact on the presidency and the country.

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Celebrity Nurseries

Sunday, Feb 18 2018 by

Being a pregnant celebrity has come a long way from the days of hiding their pregnancy and staying out of the limelight until after their delivery. Now, having a baby bump is a trendy accessory in Hollywood, and so is having a fashion-forward and fabulous nursery to bring the baby home to. Recent trends are clearly focused on gender-neutral and age-neutral themes, which make decorating fun and adaptable for a growing family.

Savannah Guthrie

Savannah Guthrie, co-host of NBC’s morning news show Today, decorated her daughter Vale’s room in a neutral animal theme that is anything but boring!

Savannah Guthrie & Michael Feldman's House (Birds Eye)
Savannah Guthrie & Michael Feldman's House
Savannah Guthrie
Photo credit http://celebritybabies.people.com/2015/08/19/savannah-guthrie-daughter-vale-nursery/

Ivanka Trump

Whether you love or hate her dad, it’s impossible not to love Ivanka Trump’s nursery in her upper East Side apartment with husband Jared Kushner. The neutral palate of cream and gray are on trend even for the most sophisticated adult, but the softer touch of stars, plenty of books for his older siblings to read to him, and the portable Moses basket make the room a great place for Theo to grow up and interact with his entire family.

With her great taste in style, it’s a sure bet that her new house in Washington, D.C. will be as fabulous as her New York apartment!

Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner's House (Google Maps)
Ivanka Trump & Jared Kushner's House
Ivanka Trump
Photo Credit: Ivanka Trump

Kevin and Danielle Jonas

Kevin and Danielle Jonas were in tune with the new trend of sophisticated and adaptable baby rooms when they decorated the nursery for their baby girl, Alena Rose, in 2014. Starting with a neutral palate of dark wood floors and ivory furniture, they accented the room with stunning navy blue and natural wood furniture, making the room both perfect for a new baby and ready for a toddler to learn, play and grow. Navy is a neutral color that will make it so easy for the Jonas family to use the nursery for whoever joins their family next!

Kevin Jonas' House (Google Maps)
Kevin Jonas' House
Kevin Jonas
Photo Credit: http://www.newarrivalsinc.com/Celebrity-Spotlight-Danielle-Kevin-Jonass-New-Playroom_b_207.html
Kevin Jonas
Photo Credit: http://www.newarrivalsinc.com/Celebrity-Spotlight-Danielle-Kevin-Jonass-New-Playroom_b_207.html

Nicky Hilton Rothschild

After years of fashion hits and misses that were always entertaining and anything but low-key, model, socialite and trend setter Nicky Hilton married James Rothschild and settled down to married life. She gave birth to baby girl Lily Grace Victoria Rothschild in July 2016, and shared details of the baby’s nursery shortly before her birth.

The New York City nursery is decorated in soft blues and whites, which would be perfect for either a boy or a girl, but the furniture makes it clear Nicky and James have a baby girl! The antique dollhouse and Madame Alexander dolls set it apart, and the cat-themed mobile above the crib shows off Nicky’s personality and love of all things cat.

Nicky Hilton's House (Birds Eye)
Nicky Hilton's House
Nicky Hilton
Photo Credit: http://ca.hellomagazine.com/health-and-beauty/02016072828320/nicky-hilton-stylish-stroller/
Nicky Hilton
Photo Credit: Nicky Hilton Instagram

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Notorious Prisons

Saturday, Feb 3 2018 by

Most people only think of prisons when they see them portrayed on television or in the movies, but for those who know from personal experience, there are some prisons you really don’t want to end up at across the country. These prisons have well-deserved reputations as the most notorious prisons in the United States.

ADX

ADX, or the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility, in Florence, Colorado, is the prison where the most dangerous, violent and famous federal prisoners are sent. It was specifically created to hold society’s worst criminals, those without regard for human life. From its inception, it has been a notorious location. Only around 400 prisoners are housed at ADX, but they include top mafia and gang leaders, drug dealers, former spies and domestic terrorists.

When a prisoner arrives at ADX, they are immediately subjected to one year of solitary confinement, with only one hour a day outside their cell. Only after a year is their behavior evaluated and they are considered for better conditions. The prison was specifically designed to be escape-proof, including by making directions, distance and time of day difficult to ascertain once inside.

Famous criminals include Zacarias Moussaoui, one of the September 11 terrorists, Richard Reid, the so-called “Shoe Bomber”, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who bombed the Boston Marathon, and Robert Hanssen, a former FBI agent-turned Russian spy.

ADX Florence (Bing Maps)
ADX Florence
ADX
Photo Credit: http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/08/the-50-craziest-prisons-and-jails-in-the-world/tadmor-military-prison

Alcatraz

Probably the most famous, and most infamous prison, in the United States is Alcatraz Prison located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, over a mile from the mainland. Also known as “The Rock”, Alcatraz started out as a lighthouse, then was used for military purposes, before being turned into a prison in 1934. Its military uses included holding prisoners during several wars, including the Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War II. The first batch of federal civilian prisoners arrived in 1934. These criminals were sent to The Rock because they were troublesome at other facilities or were deemed high risk. The location in the middle of the San Francisco Bay was ideal because the bay’s waters are extremely cold and fast-moving, making it difficult to reach and nearly if not entirely impossible to escape.

Alcatraz (Birds Eye)
Alcatraz

Though many tried, officially no prisoners are recorded as having escaped and survived. At least 36 men attempted to escape; most were caught alive but six were shot dead, two confirmed drowned and five are assumed to have drowned but could in theory have made it to shore. One breakout attempt was so elaborate and all-consuming it became known as the Battle of Alcatraz.

Alcatraz
Photo Credit: https://www.nps.gov/alca/index.htm

Some of America’s most famous and violent prisoners were held here, which adds to the island’s reputation as a notorious prison. Gangsters such as Al Capone (convicted of tax evasion rather than murder, drug running or bootlegging), George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and James “Whitey” Bulger all served time at Alcatraz.

The history of Alcatraz doesn’t end with the closing of the prison in 1963. In 1969, it was taken over by Native Americans as part of a larger movement in favor of Native American rights and culture. The occupation lasted nearly two years, and impacts of the occupation including graffiti and burned down buildings are still recognizable today.

According to legend, Native American tribes felt that the island had bad spirits and would sometimes banish individuals to the island for a time. Reports have continued until today about ghosts appearing throughout the island in Civil War attire, sounds of screaming and cannon fire, and other mysterious events such as smoke without any fire coming from different rooms. You can tour Alcatraz these days and learn all about its history and local and national impacts, and look for signs of its notoriety.

Leavenworth

United States Penitentiary at Leavenworth, generally referred to as Leavenworth, is an older prison within the US Bureau of Prisons system and has developed a reputation for being tough prison, even though its maximum security prison days are behind it as it is now a medium security prison.

Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary (Google Maps)
Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

Leavenworth is one of the oldest prisons in the federal system, built by military prisoners in the early 1900s. Its first execution was a hanging in 1930, and it housed Japanese Americans who were conscientious objectors during World War II. For many years, Leavenworth was an extremely dangerous prison, housing gang members, violent killers and others deemed too dangerous for other prisons. Five corrections officers were murdered at Leavenworth, the last in 1974, and there have been several prisoner murders and riots, as well as multiple escapes in its long history.

Leavenworth’s design with a large central domed building led to its nickname as the “Big House” which often refers to prisons in general now. Its Panopticon style design allows guards to watch prisoners without them being able to see the guards, leading to a sense of lost privacy and paranoia to ensure the prisoners remain on their best behavior.

Leavenworth
Photo Credit: https://www.bop.gov/locations/institutions/lvn/

In 2005, Leavenworth was downgraded to a medium security prison, but its reputation as a tough prison will always remain, especially with famous inmates including James “Whitey” Bulger, George “Machine Gun” Kelly and Michael Vick.

San Quentin

This California prison makes the list because it maintains the largest death row inmate population in the US, with more than 700 prisoners on Death Row. It has a large population, with over 3,000 prisoners total. San Quentin houses many gang members, and their rival affiliations often lead to riots and violent outbursts and murders at the prison. The prison has a long history of corruption among those responsible for running and maintain the prison, and previous guards would encourage gang and race violence.

San Quentin State Prison (Birds Eye)
San Quentin State Prison

After a 2007 race riot, prisoners from all backgrounds began working together to overcome racial and gang-related prejudices. This, along with better anti-corruption efforts, have helped make San Quentin a safer place to serve time, but it still struggles to manage and assist those prisoners struggling with mental illness.

Scott Peterson, infamous for murdering his pregnant wife, is serving time at San Quentin, and Charles Manson, one of America’s most notorious cult leader and mass murderer, served time here as well.

San Quentin
Photo Credit: CC Flickr user Håkan Dahlström

Sing Sing

Sing Sing is a New York state prison, and houses around 2,000 prisoners at any given time. Sing Sing is a dangerous and violent prison, whether you’re a guard or an inmate.

Sing Sing Prison (Google Maps)
Sing Sing Prison

Sing Sing is one of the oldest working prisons in the United States. When it was first opened in 1826, prisoners were forced to be silent, and could expect a whipping or other punishment for talking.

In spite of recent efforts to maintain prisoner morale, the prison has certainly earned its reputation as notorious. Various tortures were sanctioned, including water torture. Over 600 inmates, both men and women, have been executed at Sing Sing before New York State outlawed the practice. Possibly the most famous prisoners, and most famous executions, were of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, convicted of spying for the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Over the years, wardens have raised the standards from a “Hellhole” to a decent prison with sports teams and activities for prisoners.

Sing Sing
Photo Credit: Burns Archive

Sing Sing has housed many famous or infamous prisoners including serial killer David Berkowitz, aka the Son of Sam, gangster Charles “Lucky” Luciano, spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, and Eddie Lee Mays, the last man executed by the State of New York.

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Wallace Neff, Architect of California’s Golden Age

Monday, Jan 30 2017 by

Wallace Neff was a famous Southern Californian architect. The houses he designed are still among the most coveted and appreciated houses in Los Angeles by celebrities and architectural connoisseurs alike. The distinct style he worked in is called the California style.

Jon Brooks's house (Birds Eye)
Jon Brooks's house
William Joseph "Bill" Bell Jr. and Maria Arena Bell's house (Google Maps)
William Joseph "Bill" Bell Jr. and Maria Arena Bell's house
Adrien Labi's house (The Singleton Estate) (Birds Eye)
Adrien Labi's house (The Singleton Estate)
Carol and Frank Biondi Jr.'s house (Google Maps)
Carol and Frank Biondi Jr.'s house
Jimmy Iovine's House (Birds Eye)
Jimmy Iovine's House
Bradley S. Cohen's House (Birds Eye)
Bradley S. Cohen's House
Peter Dent & Susan Purvis-Dent's house (formerly Madonna's) (Birds Eye)
Peter Dent & Susan Purvis-Dent's house (formerly Madonna's)
Bill Guthy & Victoria Jackson's house (formerly Cary Grant's & Buster Keatons's) (Birds Eye)
Bill Guthy & Victoria Jackson's house (formerly Cary Grant's & Buster Keatons's)
Rudolph Valentino's 'Falcon Lair' (demolished) (Birds Eye)
Rudolph Valentino's 'Falcon Lair' (demolished)
Pickfair Estate (Birds Eye)
Pickfair Estate
'Chandler House' by Wallace Neff (Birds Eye)
'Chandler House' by Wallace Neff
James Murdoch's House (Birds Eye)
James Murdoch's House
Loren G. Lipson's House (Birds Eye)
Loren G. Lipson's House
'Dome Home' by Wallace Neff (Birds Eye)
'Dome Home' by Wallace Neff
Ricky & Betty Chow's House (Google Maps)
Ricky & Betty Chow's House
Diane Keaton's House (former) (Google Maps)
Diane Keaton's House (former)

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