The 91st Academy Awards

The Academy Awards, often called the Oscars, is Hollywood’s night to shine. All the industry’s elite, the actors, directors, musicians, and behind the scenes talent, gather together to recognize the best work produced in movies in the last year. They walk the red carpet and discuss their wardrobe, thoughts on nominees and celebrate a year of fabulous films.

Holywood Sign (StreetView)
Holywood Sign

The industry’s most coveted awards will be given out this Sunday, February 24, at the Dolby Theater in downtown Los Angeles. The theater, which opened in 2001, was designed with hosting the Oscars in mind.

Originally called the Kodak Theater, the Dolby Theater got its new name from a sound company that works closely with the movie industry.

Dolby Theatre (Birds Eye)
Dolby Theatre

Everyone will be hoping that the Academy recognizes their hard work and talent. Most will go home empty handed, honored just to have been nominated; let’s look at some of the celebrity homes that might have a new statue on the mantle come Monday morning.

Christian Bale

Christian Bale, a constant presence in film since his youth, has already won one Oscar, in 2010 for Best Supporting Actor in The Fighter. This year he has been nominated for Best Actor for his performance in Vice.

He has multiple homes around the world, including two homes in the Los Angeles region. He has a home in Brentwood Park, which he purchased in 2017 for about $9 million.

Christian Bale's House (Google Maps)
Christian Bale's House

He lives with his family in a Sullivan Canyon ranch, which he purchased for $13.5 million in 2008.

Christian Bale's House (Google Maps)
Christian Bale's House

Amy Adams

Amy Adams has been both critically acclaimed and loved by the public for her roles for decades. She has been nominated for six Academy Awards but has yet to win, including this year for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Lynne Cheney in Vice. Hopefully this year she won’t go home empty handed.

No matter what, she’ll be returning to an awesome home, a mansion in the enviable Beverly Hills area of Los Angeles.

Amy Adams' House (Birds Eye)
Amy Adams' House

Spike Lee

Spike Lee, a famous director and producer, has been nominated for Oscars before but this is first Academy nomination for directing, for his movie BlackkKlansman, which has several other nominations. If he wins, it will be his first Oscar.

Lee, in spite of his Hollywood career, spends most of his time in New York City, where he cheers for his beloved Knicks and Yankees. He has a nice townhouse in New York, as well as other homes in Massachusetts and California.

Spike Lee's House (Former) (StreetView)
Spike Lee's House (Former)

Rachel Weisz

British actress Rachel Weisz is nominated alongside her castmate Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Favourite. Rachel already has an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, which she won in 2005 for her role in The Constant Gardner.

While Rachel is British, she spends most of her time in New York, and sometimes on her farm outside the city. She bought the 1700s era farm house and surrounding land in 2008. While she doesn’t spend most of her time here, it would be an ideal place to retreat from the media and enjoy a little quiet time after the Oscars, with or without a statue to take home.

Rachel Weisz's House (Birds Eye)
Rachel Weisz's House

It will be exciting to watch the Academy Awards, admiring the amazingly dressed celebrities, rooting for your favorite films, stars and directors as awards are given out.

NFL Stadiums

If the commercials, game and epic snacks weren’t enough to keep you entertained this past Super Bowl Sunday, check out some of the stadiums from around the league. The stadiums for the 32 teams are as unique and varied as are their fans, but here are just a few of the most interesting.

MetLife Stadium

The MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands located in New Jersey, just outside New York City, is home base for not one but two NFL teams, the New York Giants and the New York Jets. It’s design allows for both fan bases to feel right at home even though they have to share the stadium throughout the year.

MetLife Stadium (Birds Eye)
MetLife Stadium

The stadium was built in 2010, and at $1.6 billion, is the most expensive stadium ever built. It has one of the largest seating capacities as well. Because the stadium houses two teams, it has several unique designs to allow for the separate logos, lighting and mascots, including separate locker rooms for each of the home teams.

MetLife Stadium
Photo Credit: Stadiums of Pro Football

Mercedes-Benz Superdome

The Superdome has always been a popular destination for football, as well as college basketball and football in the sports-crazed south.

Louisiana Superdome (Google Maps)
Louisiana Superdome

However, it gained national fame in 2005 when it served as a refuge of last resort for thousands of New Orleans residents stranded during and after Hurricane Katrina. Flooding, the roof caving in, thousands of families stranded for days without plumbing or electricity or shelter took their tool on the structure.

Superdome
Photo Credit: USA Today

Nonetheless, the stadium reopened one year later, after a nearly $400 million cleanup and restoration effort. The symbol of the disaster of Katrina and the New Orleans spirit of triumph are embodied in the Superdome to this day.

Lambeau Field

Lambeau Field, the outdoor arena in Green Bay, Wisconsin, is arguably the best stadium, and for a variety of reasons including the passionate fan base, historical stadium and community feel. At over 80,000, it has the largest crowd capacity. Constructed in 1957, it is also the oldest continually in use.

Lambeau Field (StreetView)
Lambeau Field
Lambeau Field (Birds Eye)
Lambeau Field

The fans at Lambeau Field are among the most dedicated fan bases. Diehard Cheeseheads cheer on their beloved Packers in the open air arena, even if there’s a blizzard, it’s below freezing or both! Games have been played in temperatures as cold as 2° F, and on several occasions, fans have helped to shovel out the stadium on game day!

Lambeau Field
Photo Credit: Fox Sports

AT&T Stadium

Home to the Dallas Cowboys, one of the most loved or hated teams in the NFL, the AT&T Stadium is either loved for its sleek design and enhanced features or loathed for its distractions from the game itself.

AT&T Stadium (StreetView)
AT&T Stadium
AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys) (Birds Eye)
AT&T Stadium (Dallas Cowboys)

Second only to the MetLife Stadium in cost, the AT&T Stadium in Arlington Texas was opened in 2009, and has every amenity a fan could dream of. A 160 foot jumbotron, over 300 additional television screens throughout the stadium and two end zone displays ensure you don’t miss a minute of action.

AT&T Stadium
Photo Credit: ThrilList

Over 100,000 seated and standing fans can watch the game, making it the largest overall capacity venue. Fans say that the retractable dome that opens allows God to watch football on Sundays, but that’s assuming God is a Cowboys fan. Love them or hate them, the Cowboys have a fun stadium they call home turf.

Next time you’re watching a game being played in any of these stadiums, look for the interesting features, like the Cowboys jumbotron or the freezing crowd at Lambeau Field, and share with your friends what you know during time outs, commercials and half time!

Famous Hotels Around the World

On your next family vacation, you’re a lot more likely to stay in a Holiday Inn Express than in a five star luxury hotel, but if you’re lucky enough to travel on an unlimited budget anywhere you want, you should definitely check out these famous hotels.

The Ritz Paris

One of the most iconic hotels in the world, the Ritz Paris in the heart of the City of Lights is at the top of any luxury traveler’s list. Established in 1898, the hotel quickly became one of the grandest hotels in Paris and the world.

The likes of Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway lived here, and Princess Diana dined here right before her death. Rooms in the 18th century-styled hotel start at $1,400 and go up to nearly $30,000.

Hôtel Ritz Paris (Google Maps)
Hôtel Ritz Paris

Plaza Hotel New York

The Plaza is located in prime New York real estate, along 5th Avenue and Central Park South. It is designed in a French Renaissance style, and rooms go for at least $1,000 per night.

Donald Trump bought the hotel in 1988, but had to turn many of the suites into condominiums in an effort to pay off debt. The hotel offers babysitting, butler service, grand ballrooms and luxury suites for its guests.

The Plaza Hotel (StreetView)
The Plaza Hotel

Chateau Marmont

The Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles is famous for being famous, and catering to the rich and famous. It has been the scene and setting for movies, the place where stars live, famous gather to party, and some have even taken their last breath there, like John Belushi in 1982.

Standard rooms start around $500, but penthouses go for a few thousand a night. If that’s too rich for your budget, you can dine at the famous Restaurant at Chateau Marmont.

The Chateau Marmont (StreetView)
The Chateau Marmont

Beverly Hills Hotel

Located in the center of Los Angeles on Sunset Boulevard, the Beverly Hills Hotel caters to the rich and famous, and those who want to be near the rich and famous. It has both hotel rooms and bungalows, which often cater to those wishing spend time away from their homes while remaining in the city, for parties, affairs and discreet meetups.

The reclusive Howard Hughes kept a permanent room there, but only the hotel chef would know when he was on site, as he had to prepare midnight meals to serve the oddball billionaire.

Beverly Hills Hotel (Birds Eye)
Beverly Hills Hotel

Raffles Hotel Singapore

The uniquely named Raffles Hotel was named after the British founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Raffles. The hotel design is classic British colonial, and has been expanded several times over its 150 year history. During its occupation during World War II, the staff buried the hotel valuables, including the silver collection.

The hotel is under renovation at the moment, but when the work is completed, it will continue to live up to its reputation as one of the most luxurious and desirable hotels in the world.

Raffles Hotel (StreetView)
Raffles Hotel

There are luxury hotels around the world, but if you have a chance to stay in one of these, you should put it at the top of your to do list; and if not, at least enjoy imagining what it’s like on this virtual tour.

Infamous Murder Sites across the US

Some people like to tour national parks or go to Disney World on their family vacations… for those who want an unorthodox vacation, and don’t scare easily, these murder sites that you can visit might make for a more exciting road trip this year.

Villisca Ax Murder House

The murder of eight people, six members of the Moore family and two overnight house guests, during the night in Villisca, Iowa on June 9 or 10, 1912 has remained unsolved for more than a century.

When a neighbor noticed that no one had begun farm chores on the morning of the 10th, it was discovered that each person had been bludgeoned to death with an ax. While there was a lengthy investigation and even two trials, no one was ever convicted for the murders.

The house is open for tours, and those who are brave enough can even spend the night there!

Villisca Ax Murder House (Birds Eye)
Villisca Ax Murder House

Lizzie Borden’s Home

“Lizzie Borden took an axe and gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done she gave her father forty-one.”

Lizzie Borden was a 32 year old woman living with her father and stepmother when they were found bludgeoned to death by an axe. She was tried and acquitted of the crime, and it was never solved.

Tourists can view the inside and outside of the house, as well as stay the night, if they’re brave enough.

Lizzie Borden axe murder home (Birds Eye)
Lizzie Borden axe murder home

Lizzie Borden lived out the remainder of her days in the community, in spite of the reputation that followed her around for the remainder of her days. She is buried in the local cemetery, and the site is often visited by those who stay at the house.

Lizzie Borden's grave (Google Maps)
Lizzie Borden's grave

Black Dahlia’s Murder Site

Elizabeth Short was a young woman living in Los Angeles when she went missing in 1947. She was found several days later, having been murdered and mutilated and left to the elements.

Her beauty and reputation for wearing black earned her the nickname “Black Dahlia” in the media during a very long and public investigation that never resulted in any viable suspects.

The unsolved case has become a part of LA lore, and curious visitors still visit the murder site, which is now a front yard in a middle class neighborhood.

Visiting this site would make an excellent and unconventional side visit if you’re already in the area.

Location where the Black Dahlia's body was found (StreetView)
Location where the Black Dahlia's body was found

Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman Crime Scene

Often referred to as “the crime of the century”, the murder of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman, allegedly by Brown’s husband, football legend O. J. Simpson, incited a nation to follow the arrest, prosecution and aftermath of O. J. Simpson’s life.

On June 13, 1994, the two were found stabbed to death in her home, and the events at the crime scene kicked off the infamous police chase of O. J. Simpson in a white Bronco, and the globally broadcast trial of Simpson. While Simpson was acquitted, the story has remained a part of the cultural psyche for the last two decades.

True crime fans visiting the LA area often make a trek to the Brentwood neighborhood to see the home where the biggest media circus crime all started.

Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder site (Birds Eye)
Nicole Simpson/Ron Goldman murder site

John Lennon’s Home and Murder Scene

John Lennon, lead singer of the world’s most famous and beloved band The Beatles, lived with his wife Yoko Ono and son Sean in The Dakota, a posh coop building in the desirable Central Park West area of New York City.

He and Yoko were returning from a recording session when he was shot dead by stalker Mark David Chapman, who after the shooting waited for police nearby reading Catcher in the Rye, claiming the reason for his crime was “in the book”.

Site of John Lennon's murder (StreetView)
Site of John Lennon's murder

Fans of Lennon and the Beatles often visit Strawberry Fields, a memorial site established in Central Park near his home and murder site. It is a peaceful place for fans to pay respects to Lennon and enjoy tribute music played by talented fans and musicians.

Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial) (StreetView)
Strawberry Fields (John Lennon memorial)

Unfortunately, there are many more places to visit if you’re interested in seeing the darker side of society, but these are some of the more popular, and more famous, crime scenes in American history. Have fun, and watch your back!

Everyone Should Visit the Emerald City

Seattle, known as the Emerald City, is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest and a dynamic, vibrant and growing city. It is a major business hub; Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, Nordstrom, and Costco all have their headquarters in or near the city.  It has long been a center for the American jazz scene, the start of the grunge music scene, as well as a huge sports city, with successful NFL and MLB franchises.

Seattle has a unique history, culture, and economy, and it all comes together in an amazing blend that is entertaining and fulfilling for residents and tourists alike.

If you’re lucky enough to visit Seattle, be sure to check out these places!

Seattle skyline view from Kerry Park (StreetView)
Seattle skyline view from Kerry Park

Space Needle

Seattle’s most famous site, the Space Needle was built in 1962 when the city hosted the World’s Fair. It is over 600 feet tall and serves as an observation tower.

Seattle Space Needle (Birds Eye)
Seattle Space Needle

It has an observation deck at the top, as well as a rotating restaurant so diners can have a full view of the city. Renovations due to be complete in mid-2018 will include a glass floor so diners can even enjoy the view below them!

Space Needle (StreetView)
Space Needle

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market is over 110 years old, and is Seattle’s top tourist site. It is a fully functioning farmers market, with produce, meats, seafood and other food, as well as artisan crafts and wares for sale, entertainment always on hand, and a fun atmosphere for everyone who visits.

Pike Place Market Sign (StreetView)
Pike Place Market Sign

It is particularly famous for the fishmongers who have a reputation for throwing large fish across counters rather than walking around the stalls with their wares, keeping business moving and entertaining the customers at the same time.

Pike Place Market (Birds Eye)
Pike Place Market

First Starbucks

Baseball and apple pie may be America’s past time and favorite food, but coffee, and Starbucks coffee at that, is possibly America’s favorite, and most famous beverage. The green logo is an internationally recognized symbol, and it all started in Seattle.

It was founded in 1971, and moved locations in 1976 within the Pike Place Market. The storefront has not changed since that time, and is so famous and important to Seattle that it is now officially historically significant to the city.

Anyone can stop by this place credited for the resurgence of good coffee and the establishment of the coffee culture in the United States.

First Starbucks (Google Maps)
First Starbucks

Safeco Field

Whether you’re a huge baseball fan or just a curious tourist, stop by Safeco Field in the summer to catch the Mariners play a home game. The stadium has a unique design, with a retractable “umbrella” roof that covers the field and players while leaving the sides open to allow the team to play outside even in the rain. That’s a perfect stadium for “Rain City”.

Safeco Field (StreetView)
Safeco Field

Seattle Public Library

All libraries are institutions of knowledge and learning on the inside, but some like Seattle’s Central Library are also breathtaking marvels of architecture and design on the outside.

Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas (Birds Eye)
Seattle Public Library by Rem Koolhaas

It is an 11 story structure of steel and glass, with “floating platforms” that extend beyond the floors below them. Tours of the architecture and design are available, or visitors can walk through the halls, quietly of course, on their own.

'Seattle Central Library' by Rem Koolhaas (StreetView)
'Seattle Central Library' by Rem Koolhaas

Mt. Rainier

Visible from Seattle on a clear day, and about an hour south of the city is Mt. Rainier, an active, and potentially deadly,  mountain volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. Because of the significant amount of ice on the mountain, if it were to erupt, it would pose a grave threat to the Seattle metropolitan area.

But that doesn’t deter visitors from flocking to the mountain to appreciate the glaciers and snow capped peak, as well as the amazing hiking the mountain provides. It takes about two days to summit the mountain, and only about half of those who start the hike complete it successfully. But even if you don’t climb, you can enjoy the mountain from whatever vantage point you select.

Mount Ranier (StreetView)
Mount Ranier

Seattle is a fabulous place to visit, and is easily accessible with the SeaTac Airport close by. So, take some time to plan a trip to this energetic, unique and growing city.

Whether you’re there for a few days or few weeks, you’ll find so much to see and enjoy, you’ll be planning your next trip before you leave!

Romantic Cities Around the World

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.

Jishu 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.

MLB Stadiums You Have to Visit

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!

Five Presidents Who Changed the Presidency

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.

Notorious Prisons

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.