Rock in The House, Fountain City

On April 24, 1995, a 55-ton boulder rolled down a hill and crashed into the bedroom of the house of Maxine and Dwight Anderson at 440 North Shore Drive in Fountain City, Wisconsin. No one was killed or injured, but Maxine had just finished remodeling the house and moments ago was in the very bedroom photographing it. Shaken by the incident, the Anderson’s sold the house and moved out within a month.

The house’s new owner, John Burt, a real estate investor, instead of restoring the house, renamed the property “Rock in the House,” hung a sign and turned it into a tourist attraction. Within the first six months some 12,000 people is said to have visited the attraction. The 16-foot tall disk shaped rock is still wedged on the back of the house. Splintered wood, dirt and debris lie scattered inside the bedroom and around the place.

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Photo credit: Tripadvisor.com

Historic Dollhouses Capture 300 Years of British Domestic Life

The National Building Museum in Washington DC has a new exhibit. On loan from the Victoria & Albert Museum of Childhood in London, this new exhibit called “Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse” is a collection of 12 historical dollhouses that offers a unique glimpse into British residential architecture and home decor for the past 300 years.

“The homes show developments in architecture and design, encompassing country mansions, the Georgian town house, suburban villas, newly-built council estates, and high-rise apartments. Many of the houses, their furniture and dolls have been specially conserved for the exhibition, with around 1,900 objects being restored over two years in the V&A Museum’s conservation department,” says the Museum’s website.

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Cuexcomate: A Dead Volcano You Can Climb Into

Located in the neighborhood of La Libertad, in the city of Puebla, Mexico, the sinter cone deposit of Cuexcomate has been mistakenly described as the “smallest volcano in the world” by the local population for centuries. It really is only an extinguished geyser, or perhaps a mud volcano (Cuexcomate is a Nahautl word for “mud pot”) believed to have formed by the bursts of magma and sulfuric water during the 1064 eruption of Popocatépetl, an active volcano and the second highest peak in Mexico. The volcanic eruption had likely activated geothermal spring circulation that burst through the Mesozoic limestone layers and deposited calcite and silicate compounds creating an enormous heap 43 feet tall and 75 feet across that looks very much like the cone of a small volcano.

The sinter cone is hollow and there is a 23-feet-wide opening at the top, through which a spiraling metal staircase was installed allowing tourists to descend into the excavated interior of the structure.

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Photo credit: sipse.com

Memorial to The Murdered Jews of Europe

One of the most impressive and controversial memorial to the Holocaust is located near Brandenburg Gate, in the Friedrichstadt neighborhood of Berlin. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, also known as the Holocaust Memorial, was designed by New York based architect Peter Eisenmann, and consist of a sea of 2,711 charcoal-colored concrete blocks called "stelae" laid out in a grid pattern over a 4.7 acre site of undulating ground. From a distance, the memorial site looks like a graveyard with the concrete steale resembling tombstones. The concrete blocks are not uniform in size and ranges in height from a mere eight inches to over fifteen feet tall. Visitors can enter from all four sides and lose themselves in the labyrinths of narrow paths between the concrete blocks. In the southeast corner of the site, located underground and accessible via two flights of stairs, is an Information Center that holds the names of approximately 3 million Jewish Holocaust victims.

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Photo credit: Bartek Kuzia/Flickr

Parque de Bombas: The Old Ponce Fire Station

One of Ponce’s most recognizable landmarks is Parque de Bombas, the city’s old firehouse building and now a firefighting museum. This brightly colored red and black candy striped building, located at the Plaza Las Delicias town square, directly behind the Ponce Cathedral, was Puerto Rico's first ever fire station.

The building was built in 1882, originally as the main exhibit pavilion dedicated to agricultural and industrial exhibits for the 1882 Exhibition Trade Fair. It was designed by a Spanish army officer, who also happened to be a professional architect. Made mostly out of wood, Parque de Bombas draws influence from Moorish and Gothic Victorian architecture, and consist of a large and open central space flanked by two lateral towers, two stories in height. The open space was used as garage facilities for the fire trucks, and the two towers as living quarters and exhibition areas. An elegant central two-sided stairway with elaborated cast iron railing leads to a mezzanine area used as administrative offices.

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Photo credit: Jose DeJesus/Flickr

The Skyscraper Without a Window

Standing at 33 Thomas Street in the Civic Center neighborhood of New York City is a 550-foot tall monolithic, granite-clad, concrete building. Even in a city like New York, where tall buildings are typical, people passing by would look up to gaze at this intimidating structure —their attention drawn not by the building’s height but by its fortress-like appearance. Aside from a couple of ventilation openings on the sides, the building’s bare concrete slab façade is without a single window.

The Long Lines Building is owned by the multinational telecom company AT&T, and is indeed an impenetrable fortress. When it was built in 1974, AT&T asked architect John Carl Warnecke to design a structure that could withstand a nuclear blast and protect its occupants from fallout for up to two weeks after the attack. Such concerns were not uncommon at that time, and AT&T wanted to be sure that their expensive equipment stayed undamaged.

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Photo credit: Wally Gobetz/Flickr

The Crooked House of Himley

The Crooked House, so called because of its lean, is a curious little attraction and a local watering hole located close to the village of Himley, which is about 4 miles west of Dudley, in South Staffordshire, England. One end of the house is four feet shorter than the other. The lost height went into Himley’s sinking ground, a side effect of decades of coal and iron ore mining in the area.

When the house was built in 1765, originally as a farmhouse, it stood erect as any normal building would. But as mining progressed, the land became unstable causing sections of the ground to collapse. Many buildings sank into the ground or moved, but the Crooked House moved more than the others.

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Photo credit: Chris Baker/Flickr

Hidden Poems on Boston’s Sidewalk Reveal When it Rains

For the last few months, Boston’s local artists have been spray painting poetry onto concrete sidewalks using biodegradable, water-repellent paint. When sunny and dry, the letters remain invisible. But when it rains, the sidewalk darkens and words appear.

The project is a collaboration between Mass Poetry, a nonprofit organization that supports poetry across the state, and the city of Boston, and was started in April to commemorate the start of this year’s National Poetry Month. The poems selected for installation are connected to Boston as well as to the general themes of water and rain. Some of the poets whose works has been featured so far include Langston Hughes, Gary Duehr, Barbara Helfgott Hyett, and Elizabeth McKim.

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The Fine Cave Paintings of Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave

Of all prehistoric cave paintings discovered in different parts of the world, the ones at Chauvet-Pont-d'Arc Cave in southern France deserve special mention. These paintings are significant for two factors: firstly, they exhibit exceptional aesthetic quality previously unseen in prehistoric paintings, such as the skillful use of shading, combinations of paint and engraving, anatomical precision, three-dimensionality and movement. Secondly, they are of great age. Radio carbon dating has put them in the Aurignacian period, approximately 30,000 to 32,000 years ago, making them the earliest-known and best-preserved examples of figurative drawings in the world.

The cave is located in a limestone plateau along the bank of the river Ardeche, near the commune of Vallon-Pont-d'Arc. Until its discovery in 1994, the cave had remained sealed off by a rock fall that occurred approximately 20,000 years ago. Chauvet is one of the few prehistoric painted caves that was found preserved and intact, right down to the footprints of animals and humans.

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John Hooper’s Public Art And Sculptures

Located in front of Barbour's General Store on King Street in downtown Saint John, in New Brunswick, Canada, is a set of eleven life-sized wood figures depicting people patiently waiting for something. One man buries his face at a newspaper. Another in trench coat, hands in pockets, lurks behind dark glasses. A bald gentlemen with a blond-haired child holds to a pinwheel while the child clutches a lollipop. Two guys chat on a motorcycle next to a lady. A woman sits on a bench, hands folded in her lap, as her child mischievously peeks over the back. An elderly man feeds a pigeon.

The sculptural pieces called “People Waiting” was made by English-born Canadian sculptor John Hooper back in 1977 for Canada Post, and originally stood in front of the Rothesay Avenue post office for 30 years. The sculptures were commissioned as part of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau's plan to grace government building with public art. But once the pieces started to weather, Canada Post did not wanted to pay for its upkeep. The city of Saint John then stepped in and paid the $15,000 needed for refurbishment. The statues were restored and relocated to its current site on King Street.

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Photo credit: Joe Schumacher/Flickr