Tuesday, September 19, 2017

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND: BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE ASSUMPTION OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY

Baltimore is just 32 miles north of Annapolis, but it's a world away in personality. Where Annapolis has a small town feel, Balitmore, population 620,000+, is definitely a big city. That's even evident in the churches. Baltimore has this humongous, far-from-humble church, not just a cathedral, but a basilica, and well-deserving of the designation. Even its name is haughty: The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (although it is known around town as simply "the Baltimore Basilica").


The Baltimore Basilica claims the title of "America's First Cathedral" because it was the first metropolitan cathedral constructed after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Construction began in 1806 and was finished in 1821. The architect of this Neoclassical church was none other than "The Father of American Architecture," Benjamin Latrobe, who had a hand in designing the U.S. Capitol. In 1937, Pope Pius XI raised the rank and stature of the Cathedral to a Minor Basilica.

Lots of clean, angular lines--none of those layers of saints and pointy Gothic arches here:

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND: AROUND TOWN AND ST. ANNE'S CHURCH

We couldn't find a parking space in downtown Annapolis near the State House, so we parked about a mile away. The good part about that was that we got to enjoy the beautiful scenery of Chesapeake Bay. The bad part is that it was about 100° and about 90% humidity.


As we got near to downtown Annapolis, it was a nice surprise to come upon this public art piece showing a man telling stories to three children:
That soda behind the girl on the right almost looks like it belongs there.

Then we learned that it's not just ANY man--it's Alex Haley, author of the epic saga Roots (1976), which became a record-breaking television miniseries in 1977. (By the way, did you know Haley also co-authored The Autobiography of Malcolm X? That came out in 1965.) Roots tells the story of six generations of Haley's own family. The Kunta Kinte - Alex Haley Memorial commemorates the arrival of Haley's ancestor and other slaves in this very harbor:

I had a flashback to the Kunta Kinte statue in Atlanta outside the Martin Luther King Museum, which shows Kunta Kinte holding aloft his baby daughter Kizzy, much like Mufasa holds up his newborn cub Simba in The Lion King.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND: THE STATE HOUSE

I'M SO CONFUSED. You know the building where the governor has his office? What is it called? "The Capitol," you say? Not in Maryland, and not in Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island, South Carolina, or Vermont. They all have State Houses.  And then there is Ohio, which, just to be difficult, has a Statehouse. Not to be outdone, Delaware has a Legislative Hall. Geesh.

The Maryland State House is not your typical capitol in spite of the columns out front and the long portico. There is a small, stacked dome rather than the typical massive white one. This building looks like it was built in a different era than most of the capitols we've seen, as indeed it was. Constructed in 1772, it is the oldest state house (and I'm assuming that means oldest capitol building too) in the nation still in legislative use. George Washington himself walked these halls. The treaty that ended the Revolutionary War was ratified here.  For nine months between November 26, 1783, and August 13, 1784, this building even served as the capitol building for the United States, so I guess they can call it what they want, right?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND: U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY

We hadn't done much exploration in Maryland other than a visit to Antietam in 2014. We have a goal to visit all the state capitals, so during our recent trip to NYC and DC, we made a trip east into Maryland to visit Annapolis.

Located about two-thirds the way up Chesapeake Bay, this capital city has a definite seaport vibe:

It's an ideal location for the United States Naval Academy, founded here in 1845. In addition to visiting state capitals, we also like to visit major universities, and so we thought we'd check out the USNA.


There was fairly heavy security for a college campus. We had to pass through a metal detector, have our bags checked, and get a name tag to be able to enter the campus. However, after that I was pleasantly surprised. The Naval Academy is really set up to be a tourist destination, complete with an excellent tour guide who leads visitors around campus. We started at the statue of the Navy's mascot, Bill the Goat. (I'm not kidding; that's his name.)
 
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