30/04/13

TARRAGONA (Laborde, 1806)

This work of art is an etched engraving that portrays the Sinking of a rock in the port of Tarragona, in presence of T.C.M. on the 12th November 1802 (full name of the picture). It is included in “Voyage Pittoresque et Historique de L´Espagne” (París 1806) by Alexandre de Laborde (1773-1842). Actually, Ligier drew the picture and Dequevauviller was the engraver. This work is a version of Antonio Rodríguez and José Vázquez’s work in 1805. Laborde was a French liberal politician and writer. Furthermore, he was made count by Napoleon during his Empire, and after that, Laborde’s father made him Marquis de Laborde during the Bourbon Restoration. This work, whose first volume deals with Catalonia, had a first edition in Spanish published in Madrid by the Royal Printing House in 1806. Besides, it was a limited edition and disappeared very soon. It portrays Tarragona’s port and the sinking of a rock that was going to be thrown into the sea.

The ancient city of Tarraco, lies on a promontory, facing the Mediterranean Sea, next to the mouth of river Francolí. The fact that it is situated on the Mediterranean seashore makes it even more important because in the beginning, it is believed that the Scipios founded the city, and after them Tarraco was established by the Romans in the II century b C. In fact, it was the first Roman military foundation outside the Italic Peninsula. Thanks to it, the access to the rest of what is now called Spain was easier at that time. The orography of Tarragona’s land and the presence of a natural cliff influenced its morphology from the very beginning. It was a good place to defend and a bad one to attack.

The picture shows the construction of the modern port of Tarragona. The project had started quite a few years ago but it lasted for more than two hundred years. Towards the end of the XIX century, building outside the wall was allowed, so the city grew bigger. At the time of the picture, Tarragona was an ecclesiastical and military centre negatively influenced by the Segadors and Succession Wars. The main groups in the city were nobility and clergy, whereas the bourgeoisie was marginalized.

We can divide Tarragona into three parts, each one with a different morphology; that is to say, the ancient part or historic centre is regular, inherited from the Roman grid urbanism. The Imperial Tarraco square, which is radiocentric, and the city expansion, consists of a regular plan. We can see that a lot of people attended the throwing of the rock, including King Charles IV and María Luisa of Parma. The rock throwing was a representation of all the work that was being done in the port.

It is important to take into account that Tarragona played a very important role from the time of its origins as a Roman foundation, because of the first settlements in Spain by the sea. Furthermore we also have to remember that now is considered a World Heritage since 2000 thanks to the archeological site. That is why although going through many conflicts and wars; today we can still appreciate all its beauty and magnificence.

Deli Moltó Navarro

26/04/13

NAPLES (Caspar Van Wittel, 1700-1710)


The painting which is got to be analyzed belongs to the city of Naples. It was made by Gaspar Van Wittle between 1700 and 1710. Van Wittle (1653-1736) was a Dutch painter who was born in the Nederlands but his family settled in Rome and he lived in this city almost all his life. There was a period of his life in which he travelled all around Italy, and it was in this period when he painted the picture that we are analyzing. The image represents the port of Naples and owns to a private collection but it has been recently exposed in an exhibition named Painted Architectures in the Thyssen Museum in Madrid.

The city of Naples is the reference of the region of Campania where the landscape is mixed of history and culture. Naples was founded by the Greeks in the VII century BC and became one of the most important cities of the Magna Greece. It was very important because of its historical progress and the city reaches its peak in 1442 under the Aragon’s domination. It is important to say that Naples is the fourth most important Italian city due to its economic strength that is focused on tourism,  trade and agriculture. Despite this, in the era when the picture was done, the economy was based on shipbuilding. Nowadays other sectors with a high importance are manufacturing and food industry too. The city is lying between two notable volcanic regions, the Mount Vesuvius and the Campy Flegrei, so it might be really dangerous if one of them erupts. In spite of this this fact the city was placed in this area due to the soil fertility induced by the volcanos.

This picture shows the city of Naples from the perspective of the port so the core topic of the representation is the activity which takes place there. If you look at the center of the picture you can see how a long and narrow street enters into the city between a number of buildings. Other elements that we can see at first glance are some monuments that were constructed in the medieval era and still stand today. Concerning the structure of the city, it is divided into two differentiated areas. On the one hand we have the Old Town. The spatial distribution of the houses and the streets in this area is irregular, probably because the buildings were placed spontaneously as the inhabitants settled there. On the other hand we have the newest area of the city which has a more regular layout due to a better urban planning.

The first building we can see just behind the port is the Castel Nuovo that was finally named as Maschio Angiano. Other significant buildings are the Castel dell’Ovo which is the symbol of the city, the Royal Palace Reale, the Castel Sant´Elmo and the Archeological Museum where there are Greco-Roman testimonies and objects from the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii. If we walk along the first street situated in front of the Castel Nuovo, that is named via Toledo, we arrive to the historical center of the city. This part of city has a Greco-Roman urban layout divided in three long streets named decumani that are cut at right angles with other streets named cardini. In the main crossing it is situated the Piazza del Mercato that can be considered as a Central Business District because in there all the activities of the city take place both in the past and nowadays.

It is important to note that in the city underground there are many caverns and galleries that were excavated by the Greeks to extract building materials. Now these galleries can be visited in excursions organized by the Archeological Museum. One important factor in the city is the role of religion so a lot of churches were built from the Medieval Era such as Santa Maria and the basilica of San Francisco de Paula which was created by the Bourbon king Ferdinand I. This king also ordered to build the Palazzo della Prefettura which was the place to lodge the foreigners who visited the Bourbon court.

Ana Isabel Morilla Leiva

Fernando García Moreno

 

 

23/04/13

LONDON (19th century)

This picture portrays one of the most important places in London: Trafalgar Square. This image was made in 1890; by this time Britain had become the world´s first industrial society. Although the author of this picture is unknown, I have found it in a website about old pictures of important cities in Europe. Nowadays, this drawing is used for decorating house walls. Moreover, it is a good portray because it focuses on the historical monuments and social activities during the end of the 19th century in London.

Trafalgar Square, which was designed in 1825 and it was finished in 1845, is located in the East of the City of Westminster and bordered on all sides by other conservation areas. The City of Westminster appeared in the 11th century, when King Edward the Confessor began the construction of an Abbey at Westminster. Between the river and the Abbey he built a palace too, which is the seat of the Government. For centuries, the City of Westminster and the City of London were geographically quite distinct, until the 19th   century when it was a big urban sprawl. The present-day City of Westminster as an administrative entity with its present boundaries dates from 1965, when the City of Westminster was created from three metropolitan boroughs: St Marylebone, Paddington, and the smaller Metropolitan Borough of Westminster, which included Soho, St. James’s, The Strand, Westminster, Hyde Park… This re-structuring had the main purpose of reducing the number of local government districts in London. This borough has both shopping areas like Oxford Street and Regent Street as important cultural monuments like Piccadilly Circus, Westminster City Council and Trafalgar Square.

This image shows very important monuments of London such as the National Gallery, Nelson´s Column, St. Martin in the Fields Church and other elements located on this place. Despite London being the world´s first industrial society in 1890, there was a lot of poverty downtown whereas rich people usually lived in suburbs outside the city walls. Rich people usually went to Trafalgar Square for shopping and cultural activities so this square turned into the commercial and cultural centre of London. That is why the streets, which lead up to the square, are wide and also have a bustling activity. Moreover, one of the streets that leads up to the Square, Charing Cross, has had an important train station since 1864. As a consequence, Trafalgar square and this street had a great economic activity in 1890, because they received a great amount of tourists and people who travelled from one place to another and slept near the station. Therefore, this zone had a lot of shops, restaurants, hostels and carriages which worked like taxis too. Despite the fact that Trafalgar square is rectangular; the town planning in the surrounding area is irregular; especially this part, because it is one of the oldest areas in London, which grew around the Thames´s banks. This river and the city wall have protected London from invasions until its destruction.

The two most famous landmarks in this square are the National Gallery and Nelson´s Column. Firstly, the central part of the picture is the Nelson Column which was designed by William Railton at a cost of £47,000. Its construction finished in 1843 but the four bronze lions on the base were added in 1867 and they were designed by Sir Edwin Landseer. The column also had a symbolic importance for Adolf Hitler; that is why if Hitler’s plan to invade Britain (Operation Sea Lion) had been successful, he would have planned to move the column to Berlin. Secondly, in the background of the picture we can find The National Gallery; this is the first art museum in London and it is the fourth most visited art museum in the world. This museum keeps a big amount of European paintings from 1250 to 1900.

Besides that, in the North-East corner of Trafalgar Square we can see St. Martin in the Fields Church, which, since its first construction in the 13th century, has had a lot of changes. The church is rectangular in plan, with the five-bay nave divided from the aisles by arcades of Corinthian columns, it has a beautiful vaulted ceiling too. St. Martin in the Fields Church has a proud history of hosting some of London’s best live classical music events as well as being an Anglicanism symbol, the main religion in Britain since the 16th century. Finally, other important elements here are the fountains and the statues around the square. The two fountains, which were planned when the square was laid out in 1840, were not aesthetic. These fountains were bought by the Government of Canada; when they were replaced by others designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Also, the square has many statues of famous people such as Edward Jenner, who discovered “the vaccination”; the Major-General Sir Henry Havelock and George Washington.

It is curious to note that Trafalgar Square was once famous for its feral pigeons, and feeding them was a popular activity; but then authorities forbid it for sanity problems; thus today, there are few birds in Trafalgar Square. Nowadays, Trafalgar Square is used for political demonstrations, sports events and a Christmas ceremony which takes place here every year since 1947. To conclude, I wanted to highlight with this writing the importance of Trafalgar Square in the economic and social activities over the years.

Esperanza del Val Benítez

 

22/04/13

WASHINGTON D.C. (John L. Trout, 1901)

This picture is an areal view of Washington that was painted by John L. Trout in 1901. This piece of art is placed at the Library of Congress in the Geography and Maps Division. The style of the picture is interesting because of the green, red, blue and white tonnes that facilitate the recognition of the main elements of the city. Beside this, it was painted in watercolours and gouache which is a type of opaque watercolour and then it was decorated with a wood frame and golden paper. As it can be seen, this painting portrays the city of Washington during the 20th century with its main elements like the Capitol, The White House, The Washington Monument, and the Library of Congress.

George Washington founded the city of Washington D.C. in 1791 with the idea of a new Capital for the United States, where ancient Greek and Roman democratic ideas were presented. Years later, in 1871, as a result of Washington D.C. growth, the Congress established that George Town was going to be incorporated to Washington City. George Town is placed in the top left of the image and it is possible to appreciate some details of St. John’s Church, designed by Benjamin Henry Latrobe.

Washington City is next to Maryland and Virginia states. This city goes through the Potomac and Anacostia’s river shore, which had an important role in George Washington decision of where to place the city, because these rivers were an ancient way of transport and their shores produced fertile lands. The town planning was designed by Pierre L’Enfant, who had the idea of a grand European style capital. Big avenues crossing important monuments were thought to be the main points of the town planning. However, the cost of this planning was very high and, therefore, the Government decided to stop the works. Before this, the city started to grew uncontrollably until 1901 when the ideas of L’Enfant where took into a count again.

In the picture it can be distinguished a regular and radio centric planning as it can be appreciated in the situation of the main streets across the Capitol. It was a proposal of George Washington, who wanted a classical town planning based on a monumental conception, big avenues, parks and with the main streets going across the most important buildings like the Capitol and the White House. The main streets were thought to improve the access and the movements of pedestrians. Consequently, they were straight, wide and with lots of crossroads. Some examples are: Pennsylvania Avenue, Maryland Avenue, South Capitol Street, New Jersey Avenue, East Capitol Street and North Capitol Street.

Regarding the monuments in the scene we can distinguish the following.

On the right side we can see the Capitol, which is one of the most important buildings of the U.S history. The Capitol was ordered to build by George Washington in 1793 because he wanted that the Congress and Senate were together in one building. In 1800 the Senate wing was finished and fourteen years later, during the Anglo – American War, the British burned the Capitol and other monuments. After this event the Capitol was rebuilt and redesigned by Benjamin Henry Latrobe. Nevertheless, in 1850 it was necessary to enlarge this building due to the increasing number of Congressmen and Federal States. It was completely restored in 1868. The style of the Capitol is Neoclassical as it can be seen in the varied use of columns, arcs, vaults and straight windows. Inside the Capitol there is a fresco entitled The Apotheosis of George Washington that is behind the vault and shows the president´s ascension to the sky.

The White house was started to be built in 1792 and in 1800 President John Adams moved there with his wife. Then, in 1814, the British burned it. After this, it was restored in 1817 in the presidency of James Monroe. The White House has been rebuilt many times, starting in 1902 with the presidency of Roosevelt and finishing in 1952 with the presidency of Harry S. Truman. The style of the architecture is the same as the Capitol. Both have a Neoclassical style as it can be seen in their elements. The porticos on the entrance and the background were built during 1824 and 1828, and have four and six columns, respectively.

The Library of Congress was established in 1800 inside the Capitol for the Congressmen but unfortunately the British burned it in 1814 and all the books were lost. Although President Thomas Jefferson was retired, he donated his own personal library to the Congress Library one month later. Seventy-two years later, in 1886, the Congress authorized the construction of a library outside the Capitol with an Italian Renaissance style in the outside. In the inside the architect Edward Pearce Casey, with the support of forty-two sculptors and painters, decorated the library imitating the Paris Opera House, with marble, ionic columns, and sculptures.

To conclude, I want to highlight that during the 20th century Washington City suffered an increase of its population, even when the World War two was taking place. However, when the War finished a big migration from other cities to Washington suburbs took place.

Diego Guzmán Medrano.

21/04/13

NEW YORK (Hughson Hawley, 1910)

This picture portrays the city of New York in the beginning of the 20th century, shown from the location of Pennsylvania Station. The author of the picture is Hughson Hawley who was born in England in 1850. He had a prodigious 50 years career that spanned one of the great eras in American architecture, from the construction of the first tall buildings in New York City until the onset of the Great Depression.

The end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century was a period of big changes for New York. First of all, in 1863 it took place the worst civil revolt of the North American history. When the revolt finished the rate of immigration from Europe increased and New York became the first destiny for millions of people who looked for a new and better life in the United States. In 1898 the city was divided in the five boroughs in which the city is divided nowadays. Later on, in the first half of the 20th century the city became a world center of industry, trade and communications.

In the image we can see many different elements of the city of New York like Pennsylvania Station, Time Square District with the New York Times Tower, the Hudson river, etc. We can also appreciate the characteristic town planning of the city which is regular. This plan is the most common in big cities and it is similar to the urban layout that the Greek and Roman cities had. It uses parallel and perpendicular streets in order to facilitate the flow of traffic and this is the reason why they used  as a source of inspiration for the urban extension of the cities during the industrial revolution in the 19th century.

In the foreground we can see the Hudson river passing through the city. This river starts in the Adirondack Mountains and reachs the Atlantic Ocean at New York, establishing the fringe between the states of New York and New Jersey. In the top of the picture the Time Square District is situated. It was the center of entertainment industry due to all the construction that took place in that area during this century, as cinemas, theatres, luxury hotels, etc. Nowadays Time Square is still one of the most important economical areas of New York. Inside Time Square District, the New York Time Tower is located. That tower was the second highest building of New York in that period with 110 meters of height; the arrival of the New Year was announced on it every 31st of December. It was used by the company of the newspaper The New York Times till 1913 when the diary inaugurated a new block of offices, leaving the New York Time Tower in a second place. However it is one of the most important buildings of that period and one of the first skyscrapers built in New York.

In the bottom left corner we can find Pennsylvania Station, as it looked in that period. That station received a lot of passengers that came from the other side of the Hudson river. The original Pennsylvania Station in New York City was a vast structure that occupied two whole city blocks. Inside the station there were enormous corridors with big vaults of iron covering the routes and accesses to the platforms, monumental stairs, an immense hall built as the frigidarium of the roman thermal baths, columns of Corinthian style and large windows at the top of the building. The boundaries surrounding the structure were 31st and 34th Streets, between 7th and 8th Avenues. It was designed by the architect “Charles McKim” in 1910. Afterwards, around the 1960, it was leveled, and replaced by Madison Square Garden, due to the economical problems that the architect had. The demolition of this building was an important loss for the architecture of New York.

Paula Martínez Feito

 

20/04/13

EDINBURGH (19th century)

The city represented in this picture is Edinburgh in the 19th century; we can observe the principal street of the city, Princess Street. It is hand water colored print of the city engraved by Dosso. The picture is offered to the public in La Galerie Napoleon, a Parisian antique dealer specialized in antique prints.

The first knowledge about the settlements in Edinburgh is in the roman era (there are metallic objects and ceramic of the late first century). Edinburgh was not the capital of Scotland until the end of the middle Ages; before that, the capital was in the place where the King and his court were. In the Middle Age, Edinburgh began as a small fort but in the 18th century, the Englishmen arrested it and called Einden´s burgh (burgh is a word that formerly meaning strong). Finally in the 10th century the Scottish recover this part of Scotland. At the end of the 11th century, Malcolm III built the castle in Castle Rock and built a small village around it. In that century there is knowledge about Edinburgh being a true hamlet, which its main activity was trade. In this era, friars also appeared. They could go out of the monastery for working or other tasks, always entrusted it by their supervisor. In Edinburgh there were two orders, the Dominicans (with black clothes) and the Augustinians (with grey clothes). Both lived in the South part of Edinburgh.

In the 15th century Edinburgh was declared capital of Scotland and the King built the first Palace of Holy rood. In the 16th century the Flooden Wall began to be built, this was the wall that surrounded the city with the intention of protecting it from the English. There was a problem, the city had a big wall but also a big population, so the only way to build the city was using height. In 1767 the planning of the New Town began, in this epoch monuments were erected like Calton Hill, The National Gallery, and the Walter Scott monument.

The picture represents the main street, Princess Street; it starts in Waterloo Place and finishes in the West End. This street was built in the 18th century, during the reign of George III, and divides the city in two parts, the Old town and the New town. We can observe in the left of the picture some beautiful gardens, but before this, that area was the most important loch in Edinburgh, the Nor Loch.

This loch, at the beginning was a marsh, and it was used like a natural defense for the city and the castle. Edinburgh had the North and the West part protected, and only walls were required at the South and the East part. Then the North Loch started to get dry and in 1820 the Princess Street Gardens were inaugurated. Nowadays the gardens are the most important park in Edinburgh. These gardens also divide the Old Town and the New Town. In this part we can also observe the castle; it was the first fortress for protecting the city. Under the castle we see the National Gallery; in this moment it was in construction. In the middle of the picture we can observe the Scott monument (it was inaugurated in 1846). It is a Gothic building in honor of the Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott. The builder was George Meikle Kemp, he was joiner and draftsman and self-taught architect. The monument has a black color with a sinister aspect. The big Gothic spire is decorated with 64 characters of their novels. Finally at the right side of the picture we can observe different people walking through Princess Street, the principal street that divides the Old and the New Town. We can also see transports like carriage; it was the principal way of transport of the middle class.

In the 14th century trade began to increase. Edinburgh began to be famous for its clothes of wool. The export of skin besides started in the Leith port, the cattle was sold in Cowgate and the cereals and wheat were exchanged in Grassmarket. With the New town, the population of Edinburgh grew because Scotland began to have a political and religious activity, and a big economic development. The entire city was built around the Castle. Nowadays with the big population the Castle is not in the middle, but it still is the main structure. In the old part the streets do not have a regular structure, but in the new part everything is built in an orthogonal way. That is why we find a regular and lineal structure in all the streets.

Esther Rodríguez-Rabadán Mateos-Aparicio

 

19/04/13

ANTWERP (H. Cock, 1557)

This work of art belongs to a collection of Stedelijk Prentenkabinet. It represents theurban planning of Antwerp and it surroundings. The painter is H. Cock (1518-1570), as his signature in the bottom right margin points out: “H. Cock”. He was born in Antwerp, the city where he founded his own publishing house. He also included the exact year when he elaborated the painting (1557). It is exposed in the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, as part of an exhibition of old engravings and drawings. The core of the collection of the print is aimed at Antwerp artists from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century.

The city of Antwerp is located in the North of Belgium. The legend says that the city is named after the expression “hand werpen”; this expression comes from a story of a knight called Bravo, who after killing Antigone, he threw his hand to the river. However, the truth is that this name is a deformation of the word “aanwerp” that means piece of land that was thrown or sharp arrow that points to the Scheldt River.

This city became eventually a wonderful place as a dock. Due to the fact that Antwerp is located in the estuary sealable of the Scheldt River at about 80 kilometers of the open sea, it has a wide range of communication possibilities and its geographical position makes it ideal for trading. The area near the Steen constitutes the old part of the city. The city started to have an abrupt growth around the dock and since then it has continued to expand.However, Antwerp had a limited growth due to the river and the city wall. The urban planning of the city is a mixturebetween irregular and radial because they did not think about the best suitable disposition of the buildings. This is a good example of how cities are considered living organisms. As a consequence of the unplanned distribution and thoughtless growth Antwerp has this irregular blueprint.

In the engraving we can also appreciate some of the most important buildings in that era such as Het Steen, Onze Lieve Vrouwe, Sint-Jacobskerk or Sint-Pauluskerk. The first one is Het Steen, which is the origin of the settlement. It is a fortress built by a German emperor in the 10th century. Later on, a Flemish Duke conquered this fortification and improved the conditions for the economic development of the city. The Gothic cathedral of Antwerp is located in the center of the old town and was built in 1352 by Jan and Pieter Appelmans. It became the most emblematic religious building of the city. A singular characteristic of the cathedral is that one of the towers is smaller than the other one due to the fact that the builders ran out of budget.

Other significant religious constructions are Sint-Jacobskerk and Sint-Pauluskerk. Sint-Jacobskerk is a church built between 1491 and 1656 in Gothic style although the architectural tendency was Baroque in that time. It is because the architects followed the original design in the exterior; however the interior was decorated in Baroque style. On the other hand Sint-Pauluskerk is located in the old town of the city near to the sailor neighborhood. This Gothic church was built in 1517 nonetheless the door and the tower which was constructing in Baroque style. This was because a big fire destroyed part of the church.

Concerning the social economic functions of this city during Early Modern Times there are two significant spaces. One is the Grote Markt, a triangular square located in the old city center in which you can admire the magnificent buildings that surround it. The other is Vleeshuis, which is located in the old town near the Het Steen and it was founded in 1504. This Gothic building stands out by stepped façade in red brick and white sandstone.  It was the old Butchers Guild Hall during three centuries and it also functioned as a meat markert where butchers sold their products.

In 1500 Antwerp was one of the great metropolis of Western Europe and the third biggest city after Paris in the North of the Alps. This happened because, while the rest of Belgium was focused on the textile industry, Antwerp was gradually developing a more varied market. The city became an indispensable place for the Portuguese, who had discovered the route to India, and needed big quantities of copper and silver for the commercial exchange with Africa and India. The population increased dramatically; 60.000 new dwellers in only 50 years. The city was one of the most cosmopolitan of this period and foreigners constituted up to 10% of the population. The city also grew up and became a financial center, where diamond cutting and jewelry manufacturing took place. In the next century science, arts, techniques and humanism had their golden period.

To conclude, nowadays Antwerp is the main center of diamond trade and the second most important European port. In the sixteenth century it obtained the tittle of “Commercial Metropolis” of Occident. In the seventeenth century it was considered as “City of Arts” thanks to artists as Rubens, Van Dijck or Jordaens. History teaches us that the economic development is linked to the development of the culture.

Elena Bermúdez

18/04/13

WASHINGTON ( Edward Sachse, 1852)

This work of art is “View of Washington DC”, which displayed a panoramic view of the city of Washington focusing on architecture and American social life in 1852. The artist who produced this lithograph is Edward Sachse (1804-1873), who was born in Germany, the country where he specialized in printmaking, graphic design, topography and cartography. In 1848, E. Sachse moved to United States where he designed many works that portray some of the most important places of the country.

 Washington D.C, officially called District of Columbia, was founded on July 16th 1790 by the Congress of the United States with the aim of being a place to meet and transact the business of government. They decided to build it there because due to the Potomac River watershed, it was going to be a good place for trade. In this way, few years later they decided that the capital was going to be established there. The president hired the French architect Pierre L’Enfante to design a glorious capital like Paris.

This picture shows a part of the federal capital of the United States with a variety of colors. This colorfulness enables us to differentiate the diverse parts that make up this area as the built zone, the river, the big green area and the hill. In this last one, we find the main monument, the Capitol. In this last part, we can also appreciate the inhabitants’ activities, above all the rich and the middle classes who were dedicated to those activities that required a certain level of education, and therefore they had access to the best services and resources.

 Thus, Washington D.C is divided into quadrants which center is the Capitol, monument that is the main focus of the painting. The Capitol, located higher than the rest, was built by the architect Charles Walter and General Montgomery Meigs. This important building is made up of a central area called “Rotonda”. The Rotonda, which is formed by a huge dome and galleries, is a ceremonial space where, from the time of Abraham Lincoln, are effected state funerals for Presidents, members of Congress, military heroes and other prominent citizens. Furthermore, The Capitol is formed by two side buildings. The right part corresponds to the Senate, and the left part to the House of Representatives. On The Capitol, Congress meets to draft laws of the nation. It is also where presidents take office and they pronounced his speeches about the state of the Union. During more than two centuries, the Capitol has grown and new wings have been built because of the addition of new states.

 Taking a look at the image, if we go down the hill we find the National Mall, a principal avenue that separates the area in two parts. On both sides of the National Mall we find a green area full of trees and open spaces where workers took the opportunity to relax and sunbathe. Next to the green areas, we find a zone of buildings which layout is regular and dispersed in the left and irregular and concentrated in the right. Finally, if we focus on the area of the left, we appreciate the Washington Monument, which is a 169 meters obelisk that was built by Robert Mills, and the Potomac River. The latter is used economically as potable water supply, trade zone or area of battle and as a means of communication between the different peoples who dwell along it.

If we compare this picture with the view that we can see nowadays, we appreciate some differences. For example, the National Mall has shifted to the left so nowadays it lies just between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. One of the reasons that have caused this is the disappearance of the river channel that was surrounding the monument. Furthermore nowadays, bordering the National Mall, the largest museum complex in the world (the Smithsonian Institution) is located. Another difference is the increase of human elements, that is, the construction of parallel roads and buildings, which are arranged with an open weave and a regular layout in the area.

Currently, the federal capital is a highly political and residential center. All economic activities revolve around the administration, diplomacy and trade. This is because it contains the headquarters of several international financial and political organizations. It is also a major center of touristic activities due to the great amount of museums and famous monuments that it has. That is why there are tourists and business people throughout all the year.

Inés Bergad Granados

17/04/13

SAN FRANCISCO (Thomas Kinkade, 2006)

This work of art portrays San Francisco . The city of San Francisco is in the West coast of the United States, to the North of California. It represents one of the best views of the city. This type of painting focused its attention on urban life. The painter of this image is Thomas Kinkade “Painter of light”. The painter displayed simple pleasures and inspirational messages through his art.

This image shows a golden night in San Francisco, the glow of sunset. The city is not foggy ,in spite of that  its  climate is Mediterranean, that means that  winters are wet and summers are dry . This image represents a  warm summer night, although usually  the nights are cold.  As a consequence of this climate there are many trees in the city. In the background we  can see Alcatraz. It was a  military prison in 1868 and  in 1933 it became a a federal prison until 1963.   In the foreground we can see  Lombard; it is  one of the most famous streets in the world. It was Guinness Record  because it is the most crooked street in the world.  At the bottom right side the San Francisco Bay and the Fisherman Wharf is shown . We can also see that  there are  public transports, for example  the streetcars that  are very useful. The cable cars of San Francisco, with 135 years of service, are  not just a tourist attraction but an icon of the city.

Every street is quirky and the hills are long and steep, this city is made up of different neighborhoods however one of the most visited is Chinatown. Regarding neighborhoods and streets, some of the most wealthy neighborhoods in San Francisco are Nob Hill and Lombard Street. There is where the upper class families and a sector of the young urban population.They have money and beautifull houses, as in the  picture. Another neighborhood is Chinatown, there is where the Chinese people live.San Francisco is known for its high standard of living. Finally, another important street is Castro Street; It  is named after José Castro, a Mexican gobernor of Alta California. The Castro rose to fame as a gay center following the controversial “Summer of Love”.

This city has regular structure  with wide fairways and large hills.  The map of the city shows a regular distribution with rectangular blocks and regular intersection.This is easy for the division of the city,however It has the disadvantage of poor visibility for traffic on the intersections.Also the streets have high slope of the topography is rugged. The buildings that we can appreciate in the foreground of the  picture  are from rich people with good cars. In the background we can see more modest buildings, among them we can see skyscrapers and usual buildings like office or apartments. In the Fisherman Wharf there are many restaurants with different types of fish.

Regarding with the economy is based in the high technology and entrepreneurship continue to be a key part of the economy of this city.To conclude San Francisco is a city dedicated to tourism with a great economical activity.

Marta Porras Almodóvar

 

16/04/13

LONDON (16th Century)

This is an anonymous engraving of the city of London, located in King William Street, which represents the city in the 16th century. We can observe the old London Bridge, in which there are a large concentration of houses and shops. The image also highlights the Southwark Cathedral and many other churches. Nowadays, the old bridge has disappeared and has been replaced.

The city of London is located in the South East side of United Kingdom, seated near the river Thames. It was founded by the Romans 2000 years ago; they named it Londinium. This city with its harbor was an important population center with about 50,000 inhabitants during the Roman period. Around the city, the London wall was built. It was a defensive wall strategically placed where the river Thames is. The River Thames was the most important means of transport in the city, as a consequence of that the trade grew; allowing a further evolution and growth of population density. Due to the oceanic climate of London and the low speed of the water in the river (because it had many pillars), the river froze on several occasions, making transport and trade difficult.

The River Thames divided London into two main areas. In the North área there was Londinium where most of the churches were situated. In the South area, there was the suburb where were all the taverns, brothels and theaters. Here lived the poor people in low conditions. In the Middle Ages London had an irregular morphology. The central streets were surrounded by important buildings and some markets were installed in the back streets. The city was divided into neighborhoods which were distinguished according to the origin or the social classes. The important and wealthy people were located in the center of the city while the commoners lived in the surrounding area. In this time religion was very important, so there were many churches and cathedrals.

In London, most of the constructions were made up of wood following the Norman style. A terrible fire on September 2, 1666 destroyed the old city of London that was inside the city wall. It was a big tragedy because it knocked down many houses, churches and important buildings as the town hall. To rebuild the city, the changing needs of the population were taken into account and the new buildings were no longer made up of Wood. They were made out of brick or tile, to avoid problems such as the fire.

The economy of London was based on trade, politics, and industry. Thanks to its location next to the Thames river, trade could be developed, allowing to import and export products and goods. The industry, in particular the textile one, made the city grow and increase the number of inhabitants. Politically, it was also very important in that time. An example of it was the agreement of London (1604), signed in this city between Spain and London, which finished the Anglo-Spanish war.

In the picture we can see some important monuments such as the London Bridge. The bridge was built out of wood in the year 46. It was burned down by the King Ethelred to avoid a possible invasion of the Danes. It was rebuilt, but in 1091 it was destroyed again by a storm and in 1136 by another fire. In 1572, the bridge was rebuilt in stone and in the middle many homes, shops and a chapel were built. The current London Bridge was built between the years 1967 and 1972 and it was finally opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973.

Ana Isabel Carralero Marín.