Sorry Vancouver, More Waterfalls in The Bronx

This post is the second part of a short series covering similarities between Vancouver, British Columbia and the Bronx — noted while I was vacationing there last summer. I introduced the series, through the remaining days of the 2010 Olympic Games only — here.

Vancouver’s waterfalls, the ones I spotted, were in the front yards of downtown office buildings. And they seemed to be everywhere.

The Bronx has several natural waterfalls. This is certainly not a well known feature of The Bronx landscape but certainly should be. I will go out on a limb to say that the Bronx has more waterfalls than any place in New York City. (Someone please correct me if I am wrong or conversely back me up if I am right). I ferreted out the waterfalls in the Bronx two summers ago and that post is still one of the top posts of this site.

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For Art Deco — The Gold Goes to The Bronx

This post is the first part of a short series covering similarities between Vancouver, British Columbia and the Bronx — noted while I was vacationing there last summer. I introduced the series, through the remaining days of the 2010 Olympic Games only — here.

This is a tough category for Vancouver to beat out the Bronx.
And it did not.
The Bronx has more examples of Art Deco and Art Moderne architecture than most cities on the planet. This has been chronicled a lot recently, here and here— as 2009 marked the 100th year of the Grand Concourse. In fact, the NYC Landmarks and Preservation Commission has turned its attention to designating a historic section of the Grand Concourse between 153rd and 167th streets.

So what does Vancouver have. Vancouver has the Marine Building which is the only remaining Art Deco skyscraper in the city. At one time, it was the tallest building in the entire British Empire and once owned by the Irish brewer Guinness. The Marine Building is easily noticed — it is red brick while the surrounding downtown buildings are glass. And the front entrance is completely adorned with seashells, ships, waves, various sea urchins — all aspects of a bustling port town such as Vancouver.  Regrettably, I did not go into the lobby, which is apparently decked out.  The “Vancouver” Rough Guide notes that builder J.W. Hobbs envisioned the lobby as a “27m-long ‘Grand Concourse’ adorned in the manner of a Mayan temple laden with treasure”. Grand Concourse?!! I am taking that comparison literally here!

Almost any building along the entire stretch of the Grand Concourse is a profound Art Deco specimen though I’ll toss in a couple of Off-Concourse examples. One is the building housing Burger King on 161st opposite the Bronx Courthouse. I noticed it by accident — among the waving BK banners are lovely images of horse heads along the top edge.

Another is the irresistible and spooky old Westchester Station on Westchester Avenue at the Bronx River — best seen from above on the 6-Train as it makes the turn near the Whitlock Avenue station. I don’t know if this crumbling station qualifies as Art Deco. Its facade is still gilded and I love the slices of citrus(?) motifs. The station was closed to passengers in 1931, but the entrance resembles the front of the Marine Building which was completed in 1930.

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Vancouver Has Nothing On The Bronx

Vancouver is my new favorite city.
Since spending our vacation there last summer, we’ve dangled the possibility of our exodus in the face of the US frequently.
Moving to Vancouver is often the consequence of our if/then sentences:  “If such-and-such happens, then we are moving to Vancouver.”

Vancouver is beautiful.
Green in spirit and landscape.
The people easy going and quick to say “I’m sorry” if they flub your order or inconvenience you.
[Though I’m told this is a Canadian personality trait. Even still, it was refreshing to hear.]

We walked by a huge and abundant community vegetable garden completely open–no high fence, no gate, no lock & key.
I could stand on the sidewalk and reach in for a vine ripened tomato, which as an Australian friend pointed out, is my particular thinking as an American — that tomato could be mine, while a Canadian is thinking, that’s not mine!
That week, Vancouver was sunny and clear with temps in the high 70s.
They’d had a rare heat wave (in the 90s) the week before, so we were even luckier.
We had the best grilled salmon (at a Japanese street festival) and sushi (at Mr. Tojo’s) to ever touch our lips.
I read somewhere that Vancouver is considered the Miami of Canada, never mind it being north of Seattle and Portland.
A shop owner told me that unlike New Yorkers, Vancouverites do not live for long work days.  They want to leave the office promptly at 5:30 or 6:00 so they can get outside and play.
Marine or Alpine — take your pick.

The drive from Vancouver up to Whistler was magnificent.
Peaks on each side of the Sea to Sky Highway. Peaks of the islands rising out of Howe Sound on one side and peaks, some snow-capped, on the other.
Olympic signage along the way the closer we got to Whistler: Alpine Skiing Here!

Vancouver certainly is not a perfect city.
It has a serious homeless situation and a thriving bustling skid row.
And the downtown is all glass.
Ahh, but what does Vancouver have on the Bronx?
Until we can stake a claim there, I was eager to look for anything that allowed me to say, well, we have that in the Bronx.
And I found myself saying that a few times…
Over the next few days, while the Olympic torch burns in Vancouver, I will feature here a few of those moments I discovered the Bronx in Vancouver.

Stay tuned…
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