Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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5.25-inch Floppy Diskette Article Archive

The Way You Look Tonight

Walking up the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive on the approach to Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York.

495 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo, New York: 28 June 2014

part of the Buffalo Central Terminal album

Operating as a passenger train station for fifty years, Buffalo Central Terminal (1929) in Buffalo, New York is a wonderful art deco facility featuring a fifteen-floor octagonal tower and high-ceilinged concourse with marble, tile and arched windows. A local landmark since its inception, the terminal has endured years of disuse, the stripping of its fixtures and damage from trespassers.

Built as a major transportation hub, two decades of prosperity were followed by a rapid decline in the 1950s as automobile and aircraft travel became popular. Buffalo Central Terminal continued operating, however the 1970 bankruptcy of Penn Central Railroad and Amtrak's 1979 decision to bypass caused the terminal's closure.

Unfortunately in 1981, the concourse bridge over the Belt Subdivision railroad lines was demolished to accommodate tall railcars. Later placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the slow and uphill restoration process of Buffalo Central Terminal did not begin until August 1997 when the property was transferred to Central Terminal Restoration Corporation.

Central Terminal Restoration Corporation Logo

Nearly two decades later, there is still an enormous amount of work to be done. Helping to fund the refurbishments, Central Terminal Restoration Corporation occasionally conducts limited public tours. I was luckily able to take one and although it was briefly mentioned soon after, I have yet to document the awesome experience of visiting Buffalo Central Terminal.

That article is currently in pre-production as I process photographs and conduct research, but my building excitement over a return to that Saturday evening in June 2014 necessitated this teaser in the meantime. For example, imagine my delight at discovering a vintage postcard featuring the same composition as the first photograph I took on the day of my visit.

The postcard (8C-K360) was produced in 1958, printed by Curt Teich and Company utilizing their Curteichcolor (1949) process and distributed by Ernest Gunzburger of Buffalo. The photo was taken from the center of the approach road to the terminal, the eastern terminus of Paderewski Drive — renamed in 1941 to honor Polish pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1860–1941).

I did find a few other postcards but they have different artwork. Pleased with my postcard photo, I decided to create a triptych by processing it three different ways. The standard version was developed using my normal process. The second is a moodier cut that highlights details and emphasizes the brooding clouds. Finally, the third variant is rendered in black and white.

The Duet In Quiscalus Major

Two boat-tailed grackles (Quiscalus major) squawking at each other on a small wooden pier at the city marina in Cedar Key, Florida.

302 Dock Street, Cedar Key, Florida: 13 October 2014

part of the Manatee Springs State Park album

At the end of a visit to Manatee Springs State Park — see "The Creatures of My Dreams" — we took a brief detour to Cedar Key, Florida, a little over thirty miles south of the park. We had a great lunch at Ken's Cedar Keyside Diner, which I just discovered closed in December 2014 not long after our visit, before browsing the other local businesses along Dock Street.

There was not much activity at the City of Cedar Key Marina, but I did photograph several birds in the area including these male boat-tailed grackles. Squawking and posturing in close proximity, showing glossy black feathers with iridescent blue and purple hues, they did not appear to be fighting so were possibly competing over a female or having a territorial dispute.

The Raptorial Buteo Lineatus

A juvenile red-shouldered hawk (Buteo lineatus) observing the area from atop a light pole within a residential neighborhood in Altamonte Springs, Florida.

Altamonte Springs, Florida: 07 September 2015

part of the Red-Shouldered Hawk album

A young red-shouldered hawk paid a visit to my old neighborhood in Central Florida earlier this week, possibly searching for its next meal in the grasses surrounding homes. Mom spotted the hawk first, alerted me and then fetched her camera. She shot about a dozen frames and then handed the camera to me.

Since she had already gotten good coverage from a short distance, I decided to move even closer to the light pole upon which the hawk was perched. Rotating its head in a rather mechanical way to gaze in different directions, the hawk took note of my presence but seemed rather more concerned with its own business.

I was able to stand directly beneath the hawk without it fleeing, however our luck ran out after I moved beyond the pole to capture different lighting. Before I could even compose my shot, the hawk decided to fly into a tree across the street. I captured two blurry pictures of the departure, but the hawk is mostly out of frame in each.

My albums are teeming with wildlife photography, typically taken at one of Florida's many wonderful state parks.[1] I cannot however recall an instance of being this close to something less common than a cardinal or raccoon in such a suburban setting. Hawks like this had better watch out though, as Florida now prefers to solve the issue of increasing human-caused animal interactions by allowing the additional hunting of those infringing species.[2]

  1. Florida state parks are wonderful, that is, so long as the current government does not succeed in their efforts to transform our parks from relatively unspoiled nature preserves free of hunting into commercialized revenue streams free of conservation or natural value.

  2. The Florida black bear "conservation" and management program now includes a special hunt scheduled for October 2015. This was the reaction by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to several close calls occurring in one region. They believe that the solution is to kill hundreds of bears statewide while simultaneously refusing to regulate that rural homeowners use bear-proof garbage cans.

The Breezy Shades of Night

Emerging from the Iberian Lounge into the Cuban-inspired faux courtyard called The Fountain Lobby inside The Hotel Hershey (1932) in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

100 Hotel Road, Hershey, Pennsylvania: 02 July 2014

part of the Hersheypark album

Ascending the hill through the parking lot, The Hotel Hershey building sits ahead large and awash with light. We are here to enjoy a beverage after a day of exploring Hershey, rural farmlands and the Amish Country of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Two-and-a-half hours and three glasses of The Glenlivet later, I exit the delightful Iberian Lounge and pause at my view.

With a unique scene before me and delicious single malt Scotch flowing through my veins, my mind immediately links what I see to an unrelated image in memory. Having left my camera in the truck, I ask to borrow Mom's so that I might attempt to capture this scene from my mind's eye. I shoot seven frames before we leave and then promptly forget about them.

Recently reminded of Hershey, I browsed Mom's photos from this day and discovered my seven shots among them. The fun evening's memories came back to me in flashback as I amusingly had the same thought looking at the pictures as I did standing in the hotel over a year earlier. The above two photographs viewed consecutively are the result, my whisky-fueled homage to a shot in the Luc Besson film The Fifth Element (1997).

In a brief transitional scene Video we see the titular character as she arrives aboard the ocean liner starship Fhloston Paradise to a musical welcoming committee. As she walks into the ship's main lobby, the camera dollies forward while slowly panning up to reveal the grand room, its two fountains and a row of large elliptical windows showing the planet Fhloston's sky.

Fhloston Paradise interior film frame

Fhloston Paradise interior film frame

The Hotel Hershey's original main lobby and registration area, the Fountain Lobby was designed to emulate the look and feel of the patio courtyards that Milton Hershey had enjoyed during his winter trips in Cuba. With its antique oak elements, Ernest A. Batchelder tilework, inlaid marble from Baumgardner Company in Baltimore, Maryland, "palm trees, seating areas, wrought iron lights and a painted sky," the room would have certainly made an impression to hotel guests coming in to register.

Ironically, it turns out that one of the other photographs I took inside the Fountain Lobby is unintentionally similar to a classic photograph of the room. I found the following circa 1934 image of "the Patio" in the Hershey Community Archives while researching this article. If I had only shot with a wider lens and taken a few steps back and to the right…

The Fountain Lobby was refurbished along with the rest of the hotel in 1998. As infrastructure work unfortunately required cutting into the painted ceiling, the hotel subsequently hired artist Gary Thomas to repaint it in the original style. Other work in the room included extensive cleaning of the tilework, "[stripping] decades of wax buildup to reveal the original vibrant colors."

A natural extension of the lobby, the Iberian Lounge "was designed to be 'Spanish in its atmosphere and rich with oriental rugs, oak-paneled ceiling and columns, tinted walls, soft rugs […] a charming fireplace and a mural depicting a Spanish waterfront scene.'" The mural, now located behind the bar, was painted by the hotel's interior designer Robert von Ezdorf. He also incorporated some of the mural's designs in the adjoining Fountain Lobby.

Designed during prohibition, the Iberian Lounge was built as a reading and sitting room. Following the repeal of prohibition in 1933, the hotel added a wine cellar and opened a cocktail lounge in the Garden Terrace, a 5,490-square-foot space elsewhere on the first floor. The Iberian Lounge became a bar in 1968 and the Garden Terrace is currently a ballroom available for events.

Perhaps a bit removed at first, our bartender Kirk poured stout drinks and eventually warmed up to us by sharing some of the venue's history. It was a fun diversion to spend time in a beautiful hotel constructed in the early 1930s, well-maintained in the interim and remaining remarkably similar to its original appearance. On our way out, I relieve myself of driving duty after my indulgence in the lounge and leave Mom with the valet so that Ross and I can go and fetch the truck for her.

Back at our campsite — wide awake and unsurprisingly keen for a meal — I waste no time suggesting that we visit the delicious Cocoa Diner in Hummelstown, just four minutes away door-to-door. A classic eatery serving a comprehensive menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner fare twenty-four hours a day[1] since 2002, the Cocoa Diner was an instant favorite of mine a few days earlier.

I had the grilled ham steak dinner served with mashed potatoes and gravy, peas and corn medley, vegetable soup and a pineapple ring. Previously, I had a patty melt on grilled rye bread, topped with Swiss cheese and sautéed onions and served with French fries, coleslaw and a pickle. Both meals were excellent, served exactly how I wanted and expected.

  1. Cocoa Diner is closed for seven hours every week: from 2300 on Monday until 0600 on Tuesday. The restaurant is otherwise always open for business at 590 East Main Street, Hummelstown, Pennsylvania.