Travelogues & History

Concrete Contemporary
Concrete is amazing material. Its presence in the modern architectural landscape is so widespread and diverse, it can be easy to miss the masterful way it's been used both as a structural and aesthetic element. Here's an example of both, a modern classic Eric Herman discovered near his home in the California desert.
The Eternal Joy of Water
In this delightful and insightful essay, Anthony Archer Wills takes us on a far-flung journey into bathing traditions and the use of water in fine art. A pursuit, he explains, that is both exciting and worthwhile because to create with water is to understand its profound influence on our forms of creative expression, emotion and even spirituality. 
Fins of the Father
Unbeknownst to many, one of our nation's Founding Fathers, Benjamin Franklin, was arguably also our "founding" swimming enthusiast. Along with helping our nation win its freedom and establish our system of government, Franklin had quite a lot to say about the value of swimming  -- he even invented swim fins.
Victory in Venice
  In a dramatic example of human ingenuity, Venice, Italy, scored a major victory in its fight to survive rising waters that have threatened its very existence. Nearly five decades in the making, the city recently raised a system of barriers preventing a potentially devastating flood.
Long Live the Sundlaugs
As an admitted word geek devoted to writing about all things aquatic, it's always exciting to learn a new term or phrase. I recently read a great story from bbc.com about Icelanders' love or even obsession with public swimming pools, which in the Icelandic language are known as "Sundlaugs."  The story chronicled the day that public pools reopened in Iceland after two months of shutdown due the current pandemic. At midnight on that Sunday, throughout the
Learning by Adventure
Editor's note: Welcome back to Open Waters, the space where we explore the wide world of water in a series of blogs, book reviews, charitable profiles, and travelogues. The topic of this 2nd edition profile was brought to our attention by Wallace "J" Nichols, author of "Blue Mind" and co-founder (with Watershape University) of the Live Blue Foundation.
The Waters of Washington
The word "awesome" is badly overused these days, but not so when it comes to describing the waters of Washington State, where living in a state of awe is a common state of mind. My wife, Diane, and I recently concluded four years living in the wilderness there and came away from that experience with deepened appreciations for the many ways the presence of water influences how people live. Not to mention how water shapes everything from politics to geography to the names of the professional sports teams. The presence of water in the landscape profoundly impacts the lives of the people who live around it, and that's been true throughout human history. Because we rely on the presence of water for our survival - as well as transportation, recreation, agriculture and manufacturing everything from medicine to steel - how we choose to
Experiencing the Void
When WaterShapes went all-digital back in July 2011, there was one big story looming in the print-magazine horizon: That summer, as finishing touches were being added to the National September 11 Memorial in Lower Manhattan, we were all set to offer a behind-the-scenes look at the fountain portion of the project in a September issue that never materialized. This missed opportunity with the memorial has been somewhere in
A Chance Encounter
This is a tale of frustration followed by great joy. On my way home from the Atlantic City Pool & Spa Show last month, I paused in Philadelphia to spend three days visiting with two of my daughters. Beyond catching up with them, I had a mission: I wanted to see the remodeled fountain in Franklin Square. It was under construction the last time I visited, and my understanding is that it is now
Mountain’s Majesty
When my wife and I made the long drive from St. Louis to Los Angeles in October 2017, I knew that once we crossed the Missouri state line in Kansas City (the glorious "City of Fountains"), we weren't going to see any significant watershapes on the path we'd selected. We stopped in some great non-aquatic spots in Kansas, memorably the Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego and S.P. Dinsmoor's Garden of Eden in Lucas. But mostly we set our sights on pushing through at an unwavering pace to Durango, Colo., with thoughts of the natural wonders we'd find thereabouts dancing in our heads. As we approached the Kansas/Colorado border, we had a stroke of luck: I received a call from a friend in Colorado Springs who, upon hearing where we were, offered to put us up if we'd take a little detour and head north rather than south once we reached Pueblo. It immediately put me in mind that a fountain I had long carried on the list of waterfeatures I wanted to see and discuss in WaterShapes was right there. I knew about this fountain because on the few occasions when we published a feature article in which an artist used a helical or circular form as the core of a sculptural fountain, I'd get a note, call or email from someone telling me that what we'd published was great, but if we really wanted to see something transformative, the Julie Penrose Fountain in Colorado Springs was beyond description and well worth a visit. Here was my opportunity at last: Our first day in Colorado Springs was filled with blustery winds, hoodoos and the Garden of the Gods, which let us reserve the whole of our second and final day for America the Beautiful Park, where the Julie Penrose Fountain occupies a special place. The winds relented and the day was fair and warm - but I was blown away just the same: The Julie Penrose Fountain stands more than 40 feet tall, and although I'd seen photographs, I had no idea either how large it was or that it turned on its axis four times an hour. I was overwhelmed - and moderately drenched when an unexpected breeze lashed us with water and mist shortly after our arrival. When we were safely back home, I put a note about the fountain on my long list of coverage candidates - and in the press of business a Travelogue I was truly keen to write slipped into a crack from which it has only now been rescued. As I began my usual research on the fountain's creation and history, I came across the video linked below. It offers such a detailed perspective on the fountain that I'm going to let it do the rest of my work this time. Although the narration is almost painfully low key, the video itself captures the majesty of the sculpture, the transient beauty of the fountain effect and the sheer joy of hanging out in America the Beautiful Park with the mountains as a backdrop - even if you get soaked! To see a video on the Julie Penrose Fountain in Colorado Springs, click here.