Featured image: The Gothic-styled Union Trust Building, built in 1916 as the Union Arcade by Henry Clay Frick.
On the first warmish day in a while, I took the Radmini to check out a new river crossing. Beginning on the Delaware and Raritan Canal at Scudder Falls in New Jersey, I rode up the brand new ramp to the 10 feet wide multi-use path on the new Scudder Falls Bridge, which carries I-295 over the Delaware River to Pennsyvlania. The first span of this bridge opened in July 2019. The old bridge (which had opened in 1961) was then demolished and construction began on the second span, which was completed a year later. The shared pedestrian/bicyclist path then opened this past November.
The overpass was busy with with other bikers, walkers, and a few dogs. Coming off the bridge into Pennsylvania, I turned north up the Delaware Canal towpath to Washington’s Crossing. I crossed back into New Jersey on the old and narrow Washington’s Crossing bridge. The piers that support this bridge date back to 1831, while the superstructure was built in 1904. Each car lane is only 7.5 feet wide (so, 2.5 feet narrower than the bike/walk path on the new bridge). After that, it was a quick ride up the D&R canal to my starting point.
Here’s a brief history of the New York brickmaking industry from the New York Times. New York did not have a monopoly on bricks; excellent clay deposits run through New Jersey and into Pennsylvania as well. The Sayre & Fisher Brick Company, in the town now known as Sayreville, New Jersey, was for a time the largest brickmaker in the world and in 1903, Pennsylvania was the largest brick producer in the nation.
But the Hudson Valley was also lined with dozens of brickyards, and since it’s the Hudson Valley, it should be no surprise that now one of them, the Hutton Brickyards, has been turned into a boutique hotel that preserves some of its history. Their “Genuine Experiences” do sound genuinely fun:
Our sprawling campus features whimsical invitations to fun: an archery range, croquet lawn, firepits and bicycles. Experience hikes, guided kayak experiences, paddle-boarding, running, outdoor yoga, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, bee-keeping and more!huttonbrickyards.com
Featured image: Hutton Brickworks in 2016, by Corey Seamer via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0.
As in, you are forbidden to drive a car on it, but you can bike, walk, or ride a horse on it. The former Wissahickon Turnpike, the main drag through Wissahickon Valley Park in Philadelphia, was built in the 1820s and got its current name in the 1920s when it was closed to vehicles.
On a pleasantly cool weekend morning there were a lot of people in the park, meaning we had to drive around a bit before finding a parking spot. The gravel path is wide and the people spread out so it was a leisurely 8 mile ride.
Glencairn was built by Raymond Pitcairn, “self-taught cathedral architect” (as his New York Times obituary described him) and heir to the massive empire created by his father, John, the founder of PPG industries.
After completing construction of the Bryn Athyn Cathedral of the The New Church, Pitcairn turned to building himself a new house. Located north of Philadelphia (the Philly skyline can be seen from the top of the mansion’s seven-story tower), it was designed by Pitcairn and constructed between 1928 and 1939, while Pitcairn was simultaneously fighting against Roosevelt’s New Deal. Glencairn is built in the Romanesque style out of hand-cut stone and concrete. It contains 90 rooms, including 17 bedrooms, a chapel, and the expansive living room, decorated with both actual Medieval-era items and modern recreations built by artisans in the same style.
Some of the Egyptian artifacts on display at Glencairn, a mansion turned museum outside of Philadelphia.
In December, the city of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, hosts the Christkindlmarkt, a large outdoor craft fair. More interesting are the rusting structures at the former Bethlehem Steel Plant, where the market is located. After the company went bankrupt around the turn of the century, the factory complex was transformed, and is now home to a casino, the SteelStacks arts and culture center, a museum, and more.
These photos were taken from the Hoover-Mason Trestle, an elevated walkway that runs alongside the furnaces and other industrial buildings.
David Murrell on everything that’s not being done for the Philadelphia birthplace of the United States: