September 26, 2020

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum Opens in Owensboro, Kentucky

OWENSBORO, KY. — This flourishing city of more than 59,000 residents has occupied the high ground on a big bend of the Ohio River so long that its history includes being the winter encampment for the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804. Owensboro’s famous sons include Johnny Depp, who was born here in 1963. Among its notable achievements is surviving the loss of 6,000 General Electric manufacturing jobs at the end of the 20th century, …

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The White House Wants To Disrupt Elko County and a Whole Lot of Other Places in the West

ELKO, NEV. – From this rest stop desert city midway between Salt Lake City and Reno the snow peaks of the Ruby Mountains are like finely crafted wainscoting in an elegant ballroom. The slopes rise sharply to form triangles in the sky. In 1989, Congress approved permanently safeguarding 92,650 wooded acres along the ridge lines from any intrusions in the Ruby Mountain Wilderness. The big flat sagebrush valley that runs up to the base of …

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Parks and Promise in Emalahleni, South Africa

EMALAHLENI, South Africa — There’s enough disturbing news in the world. I’ve reported my share of it. So when a story crosses my path that is part of the global garden of embryonic hope, I relish telling it. One of those stories, about two young guys here in South Africa who turned trash dumps into a program to build neighborhood parks, was brought to my attention by environmental activists living in Mpumalanga province, the coal …

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Donghao Chung, Guangzhou’s Daylighted Refuge

GUANGZHOU, China — Can a polluted stormwater drain newly constructed as an urban park speak for a city? Can a place of refuge, where clear water slips past slick rocks and families gather near the sound and mist of fountains, be an extension of a nation? There’s always risk in heaping such rhapsody on a single example. Still, in the characteristically handsome Chinese design, and in the cooling embrace of its flowing water, the Donghao …

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Owensboro Convention Center Opens With Big Party; Senators Paul and McConnell Not Among The Guests

OWENSBORO, KY — In February 2009, in the very depths of the Great Recession, seven of the nine commissioners elected to lead this capable city and surrounding Daviess County took a long breath, understood the political consequences, and approved a modest increase in a local tax to generate $80 million to build a new downtown. Though just two of the seven officials remain in office, what they accomplished in a single courageous vote achieved three distinct …

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Where Cars Don’t Dominate, Rapid Transit and Strong Economies Do

BERLIN — There are few more impressive places to arrive by intercity train anywhere in the world than this city’s central rail station, the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. A colossal steel and glass building opened in 2006, the Hauptbahnhof (pronounced hote-bonn-off) soars up four levels, from east-west high-speed platforms to high-speed trains running north-south. Stainless steel and glass elevators, and stainless steel escalators tie together the platforms and the various levels of the station, which is stocked …

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Doha’s Toybox Skyline

DOHA, Qatar — A decade ago Sheraton’s pyramid shaped hotel was just about the only modern building along this city’s Arabian (Persian) Gulf shoreline. Today the hotel is dwarfed by 21st-century skyscrapers designed by architects who seem to have been inspired by the shapes contained in a boy’s toybox. Yet along with the playful shapes comes an accompanying narrative of the rising concern about how development affects the Gulf’s ecological and economic security. We are …

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More Evidence of Rust Belt Revival

OWENSBORO, KY — When it’s completed next year, the 169,000-square-foot, $48 million convention center under construction in this city of 57,000 will arguably be the most striking architectural achievement on the Ohio River. With its angles and glass and cantilevered roof, the convention center dwells atop a high river bluff like a palace to the future. Which is almost precisely what it is. Almost two years ago I first set foot in Owensboro to undertake …

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A Cathedral to Beer in Pittsburgh

The Church Brew Works opened in 1996 in the then 94-year-old former St. John The Baptist Roman Catholic church, and has thrived ever since. Photo/Keith Schneider PITTSBURGH — On the way to President Obama’s second inauguration last week we celebrated at the most confounding brew pub I’ve ever visited: The Church Brew Works. As an example of urban design serving and celebrating a new use, the pub is hard to beat. First of all is …

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Circle of Blue — At the Frontline of the Global Contest Over Energy, Food, and Water

Pressed by growing demand to cool a proliferation of new coal-fired power plants in Chhattisgarh, India, workers expand and modernize a big water transport canal. Photo/Keith Schneider TRAVERSE CITY, MI — As we’ve known for years now, the diminishment of the mainstream American media is opening fresh opportunities for more nimble and skilled newsrooms to produce first-rate reporting. Nowhere is that more true than at Circle of Blue, where I serve as senior editor, reporting …

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