A hundred years ago, Grand Marais was a wind-buffeted outpost at the tip of the North Shore, stomping grounds of trappers, loggers and fishermen.
The dirt road connecting the village to Duluth often was impassable, and winter provisions had to be brought in by steamer before Lake Superior iced over.
But amid the hardship, there was always art.
In Chicago, there’s great people-watching — but the building-watching is even better.
The city is best known for humongous buildings — the Willis (Sears) Tower, Hancock Center, Aon Building. But clustered around their knees are others that attract tourists from all over the world, buildings with so much flair it’s tempting to give them personalities.
There’s Helmut Jahn’s Thompson Center, the brassy showgirl with the heart of gold, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Plaza, the geek with the thick black glasses.
Half a century after his death, Frank Lloyd Wright is as notorious and admired as ever.
June is a good time to connect with the architect, who was born June 8, 1867. His eventful life still provides material for bestsellers, most recently the 2007 novel "Loving Frank,'' about his relationship with the ill-fated Mamah Borthwick Cheney.
Do you love to see gorgeous photos of your favorite landscapes, especially when you're sitting in an office cubicle?
Facebook makes it easy to see when giant waves are crashing along shorelines, when northern lights appear in the winter sky,
when full moons frame lighthouses. Online galleries and blogs offer photography tips as well as images.
One place especially blessed with photographers who share their work is Minnesota's dramatic North Shore of Lake Superior,
where world-class scenery stretches from Duluth to the Canadian border.
There's a story behind everything in Spring Green.
Frank Lloyd Wright's story begins in the 1860s, when his unconventional grandparents and their 10 children emigrated from Wales to settle this dramatic valley of the Wisconsin River, which came to be known as "the valley of the God-almighty Joneses.''
The story of Alex Jordan's House on the Rock, atop a limestone spire that overlooks the valley and Wright's beloved home, is rooted in spite. After his father traveled from Madison to show Wright blueprints for a rooming house, and was harshly snubbed, he vowed to get even and "put a Japanese house up out there.''
Even tourists from the great European capitals are impressed by Summit Avenue.
It's not just one mansion, but one after another, all the way from the Mississippi River to the massive Cathedral of St. Paul, overlooking downtown and the state Capitol.
This five-mile stretch is one of the most splendid, best-preserved Victorian streets in the United States. The oldest are at
the east end, on the lip of the bluff overlooking downtown and the Mississippi River.
Brilliant men have been very good to Mason City, Iowa.
Frank Lloyd Wright built a bank, hotel and house there in 1908-09, and the locals loved his Prairie style so much it commissioned houses from four of his associates; today, it's one of the best collections in the nation.
Wright became persona non grata in Mason City after he abruptly left for Europe with his married lover. But a musical virtuoso was growing up nearby. Meredith Willson’s “The Music Man,’’ inspired by Mason City and its band, became a Broadway smash in 1957.
In the early days of highway travel, some very ordinary folks toiled to enliven Wisconsin's roadsides.
Concrete dinosaurs appeared, and a muskie pulled by horses. King Neptune held court next to Snow White and her dwarves.
There was an ocean liner encrusted with glass, a Hindu temple and mythic figures from the American frontier —
Sacagawea, Paul Bunyan, Kit Carson.
It's easy to speed right through the river town of Fountain City, on the way to someplace else, but that would be a mistake.
In Fountain City, all is not as it seems. A Hindu temple sits amid hay fields. One of the world's largest collections of toy pedal cars occupies five barns on a bluff. Dreamlike Santas ride fish in a riverfront studio, models for copies sold around the nation.
On this seemingly ordinary stretch of the Mississippi, people have been inspired by . . . something. Perhaps it's the
dramatic bluffs that loom above town.
In Wisconsin, nonconformity is cast in concrete.
In the middle of the last century, a motley collection of ordinary folk — a dairy farmer, a car dealer, a tavern owner, a factory worker — took a sharp turn away from the ordinary.
Out of the blue, they began to fashion fairy-tale characters, castles, temples and historical figures out of concrete,
adorning them with bits of glass, crockery, porcelain and seashells and toiling until their yards overflowed with