Washington – the quirkies

Posted by jerry on May 12th, 2007 — Posted in Journal, Travel

Time for the quirkies – what does one notice as an outsider/stranger to a place?

A good place to start is the humble hotel room. We hold these truths to be self-evident: if you hang your wet clothes from a hotel fire sprinkler they’ll get wetter – a whole lot wetter! So it seemed a bit interesting that they felt it necessary to affix the following sign beneath the fire sprinkler over the bed – is there something they’re not telling us?

For sheer iconicity the US fire hydrant – looking for all the world like a cute ‘Bob the Builder’ with its two arms and red hat takes the prize for turning utilitarian design into an innoffensive and proportionally excellent artform.

Also known as a ‘fire plug’ from its origins in the days of wooden water mains, the modern upright cast iron version appears to have been invented by Frederick Graff snr in 1803 for the then newly-installed Philadelphia water works. The ‘Mathews Improved’ dry-barrel model was patented in 1850 and seems to be close to today’s design.

I spend much of my time looking up at architectural details – many based on classical designs, but I also try to look beneath my feet. And here are a couple of examples. The first a standard water main inspection cover

The second a fuel tank inspection cover in a gas station (petrol station)

The US obsession with the discourse of security is entirely understandable, and there is no doubt that this country has adapted well to its perception of threat. As a visitor one is struck by the blossoming of signs aimed at reminding people of the sorts of credible threats that require signage in case you forget and accidentally feel safe and secure.

Are shopping trolleys covered in the “Other” category? 🙂

And not so much a quirkie, I just thought I’d mention that Haagen Dazs chocolate ice cream is simply delicious! – the Tysons Corner Mall has one of their restaurants – yum!


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