Talked about for years, a high speed rail service for the Northeast may be on its way at last, with the Federal Railroad Administration expected to approve an overhaul of the tracks.
It may seem improbable, but the odds that faster trains are coming to the Northeast Corridor have jumped recently. That’s because beginning in 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is expected to finally permit modern European designs on tracks throughout the country, running side by side with heavy freight, at all times of day. This decision could cut the weight of U.S. passenger trains in half, meaning trains can go faster, accelerate more quickly, cause less wear on tracks, and get passengers to their destination in less time.
How much time? The decision by the FRA to finally shelve regulatory requirements from the 1920s means that lighter replacement train sets for the Acela could cut the trip from Boston to New York by 30 minutes (the trains can maneuver the curvy tracks of New England at higher speeds) and the faster acceleration and braking could shave 5 to 10 minutes off the trip from New York to Washington.
That doesn’t seem like a lot of time savings, particularly on the New York to Washington run, but for a small investment, you could shave off a lot more minutes.
For example, if you combine the purchase of the new lighter Acela train sets with some of the incremental improvements that Amtrak has proposed in its 2012 “Vision for the Northeast Corridor” report, passengers on trains could get from Boston to New York City in 2 hours and 51 minutes (versus 3 hours and 30 minutes currently) and travel between New York City and Washington in a mere 2 hours and 22 minutes (2 hours and 50 minutes now). And for the first time, the Acela will actually be able to reach speeds of 160 mph both north and south of New York, which was what it was supposed to do back when it was built in the 1990s.
Before Napa was even a glimmer in anyone’s eye, the first great American wine was made on the banks of the Ohio River by a land speculator in 1842. The story of how he inadvertently made a Champagne-style wine that even wowed Europe and inspired a poem by Longfellow.
America’s first great wine is one you’ve probably never heard of. The Pilgrims did not produce it. Despite his dreams of flourishing vineyards at Monticello and his belief that America could produce wines “doubtless as good” as Europe, Thomas Jefferson did not create it either. American’s first great wine was a pink sparkling libation made from a hybrid grape called Catawba, grown in the Ohio River Valley outside of Cincinnati. The visionary behind it, Nicholas Longworth was convinced Catawba would become the greatest grape in America, possibly the world.
Longworth was born in 1783 to Loyalist parents in Newark, New Jersey. After the Revolutionary War, his family lost their land holdings and slipped into poverty. Longworth worked hard at odd jobs, passed the bar exam, moved to Cincinnati, and began practicing law. His wealth, however, came from land speculation. Longworth amassed a fortune through real estate investments—his first holdings came from a client who was unable to pay him in cash and offered a plot of land instead. Land value skyrocketed; at one point, Longworth’s wealth is said to have represented a significant percent of the GDP of the United States.
According to Paul Lukacs in his excellent book American Vintage, Longworth began experimenting with grape growing as early as 1813, but he did not devote himself seriously to it until 1820. He had plenty of land on which to plant grapes, and his natural interest in horticulture led him to plant as many vine varieties as he could find. By the time Longworth began producing wine, hundreds of people had brought European vine cuttings (from the esteemed vitis vinifera species) to America in hopes of seeing them grow. (Thomas Jefferson had done this repeatedly with cuttings from the world’s most famed vineyards, only to see the vines whither because of the then-unknown phylloxera root louse that attacks vitis vinifera vines.)
Virgin Galactic takes digital currency.
Great news for those saving up for a trip to space—you can now pay for your ride with Bitcoin. Virgin Group founder Richard Branson announced Friday that Virgin Galactic, his commercial space company, will accept the digital currency for rides out of Earth’s orbit. A ride on Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo will cost aspiring astronauts $250,000—that’s about 322.5 Bitcoins. Branson and his family will take the first flight, an event that will be televised live on the Today show.
How could an airline crew land a giant plane at the wrong (and way too tiny) air field? It may not be as crazy—or uncommon—as you may think.
Millions of Americans watched on Wednesday as a Boeing 747 struggled after landing at the wrong airport in Kansas. The 747 “Dreamlifter,” a specialty freighter designed and operated by Boeing to carry fuselage sections of its smaller 787 model, had intended to arrive at McConnell Air Force Base. Instead it touched down at the much smaller James Jabara Airport, about eight miles away.
Onlookers watch a Boeing 747 "Dreamlifter" as it sits on a runway Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013, the day after it mistakenly landed at Col. James Jabara Airport in Wichita, Kan. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
This is one of those incidents that leaves the public, to say nothing of airline pilots like me, shaking our heads. How could a crew possibly land at the incorrect field?
It isn’t the first time such a thing has happened. Back in 2004, a Northwest Airlines flight en route from Minneapolis to Rapid City, South Dakota, landed accidentally at Ellsworth Air Force Base, six miles from its intended destination. That same year, a US Airways Express flight headed to State College, Pennsylvania, ended up in nearby Philipsburg instead. In 1995, a DC-10 touched down in Brussels instead of Frankfurt.
The Ace Hotel New York set a new standard for hotel design and innovation. The principals of design firm Roman and Williams discuss their collaboration with the late hotelier.
Though many are mourning the untimely death of Ace Hotel chain founder Alex Calderwood last week at age 47, two interior designers are suffering his passing as a nearly familial loss.
The pair—Robin Standefer, 49, and Stephen Alesch, 48, principals of the New York City-based design firm Roman and Williams—collaborated with Calderwood to create the much buzzed about Ace Hotel New York that opened in 2009, crystallizing vintage-cozy design trends that were emerging on the west coast and in Brooklyn. Plaid-clad 20-somethings flocked to the Ace’s dark, pubby lobby and its wood-paneled restaurant, the Breslin, with its snout-to-tail menu. It was just the right level of egalitarian comfort and locavorism that a post-crash populace needed.
“We were like family,” Standefer said of the designers’ three-and-a-half year working relationship with Calderwood. “We found comfort together creatively and had a lot of common values—imperfection, experience, the story. Like a band, we played better together. Stephen and I are married, so we have a close companion to make things with. Alex was like that.”
The trio haunted east coast flea markets, sourcing knickknacks that would adorn the lobby and guest rooms. On a rainy day at the Brimfield, Massachusetts, antiques fair in 2007, they discovered the massive American flag that hangs above the lobby bar.
The chances that you not only are in a commercial plane crash, but also are the single person to survive are a virtual impossibility. Yet this is the reality for 14 people living today.
Behind the swelling, bruises, and swaddling of head bandages, George Lamson, Jr. grinned widely. “I feel…just great,” he told reporters who swarmed his hospital bedside, press conferences, and talk show appearances. It was 1985, and Lamson, just 17 at the time, had survived a flight from Reno to Minneapolis that killed all 70 other passengers, including his father. When the pilot announced the plane was going down, he drew his legs up in front of his face, kicked through the wall as it hit the ground, and was thrown across the fiery ruins into the highway. He thought, he said later, that he had died and gone to heaven.
A scene from the documentary "Sole Survivior." (Yellow Wing Productions)
Today, he is one of only 14 people who are the lone survivors of the commercial plane crashes they endured. It’s an unimaginable—and almost statistically impossible—prospect: that you, singularly, survived a horrific accident by some miraculous means, while everyone else was killed. In these one-in-a-million cases, the survivors tend to be young and nimble, but mostly it’s just pure chance. In a new documentary called Sole Survivor, which aired at the DOC NYC festival on Friday, four of those miraculous stories are told by director Ky Dickens. The stories made international headlines at the time of the crashes, but have since faded from the spotlight. In addition to Lamson, there’s 14-year-old Bahia Bakari who, in 2009, clung to floating debris in the Indian Ocean for nine hours before being saved; Cecelia Cichan, who was just four years old in 1987 when she survived a crash that killed her mother, father, and brother en route to Arizona; and Jim Polehinke, first officer of a bungled take-off in 2006 that left him paralyzed and wracked with survivor’s guilt. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” he says.
Now a father himself, Lamson is a wiser, more somber version of that 17-year-old, living not far from the crash site in Reno and working as a dealer at a casino. He’s on a mission to reach out and connect with the other 13 like him—to form a community for those who only have a handful of people in the world who can relate to their traumatizing experiences. He’s curious, he says, to find out how the others have healed, and wants to offer an understanding hand. So he began writing letters and emails. “I’m reaching out to say I am here for you,” he writes to young Bakari, who lives in Paris.
The influential hotelier was found dead on Thursday afternoon in his newest venture, London’s Ace Hotel.
There was no indication of anything untoward at the newest outpost of the Ace Hotel, in London, today. No casual visitor would have guessed that the group’s maverick founder, Alex Calderwood, was found dead in one of his artfully retrofitted bedrooms on Thursday afternoon. He was 47.
The music was the usual upbeat mix of dubstep reggae, bluegrass and vintage British punk, and a string quartet performed with commendable irony in the overpriced Hoi Polloi restaurant - where a small and unremarkable burger with chips would set a customer back £15 (about $24). The be-whiskered and expensively dressed 30-and-40-somethings who can afford the extravagant prices were clustered around their Apple laptops in the bar and lobby area, the central feature of which is a long, low communal table with library-style light shades running down its middle. The black and white photo booth machine had a steady stream of laughing customers. There was no palpable sense of doom hanging heavy in the wake of the chain’s visionary founder’s death.
Alex Calderwood, owner of the Ace Hotel, sit at the hotel lobby bar in New York on January 3, 2011. (Deidre Schoo/The New York Times, via Redux)
But behind the game faces, the staff had, however, clearly been rattled by the events of recent days, which came to a dramatic head when an ambulance, preceded by a paramedic on a bike, arrived at the hotel at 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the body of Calderwood was discovered.
What’s turned Los Angeles into a culinary boomtown? Chef Roy Choi and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear know.
If you want to fall in love with Los Angeles, have a meal with Roy Choi and Dana Goodyear. That should do it.
Roy Choi, chef and owner of Chego restaurant and the Kogi Korean taco trucks in Los Angeles, on May 11, 2010. (Axel Koester/The New York Times via Redux)
On paper Choi and Goodyear have little in common. Choi was born in South Korea and raised in Southern California; poor in Koreatown, better off in Anaheim, prosperous in Coto de Caza. Goodyear comes from WASPier, wider ranging stock: Princeton, Cleveland, London, Bethesda, St. Louis, New York, and finally, a few years ago, the upscale bohemia of Venice Beach. She is a poet, teacher, and New Yorker staff writer, educated at St. Paul's and Yale. He went to Cal State Fullerton for awhile, then sold mutual funds, then became the chef behind the mobile Korean taco empire known as Kogi BBQ.
Both Choi and Goodyear have written new books about food. Choi’s L.A. Son is a hard-knock memoir salted with nostalgic recipes. On one page Choi is writing about the gangs he joined as a teenager, the week he spent on crack, or the year he lost to gambling; on the next page he’s telling you how to make something called Ketchup Fried Rice. Goodyear’s Anything That Moves, meanwhile, is a collection of urbane dispatches about the insect-eating, raw-milk-drinking, offal-exalting obsessives on the front lines of 21st-century American food culture. They’re rarely mentioned in the same sentence, and understandably so.
Not all art is easily placed in a museum; some pieces are intrinsically linked to the location in which they were created. A new book collects the best of these works in the Americas.
Site-specific art is some of the most exciting art on the planet. It’s not the art that’s generally in museums and galleries. More often you’ll find it in open fields, in libraries, in opera houses, in caves, on highways, in plazas, in sculpture parks, in state capitols, on the street, in the desert, in office buildings and even in hydroelectric plants. “Site-specific art.” It doesn’t sound good does it? It sounds formal and restricted, but at its best, it is immersive, moving, and very often overwhelming.
Five years in the making, Art & Place (published this month by Phaidon) includes some of the most outstanding examples of site-specific art in the Americas: from the markings of hunter-gatherers who stencilled the shape of their own hands onto cave walls some 9,000 years ago in a canyon in Patagonia, Argentina, to Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate that reflects the constantly changing city and sky in Chicago’s Millennium Square. The book’s geographical structure allows for an exciting sequence of works that vary in time, medium, and approach. Here, Neolithic monuments are juxtaposed with land art, jungle carvings with downtown murals, and public works with personal projects, such as the sculptures—and folly—of the wealthy eccentric Edward James, in the tropical rain forest a ten-hour drive from Mexico City.
There are sites that are familiar to everyone, like Easter Island with its enormous Moai figures standing over eight feet tall, but also far lesser known works, such as the totem poles of the Haida people on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. Some are the creations of renowned artists, like Mark Rothko’s murals in the chapel commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in Houston, or Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels that lie in the desert forty miles from the nearest town in Utah. Others express the genius of unknown artisans, such as the grisaille murals of the Monastery of San Nicolas de Tolentino in San Luis Potosí in Mexico, or of whole communities, like the caves painted in bright colors by the Chumash of California in a quest to communicate with the spiritual world.
What binds these works together is an overriding sense of place: the subject or meaning of all these works is closely intertwined with the location in which they are situated. And it is this that makes them some of the most adventurous, bold, and exciting to experience.
Harry was in London today for launch of Antarctic expedition
Trafalgar Square was chilly today, good preparation for Prince Harry's polar trek.
The young prince was at the central London square for the media launch of the expedition.
Ben A. Pruchnie
Taking to the stage he said, "Even when you've lost a leg or lost an arm, or whatever the illness may be, you can achieve pretty much anything if you put your mind to it…The cause is for one cause and one cause only and that is to raise awareness for all the wounded, sick and injured, whether it's in military life or whether it's in civilian life."
Ever windsurfed across a saltwater lake or visited a 400-year-old chapel—underground? Try it out in Poland, at an unbelievable mine-turned-subterranean playground outside Krakow.
More than 1,000 feet underground in Poland, seemingly impossible things are happening. Hot-air balloons have been launched. A bungee jumper has taken the plunge. A windsurfer has been propelled across still saltwater. A brass band has bellowed on its instruments.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world's oldest operating salt mines, which has been in operation since prehistoric times. (Jan Morek/Getty)
Stretching nine levels beneath the earth, Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine is roomy enough to fit the Eiffel Tower and then some. For centuries, miners have been carving out spectacular chapels and sculptures of the country’s most beloved figures underground, not far from the medieval city of Krakow. And in the past half century, as salt mining slowed and then halted, and tourists began arriving, the cavernous chambers have been transformed into an incredible underground amusement park of grand halls, health spas, museum-worthy art, and record-setting spectacles.
The descent into the chilly salt mine caves is 800 steps down the shafts. But the winding venture is worth the trek. Hundreds of years of excavation has left seven gorgeous chambers carved into the salt rock throughout the floors. Today they host hundreds of guests at weddings, business meetings, concerts, fashion shows, and galas.
From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.
The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.
More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.
Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.
Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.
In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.