Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S. — a day to remember and honor those we’ve lost to the senseless tragedy that is war. Here’s one story, about a distant relative, I first published in 2014. May Doug and his sacrifice never be forgotten. On September 27 1942, Douglas Albert Munro sacrificed his life in […]


My only personal connection to Prince Rogers Nelson is that I once saw him walking across the street. His presence belied his tiny stature, and I thought him one of the most elegant, regal, and — yes — beautiful men I’d ever seen. He made such an impression in that fleeting moment, in fact, that […]


Remember that day I walked 25.9 miles (41km)? Here’s one-third of the story. I first heard of the Petite Ceinture a couple of years ago through MessyNessy Chic, where one photo in particular captured my imagination. Could this really exist in the heart of Paris? Photo via MessyNessy Chic During my next trip I vowed […]


This post is dedicated to my friend Gilles Thomas, for his tireless devotion to preserving the work — and honoring the memory — of Charles-Axel Guillaumot. Suppose you’ve been hired to oversee a vast and vital railroad network. Now imagine that, on the very first day of your new job, one of the trains on […]


“Have you read How Paris Became Paris?” my new blog-friend Nomad Woman asked recently. I had indeed — and I loved Joan DeJean’s approach of (re)telling the city’s history through architectural and technological innovations. I especially appreciated DeJean’s characterization of Henry IV (1554 – 1610) as a visionary. I had never before regarded his urban […]


I’m always happy to offer Paris travel tips (check out a first-timer’s guide to Paris, a walking/photography tour, and my list of 10 small museums.) But I was truly intrigued when a blogfriend asked me recently about sightseeing in Roman Paris. Here are my top picks — and a quick history lesson to give them […]


April is National Poetry Month.* I was going to leave this fact unacknowledged, because — though it’s heresy to admit it — I don’t like most poetry. Poetry can be sumptuous and evocative. But too many writers use poetry as a literary Cuisinart, as an excuse to dice up thoughts and mix metaphors. Some poets […]


During my first visit to Freiburg, Germany, one of the things that most impressed me was the meticulously cobbled streets. So precisely cut are the stones that you can walk on them for hours without tiring — and the mosaics are as much of a feast for the eyes as the shop windows above them. […]


Today marks the centenary of my favorite Christmas story. It happened in 1914, only five months after the beginning of World War I. The British soldiers who huddled in the trenches must have been miserable that clear December evening, as a blanket of damp and darkness enveloped them. The winter of 1914 had been fierce […]


According to an eyewitness who survived the bombing, the residents of Freiburg never saw it coming. They had every reason to think they’d be spared: Their small city in the foothills of Germany’s Black Forest had no military installations, and it was not on the Allies’ target list. Plus, they knew that British Prime Minister […]