Looking in corners and out of the way places

In an interesting juxtaposition, I explored unexpected corners and spaces today.

Starting on the Hartford Belle, a boat sailing 2013-10-05 11.22.14the Connecticut River near Hartford, surprises were there in this pretty unsurprising city.  Who would expect this Russian onion dome on the Colt’s Firearm Factory?

I love origin stories and learned that the name Connecticut is a Dutch-ified version of an Indian word that means “long tidal river.”  Those Dutch!  They came as early as 1614 to explore the 410 mile long river, which runs all the way up to the Canadian border.  The river has a two-foot tidal variation each day, even as far up river as Hartford, 40 miles from Long Island Sound.

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The river is the first of the “Blue Way” program for cleaning up polluted, historic rivers.  Now little commercial traffic travels up the river.   Still, Hartford is prettier from the river than on site.



The afternoon saw me off the boat and on foot, back in New Haven.  This tour explored the corners of buildings on the Yale campus.  We were snooping out carved spouts and grotesques on “gargoyle-infested buildings.”  In contrast to the guide of the Woolworth Building, this author-architect Mathew Duman defines a gargoyle as a figure-caricature that also works as a channel for rain water.  Grotesques can be inside or on the exterior of a building, but are purely decorative.  No funnels there.  We can watch the architectural historians battle it out, or start our exploration.

2013-10-05 16.49.43What’s fun about the gargoyles around Yale is that they play off of student life, as well as showing dignitaries from its past.  The sense of fun, irony, and satire are consistently present, on all types of buildings.

Here’s a carving from the law school  Can you make out the charismatic teacher and his sleeping students?


And Calhoun Hall is named for a man who is shown as a student sleeping over his studies, not as a great benefactor.2013-10-05 15.41.06  Love the monkey grotesque, who seems to single-handedly hold up the building.

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Hilariously, this grotesque with the wooden stone on Bingham refers to a prize awarded to the Yale student who eats the most.

And as a critique on gluttony, two grotesques on Davenport show the roasted fowl and Faust (get the sound similarity?).  They satirize the gluttony of food (fowl) and gluttony of power (Faust).

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The bulldog Handsome Dan is the campus mascot, and bulldogs are all over the place on building facades.  I particularly like the bulldog nerd.

Also a “yale” is a fantastical figure that can resemble a goat, a unicorn, or a hybrid with a human.  It can be embellished with an elephant tail, polka dots, or horns that go in separate directions.  Lots of latitude in portraying a yale around campus.  We saw a baby yale, but don’t get too close!  They’re supposed to be vicious.  Here’s a pair of yales in the bright light of the old art building.

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Don’t look so scary, eh?

Check out more of my favorites in the slide show below.  Don’t miss the screenwriter and the painter (although he is missing his brush)…

What was so great about the tour, too, was being able to go into the locked courtyard of a resident hall.  We got a bell concert, commemorating the new president induction at Yale today, while standing in the Brother’s Immunity (a literary society) courtyard of Branford College.

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I definitely felt like I was in a rarefied place, but really, this is a dorm.  Yes, really.

You can hear some of the bell tower concert in this video of the main courtyard at Branford.



Here’s some more images for you:







2 thoughts on “Looking in corners and out of the way places

  1. Thanks, Rena.

    As a result of reading your posts, I’m now noticing more details and goodies up high, out of the way and “in the corners”.

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