Ithaca and Surrounding Area

We drove south on the west side of Cayuga Lake after a stop in Seneca Falls. It was raining when we got to Taughannock Falls.
 
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Taughannock Falls, north of Ithaca near Cayuga Lake. This waterfall is taller than Niagara Falls. This photo was taken from the Falls Overlook, but the falls can also be approached from the gorge trail along the river.
 
What struck me most about traveling through New York State was the amount of open space and fresh water. With stories in newspapers about the explosive population growth in the parched Sun Belt states, particularly Arizona, and the compounding effects of higher temperatures with global warming, it seems only a matter of time before people discover (or rediscover) the idea of sustainable living in such a pristine environment as New York State (and Ontario for that matter). The rust belt cities of Buffalo and Rochester could see a rebound in population. Perhaps this is already occurring– I did get a sense of restored confidence and economic vitality in the region around the Finger Lakes. The emphasis on restoring historical sites and building museums, art galleries, and libraries seemed to indicate that economic growth and preservation of the past (as well as the environment) were high on the agenda of the citizens of these areas.
 
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The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University in Ithaca. I had read that this concrete modernist building had been nicknamed the “sewing machine building” because of its appearance. The fifth floor has an observation deck for panaromic views of Ithaca, the Cornell campus, and Cayuga Lake. The museum’s collection spans the history of art, and is particularly strong in Asian art, nineteenth and twentieth-century American art, and the graphic arts.
 
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View of Cayuga Lake from the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art in Cornell University– the highest point on the campus.
 
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Cornell University dominates the hilltop overlooking the city of Ithaca.
 
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View from the suspension bridge in Cornell University, looking west toward Cayuga Lake. Below is Fall Creek Gorge which has several waterfalls and spots for swimming and sunbathing. A small hydroelectric plant lies up the river.
 
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Suspension bridge in Cornell University– this shot is taken from the trail along the top of the gorge. When I crossed the bridge I could feel it tremor with every step. The city of Ithaca has a T-shirt slogan “Ithaca is gorges” to reflect the fact of the large number of gorges and waterfalls in the region.
 
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Another view on the suspension bridge over Fall Creek Gorge on the Cornell University campus. You can just see the top of the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art above the trees.
 
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Moosewood restaurant in Ithaca. Moosewood is known for its vegetarian dishes (although fish is also served) and its cookbooks. At the restaurant the menu changes every day. Reservations are not taken so it is best to arrive early. The original Moosewood Cookbook was published in 1977, and ten more have been published since.
 
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Carl Sagan Planet Walk in downtown Ithaca. Carl Sagan was probably the most well-known faculty member of Cornell University. The Sagan Planet Walk is an accurate scale model of the solar system spread over 1.2 km of downtown Ithaca. The shape of each planet station is that of a monolith to recall the astronomical monuments of earlier civilizations.
 
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Concert in The Commons (every Thursday night in the summer). The Commons is the pedestrian street in downtown Ithaca.
 
Interestingly, like Fort Lee in New Jersey, Ithaca played a role in the early film industry in the United States. Ithaca was a centre for the silent film industry and several cliffhanger serials were filmed here. Eventually, the year-round good weather of Hollywood enticed the studios to move west.
 
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Tompkins County Public Library in downtown Ithaca. The roof of the library had a 143 kW solar electric system providing clean power for the library. This library uses the Polaris Integrated Library System.
 
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Buttermilk Falls, Ithaca.
 
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Watkins Glen, overlooking Seneca Lake. Watkins Glen, at the southern tip of Seneca Lake, is noted for auto racing, including NASCAR races. The drive north along the lake passes many scenic vineyards.
 
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Mark Twain memorial near his tomb in Elmira, New York. The monument is 12 feet high to reflect the original meaning of “mark twain” (the leadsman of paddle wheel steamboats on the Mississippi would indicate 2 fathoms or 12 feet as “mark twain”).
 
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Mark Twain’s study was moved from its original location to the campus of Elmira College in 1952. Elmira College offers a graduate certificate in Mark Twain studies.
 
“It is the loveliest study you ever saw…octagonal with a peaked roof, each face filled with a spacious window…perched in complete isolation on the top of an elevation that commands leagues of valley and city and retreating ranges of distant blue hills. It is a cozy nest and just room in it for a sofa, table, and three or four chairs, and when the storms sweep down the remote valley and the lightning flashes behind the hills beyond and the rain beats upon the roof over my head—imagine the luxury of it.”—Mark Twain, Letter to William Dean Howells, 1874
 
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This unique octagonal study is where Mark Twain wrote many of his works. Mark Twain had visited a friend in Elmira in 1868 and he met his future wife in the town. In later years, his wife’s sister and her husband had this study built on a farm outside Elmira. Mark Twain and his wife spent their summers on this farm for more than twenty years.
 
Some Mark Twain quotes:
Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.
 
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.
 
If you hold a cat by the tail you learn things you cannot learn any other way.
 
In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making them understand their language.
 
Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society.
 
Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violets sheds on the heel that has crushed it.
 
Ideally a book would have no order to it, and the reader would have to discover his own.
 
Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.
 
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Bethel Woods Center for the Arts– the new concert venue on the site of the 1969 Woodstock music festival which opened in 2006. A museum dedicated to the 1960s will open here in the fall.
 
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Site of the 1969 Woodstock concert. The concert stage was at the bottom of the hill on what was Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm at the time. The audience size swelled to almost 500,000 during the concert weekend August 15-18, 1969.
 
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Peace everyone. A hippie took our picture. We swapped Canada-U.S. border-crossing stories. His were more interesting.
 
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Palisades Parkway leaving New York City, and heading back into the Catskills. What struck me the most was how quickly upon leaving New York City we appeared to be out in the wilderness. Many state parks are in this area of rolling hills and deep river valleys.
 
The Catskills are sometimes referred to as the “Borscht Belt” because of its history of grand resorts for Jewish vacationers who needed to escape the heat and disease of the big city. Many entertainers got their start or performed in this area. The arrival of the air conditioner and the end of discrimination in the hotel business led to the decline of the Borscht Belt. With Bethel Woods opening the economy looks like it’s on the rebound. We saw a lot of development in Monticello, the village on the main expressway with the exit to Bethel Woods.
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