travel

THE CITY OF BRIDGES

The city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania which happens to be the twentieth largest in the United States, has been appropriately referred to as the "Steel City" due to the fact that it is home to more than 300 steel-related businesses.  While this has been well publicized, many are not aware that the city of Pittsburgh has also been coined the "City of Bridges" due to the fact that it contains 446 bridges - the most of any city in the world...except Venice, Italy. 

Pittsburgh has also been a manufacturing giant of aluminum, glass, shipbuilding, sports, computing and electronics. The city houses world renowned medical and research centers, museums, and libraries along with a vibrant cultural scene as well as laying claim to having the most bars per capita in the United States. Some of the world's biggest names in tech have offices located here.

 

Pittsburgh is a palette begging for an artist with a brush. Photographers have endless opportunities to create a plethora of stunning imagery including but not limited to world class architecture and jaw dropping skylines. I look forward to returning to this wonderful city to bask in all its glory. 

PREPARING FOR BEACH SEASON

As the brisk and chilling mornings soon become a memory, our thoughts lead back to warmer and happier times.  This comes from a trip I took last summer and imagine I will be revisiting this site in near future. Otsego Lake State Park is located up North near the sleepy Alpine Village of Gaylord, Michigan.

Sunset on Otsego Lake

Established as a state park in 1920, Otsego Lake State Park is shaded with large oak, maple and pine trees while spanning 62 acres and providing more than a half mile of sandy beach and large campgrounds near or within sight of the lake. Whether you want to absorb the rays while on the beach, catch some trout or camp out for the weekend, Otsego lake checks all the boxes for nice relaxing and serene weekend.

SEDONA'S FAVORITE GEM

A small locale tucked away in Verde Valley, Arizona, Sedona is best known for its glorious red sandstone structure and mild year-round climate. The city sits 1372 above sea level providing some of the most marvelous views of all the existing nature and wilderness.

The most visited landmark in Sedona is Cathedral Rock which also happens to beone of the most photographed sites in America by enthusiasts and professionals alike. The Rock formations which change colors throughout the day are known to resemble a shrine. The area appeals to hikers and nature enthusiasts as well as the risk-takers who attempt to climb this gargantuan structure. Cathedral Rock is located in the Coconino National Forest in Yavapai County. Words simply cannot justify the vision that awaits anyone visiting this amazing landmark.

WALKING THE STRIP

I recently traveled to Las Vegas for a long weekend of work-related events.  Although I had a detailed shot list for sites I wanted to photograph, reality left me with very little time to actually make images.  After completing my obligations, I headed out down the strip at 11:00 pm on a brisk and windy March night. As I walked around trying to capture the hustle and bustle of the Vegas Strip, I settled on an area with active traffic and a backdrop of hotels including Treasure Island, The Venetian and The Mirage.

Lighting up the Strip

The extended light trails lead the eye straight down the strip populated with gargantuan hotels filled with casinos, high-end retailers and countless five-star celebrity-owned restaurants.  This level of excess and grandeur can only be seen in aplace known appropriately as Sin City.

WELCOME TO SHAWSHANK

I recently traveled to Mansfield, Ohio with Thomas Nighswander of Michigan Photo Adventures and a group of photographers to tour the Mansfield Reformatory which was made famous by being the predominant location for the famous movie "The Shawshank Redemption".  The exterior represents a Romanesque style design with its castle-like appearance. 

The Mansfield Reformatory was constructed between the years of 1886 and 1910 and functioned as a full fledged prison until it was closed down by a federal court in 1990.  The historic prison has also been a venue for scenes in the movies Tango & Cash, Air Force One, as well as music videos by Godsmack and L'il Wayne.  

The original use of the reformatory was a training camp for Civil War Soldiers.  The construction of the institution was completed by well-known architect F.F Schnitzer whose name also appears on documents as a Superintendent.  The first group of prisoners were brought in from Columbus in 1896 and were immediately put to work on the prison sewer system.

Locked in

The East Cell block which is comprised of six tiers remains the largest cell block in the prison.

One door always leads to another.  The stairs though the door lead to what was once a church which now seems to be a fraction of what it once was.  Although there are areas of moderate dilapidation, the majority of the building is sound.

This area of worship barely resembles such an institution yet contains just enough artifacts to imagine what might have been here.

Pick a room - any room

The cells are open for viewing to imagine what the cramped living quarters might have been like.  This serves as a reminder is that there is always a price to pay and retribution has its purposes.  Unfortunately, these spartan conditions and tortuous lifestyle only lead to an inability to cope with society causing criminals to return after a short time.

This photo gives one an ideal of the amenities or lack thereof for one in such a situation.  The message here is for must of us, things are not that bad.  Then again, we didn't place ourselves in such a position to receive such accommodations.

Above is a birds eye view of a prison cell in the main cell block.  One can only imagine what a day in here would be like.

The cause of the reformatory shutting down in 1990 was due to a prisoners' class action lawsuit which claimed extreme overcrowding and inhumane conditions. 

These are the main stairs which greet the visitors beginning the tour.  The Mansfield Reformatory Preservation Society is currently working to restore the prison to its original condition.  The repairs are completed by funding from the ongoing tours and various donations.  This place is definitely worth the drive and can be visited year round.

 

 

HANGING OUT IN BEANTOWN

The city of Boston is a definite must see since it offers a multitude of activities which will please even those with the most discriminating tastes. History buffs can get lost for days on the Freedom Trail while reliving such as acts as the Boston Tea Party. Sports fans need to look no further than the one and only Fenway Park. Foodies will appreciate the diverse dining options the city has to offer.

The Boston Skyline

As with any major city possessing a vibrant downtown scene comes the opportunity to photography the city skyline consisting of several tall and iconic buildings. One of the best  places to photograph the Boston skyline is Fan Pier Park. One thing to note is that some city cab drivers have no idea where this is so be sure bring additional information or there is no telling where you will end up. Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way.

Omni Parker House Hotel

When in Boston, one must be sure to sample the legendary Boston Cream Pie at the Omni Parker House Hotel. This culinary delight is known as the official dessert of Massachusetts. 

Baseball fans will definitely stop by and experience the charm and history of the world renowned Fenway Park. Home to the Boston Red Sox, this place is virtually a way of life for Bostonians. During gamedays, the area around the park practically closes down due to the immense traffic situation. When the stadium is not being utilized, tours are offered which I hope to capitalize on during my next visit.

One final dining choice which must be made is that of the world renowned Lobster Roll which can be found at a plethora of establishments. Large chunks of Lobster in a mayonnaise based salad served on a roll. 

I greatly anticipate my return visit to this amazing city to continue my amazing experience.

 

CAN YOU SAY TRIDGE?

Located in the heart of Midland, MI lies the Iconic "Tridge" which represents a three-way wooden bridge located at the junction of the Chippewa and Tittabawassee Rivers. The bridge consists of a 31 foot central pillar supporting three spokes which are each 180 feet long and 8 feet wide. 

The Tridge is one of the the city's main attractions and signifies the beginning of the Chippewa Trail. It also marks the origin of the Pere Marquette Rail Trail, a Michigan Rails to Trails Conservancy Hall of Fame Trail. This area is very active in the summer with it's nearby parks, farmers market, and evening concerts. A rather unique structure indeed which is best viewed at night while fully illuminated.

ALL ABOARD

I recently visited the Jingle Rails Exhibit at the Eiteljorg Museum in downtown Indianapolis featuring numerous train layouts of famous landmarks made from materials such as moss, twigs, nuts, etc. Jingle Rails is a representation of the Real Great American West as well as an imaginary version. For those who grew up tinkering with model trains, you will greatly appreciate the attention to detail placed throughout this exhibit.

The exhibit features local Indianapolis treasures such as the Eiteljorg Museum and Lucas Oil Stadium.

Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art

Lucas Oil field served as host to the Superbowl back in 2012 and continues as home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts. Notice the great attention to detail with regards to the field surface inside.

Monument Circle celebrates the Holidays every year with a lighting ceremony that draws large volumes of people from miles and miles away.

The Indiana State Fair remains a staple in the fabric of Indiana Summers while entertaining large crowds every year.


Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota has been an iconic landmark since 1925 featuring the faces of former Presidents Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington.

Old Faithful Geyser, the world's most famous Geyser located in Yellowstone National Park was named due to it's reliable ability to erupt every 65-92 minutes which still holds true today.

While in Yellowstone, why not stay at the Legendary Ahwahnee Hotel, which has seen countless celebrities throughout its long existence.

One last stop on this tour is the one and only Hoover Dam which sits on the Arizona-Nevada Border and takes in approximately 1 million visitors per year.

This is an exhibit that has been airing for the past six years around the Holidays and is definitely an attraction worth adding to your itinerary when visiting Indianapolis.

 

THE POWERS OF POST-PROCESSING

As photographers, we are always told to capture the best images in camera followed by modest enhancements made in software to create the final masterpiece. As much as I subscribe to this theory, there are times when the conditions are simply not conductive to creating great content. This is when understanding how to unleash the creative powers of your post-processing software can salvage an image that might never see the light of day.

SOOC - Before    F14   40 sec   ISO 400  14mm

Case in point - I recently spent the Thanksgiving Holiday in Indianapolis with my wife at the JW Marriott Hotel which was constructed at the request of the NFL prior to hosting the 2012 Superbowl. Unfortunately, mother nature was unaware of my arrival and did not choose to cooperate but I managed to make a few images while dodging the raindrops. The extremely overcast conditions provided very poor light leaving nothing worthwhile to be immediately captured. Observing the abundance of cloud cover, I decided to apply a 10 stop ND filter to capture a long exposure. The lack of any gaps in the clouds provided very little contrast thereby failing to reveal any streaking during the 40 second exposure. Not to mention the movement of the clouds was very slow.  Now time to make a decent photograph from this mediocrity. 

The image was imported into lightroom CC and converted to black and white. Mild sharpening and noise removal were done and then imported into photoshop. After duplicating the layer, a selection was made around the clouds using the quick selection tool. The clouds were then placed on their own layer. Using the path blur tool, the cloud streaks were made more distinctive and angled for better orientation with the building. The exposure was lowered to bring out more details in the clouds. After saving the image back into lightroom, some dodging and burning was done to create more contrast while completing the image with a heavy vignette.

 

WELCOME TO THE MISSION

I recently traveled to Mackinac Island for some rest and relaxation and spent a few days at the famed Mission Point Resort.  The resort was bought by a Detroit businessman and renamed Mission Point as a tribute to the part of the Island which housed one of the first churches and the Mission House, an historical landmark which still stands on the property. The resort has gone through changes over the years improving its structural integrity and overall esthetics.  IN 2004, Fodor name the resort as one of the top ten best waterfront hotels in America.

Hotel Lobby

As you enter the main entrance, you are greeted by a rustic yet inviting atmosphere along with towering wooden ceilings.  The front desk seen to the right work diligently to ensure the happiness of each and every guest during their stay.

Round Island Bar and Grill

hether its settling in for your favorite libation during happy hour or fueling up before a long day of sightseeing, the Round Island Bar and Grill is a great place to start or end the day.

Reading Room

One of the nice amenities this hotel provides is numerous seating areas throughout the lobby. These seating areas are great for scintillating conversation or simply enjoying a good book.  The wicker furniture and supple green leather chairs complement the wooden decor quite nicely.

Once you have completed the latest thriller and you have worked up an appetite, the ideal choice for dinner is Chianti, the hotel's flagship italian restaurant.  Fine dining and impeccable service will provide a night to remember.

Chianti Restaurant 

The wooden theme continues throughout the hotel providing a warm and comforting environment to enjoy a delicious culinary experience.

The Mission Point Resort sits about a 15 minute walk away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.  This provides a great deal of solitude allowing one to enjoy expansive property overlooking the Lake Michigan.  The multitude of Adirondack chairs provide a great way to relax on a sunny afternoon.

Take a load off

Mission Point Resort

As old man winter begins to arrive, the island will soon be closed to visitors.  Having said that, I look forward to returning next year for another memorable and relaxing vacation.

 

 

TO BE ZEN-LIKE

This past weekend I made it out to the newly opened and highly anticipated Richard & Helen Devos Japanese Garden in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Garden includes several calming staples such as boulders, waterfalls, horticulture and more. A tremendous amount of sweat equity went into creating this oasis. Islands were constructed, thousands of boulders and plants were brought in. The trees include those which have been pruned and cultivated for years to appear in a mature state.

A helping hand

As you come through the main entrance you are greeted by scupture "It Will Continue to Grow Except at that Point". This installation by Giuseppe Penone elaborates on the idea of mankind's relationship with nature.

As you continue throughout the garden residing in the middle of Lena Meijer Pond, you will come upon the masterpiece known as "Four Open Squares Horizontal Gyratory-Tapered". This creation by George Rickey demonstrates his ability to combine minimalism in combination with geometry and precise engineering. 

s with all visits to a Japanese Garden, something would be amiss without experiencing the tranquility of a waterfall. The garden contains a handful of waterfalls ranging in size a providing much needed serenity to our hectic daily lives.

Continuing throughout the gardens while encircling the pond, one will encounter Pebble beach where a number of sculptures are present composed of stones.

The artist Zhang Huan has been known worldwide for his acclaimed installations and sculptures. The artist has masterfully combined his love of Buddhism and Chinese culture to create inspirational works. His monumental steel sculpture known as "Long Island Buddha" with it roughened exterior, reflects on the relationship of human violence and its destruction of culture

As you climb to the peak, you can catch a birds eye 360 degree view of entire garden.

No visit would be complete without experiencing the traditional Zen-style Garden. The garden promotes seclusion and contemplation while being surrounded by the nearby acclaimed bonsai collection.

This garden will only continue to mature and improve over time. I look forward to many return visits and encourage anyone in the area to stop and immerse yourself in this experience.

 

 

 

CALLING ALL FOODIES!!!

The St. Lawrence Market in Toronto, Ontario was named  the world's greatest food market by National Geographic Magazine back in 2012. The market consists of two separate buildings designated as North and South. St. Lawrence Market South consists of restaurants, bakeries, delis, meat shops as well as a cornucopia of other food sources. St. Lawrence Market North houses weekly farmer's markets along with antique markets.

Olives Aplenty

As a fan of various olives, the multitude of options at the market is simply astounding. Whether searching for the Greek Kalamata, the italian snack favorite Castelvetrano, or the Nicoise olive from the French Riviera, you can be sure whatever your heart desires will be readily available during a visit here. 

Martini Anyone?

One quality I share with all my male counterparts is my love for all things beef. Fellow carnivores will find endless options here as the market plays host to a handful of meat purveyors. Whether you prefer a filet, porterhouse, t-bone, delmonico or ribeye, you can purchase whatever cut you desire in various sizes. 

A Carnivores Dilemma

Along with enough servings of beef to put you into a food coma, fans of proscuitto will find some of the best offerings from the finest regions in Italy. Proscuitto is a dry-cured ham usually sliced thin and served uncooked. Along with this, you will also find the famous and pricey Iberico Ham which is not something readily available in most places. Enjoy it while you can.


As I continued my visit throughout the market I came upon another of my favorite indulgences, Cheese. Here at the market, all regions around the globe have found a way to pleasantly coexist. Whether you prefer a soft and spreadable brie or camembert, a pungent roquefort blue cheese, or an aged and firm Emmental swiss cheese,  this is the place to be. The market host numerous cheese vendors who will provide you with more offerings than one can possibly fathom. Although the options are endless, the journey is extremely enjoyable. 

Cheese and more cheese

In closing, any trip to Toronto must include a stop to the renowned St. Lawrence Market. Be sure to come famished since the plethora of culinary options will definitely prove to be irresistible. Although the line is absolutely ridiculous, be sure to eat at Buster's Sea Cove - it is all worth the wait. If weather permits, walk outside to the rooftop patio and enjoy the view. 

I look forward to returning here later this summer.

TRINITY CHURCH OF BOSTON

Located in the Back Bay of Boston, Massachusetts, lies one of the most important developments in the history of American Architecture known as the Trinity Church of Boston. The church which serves as home to numerous high level choirs was designed by Henry Hobson Richardson during the years of 1872-1877. In 1971, the church was given the honor being designated as a National Historic Landmark.

The church possesses one of the finest stained glass collections in the world, using examples from nineteenth century American and European stained glass studios. The groundbreaking glass work was the ingenious design of John La Farge. He was the first to pioneer the use of layering opalescent glass for designing stained glass.

This allowed La Farge to create new colored effects and shading by layering pieces of glass rather than the traditional method of painting on glass. 

Along with the copious examples of stunning stained glass, one will find a presence of commanding architecture with it's towering ceilings and columns which provide countless opportunities to observe the fine detail and craftsmanship which went into the construction of this masterpiece. The impeccable artistry can also be witness with a quick glimpse upwards. 

This room features the bust of Phillips Brooks, a clergyman, author and long the Rector of Boston's Trinity Church. He graduated from Harvard at the tender age of 20 and was fired while working briefly as a school teacher. After overcoming the lows associated with termination, he went back to school for his Seminary studies which led him to his role with the Trinity Church.

An example of the seating area on the left side of the church.

As you turn around preparing to exit the Church, there are plenty more features to absorb including the organs along the back wall. For anyone visiting Boston, this is a definite destination to add to one's itinerary. Allow ample time to bask in the glory of one of the finest building ever built in the United States of America. 

WELCOME TO THE SEMINARY

Established in 1855, The Chicago Theological Seminary is the oldest institution of higher education in Chicago, while being one of seven seminaries historically affiliated with the United Church of Christ. Located on the campus of the University of Chicago, this is one of many attractions that will appeal to most visiting photographers.

As you enter the building you are greeted by this massive staircase and concrete columns just begging to be photographed. The architecture of yesteryear brings be back to my childhood with thoughts of Dungeons and Dragons or Harry Potter for today's youth. 

As I make my way up the stairs I come to a short hallway which leads to a dead end, but not before grabbing my camera. The beautiful archway and cathedral windows are features not to be missed while not being seen on most University Campuses.

As I returned to the main level and began exploring, I came to another section of the building which houses rooms for studying, numerous classrooms and offices.

Just to the right of the previous staircase, I ventured into a rather unique room with minimal furnishings and a fireplace. I am not sure what functions this room serves, but I appreciate the dated decor nonetheless.

As I head up the stairs, I am greeted by a unique seating area bathed in daylight which serves as an ideal place to catch up on some light reading.

Finally, as I make my way back outside, I exit through the cobblestone-lined corridor leading back to the campus grounds. The University of Chicago provides a multitude of photographic opportunites by way of it's unique and eye-catching architecture. To all the photographers heading to the Out of Chicago Photography conference, this must be a definite stop during the weekend.  See you there. 

 

 

 

 

TOWER OF THE AMERICAS

Located in the middle of Hemisfair Park in downtown San Antonio is the iconic structure known as the Tower of The Americas. This 750-foot tower houses a cocktail lounge, rotating restaurant as well as an observation deck which provides phenomenal panoramic views of the city. The tower, recognized as the tallest building in San Antonio, was designed by architect O'Neil Ford as the main theme structure for the 1968 World's Fair, Hemisfair '68

Construction of the tower commenced on August 9, 1966 and was completed 18 months later, just prior to the opening ceremonies of the fair on April 6, 1968. Interestingly enough, the top portion of the building was constructed at ground level and hoisted on top of the concrete pillar by cables which actually snapped leaving the top resting rather precariously on the concrete shaft. The job was then completed using oil field pipes to secure the tophouse in position.

The ride to the top takes approximately five and a half minutes and can provide some great photographic opportunities if you can avoid the crowds. 





THE TOWER LIFE BUILDING - SAN ANTONIO

For years, the iconic Tower Life Building has been a recognized landmark located in the heart of Downtown San Antonio.

In 1950, the original 100-foot flagpole was removed and replaced with an antenna in order to allow the city's second Television station to broadcast from inside the building. The cost of the conversion was estimated to be around two million dollars.

Unfortunately, in 2006 the building endured a fire while some work was being done to the base of the antenna. As a result, the antenna was removed and replaced with another rooftop  flagpole similar to the original. The lantern at the top of the building along with the stars and stripes are illuminated throughout the night hours and can be seen from miles away.

THE ICONIC GRAND HOTEL

As the thermometer begins to dip here in the midwest, I can't help but reminisce about some time I spent last summer on Mackinaw Island, Michigan at the famed Grand Hotel. The famous historic landmark is located on a small island between the Upper and Lower Peninsulas. The hotel has been frequented by past presidents, luminaries, dignitaries,  and celebrities alike. The hotel has taken some flack for charging visitors a $10 fee for visiting the property.

The Grand Hotel contains the longest porch in world measuring approximately 660 feet in length while overlooking an expansive tea garden. The porch area hosts vacationers, concertgoers, along with the those attending the Annual Mackinac Policy Conference.

As you make your way through the main corridor and up a few stairs you end up at the main level of the hotel containing restaurants, bars and numerous seating areas. Once at the crossroads, you see my personal favorite, the Audubon Wine Bar to the right, a luxuriously comfortable seating area straight ahead and more seating areas to the left for everyday conversation.

The Audubon Wine Bar provides a relaxing atmosphere to enjoy the finest wines from Napa Valley, the greatest cognacs from France along with the finest single malt scotches from Scotland. The plethora of wall to wall books provides a very comfortable clubby feel without the usual ostentatiousness accompanying watering holes of this magnitude.  One final note, this place serves the best Truffle fries in the entires state, if not, the country. Do not leave without sampling these culinary delights.

As you leave the bar after ingesting your favorite cocktails, a short walk out the door leads you to another area for the ultimate relaxation. Enormous, plush couches await adorned with priceless chandeliers above.

The final destination on this wonderful journey through the Grand Hotel takes us to the top floor to the Cupola Bar which provides breathtaking panoramic views of the Straits of Mackinac. As is the case throughout the hotel, the customer service is second to none and the worn "no" is non-existent. This is a definite stop while visiting the hotel and will provide memories that last a lifetime.  I am already anticipating my return visit next spring.





DOWNTOWN GRAND RAPIDS

Last weekend I decided at the last minute to getaway for a night absolving myself from the responsibilities and obligations of everyday life. I jumped in the car and headed to Grand Rapids, Michigan which has quickly become one of the fastest growing cities with it's enticing offering of breweries, restaurants and a vibrant art scene. 

Blue Bridge

Located in the heart of downtown lies the iconic pedestrian bridge simply known as the Blue Bridge. The bridge connects the city center on the East bank to the Grand Rapids Public Museum and Grand Valley State University facilities on the West. This pedestrian bridge provides a convenient connection between the Robert C. Pew Grand Rapids Campus of Grand Valley State University as well as the Grand Rapids Public Museum and other attractions on the east side of the river.

This location has proven quite popular while providing a backdrop for wedding parties, prom pictures with its unmistakeable "Lake Blue" color.

Back to the city

Off to the left, in the two previous photos, is the JW Marriott Hotel where I spent the evening. Excellent service and attention to detail provide the perfect complement to the eye-catching contemporary architectural design.

Waterfront Downtown Grand Rapids

The downtown area is an ideal venue for taking in the all glorious options a large vibrant city has to offer. There are walking paths along the water which allow you to experience big-city excitement without the usual big city hassles. There are multiple dining, shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing opportunities all within a 10-minute stroll.

Pearl Street Bridge

 

Public Museum of Grand Rapids

The Grand Rapids Public Museum happens to be one of the oldest history museums in the United States. The museum contains a cafe, gift shop, as well as a rather unique feature, a 1928 Spilllman Carousel. The museum offers attractions for everyone as well as those interested in Astronomy by way of the Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium. 

Upon completing the museum tour, a simple stroll across the street brings you to the Gerald R. Ford Museum. 

Gerald R Ford Museum

Since September of 1981, the Gerald R.Ford Museum has provided visitors a snapshot into history with exhibits and interactive learning to better understand the highlights of the Ford Administration. The museum offers a gift shop to provide momentos of history while also serving as a host for naturalization ceremonies and the annual fourth of July fireworks,

 

Grand Rapids continue to flourish as one of the fastest growing cities with all its unique offerings and I look forward to returning to visit its newest attractions. 


THE CHURCHES OF SAN ANTONIO

The city of San Antonio, Texas is known for many things - The iconic river walk, Gigantic portions of beef, The San Antonio Spurs as well as the Famous Alamo. Among the less publicized attractions are the numerous churches located throughout the city. On a recent trip to San Antonio, I was fortunate enough to acquire access to three of the more better known churches in the city.

Little Church of LaVillita

The non-denominational Little Church of LaVillita happens to be one of San Antonio's most unique historical sites. Situated just off the river walk in the Historic Art Village of Lavillita, the Church was built in 1879 in Gothic Revival Architecture with a stunning stained glass window greeting all visitors upon entry. The meticulously crafted concrete walls provide an extremely unique experience among the churches of today while actively conducting services every Sunday Morning.

Saint Joseph Church

The Parish of Saint Joseph was the brainchild of a group of German Catholic immigrants searching for a place of worship in the mid 1800's. The church was constructed in a rather spartan fashion with small additions being made as funds allowed by the community. The exterior structure was finally considered completed in 1898 when a steeple was added to the gothic style rooftop. In 1902, the church was granted an immense upgrade as a handful of beautiful stained glass windows were purchased from a glass factory in Bavaria, Germany for the sum of $3000. 

Exterior Saint Joseph Church

The resiliency of the church was tested in 1945 when Joske's department store sought to purchase the church and grounds in order to expand its operation. The parishioners voted unanimously not to sell, exhibiting tremendous faith and resolve. As a result, the church remains a symbol of faith while surrounded by the Rivercenter Mall, hotels and residences. For this reason, the church is known to locals as the "jewel in the heart of San Antonio". The church serves as a respite for many locals and tourists alike every Sunday morning.

Front Section Saint Joseph Parish

This picturesque institution requires a visit by anyone in the vicinity of San Antonio - it is definitely worth the drive.

San Fernando Cathedral

Located in Downtown San Antonio is the world famous San Fernando Cathedral which has been honored to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It serves as the Mother Church of the ArchDiocese of San Antonio. The original church was built between 1738 and 1750 with the original walls forming the sanctuary of the cathedral. This church has the distinction of being the oldest cathedral in the State of Texas. 

The Church gets its name from Ferdinand III of Castile, who was a a 13th century ruler.  The Cathedral was built by settlers from the Canary Islands. Due to this effort, the interior contains a picture of the Virgin of Candelaria, the patroness of the Canary Islands.

The Cathedral was enlarged in the Gothic Style in 1868, with the addition of the existing nave. The striking stained glass windows were added in 1920.

San Fernando Cathedral happens to have the elite status of being the only church in all of Texas ever visited by a  Pope - Pope John Paul II arrived in 1987. The cathedral serves as the foundation for religious citizens of San Antonio.  Each year, countless events are held here including baptism, weddings, funerals, as well as other special activities.