Pereira and Luckman LAX Terminal design

Unbuilt Los Angeles

Los Angeles is a dieselpunk’s delight with its collection of Art Deco architecture, ranging from its famous City Hall to the Art Nouveau-ish Bullocks Wilshire to the iconic Eastern Columbia Building to the heavyset headquarters of the Los Angeles Times.

If it had been up to the following architects, though, the city would have been turned into a theme park of postwar, Atomic Age architecture as well. Continue reading “Unbuilt Los Angeles”

Nazi-occupied Europe map

Hitler’s Feared Invasion of the Middle East

In the spring of 1941, Nazi Germany controlled of all of Western Europe and the question was where Adolf Hitler would strike next? Would he finally attempt an invasion of Great Britain? Or would he move into the Middle East instead and grab the oilfields? (Few anticipated at the time he would break his nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union.)

Life magazine argued in March of that year that an invasion of the Middle East by way of North Africa was most likely. This would allow Hitler to avoid aggravating the United States on the one hand, which might get involved if Germany invaded England, and Turkey on the other, which had resisted German overtures for an alliance.

“The one little hitch is the open space of water between Italy and the African mainland,” the magazine wrote, otherwise known as the Mediterranean Sea. Continue reading “Hitler’s Feared Invasion of the Middle East”

Château Laurier Ottawa Canada

The Grandest of Canada’s Railway Hotels

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Canada’s railway companies built grand hotels along the routes of the country’s burgeoning rail network. Many of these hotels were built in French château- and Scottish baronial-inspired styles, rich in dormers, towers and turrets.

When air travel started to compete with the railways in the second half of the twentieth century, many of the hotels struggled. Some were closed and torn down. The ones that survived are now national landmarks.

Let us take you on a tour of the grandest of Canada’s railway hotels. Continue reading “The Grandest of Canada’s Railway Hotels”

Washington DC nuclear attack illustration

Imagining World War III in 1945

As soon as the Second World War was over, military strategists started planning for the next one.

Life magazine reported in its November 19, 1945 edition that the head of the United States Air Force, General Henry H. Arnold, had warned that technologies developed during the last war — atomic bombs, ballistic missile, long-range bombers — could make possible “the ghastliest of all wars.”

The destruction caused by nuclear weapons would be so swift and terrible that a “war might well be decided in 36 hours.”

Life envisaged what such a war might look like. Continue reading “Imagining World War III in 1945”

The Hague Peace Palace design by Willem Kromhout

Designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague

In 1903, the American businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie donated $1.5 million (almost $40 million in today’s money) for the construction of a Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague. The building would become known as the Peace Palace and eventually house several international courts.

An architectural competition was held for the design. Renowned architects from around the world, including the Netherlands’ own Hendrik Petrus Berlage and Willem Kromhout, submitted ideas. France’s Louis M. Cordonnier Neo-Renaissance palace won. Continue reading “Designs for the Peace Palace in The Hague”

Soviet Arctic dam map

The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic

These days, we worry the Arctic is getting too hot. Half a century ago, the Soviets wished it was warmer — and they thought of a way to thaw the frigid North.

Popular Mechanics reported in June 1956 that Soviet authorities were considering building a 55-mile dam between Alaska and Siberia. The barrier would keep icebergs and arctic currents out of the Pacific, allowing warm southern currents to sweep unchecked up the eastern shore of Siberia and down the western coast of North America. Warm water from the Pacific Ocean would be pumped back into the Arctic and transform the once-frozen region into a “blossoming landscape”. Continue reading “The Soviet Plan to Thaw the Arctic”