1934: Building a brick & mortar archive

The logo I’ve always used for the site is an image of the National Archives Building.  Amazingly, Congress did not approve such a building until 1926.  The architect was John Russell Pope, who also designed the Jefferson Memorial and the National Gallery of Art.  Ground was broken in 1931 and the building was mostly completed by 1935.  According to the online history:

By the time President Herbert Hoover laid the cornerstone of the building in February 1933, significant problems had arisen. Because the massive structure was to be constructed above an underground stream, 8,575 piles had been driven into the unstable soil, before pouring a huge concrete bowl as a foundation. Another difficulty arose over the choice of building materials. Both limestone and granite were authorized as acceptable, but construction began during the darkest days of the Great Depression, and suppliers of each material lobbied fiercely to have the government use their stone. Ultimately, as in the other Federal Triangle buildings, limestone was used for the exterior superstructure and granite for the base.

Here’s construction images:

September 30, 1932

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The patient dragonfly

As readers of my site know, I love photography.  Weston, where I live, was part of the Everglades not too many years ago, and a 10-minute bike ride will get me to one of the last great frontiers of American wildlife.  Sometimes that wildlife can be found in your very own back yard.  A few days ago, I was sitting out back looking at my daughter’s garden.  All of a sudden, a beautiful dragonfly sat right in front of me on a branch of my daughter’s tomato plant.   It sat very calmly while staring at me and studying my face.  Although my slightest facial twitch would elicit a reaction from the dragonfly, it remained still.  Wanting the picture, I ran back into the house to get my camera.  Amazingly, the dragonfly was still there and sat patiently to have his portrait taken.  I never realized until then what beautiful and colorful creatures they are.

Beautiful dragonfly

Rare planetary conjunction: upside-down frown

Tonight we were treated to a rare, beautiful, and odd planetary conjunction: Venus, Jupiter, and a crescent moon in an upside-down frown.  (An unintended  ode to the first day of finals?)  It was easily viewed from my back yard in South Florida where I took the photo.  Jupiter — the largest of the objects — is in the lower right, its distance making it seem to be the smallest.  The smallest object, the moon, appears to be the largest since it’s closest to the Earth.

Triangle moon arrangement

As Wired points out:

Look up at the sky Monday night to see a bright cosmic frown. The planets Jupiter and Venus will briefly align to form (nearly upside down) two eyes and a frowning mouth in the southwest.

In what’s called a planetary conjunction, the two planets —the brightest in the night sky — will appear extremely close, separated by only the width of a finger held at arm’s length. They won’t be this close together and well-placed for evening viewing again until May 2013.