Wednesday, December 19, 2018

A Downtown Christmas

One fun thing about having a toddler is getting to see how excited he gets when he's out seeing things. This year he has gotten into Christmas, so we've been taking him to different places to see the lights and decorations. Last weekend we headed to the historic Capitol Hotel in downtown Little Rock, which features a massive Christmas tree in its lobby. Jonah happily screamed when he saw it (much to the presumed delight of the other visitors, sorry Capitol Hotel). If only the tree had Paw Patrol ornaments on it, it would have blown his mind.

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The tree is a 30 foot tall white fir, and has about 15,000 lights on it. The tree is so tall that it nearly touches the ceiling of the second floor.

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From there we crossed the street and went inside the Marriott Hotel, which had some Christmas decorations up. But their Christmas tree didn't seem as tall as the one in the Capitol Hotel, which granted you'd probably need to have a redwood tree there in order to reach the ceiling.


The next night I swung by the State Capitol around sunset. A tiny bit of golden light was left in the sky, which was being reflected back in the glass of the downtown towers.


And another view looking east towards the skyline, showing some cracked pavement. Which is a little infuriating to see, since my car is currently in the shop after I drove into a massive pothole which ended up bending the wheel. Should I send the bill to the city of Little Rock to pay since they've gotten lazy about patching all the potholes?


And a view of the Capitol dome, as seen through one of the many trees on the grounds.

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A few minutes later, the 55,000 lights on the Capitol were switched on. The Capitol has been lit by lights since 1938, a tradition which was started to help lift the spirits of the kids who were staying at the nearby Arkansas Children's Hospital.


If you head down Capitol Avenue from here, you'd soon reach the Little Rock Christmas Tree (at Capitol and Main Street). The city's tree reaches 65 feet, but it does seem overshadowed by the buildings around it.



From there I headed a few blocks north and caught a ride on the Metro Streetcar as it slowly made its way through downtown. There weren't any other passengers on board, so I set the camera up on a tripod and tried to take some long exposures of the city lights passing by the trolley windows. The streetcars are decorated for the holidays, with lights and garland and even some ornaments that swayed as the trolley lumbered down the road. These shots were taken around the Capitol Hotel and the Statehouse Convention Center.


Monday, December 10, 2018

Under The Dome

I made a return visit to the Arkansas State Capitol last week when it was fairly quiet there. The halls of the capitol has been decked with all sorts of holiday decorations, but there weren't many people there. Just a few people doing some preparations for the upcoming legislative session were milling about. The workshop where Santa sits in the Rotunda during the month of December was empty, I guess Santa was out adding some of our state legislators to the naughty list.


The capitol was built between 1900 and 1915 and cost around $2 million.


The state capitol is a historic and dignified building. It has been the home some of our state's greatest governors - Dale Bumpers, Bill Clinton, and Win Rockefeller (but also home to some of the worst like Orval Faubus or Mike Huckabee).


One of my favorite bits of history about our State Capitol is that it was used as a filming location for the 1991 cinematic classic Stone Cold, starring Brian Bosworth (although it is embarrassing, since they use our capitol for a film that was set in Mississippi). The climax of the movie has gun fights in the old Supreme Court chambers and motorcycles speeding through the marble halls of the building. At one point a motorcycle is actually shot out of a window from the 4th floor where it hits a helicopter, resulting in a fiery explosion on the capitol grounds. The fire inadvertently caused a magnolia tree to catch fire, which had to be cut down afterwards. But it is kinda amusing to imagine Brian Bosworth running around filming those scenes in the Capitol while Bill Clinton was sitting in the nearby governor's office plotting his upcoming run for the Presidency. It's a shame he didn't pick Bosworth to be his Vice President.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Pulaski County Courthouse

The impressively ornate lobby of the Pulaski County Courthouse might be missed by most visitors, who trudge through on their way to jury duty or to court. But the lobby and rotunda, constructed of limestone and capped by a stained glass dome, is worth taking your time to see.


The dome and the courthouse were constructed in 1914, and were designed by noted architect George Mann (who also designed several bathhouses in Hot Springs, the Arkansas State Capitol and Little Rock Central High School. The rotunda is guarded by twelve statues, which are meant to portray agriculture, machinery, justice and art.


And the view from the rotunda, looking up at the stained glass dome. While I was there, a couple was nearby getting their pictures taken after they had gotten married at the courthouse.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Capitol Fireworks

Every year, Arkansas is kind enough to have a little fireworks display right after the 100,000 holiday lights are switched on at the State Capitol. It's a great event, there are tons of families and people out to see the show (it also coincides with the end of the Little Rock Christmas Parade). And of course, it's also a great event for photographers.

The show this year was a little different. Usually the fireworks are launched from right behind the Capitol building, but this year they were moved farther back (maybe for safety? It was really windy earlier that day). Which resulted in the fireworks themselves looking smaller, where even some of the fireworks ended up being obscured by the capitol building. Hopefully next year they move it back closer.

Anyways, here's one of the shots I managed to get. We were already set up by the side of the building and after the fireworks started, people began hurrying over by the side to get a better view.