I got to climb a tower crane recently. This is something I had never done before and, since it provides a good view of a site and it was a new experience, I was keen to go. I had one of my bigger cameras with me but I didn’t have a strap for it. This proved to be a poor choice. Climbing the ladders to get up the tower is not particularly hard but trying to do so while keeping hold of the hand strap of one camera was possible but very slow.
I quickly decided to leave the camera on one of the stage levels and get it on the way back down. It wasn’t like anyone was going to be passing by. I still had my phone in my pocket so that would have to do. I got up to the level just below the cab. Stopping at a few levels on the way up game me some different views of the construction site. An elevated position is so appealing to me. It gives perspective that most people never get to see.
Climbing back down again was a little less easy. There is something about climbing up something which seems more natural than climbing down. However, I was soon reunited with my camera and then finished the last couple of levels. I will take good note of the advice about not bruising your knees as the ladder angle changes. I might have bashed them once or twice. Also, next time I shall make sure to have a strap to allow me to carry the better cameras with me!
Tower cranes are ubiquitous in big cities. The only way to construct tall buildings, there are the sign of a prosperous city when there are lots of them. They can be a nuisance when you are taking photos of a skyline of course since they interrupt the flow of a cityscape. You seen them all the time but you don’t often get to see how one is assembled. When we were watching the tower construction across from our building in Chicago, we got to see the cranes being put together.
The first thing that is needed is a big crane! Got to have a crane to make a crane! The base was put in place and then the cab was lifted into place. From this, the elements of both booms were lifted and attached. Then the counterbalance weights could be added along with the machinery to do the lifting work. It was fun to watch it all go together and to see the guys walking around on the structure once it was in place including all of the bracing elements. Once the crane is complete, there is a sleeve section that allows the inner section to be slide up and a new section to be inserted.
Two cranes were built for this project. They were both within the footprint of the building so it grew around them and they grew above it. There was never terribly much of the crane exposed above the building so it was well supported. One of the crane operators on this project used to take his camera up. He had a great selection of images from up there with all sorts of things going on a round him and some incredibly variable weather. I will have to see whether those images are still available online.
The demolition of the Sun-Times building was discussed in this post. The building wasn’t the only thing to go, though. The creation of the new tower meant that the street needed to be rebuild around it. Consequently, a section of Wabash Avenue was completely taken apart before being rebuilt. This meant our street became a dead end for a long time. You could walk through on a temporary footbridge that they installed (which was good for seeing what was going on) but road traffic went elsewhere. This made getting a cab a lot harder!
The roadway was elevated, built upon a series of steel girders. The surface was drilled out and the structure taken down. There was a lot of construction for what would ultimately sit under the new roadway and for the access to the new building. Then new supporting structures were erected. Finally, a new roadbed was installed. Before the finish was laid on top of this, you could see the elements that would be contained within it. Drainage elements as well as the central dividers that would be filled with plants could be identified. There was also going to be a concrete pump to support the building construction and the exhaust port for this was built into the new road in the center.
Eventually the new road was completed and the traffic was free to come through again. Since everyone had found new routes, it was actually quiet for quite a while until people got used to having the road available again. Once it was complete, it was quickly hard to remember what it had been like when closed.
I had a free Sunday in Japan prior to some meetings getting underway so made the trip to Nagoya. Nagoya is a fair distance from Tokyo but the Nozomi Shinkansen service compresses that journey to just over 90 minutes! I took the subway to the location of the castle and wandered around the grounds. It was unbelievably hot. In the shade it was uncomfortable but when you got into the sun it was brutal. Still, how often am I going to get a chance so off I went.
The castle is surrounded by a moat and some very thick walls. Lots of the structures were destroyed by fire in the bombing at the end of World War II. The tower was reconstructed in concrete after the war but has now been closed and they are planning to demolish it and reconstruct it in wood like the original. Other buildings have already been reconstructed in their original materials.
The tower is an imposing structure, even on a sunny and toasty day. I was able to walk around the perimeter of the main castle buildings in the time I had available. I had a return train booked based on when I needed to meet a colleague arriving in Tokyo that evening. Therefore, I needed to keep moving irrespective of how much I wanted to be in the shade! I had a look in some of the other buildings too. They were quite simple and elegant in their construction. I imagine that the whole thing will be most impressive when the reconstruction work is completed.
There were actors walking the grounds in costume as I moved around. They engaged freely with the visitors but I still felt a little weird photographing them as they passed me by. They clearly didn’t mind but somehow it felt like I was doing something wrong. Not sure why, to be honest. Maybe it is just the feeling that comes with being a foreigner.
There are a number of high towers in Tokyo. I saw one as I was walking to Shinjuku that seemed rather out of keeping. Most have either a futuristic look or just look like a radio tower. This one was a very large, square, concrete structure. It looked like the sort of thing you might expect to see in Soviet era Moscow rather than Tokyo. A strange looking building.
Wolf Point sits at the place in the Chicago River where it splits into the north and south branches. When I lived in Chicago, it was a park. It sat in front of the a building with a Holiday Inn and the Sun Times located within. It had a great view along the river in all directions. That view was obviously too valuable. The park is gone a some towers are now going up. One was already there when I visited and work is underway on the others. I’m afraid this is a shame to have lost a nice location. Also, if you were in the building across the river that had a view along the main branch, I imagine you are not too pleased to have lost your view and instead be looking at another tower!
My trip up the tower at SFO got me thinking about what things I wanted to get done while I was there. One thing I had in mind was a time lapse. I was a bit bothered, though, because we would only have about 20 minutes and setting up the camera and getting it going would eat into that time. Fortunately, Nancy had just given me a new GoPro to replace the one I killed in Hawaii. This one had a time lapse function built in. Also, because it is small, it would be easier to get it close against the glass to minimize (but not totally remove) reflections.
When we got up the tower, I went straight to the window, hit the start button and leaned the camera against the glass. I had no idea whether it was working or not so just left it and hoped. I then started taking the other shots I was after. When our time was up, I had to remember to go and get it again. Only when I got home did I find out that it had taken a steady string of images. I then processed them using my usual software of LRTimelapse aided by the lens correction in Lightroom for the GoPro. The result is this video. It is a little wide angle for some of the distant action and it would have been fun to have a longer time to capture images over but, overall, it worked out quite well.
The rebuilding of SFO has included building a new tower. I wrote about the old versus the new a while back in this post. The new tower has now been commissioned and is operational. It is time for the old tower to be demolished. Fortunately, the airport invited people to visit before demolition started. The inside of the tower was looking a bit sad. The equipment had all been ripped out. I doubt much of it is getting reused since the new tower will already have been equipped with the latest generation of air traffic control gear. However, the surrounds for the old gear were still there looking rather skeletal.
A week later the process of everything coming down would start. Soon it will look a lot worse and then it will be gone forever. We got a fleeting glimpse of its last days. I hope someone takes some pictures as everything comes down to preserve the last days forever.
If you want to go the top of the mountains, you might as well travel in style. An aerial tram (cable car for the Brits out there) runs from the center of the resort to the top of High Peak. We went in to buy our tickets only to find out that they were running a special for the last weekend of the ski season and both of us could go up for less than I was expecting to pay for one of us! Nice result.
Whenever I see these contraptions, I can’t help but think of them in the context of so many movies I saw as a kid. Invariably, someone would end up on the roof in a perilous situation. The real thing is of course a lot less dramatic. The larger these things are the smoother the run seems to be. The only disturbance is when you pass over the towers but this one was large enough that the transition was very gentle. The swing was nicely damped too so it was really a non-event.
The thing I find quite amusing is how the cables sag under the load of the car. As you get towards the steepest part of the climb, the car seems to head straight for the cliff face before it pulls up to the next tower. It is all very simple really but it still looks cool. Our trip up was pretty quiet because we were early. By the time we came down, things were quite a bit busier. I liked the display screen in the car that had all of the key parameters for the service so you could see that the loads and wind speeds were well inside limits. Just as well!
SFO has been undergoing quite a program of investment in recent years. Upgrades to the runways, redevelopment of terminal buildings and a new control tower. The new tower is not yet finished but it appears to be getting close. I thought a couple of shots to compare the old with the new were worthwhile before the change is permanent.