Jul 30, 2011

Mexico City’s House of Tiles

Not many cities can boast a department store housed in a historic national monument.

A few blocks from Mexico City’s massive Zocalo is the House of Tiles or Casa de los Azulejos, the most elegant location for Mexico’s ubiquitous department store chain Sanborns owned by the richest man in the world Carlos Slim.

The exterior of 16th century former palace of the counts of Orizaba is covered in blue and white Talavera tile from the nearby state of Puebla. During the revolution the Zapatista Army occupied the building.

Sanborns took over the property around 1919 and opened a soda fountain, the first of what is now a national chain. Like all Sanborns it features typical department store items as well as a pharmacy and café. Inside the period architecture has been preserved. Take a walk up its grand staircase and you can view a mural painted by Jose Clemente Orozoco in 1925.

The café is a great place to make a pit stop if you are spending the day in the historic center. While the surrounds are far superior to the food you’ll do well to order a decadent pastry and a limonada.

Jul 24, 2011

Chapel Hill’s Unofficial Town Hall

Small towns and villages all over the world have unofficial town halls if you look hard enough. They are where locals gather over food or drink to share news, gossip, joke and seek company amongst their neighbors. In the UK, you’ll often find them in pubs.

Sutton’s Drug Store, which has a small diner with counter and booths in the back, serves as Chapel Hill, North Carolina’s unofficial town hall. Located on Franklin Street, the University town’s main drag, Sutton’s was established in 1923 and keeps its vintage charm as well as patrons who have gathered there for decades every day, as did many of their parents.

The video above features a piece I put together as my project for UNC Chapel Hill’s annual multi media boot camp. I highly recommend it for those of you looking to expand into or dip your toes in multi media. I discovered Sutton's while wandering a day before the course started and when we were told to choose a Franklin Street business for our projects I knew it had to be Sutton's.

Many thanks to the good folks at Sutton’s who allowed us to film and interview them and for sharing their home away from home.

What serves as the unofficial town hall where you live or where have you observed them?

Jul 5, 2011

Mexico Bound

Every summer I tell myself I’ll stick close to home, take advantage of the warm weather in the Northeast, photograph my own city and take day trips and travel further afield in the fall. And every year I cave and end up taking a last minute trip somewhere.

About a week ago I booked a last minute trip to Mexico. Unlike my travels there in the last several years this trip will be spent on the Island of Cozumel sitting on a beach, something I haven’t done in years. A trip to the mainland is also a possibility to be played by ear. I’ll see how I feel this week. No pressure.

Do you have any last minute travel plans in the works?