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Celebrating great photography.

Vernazza is one of the five towns that comprise Cinque Terre, Italy. The fishing village is almost 1,000 years old, and is closed to car traffic.

The vivid hills surrounding Cascade Lake, located in upstate New York's Adirondack Park, display peak fall foliage colors. The trail that loops around the lake is a popular spot for riders and hikers.

Florence's famous cathedral appears prominently in the city's skyline. The historic basilica—one of the largest churches in all of Italy—began construction over seven centuries ago.
Arab Israelis enjoy a day on the beach in Tel Aviv, Israel, on the holiday Eid al-Adha. The day is one of holiest in the Muslim faith, often marked with prayers, feasting, and charitable donations.
The Celebration of Lights Festival is an international fireworks competition held every year in Vancouver, British Columbia. Crowds gather to watch different countries' displays set to music.

In southern France, the town of Cordes-sur-Ciel lives up to its name by rising above low clouds in the surrounding valley. Home to about 1,000 people, the town dates back to 1222.

In Florence, Italy, a chalk artist makes the sidewalk his canvas. He creates his portraits near the Uffizi Museum, famous for housing works by Michelangelo, da Vinci, and Botticelli.
The lights of Positano, Italy, glow at dusk.

Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival. Today - April 6, 2019
This is a re-post.
I have wonderful childhood (and adult) memories of Branch Brook Park. So many truly important things happened in my life in and around this park. Growing up in the North Ward section of Newark had it's challenges, but Branch Brook Park was a haven - a sanctuary - that we could always depend on to provide safe haven and fun.
 As a little kid we would get all dressed up as soldiers and play 'war' in the bushes along the Second River. The 'Four Diamonds' was the center of my sports universe starting as early as 7 or 8.
As Cub and Boy Scouts we camped out in the Park.
As teens we'd go to the Skating Rink religiously every Friday night there wasn't a dance some where.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event held every April. Come spring,
this is one of the most beautiful natural attractions in the entire United States and a delight for all nature lovers and photographers.
It was a right of Passage that our family would visit the Park every year at Easter time to have our pictures taken in our Easter outfits.
    Branch Brook Park is distinguished by being the first county park to be opened for public use in the United States. It has been placed on both the New Jersey (1980) and National (1981) Registers of Historic Places.
    Located in the City of Newark and bordered at the southern end by U.S. Route 280, the park crosses Bloomfield Avenue, Park Avenue, and Heller Parkway, terminating near the Newark/Belleville line. The park is nearly 4 miles long and averages 1/4 mile in width. At 360 acres, it is the largest developed park in the County. It is featured by a combination of open meadowland and small patches of woodland on gently rolling terrain.

    Named for a branch brook that flowed through the valley into the Passaic River, the stream that remains, and much of the surrounding landscape, still retain a natural appearance. More than 4,000 cherry trees that blossom during April are greater both in variety and number than the famed Washington, D.C., display—the result of a 1927 gift from Mrs. Felix Fuld family. At its height the Cherry Blossom Festival attracts over 10,000 people a day.
    In 1895, the same year the New Jersey State Legislature authorized creation of the Essex County Park Commission, a former Civil War Army training ground was dedicated to "park use." A large part of the land was a dismal marsh known as Old Blue Jay Swamp. To add to the dismal air of the swamp, bleak, unhealthy tenements crowded in on parts of the area. The swamp water was used for both drinking and sewage disposal.

     In sharp contrast, the southern portion of the proposed park contained a circular reservoir basin that supplied clean, fresh water to a "private" association of Newark citizens. In July of 1895 the City of Newark transferred approximately 60 acres of this land to the Essex County Park Commission, at a cost of $350,687. "Reservoir Park" became the nucleus of Branch Brook Park.

    Additional acquisitions extending the park northward were aided by the generosity of "several public spirited Newark families," such as the Ballantine Family who donated 32 acres of their property. Another 50 plus acres were given by Z.M. Keene, William A. Righter and Messrs. Heller. The Park doubled in size through acquisitions and purchases between 1924 and 1929. Branch Brook Park, the first county park in the United States, became one of the largest "city" parks in the country.

    The public contributed in 1898 by voting a 1.5 million dollar appropriation for the continuation of construction work begun in 1895. Old Blue Jay Swamp was transformed into a lake, flower gardens, and expanses of lawns by 1900. The firm of John Bogart and Nathan F. Barrett had
been hired in 1895, to provide plans and advise for development of the park. Their design was romantic in style, and was dominated by geometrical patterned gardens and arbors.


    In 1898, Robert Ballantine presented the park with a handsome beaux-arts entrance gateway erected at the corner of Lake Street and Ballantine Parkway. In 1900, the cornerstone for the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart was laid and in the same year, the firm of Frederick Law Olmsted was retained to revise the original plans for the park. It was refined into more naturalistic lines with gracefully curving paths and roadways. One of the outstanding aspects of the design was the concert area in the southern portion bordering Branch Brook Lake. Directly across the lake on a projection of land known as Meeker Mound, the Olmsted firm built an octagonal gazebo. The first greenhouse was constructed in 1910.
    A proposal for the erection of a new administration building was approved in 1914, when the N.J. Legislature passed a bill that included the necessary $100,000. The exterior was described as Italian in character with brick and terra cotta, and paintings just under the eaves of the tile roof. The architect was Harold Van Buren Magonigle from New York.

    In the 1920's Harmon Hendricks presented the Park Commission a gift of 20 acres of land which extended the park northward into Belleville and was eventually made into an 18-hole golf course.

    During WWI and WW2 the park was used as a tent city for the Army where they held training exercises and recruited volunteers from the area. Once it was a landing site for the US Postal Service. Bi-winged airplanes carrying mail landed on a short field within the park where bales of hay rimmed the end of the runway to prevent accidents. The old Morris Canal that ran alongside the Park, from Newark to the Delaware River, was abandoned and became the Newark subway. The subway became an important linkage to the Park.


Tuesday night in Naples?

Cocktails with old friends in Naples - that's Florida, not Italy buddy... ...     ...   ...