Rotterdam (Holland) and Columbus (Indiana): Two Tales of Two Cities

So this morning, I watched the last two segments of the 2017 Rotterdam triathlon – the ITU World Finals. I saw the cycling and the running. Missed the swimming.

Now, I don’t even know what ITU stands for. I am not interested in the triathlon, although I now know that winner today was French, but that someone else was the winner for the entire year.

What I really liked was seeing the course that ran through Rotterdam. Just like when I was glued to the Tour de France, it was not to watch the cyclists, but the scenery.

I was in Rotterdam a long time ago, and just once. The old port city was virtually destroyed by bombing in World War II, and, as opposed to most of Europe,  the decision was made not to rebuild old Rotterdam, but to construct a new, modern Rotterdam. The triathlon course which ran by a portion of the port and central districts were interesting to see. If I had been smart, I would have followed the course with a map, but I didn’t think of it.

Seven hours or so after the end of the race, we went to see the new, highly rated film, “Columbus”. It is named for its setting, Columbus, Indiana, the home of about 60 architecturally distinguished buildings constructed over a 25 year period beginning in the early 1940s, many of which represent the modernist school of architecture.

The story line concerns a relationship between a recent Columbus high school graduate and the Korean born son of a well known scholar of architecture who becomes very sick while in Columbus to give a lecture.

But the background, beautifully filmed, is the architecture of Columbus. It was of particular interest to me because we were in Columbus in the summer of 2016 and we saw much, and possibly most, of what is shown in the film. And it looked better in the film than in person, in part because so much of the architecture is dated, although radical for its time. And the upkeep of the buildings vary.

It’s worth going to Columbus, and it’s worth seeing the film. The young Columbus woman is fascinated by architecture. The son of the Korean scholar is not. She tells him that she is not surprised, that most people in Columbus pay no attention to it. That it’s too familiar.

And Columbus is more than the architecture that drives its tourist business. It is home to some large industries and is very much a company town, with the seeming majority of its citizens living very modestly, in small one storey houses often in need of repair. The movie gives you a sense of this, too.

I guess I’m just interested in cities, and there are so many ways (film and TV sports being just two) to satisfy that interest visually. With YouTube, as another example, you can explore any place you wish. And on the internet, you can see a most everywhere live. What a world!


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