Best and Top of Everything : July 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Top 10 American Downtowns

As a country, the United States is probably better characterized by suburbia than by urbanity, by sprawling office parks rather than by dense commercial districts. Nevertheless, the concept of a “downtown”, or a centralized and distinct commercial district, first came into use in America, as cities developed along lines that created stark divisions between the 19th century urban core and the newer, less dense, residential neighborhoods of the 20th century.


The United States boasts countless defined city centers; some of which are small and derelict, while others are among the most impressive in the world. To further examine those commercial cores that tend towards the latter, here is a list of the top ten American downtowns. This list is based on size, vibrancy, architecture, businesses, and general aesthetics. While many smaller cities may boast impressive downtowns, this ranking focuses only on major metropolitan areas.

10. Milwaukee

Milwaukee likely has the smallest urban core on this list, a fact that certainly hurts the city’s ranking. But this lack of size is also a definite asset: the downtown area boasts upscale river walks, one of the country’s most vibrant loft districts, an impressive collection of museums and academic institutions (try the Pabst Theater if you enjoy absorbing plays while supporting one of America’s most popular home-grown brews), and, of course, easy access to the Lake Michigan beach. Furthermore, Milwaukee’s downtown is clean and easy to naviagte, with a lake-and-river setting that makes it seem like a more relaxed version of Chicago’s central core.

9. Detroit

It’s no secret that the city of Detroit has fallen on tough times. Its downtown core has fared much better than the surrounding neighborhoods, but still has its share of vacant buildings and a frequent dearth of foot traffic. Nonetheless, Detroit’s downtown is one of the most architecturally impressive in the country, largely because the city began to decline before others began urban renewal efforts.  These efforts would ultimately scar the cores of those cities. Detroit’s downtown, then, is a remarkable architectural testament to pre-World War II styles of construction. It also remains a center of employment in the greater metro areas, and it has revitalized in recent years with the addition of restaurants and sports facilities.  And you can’t forget the legendary automobile manufacturing meccas of Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler, the original symbols of 20th century American innovation.

8. Seattle

One of the country’s cleaner and more picturesque downtowns, central Seattle sits upon rolling hills and is in close proximity to excellent water views. Although the downtown may not be as large as that of an East Coast city, it offers an appealing mix of old and new and is the undisputed capital of the Pacific Northwest. Check out the Space Needle, Parsons Gardens, Pier 59, and the Salmon Bay Bridge for landmarks.

7. Boston

Since World War II, Boston’s downtown has suffered from the effects of highway construction and urban renewal.  But the Big Dig has removed the old highway and the area is booming now, with one of the best – and certainly one of the most interesting – downtowns in the country. In downtown Boston, you can visit Revolutionary-era historical sites and navigate narrow, twisting roads. You can visit some of the most appealing public squares and parks in the country. And the geographically small downtown core is packed with businesses in both the private and public sector. It’s no wonder Boston is often called the “hub of the world”. The proximity to the Charles River and some of the nation’s nicest neighborhoods is an added plus.

6. Miami


Downtown Miami has boomed in recent decades, as shiny new condominium towers have completely revamped the city’s skyline. These glass structures, interspersed with palm trees and newly opened restaurants, help characterize a downtown area that is increasingly vibrant and impressive.  Especially impressive are the beachside locations and the ethnic diversity that makes downtown Miami seem like a uniquely modern, global destination. There are still some classic historical landmarks for visitors to enjoy, including the Freedom Tower, the Ferdinand Magellan railcar, and the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

5. Philadelphia

Philadelphia boasts one of the United States’ oldest, largest, and more vibrant downtowns. This means that the area has much to offer. It is home to large corporations and convention centers, numerous cultural institutions, highly acclaimed restaurants, and historical sites from the Revolutionary era. All this gives downtown Philly an architectural identity that spans a wide range of years and styles. The city core also has residential neighborhoods interspersed with commercial ones, the combined effect of which gives the place a vibrancy and local color that most downtowns do not share.

4. San Francisco

San Francisco’s position on the list is due largely to two strong factors: size and geographic setting. On the size front, San Francisco boasts one of the largest downtowns when it comes to skyscraper proliferation, building heights, amount of office space, and geographic size. For its estimated GDP and number of large corporations that call it home, downtown San Francisco is certainly one of the foremost global financial centers. This size translates into a colorful street vibrancy that few cities share.  In addition, the area is geographically situated on steep hills right alongside the San Francisco Bay, thereby creating a unique and beautiful urban environment.

3. Chicago

Known as the Loop, downtown Chicago more than lives up to the Second City’s reputation. By most measures it is the second-largest downtown in the country, after New York. Situated along both the Chicago River and the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Loop is home to the country’s second-largest financial district, its tallest skyscraper (second tallest after the Freedom Tower in New York is complete), and a distinctive history of innovation and architectural influence. But the Loop does not come second to New York in cleanliness and natural surroundings. On that second point, it sits right next to Grant Park and the lakefront, along with Navy Pier, Oak Street Beach, and several of the world’s premier museums.

2. Washington DC

Due to its lack of skyscrapers, few people consider central Washington when they envision America’s best downtowns. But height isn’t everything, and D.C. more than makes up for it by having a downtown that is both vibrant and clean.  Many of the United States’ most important buildings are contained within its limits, including the White House, the Washington Monument, and the Lincoln Memorial. Downtown Washington has office space that rivals New York and Chicago, along with a spill-over residential vibrancy that is perhaps only equaled by Philadelphia.  In addition, it has the National Mall and the Potomac in its front yard, and it is largely bereft of the highways that slice apart all too many downtowns.

1. New York City

New York City is America’s premier urban destination, and it’s quite easy to see why. In fact, the city has two main business districts, and each would surpass every American downtown on its own (besides the Chicago Loop). Despite its name, Midtown Manhattan currently stands as the city’s urban core and main commercial center. Midtown can get dirty and crowded, but it otherwise offers anything that one could expect of a downtown. It houses numerous international corporations, a vibrant theater district, one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations, and no shortage of dining options. Furthermore, it sits mere blocks away from the United Nations and from Central Park, the latter of which can compete with parks in Paris and London for its design and appeal.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind

The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
As a young child you never see the danger in doing certain things. When I was a small boy I loved travailing via train (because I thought it was posh) and when ever there was a pull down window in the door of the train (only on the older trains) I would stand there leaning out of the train window enjoying the views before me and the wind hitting my face. And it is the “wind” factor of course that made it feel so good, a face in the wind is a happy one and it seems that dogs feel exactly the same way….
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
10 – The main question is: Could he fly with those ears?!? (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
9 – “Any faster and I will tear a hole in space and time!”  (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
8 – “These are my portfolio images for the next “Gone With the Wind” movie.” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
7 – Even “Safety Dog” likes to feel the wind on his face! (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
6 – “The wind is so strong it pulled my tongue out!!!” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
5 – “The wind has blown my eyes in!!!” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
4 – “Sure it hurts, but it’s just so much fun!” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
3 – “Did you call me?!?” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
2 – “I can give up, sticking my head out of this window any time I like!” (source)
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
The World’s Top 10 Best Images of Dogs in The Wind
1 – This Ladies and Gentlemen, is what pure happiness looks like! (on a dog) (source)

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns

The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
“It’s Nerf or nothing!” Well here is my opinion for you all…I take nothing! If like me you have a small child that loves these Nerf guns you will know that if you are unlucky enough to get hit in the ear, eye or maybe on the end of your nipple it stings like anything! But my hate for these “Soft Play” toys soon vanished when I discovered that people have in fact modified these plastic toys with a dash of paint added to them to make them look not only awesome but dare I say deadly realistic! (Not only are this lot amazing to look at, but you can in fact buy each and every one of them!!!) So I hope you will duck and cover as I try to take a look at…
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
10 –Ultimate Mass Effect Stampede (£247.50)–(source)
If you want to own what is probably the Worlds most expensive Nerf gun then this is it. Sure it is expensive but as you can clearly see the custom job it has received and the overall quality of it make it well worth the price.
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
9 – The Real Deal! (£44.41)–(source)
In terms of realism this is the very best you will ever see. Firing just a single nerd dart it is still just a normal Nerf gun but modified to look as realistic as a Colt you will ever get. Terrifying? Sure it is, but all Nerf guns are gun shaped so what is the difference?!? The colours?!? Well if you are colour blind does that make a non-modified Nerf gun real?!?
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
8 – Nerf Maverick (£32.65)–(source)
This is the best Steampunk inspired one I could find, the sheer quality of the paint mod, and the Steampunk inspired Decals it has received make this a real force to be reckoned with, and it won’t cost you that much more than an original Nerf gun!
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
7 – Nerf Ray Gun (£25.00)–(source)
For me, this had “Flash Gordon” written all over it. So for those who love a bit of retro Nerf action this could well be the one for you.While it is a rather basic paint job, the added decals and moulds are what makes it look truly amazing.
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
6 – Lets not start a war with the stars! (Make it yourself!)–(source)
This Nerf gun mod is pretty cool because the artist is using the shape of the weapon to create a almost perfect R2-D2! But because the maker insists on getting people to make their own instead of selling them I have ranked it a lot lower than I would have liked.
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
5 – Laser Pirate Gun (£78.36)–(source)
This one is a little expensive (aren’t all Nerf anyway)  but it just ticks all the right boxes, it looks amazing, had some good decals added and all in a Steampunk style! Well worth the money if you ask me.
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
4 – Borderlands 2 Style (£40.49)–(source)
This rather amazing “Borderlands 2″ inspired Nerf blaster is a great example of things done right. The colours, the build it all just looks just about perfect and well worth including in this list.
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
3 – Army Issue (£27.50)–(source)
Nerf guns just don’t get any more realistic as this! The stunning N-Strike Element EX-6 looks like it came straight from a Sci-Fi film and would make most of us blokes smile if we received it as a gift. (hint, hint!)
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
2 – The Green Meanie (£26.12)–(source)
It can’t just be me that finds these amazing, the whole colour scheme just seems to work and with a “target torch” added to the side makes this not only amazing to look at but loads of fun to play Nerf in the dark!
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
The World’s Top 10 Best Modified Nerf Guns
1 – The Mass Effect Nerf (£26.12)-(source)
For me this was the very, very best. Inspired by the Mass Effect Videogame this rather stunning Nerf gun is a pure joy to look at and while it is just a basic paint job done on it, the original gun shape makes it look truly amazing.
http://go.ad2upapp.com/afu.php?id=773413