Liverpool, here we come!

Today, the Spenglers and Jaffees returned to New York, while the Batzers forged forward to Liverpool to visit with Don and Barb McAllister, fellow Mac Geek Cruisers who have a wonderful video podcast, ScreenCasts Online. We “tubed” it to Euston Street Station, after which we took the rail out to Liverpool.  It was a quiet ride, Wayne slept and I worked on a court report as we made our way to historic Lime Street Station -- bet you didn’t know that the first railway was constructed between Liverpool and Manchester, now did you??  =]  In fact, the inaugural journey of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway in 1830 marked the first ever commercial railway line.

2 1/4 hours later, we arrived at Lime Street and saw a happily familiar face waiting for us at the station.  We managed to hit not too terrible end of workday traffic, and made our way to the McAllister house.

We brought in our bags, had a cup of tea, and then headed out first to Crosby Beach.  There we got to see Antony Gormley’s Another Place.  Cast iron figures which face out to sea, spread over a 2-mile stretch of the beach between Waterloo and Blundellsands. Each figure is nearly 6 feet 2½ inches and weighs around 1400 lbs.  In common with most of Gormley's work, the figures are cast replicas of the artist's own body. As the tides ebb and flow, the figures are revealed and submerged by the sea.

Another Place has been subject of local controversy in Merseyside. Some consider the statues to be "pornographic" due to the inclusion of a simplified penis on the statues, while others see them as beautiful pieces of art which have brought increased tourism revenue to the local area. As of March 2007 permission was granted to have Another Place permanently installed at Crosby rather than relocated to New York.

After our trip to Crosby Beach, we headed into Liverpool proper.  Liverpool was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880. It is the fourth most populous British city, and third most populous in England.

Historically a part of Lancashire, the urbanization and expansion of Liverpool were both largely brought about by the city's status as a major port. By the 18th century, trade from the West Indies, Ireland and mainland Europe coupled with close links with the Atlantic Slave Trade furthered the economic expansion of Liverpool. By the early 19th century, 40% of the world's trade passed through Liverpool's docks, contributing to Liverpool's rise as a major city. Liverpool is also well known for its inventions and innovations, particularly in terms of infrastructure, transportation and general construction.

Liverpool was the port of registry of the ill fated ocean liner, the RMS Titanic. The words Titanic, Liverpool could be seen on the stern of the ship that sank in April 1912 with the loss of 1,517 lives (including numerous Liverpudlians). A Memorial to the Engine Room Heroes of the Titanic is located on the city's waterfront.

We parked near the Liverpool Wheel and went into the best-known dock in Liverpool, the Albert Dock, which was constructed in 1846. Built under the guidance of Jesse Hartley, it was considered to be one of the most advanced docks anywhere in the world upon completion and is often attributed with helping the city to become one of the most important ports in the world.

The Albert Dock currently houses a number of restaurants, bars, shops, two hotels as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story. Nearby is the Pier Head, renowned for the trio of buildings – the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building – which sit upon it. Collectively referred to as the Three Graces, these buildings stand as a testament to the great wealth in the city during the late 19th and early 20th century. Built in a variety of architectural styles, they are recognized as being the symbol of Maritime Liverpool, and are regarded by many as contributing to one of the most impressive waterfronts in the world.

The Liverpool emblem is the Liver bird, long the subject of confusion and controversy. The bird shown on the medieval seal is generic, but the wording of the seal contains references to King John, who, in honor of his patron saint, frequently used the device of an eagle, long associated with Saint John. There is also a sprig of broom shown in the bird’s beak, a symbol of the royal family of Plantagenet. By the 17th century, the origins of the bird had begun to be forgotten, with references to the bird as a cormorant, still a common bird in the coastal waters near Liverpool. The College of Arms refers to the bird as a cormorant, adding that the sprig in the mouth is laver, a type of seaweed, thus implying that the bird's appellation comes from the sprig. Many modern interpretations of the symbol are of a cormorant, although several - notably that on the emblem of Liverpool Football Club - distinctly show the short head and curved beak more readily associated with a bird of prey.

After tooling around, and enjoying seeing the dock area, we headed back to Don & Barb’s house, where we rested while waiting to head out to dinner at Miller & Carter Steakhouse, the one place Don feels “safe” bringing Americans to eat beef!  It was a great meal with great company (guess who ate salmon for dinner), and we topped it off going back,  having some wine, conversation, and listening to music.  All in all, quite a lovely day.