A blog about a first-time house owner learning to maintain his backyard, and thoughts about nature, science, history, and life.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A View from Above: Cornell, Ithaca, and Vicinity

I work on the top floor of the tallest building on Cornell University's campus, which affords some tremendous views of the surrounding area.  Here's a look at some of those views.

The first two photos in the post look southwest towards downtown Ithaca and the bustling area of shopping centers and big box stores south of town.  

Looking almost directly west down Tower Road, you can see one of Cornell's icons, the McGraw Tower, gifted to the university in its early years.  Downtown Ithaca sits in the valley below.

Next to my building (Bradfield Hall) is a large garden area that is full of flowers and other plants in the warmer months.  I'll have to take a closer look at this than I have in the past starting this spring.

Looking east, there are a few landmarks of note.  The Cornell Plantations - an outdoor area with gardens, an arboretum, and hiking trails - sits in the foreground on the left hand side of the photo.  You might be able to make out the visitor center in among the pine trees, at the end of a curving driveway.  The taller building in the center right with black-tinted windows is the Vet School.  The first hill that you can see is known as Mount Pleasant.  And Freeville is hiding, nestled away in the valley beyond the small ridge on the far left hand edge of the photo.

Here's another look off in the general direction of Freeville.

Here's a closer look at some of the Plantations.  The gardens are just beyond the curved driveway and the visitor center, and some hiking trails sit in a bowl just beyond the roads.  When the weather warms and the trails are clear of snow, I'll venture out and write some posts about the different areas of the Plantations.  

Here's a look at Beebe Lake, which I've featured before on the blog.  There's a trail ringing the lake (also part of the Plantations), which, legend has it, if you circle it holding hands with your partner, you're destined to be married.  The lake is still partly covered in ice.  In the far right, you can see Fall Creek spilling into Beebe Lake from a short, narrow gorge.  There's a narrow, stone arch bridge over the creek (from which students like to jump during the summer).

And here's a zoomed in view of Fall Creek spilling into Beebe Lake, the bridge, and the small gorge.

Here's the view off to the northwest.  In the foreground are Mann Library, Warren Hall, and the other buildings of the Agriculture Quad.  In the center right sits North Campus, one of two large housing areas on campus, where all of the freshmen live.  Between the two areas sits Beebe Lake and a deep, narrow gorge...one of many gorges in the Ithaca area.  Off in the distance is Cayuga Lake.

One of the most striking features of the topography around the Ithaca area is how smooth the hills and valleys are.  This is because the area used to be covered by glaciers, which smoothed out the topography.  Still, these rolling hills are occasionally cut by narrow creeks, which have gouged out steep gorges in several places around the area.

The last shot in this post looks at the coal power plant located a few miles up the lake from Ithaca.  The smoke plume is a good indicator of the the wind's strength and direction.  On Tuesday, the wind was blowing pretty strongly from the southeast: rare for our area.

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