Lloyd Winters
Lloyd Winters

The 'Hidden' Theater in London's Alexandra Palace Is Reopening After 80 Years

Lloyd Winters
Lloyd Winters

For the first time in 80 years, Londoners will have a chance to go inside the Alexandra Palace Theater, a masterpiece of Victorian construction that has remained hidden inside the palace for eight decades, according to The Guardian.

Designed to be North London’s answer to the Crystal Palace, the Alexandra Palace was built as a public recreation space and entertainment venue in the 1870s. The current building dates back to 1875—the original, built in 1873, burned down in a fire—and over the course of its history has served as a World War I refugee camp, an internment camp for Germans and Austrians later on in World War I, and the main transmission center for the BBC.

The theater itself was a technological marvel when it opened in the 19th century, and it played host to operas, pantomimes, ballets, and musical performances. The stage machinery allowed actors to disappear and reappear through the floor and fly across the stage. The theater later served as a chapel, a movie theater, a camp hospital during World War I, and prop storage for the BBC’s broadcasting operation during the 1930s. It hasn’t been used for regular performances in more than 80 years.

A dilapidated historic theater
Pre-restoration
Getty Images

The restoration, which began in 2016, is designed to be a careful update of the space that makes it safe to use but retains its historic allure. The original floorboards have been taken out and numbered so that they can be put back in exactly the same configuration, and the walls have been painted with a clear coating that preserves their original, now-faded colors. But there will also be several architectural updates to the structure, including a modern seating system and a redesign of the balcony for better views.

The first concert performance in the newly reopened theater, featuring what has only been described as a “major music act,” will be held on December 1, 2018. The theater restoration was paid for in part by a grant from the UK’s national lottery fund of more than $25.9 million, one of the largest grants of its kind ever given to a UK heritage project. It’s just one piece of a larger restoration project for the Palace’s East Wing, much of which has been off-limits to the public for years.

[h/t The Guardian]

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The World’s 10 Most Beautiful Metro Stations
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden
T-Centralen Station in Stockholm, Sweden

Some of the most beautiful places on earth lie just below the surface. For proof, look no further than T-Centralen in Stockholm, Sweden, which has just been named the most beautiful metro station in the world by Expedia.

The travel site used Google Trends to analyze the most-mentioned metro stations in the U.S. and Europe, but Expedia ultimately chose the order of its top 10 list and threw in a couple of other hidden gems. Russia and Sweden frequently popped up in their research, so it’s no surprise that stations in those countries secured the top two spots on Expedia's list.

Dubbed “the blue platform,” T-Centralen is the main station of Stockholm’s subway system, and it’s also one of the most ornate. Royal blue flowers and plant patterns creep up cave-like walls, and another section pays tribute to the workers who helped build the Metro. It has been suggested that the color blue was chosen to help commuters feel calmer as they go about their busy days.

A section of T-Centralen
iStock

It was the first station in Sweden to feature artwork, which stemmed from a 1956 competition to decorate the city’s metro stops. Over the years, more than 20 artists have contributed their work to various stations throughout the city, some of which have tackled important social and environmental themes like women’s rights, inclusivity, and deforestation.

In second place is Moscow’s Kosomolskaya Station, which also has an interesting origin story. When the Metro started operating in 1935, it was designed to help promote Soviet propaganda. Kosomolskaya Station, named for workers of the Komsomol youth league who helped build the first Metro line, had marble walls with gilded mosaics, crystal chandeliers, sculptures of fallen leaders, and painted scenes depicting important moments in Russian history. “Unlike the dirty, utilitarian systems of many cities around the world, the Moscow metro drives through a former—but not forgotten—stage of history that sought to bring palaces to the masses,” Expedia’s report states.

Komsomolskaya Station
Komsomolskaya Station in Moscow, Russia

Most of the stations on Expedia’s list are in Europe, but three are in the U.S., including two in New York City and one in Washington, D.C.

Here’s the full top 10 list:

1. T-Centralen Station (Stockholm, Sweden)
2. Kosomolskaya Station (Moscow, Russia)
3. Arts Et Métiers Station (Paris, France)
4. The Wesfriedhof Station (Munich, Germany)
5. Toledo Metro Station (Naples, Italy)
6. Staromestska Station (Prague, Czech Republic)
7. Metro Center Station (Washington, D.C, USA)
8. Mayakovskaya station (Moscow, Russia)
9. Abandoned City Hall Station (New York, USA)
10. New York City’s Grand Central Terminal (New York, USA)

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iStock
India's Supreme Court Demands That the Taj Mahal Be Restored or Demolished
iStock
iStock

The Taj Mahal is one of the most recognizable monuments on Earth, but over the years it's started to look less like its old self. Smog and insect droppings are staining the once pure-white marble exterior an unseemly shade of yellow. Now, The Art Newspaper reports that India's Supreme Court has set an ultimatum: It's threatening to shut down or demolish the building if it's not restored to its former glory.

Agra, the town where the Taj Mahal is located, has a notorious pollution problem. Automobile traffic, factory smoke, and the open burning of municipal waste have all contributed to the landmark's increasing discoloration. Insects and acid rain also pose a threat to the facade, which is already crumbling away in some parts.

India's highest court now says the country's central government must seek foreign assistance to restore the UNESCO World Heritage Site if it's to remain open. Agra's state of Uttar Pradesh has taken some steps to reduce pollution in recent years, such us banning the burning of cow dung, which produces heavy brown carbon. In 2015, India's Supreme Court ordered all wood-burning crematoriums near the Taj Mahal to be swapped for electric ones.

But the measures haven't done enough to preserve the building. A committee led by the Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpu reportedly plans to investigate the exact sources of pollution in the area, a process that will take about four months. The Supreme Court plans check in on the status of site every day from July 31.

Air pollution isn't the only factor damaging the Taj Mahal. It was constructed near the Yamuna River in the 17th century, and as the water gradual dries up, the ground beneath the structure is shifting. If the trend continues it could lead to the building's total collapse.

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

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