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Wednesday 15 July 2015

FAO Schwarz (New York)

Excited FAO Soldier Greeters.

Location: Manhattan, New York, USA
Address: 767 5th Avenue
Date: Nov 2014
Website:  www.fao.com

  Since 1986 FAO Schwarz has been a must visit destination on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, New York.  Sadly, it will be closing it's doors today (July 15, 2015) and will start to look for a new Manhattan location to call home.  The FAO Schwarz toy company was founded in 1862.  The FAO stands for Frederick August Otto who started the business with his brothers Schwarz.  Toy lovers from all over have flocked to this store where a visit is often just as much fun as the toys you take home.

FAO Schwarz on 5th Avenue.

  We have visited the toy store on numerous New York City vacations.  The store is known for it's high end toys such as near life sized stuffed animals.  Animals like the nine-hundred dollar, 95 inch tall giraffe below.

You can only bring one toy and please don't choose your Giant Giraffe again..
  For simpler tastes, or for those with ceiling and wallet restrictions, you may prefer to choose from one of the more reasonably sized dogs sitting next to the escalator.

How much is that doggie in the window?

The displays in the main entrance area just beside the escalators are always changing with different themes.  Everything from Hello Kitty to Star Wars or Anastasia to Tamagotchi.  It is also in this front area where Tom Hanks played on a giant walking piano in the movie Big.  If you wish to buy one of those, just head up stairs to the second floor.  

FAO Schwarz Main Entrance.
Star Wars inside FAO Schwarz.
Anastasia Escalators.
Robot Elevator and Temple.

  There used to be a clock face that would greet visitors and every so often it would start to sing "Welcome to our World of Toys".  This would bring a smile to the faces of children both young and old.  It was all part of the FAO Schwarz magic.

Welcome to Our World of Toys.
FAO Magic.

  The store is filled with all types of toys.  It has everything from dolls and board games to model cars and video games.  There is a candy section downstairs called FAO Schweetz.  The store also caters to the collector with special edition dolls like the Wizard of Oz dolls below.

Wicked Witch. Dorothy Patience.

Fifth Avenue Apple Store.

   In front of FAO Schwarz you will see the glass walls of the Apple Store where patrons descend into the depths of the earth to get all of their iWants and iNeeds.  Just past that was always an excited soldier greeter, more than happy to pose for numerous photos.  With the store closing on 5th Avenue, let's hope they can find another location soon.  It would be a shame if after over 150 years in business one of the world's greatest toy stores became nothing more than a website.

What Now?  I hope they let us keep the hats.

Map of Our World
FAO Schwarz

Post # 63

Friday 10 July 2015

Pan Am Games (Toronto)

Pan Am Games Countdown Clock. Only 47 days to go.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: Nathan Phillips Square
Date: July 2015
Website:  www.toronto2015.org

  The Pan Am Games are coming to Toronto.  Everywhere you look you see the signs.  Buses and subways are covered over in ads promoting the games.  There is a giant countdown clock sitting in Nathan Phillips Square which is counting down to the very second that the games begin.  Across the street from Nathan Phillips Square, The Sheraton Centre has a huge banner hanging down the side proclaiming "The games are coming".

The Games Are Coming.

  We were even in Niagara Falls, Ontario and noticed this floral display.

Pan Am Floral Display.

  There are also lots of strange signs appearing around the city.  For example, we spotted this building which was labelled UDAC and was flying the Pan Am Games flag out front.  We discovered that UDAC stands for Uniform Distribution and Accreditation Centre and that this is where all of the volunteers go to obtain their uniforms.

Pan Am Games Flag.

  Back in Nathan Phillips Square (or should we say NPS) the area has become a main location for enjoying the games.

Only 10 metres to go.

  Just outside the square in front of Old City Hall, we spotted PACHI on top of a bus shelter.  PACHI the porcupine is the official mascot of the games.  He has 41 coloured quills on his back and each one represents a participating country.  The games are open to North American, South American, and Caribbean countries. The Pan Am Games are held every four years and are the next biggest summer sporting event behind the Olympics.

Gimme Shelter.

  As we entered the square we could see the scaffolding getting ready for Panamania.  Panamania is a series of free concerts being held around Toronto for the duration of the games.  There are also plans to broadcast some of the sporting events live on giant screens.


  On the west side of the square is a temporary Pan Am Games Superstore where you can get all your souvenirs from the games.  This includes Pan Am T-shirts, hats, buttons, PACHI dolls or merchandise to show your support for a particular country.  We received some free PACHI stickers just for walking inside to take a look.

Pan Am Superstore.

  The countdown clock is getting ever closer to the Opening Ceremonies which take place tonight (July 10 2015).  There are actually two clocks.  One counts down to the start of the Pan Am Games, and the second counts down to the start of the Parapan Am portion which runs August 7th to 15th.  The clock counts down all day and night until the final second passes.  Let the games begin!

Pan Am Games Countdown Clock. Only 6 days to go.
Pan Am Games Countdown Clock At Night.

Map of Our World
Nathan Phillips Square
Pan Am Games (UDAC)

Post # 62

Sunday 5 July 2015


CannonDesign Slide Show.

Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Address: 200 University Ave.
Date: May 2015
Website:  www.cannondesign.com

  During Doors Open Toronto 2015 we visited the offices of architectural firm CannonDesign.  When we arrived we were escorted up to the 12th floor for a look around.  CannonDesign is responsible for designing three of the new venues created for when the Toronto area hosts the 2015 Pan Am Games.

Milton Velodrome Design Plans.

  They designed the Milton Velodrome which will be used for cycling.  A velodrome is a large oval track which is on a steep angle.  The cyclists use the angle to manoeuvre in order to get the best position or gain speed on their opponents.  The bicycles they ride have only one gear and no brakes.  There are only two ways to stop.  You either coast around until you slow down, or you fall off.

Velodrome Pictures.

   The Hamilton Soccer Stadium they designed will also be used during the games.

Football in The Hammer.

   As will a new York University Athletics Stadium designed for hosting track and field events.  All of these venues were designed in hopes that they will serve the communities long after the games have ended.

York University Athletics Stadium

  We noticed a few other things as we walked freely through their offices.  We noticed that their 12th floor vantage point gives them a great view of Roy Thomson Hall and the CN Tower to the south, and of the Canada Life building and Osgoode Hall to the north.

Looking South to the Lake.
Canada Life to the North.

      We also noticed that one employee is either a McDonald's Grimace fan or else someone in their family is a dead ringer.

That's just a photo of a friend of Uncle Ronald.

  One final room was an area where the architects of tomorrow could work on their plans using paper and glue and popsicle sticks.  It was an interesting idea to show us the designs behind the buildings that are yet to be put into use.  So much of Doors Open is spent talking about the history of the buildings that have survived through time.   Lets hope these sporting arenas are put to good use, starting with the upcoming games.

Popsicle Stick Palace. The building of the Future.

Map of Our World

Post # 61