Ode to Sidney Pollack: Travel where his movies were made

Sidney Pollack died of cancer yesterday. When I heard the news, along with feeling sad about his death, I flashed to a certain restaurant in Hurley, New York that’s one of my favorite “when I go back home for a visit ” eateries,although it’s changed hands since Pollack used it as one of the settings for Tootsie.

The Hurley Mountain Inn where Dustin Hoffman bellied up to the bar with Charles Durning has been serving up family fare for years. My mom always headed here with friends for the spaghetti and meatballs. The last time I was there, my son was happy playing video games without the money to actually have them do anything.

Hurley is near Kingston in the Hudson Valley and the restaurant is worth the drive. Nothing fancy, but you’ll feel like you’re in a place that means something to the people who eat there. Along with Hurley, if you do a Sidney Pollack film tour of the world, you’ll see a lot. Consider these alone and you’ll be busy:

  1. Sketches of Frank Gehry–Pollack followed Frank Gehry around with a camera and captured the architectural genius found in the Vitra Museum in Germany, Maggie’s Centre, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles.
  2. Out of Africa–The Africa scenes were filmed in the Ngong Hills in Kenya. The Denmark scenes were in Surrey, England.
  3. The Electric Horseman–For the gorgeous scenery seen in the film, head to Zion National Park and other places in Utah. For the rest, head to Las Vegas.
  4. The Way We Were–Bask in a bit of opulence at Ballston Spa, New York and in front of The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan.

Vintage train stations: Where have all the trains gone?

My art car friend, Greg Phelps knows a lot about funky travel. He still talks about that crane hotel in the Netherlands that he and his girlfriend stayed in earlier this year after Gadling’s suggestion. Today he sent me a travel tidbit that led me to train stations. Here is a Web page link that takes visitors around the U.S. via a combination of vintage postcards and photographs to the train stations with art deco architecture. There is an historical overview of each place, including what became of them all.

For example, Union Terminal in Cincinnati, a truly wonderful building now houses several vibrant museums, including the Museum of Natural History. Figuring out just the right use for this gem took patience. It failed as a shopping mall. My favorite part of the building is the front. Doesn’t it look like a huge 1930s radio? Inside, there are large mosaics that depict various scenes of American work life. Here’s a bit of film trivia: in the movie “Rain Man” a scene was shot here. It is after Tom Cruise picked up Dustin Hoffman from the institution and was figuring out how to take him to California. They went to Union Terminal in hopes of catching a train. You can briefly see the mosaics in the background. Amtrak does use a portion of the building, but from what I recall, the few trains that do pass through here do so at night.

Some of these art deco stations no longer exist since they have been taken down to make room for “progress.” Browsing the stations is an interesting look at how travel in the U.S. has changed.