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Ten Unlikely Yelp Reviews of Architecture and Real Estate

Most people head to online review site Yelp to spout their opinions on a neighborhood restaurant, not pass judgement on architecture. But, as our comrades over at Eater found out, Yelp is rife with reviews of everything from police precincts to Planned Parenthood to pet photographers. So it's really not too surprising that people have taken to Yelp to express their ire and irritation with—and occasional affection for—architecture and real estate. Don't get to thinking this sort of talk is limited to public buildings: museums, and monuments and the like, though there's plenty of that. From Phil Spector's private residence to the Goodhue County Jail, all manner of buildings are reviewed on the popular site. Here are 10 of our favorites:

1) Phil Spector's Castle

Usually associated with Spector's murder of a struggling young actress, the Pyrenees Castle in Alhambra, Calif. was apparently "very creepy" long before the music producer even owned the place, but don't get too close, as one reviewer warns: "If you drive up to the front of the property where the driveway begins you'll notice a large cage that Phil Spector had custom built to house his extremely large, ferocious looking dogs."

2) The Glass House

Ever popular among architecture buffs, Philip Johnson's Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. has been flooded with visitors since it opened as a museum in 2007. Surprisingly, there aren't many reviews of the experience, but one Yelper offers some off-putting advice: "Ask about the underground passage that is full of snakes." Not what we would have expected out of buttoned-up New Canaan.

3) The Farnsworth House


Visting Mies van der Rohe's famed mid-century creation requires an hour-long drive from downtown Chicago, but according to a five-star rating on Yelp, it's worth the commute. Satisfied reviewers poo-pooed the $20 price of admission, saying it "goes to help with the preservation effort, which is considerable due to the house's placement on the banks of the Fox River, which apparently floods every 15 seconds," and warned newbies that, just like at grandma's, "you have to take your shoes off before entering the house."

4) The Citgo Sign

A Beantown landmark that rises high above Fenway, the Citgo Sign has been lit in some fashion since 1940. One might think that sort of tenure has made it an unimpeachable part of the Boston skyline, but some Yelp reviewers don't feel that way. One, incensed by an investment by the leftist Venezualan government in the oil company, gave the sign one star on the grounds that he is "not a fan of communist countries." Another, suggests it should be "torn down in effigy" as a logo for an oil company. Quite the political quandary.

5) The Golden Gate Bridge

The Citgo Sign isn't the only city landmark taking heat on Yelp. Even the venerable Golden Gate Bridge is having it's underwear strung up the flagpole. According to one Yelper, the Golden Gate "uses too much paint, is expensive, and is a hazard to people's health," and, get this, "should be closed." Another takes issue with the color, "I never did like the orange." Well, sorry, apparently it has used too much paint already.

6) Goodhue County Jail

Now this one reeks of satire, but we can't help but love it anyway. There is just one review for the Goodhue County Jail in Red Wing, Minn., but boy is it extensive. From the "awfully nice" inmates ready to provide "legal advice" and "soothe [his] anxiety" to the "Maximum Security"-brand shampoo provided for inmates, this place sounds pretty cushy. The only downfall? The food, including a "mock reuben." The reviewer admits he had "no idea what the hell was in this slop of garbage, but it certainly wasn't the kind of Reuben Cecil makes." Standards, gentlemen, standards.

7) Fallingwater

The Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece is almost universally loved by visitors, but stuck in some of the four-star reviews are some distressing complaints. One Yelper complained the "guide was totally uneducated about Wright and the art historical/architectural aspects of the house," and the current caretaker, the Pennsylvania Conservancy, was putting on "the hard sell for donations" and even "sent out a person at the end to beg for money." Oh and "don't touch anything that's wooden, they will break your hands." Gee, sounds like fun!

8) Simmons Hall, M.I.T.

A strikingly expensive dormitory, Simmons Hall was designed for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by starchitect Steven Holl and built at a cost of $78.5M. It opened in 2002 to much fanfare, but soon developed a reputation among students as a less-than-desirable dorm, in part because the concrete construction and tiny windows tended to block cell phone signals. Yelper Frank L. describes the place as a "lone megalith on Vassar Street" where residents have to deal with a "disjointed" floorplan."

9) IAC Building

The starchitecture in NYC is getting better, if more cryptic, reviews. One Yelper describes the IAC Building, a Frank Gehry creation, as "quite figural and reminds me forcibly of the sails of a clipper ship." Now, we're not ones to advocate forced approval of anything, but if you're into that sort of thing, Gehry's apparently got you covered. Another reviewer also saw a ship theme, but focused his praise instead on the sheer awesomeness of a "200 foot long video board."

10) The Chrysler Building


New York's older architecture is fairing quite well too. The Chrysler Building, which doesn't even have an observation deck open to the public, currently enjoys a 4.5 star rating on Yelp. But that doesn't mean everyone is happy, in fact, one reviewer calls the Chrysler Building "revolting," and goes on to describe a method for discerning the building's "cheap construction": "Stand on the corner of 42nd and Vanderbilt and with one eye closed sight a line right along the northwest facade of the Duane Reade and you'll spot the one degree list." Sounds like solid use of the scientific method. · Ten Unexpected Things Reviewed on Yelp [Eater National]