Monday, February 8, 2010
Signs of the Times VI and VII
These two pieces are now in my Etsy shop. My Signs of the Times series are my interpretation of American cities over time. The layering of urbanization over the natural landscape and the attempt of nature of to reclaim these areas. Signs are put up and forgotten about. Neighborhoods are left to decay, as are suburban areas as even newer developments are put up. I see a future where these cities are reclaimed by those looking for richer lives for themselves and their families.
I was asked what cities I had looked up on GoogleMaps. Far too many to name. But I will tell you my favorite places so far. Right now, I am limiting my searches to cities and towns in the United States. I did have a glimpse at Amsterdam the other day and was completely blown away, but I've gone back to the U.S. and I'm sticking with that for now.
My all-time favorite cities are New York and New Orleans. Been to them dozens of times. But I want to list the places that I have never been and am impressed with just by cruising around in GoogleMaps.
I'm sure to find a few others, but my search for great American towns and cities and been a bit discouraging. So much of our cities has been destroyed by neglect and indifference, urban 'renewal', racism, interstates, and money placed into the wrong hands.
Those cities and towns listed above are far from being similar. But what I see in them are cities that are intact. They aren't completely wrecked from giant civic projects that tear out the old and put up huge, cold facades against the street. They have neighborhoods marked with movie theaters, restaurants and unique shops that one can actually walk to. They seem oriented to residents and small businesses instead of developers. Their central areas have not been pockmarked (or worse) with surface parking lots and concrete "plazas".
I've been looking at one of my favorite books, "Great Cities of the World", a 1958 compilation of maps of downtown areas, photos, and snippets of info. The buildings of each central business district are marked and labeled. I often go onto GoogleMaps and see which old hotels and theaters are still there. These cities seem to offer a past along with their present (although it seems that Denver did a number on the majority of its old theaters). The downtowns seem to be viable and the older warehouse filled outskirts of the larger areas seem to be getting new life.
What are your favorite cities and towns, and why?