Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tracing the Tracks

The train is very important to the city of Greensboro. It was brought here by Morehead, who thought that the train would bring people to Greensboro and I guess in turn bring about more businesses. At it's peak of service, there were 90-120 trains coming through Greensboro every day. There are also spur lines that serve the industrial areas of the city. Now, there aren't as many trains that come through Greensboro, but it is still a very cost-effective method of travel. My friends and I rode a train from Charlotte to Durham last year and it was $46 total (combining trip there and back). You just can't travel that cheap when driving anymore.

The interstates also make Greensboro a gateway to the Triad. Looking at the map at the link below from Google Maps, you can see all of the highways and interstates that come through Guilford County, like 40, 85, and 73. For me personally, I take 85 all the way from my hometown straight to Greensboro. It is a very easy trip to make and makes it quick and simple to get to and from school. The interstates have really helped Greensboro develop because there are so many different ways to get here. The interstates also create a need for businesses because of the volume of people that come through here.

An international airport also brings a lot of people to the Triad. I looked at a few different sources and found differing numbers of the direct flights, but from the site , there are 59 direct flights from the Piedmont International Airport, including Charlotte, Houston, and Miami. Another site, , gave a larger number of direct flights from PTI. I also found conflicting information about the international flights coming to/going from PTI. Some of the places that I know for sure of are Canada and Germany.

The gateway for immigrants:
I went to a Human Rights Week event today and they said that the reason why Greensboro is a good spot for immigration entry is because of the interstate systems, so I guess that it makes sense for immigrants coming to the Triad as well. There is a lot of evidence showing non-Western European culture in the community.
-Greensboro Buddhist Center 2715 Liberty Rd.
-Saffron Indian Cuisine 1500 Mill St.
-Jack's Corner Mediterranean Deli
-The Greensboro Cultural Center has a lot of information about many different cultures that are represented in Greensboro.
-African American Atelier

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Downtown Institutions

Why is it significant that an open space (the park) is reserved in the city where it is? It is near the cultural attractions, where large groups of people would come to visit and maybe need a spot to congregate. It adds to the value of the "artsy" area, and is surrounded by big buildings. From : The park represents the "city as an open and welcoming place of diverse people", and is a "relaxed and lively" space.

The park.

How does the "avenue" of the Cultural Center speak to greater issues in the community about access to the arts? The "avenue" makes the arts literally accessible to everyone with the 2 entrances. It seems to be almost an informal, but inviting space, somewhat like walking down a road. It shows how the city is eager to extend the arts to everyone.

The Cultural Center.

What is the meaning of the dome in the Central Library? The dome represents a center inside of the library, a "center of learning". It also helps bring in the natural light which keeps the library from seeming like a dreary place.

The dome in the Central Library.

What are the implications of re-using the Presbyterian Church fo the city's history museum, remembering that it was both civic auditorium and library in between? The building would obviously need a lot of restoration in order to make it functional as a museum. It changes the value of the building and land around it from religious to more historical and cultural.

The Greensboro Historical Museum.

How does the old library compare to the current one in form, materials, orientation? The new library seems more modern and the building itself is more stream-lined. The old library, which is now Elon Law School, was right in the middle of downtown, which makes it not as easily accessible for those who are driving. The new library, if I'm remembering correctly, has parking beside the building and is further away from the center of downtown.

Old library, now Elon Law School.

How do each of the buildings we visited today meet the street? Are there public spaces along the fronts or the interiors of these buildings? The library has a lot of open space along the front and sides of it, with a lot of space right inside. The cultural center has space inside, with it's "avenue" layout. The museum has a lot of space out front for people to gather. I'm not exactly sure what is being asked by public space inside, because all of these buildings are big with lobbies inside, but would they want people to congregate there? I personally wouldn't think so. It would cause congestion and make it hard to get in/out of the doors.

Walking in front of the new library.

A car parked in front of the Elon Law School. :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Back to the Center

I personally think that these buildings present a front. They are the buildings along the street corners at the center of downtown. They include the City Health Club, a bank, and the skyscraper that is being worked on. They present a front to each section of downtown, which could be divided into 4 quadrants: government, art/history, business, and retail. This front is like many of the other ones that we have seen: a strong presentation from the buildings along an "edge" of an area.
Each of the 4 quadrants could be considered an epitome district because they are sections of the campus that are a small representation of what the entire city is like. They are small groups of similar things (like stores or government buildings) that are close together.

This alleyway is a beat. It seems small and dark, but there are a few businesses down here and it is a connector from a parking lot to the main roads. As we were standing there, people were coming through, picking up some breakfast and heading off to work. Many of the beats that students take from off-campus housing to get to campus involve alleyways or back roads like this. It creates a much shorter trip than sticking to a main road.

This store is part of a strip along one of the main roads. It is on what is known as the retail street, where most of the stores are. Other buildings along this strip are Woolworth's, a theater, and Kress. It reminded me a lot of what we saw on Tate Street, but on a much larger scale.

This alley is a sink because it is where water is running off of a building and nothing else can be put there. It is in between 2 buildings that are probably 3 feet apart. I think they put in the iron gate and the cool run-off in order to beautify the area more and even draw the eye to it as someone walks past. This sink is a lot more attractive than the sinks in College Hill. There were many alleys between streets that were eyesores. This kind of artwork is a neat idea to help mask the potential ugliness of a drain.

This whole area of buildings is a stack. They are all government buildings, with the county building, the courthouse, and the jail. They aren't very attractive buildings, but what can you do? These buildings aren't very decorated, but plain and industrial-looking. It is a stack because they are "stacks" of government activity and are somewhat on the outskirts of downtown. A stack that we've previously seen was the smokestack beside the building on campus. It was also on the edge of campus like these buildings are on the edge of downtown.

What a great way to claim your turf: a No Trespassing sign. They want your business during the day, but want you to not loiter at night. I guess that this is a good idea because of all the valuables inside the store. Having a crowd in front of the store at night is just asking for trouble. This reminded me a lot of the No Parking signs in College Hill. They are very quick to claim their territory and state who can do what and where.

Good ole Nathaniel Greene.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Today we went to the historic Blandwood Mansion, which was the home of former NC Governor, John Motley Morehead. It was expanded twice, once in the 1820s and again in 1844-1846. It is the oldest standing example of Italianate architecture in the United States and has elements like stucco exterior and a low roofline. The railroad runs through what used to be an edge of the property because Morehead thought that North Carolina needed to be more connected and was very influential in getting the railroad to pass through legislation.

One of the questions that we were asked to think about is: What are the implications of adding a new face twice to the original house?

First off, adding on/rebuilding anything costs a lot of money. The fact that they changed the house significantly twice in almost 30 years says that the family definitely had some money to throw around. That could give off feelings to the town population that the family living there is more concerned about how their house looks rather than the well-being of the town. Second, changing the face of the house would probably involve some serious reconstruction to update it to the modern style of the time, considering that the popular styles were so drastically different. A quirk that you can see on the outside of the house is the seam where the 2 parts of the house meet. You often run in to trouble like this when trying to add on/redo a house, because unless the work is perfect, things won't always match up exactly.

Some of the expensive things inside the house, like the silver set, the chandelier, and the ornate decorations on the ceiling.

Why do you think the family found it necessary to continue updating the structure?
The most obvious answer that I can think of for this is to continue to make it better. As more family members moved into the house, there were different needs and things were changed/added to accommodate those needs. Also, as new inventions were being rapidly produced, it made sense to update the house to make it easier to live in.

The bed and cradle in the children's room.

What do you think people said about this new-fangled, fancy house on the edge of town?
I imagine that people were very unsure about this house because it is foreboding and completely different than anything they would've seen before. Everything back then was probably mostly farmland with somewhat small houses, and then this mansion gets built. It also doesn't fit in with the style of the time and is very stark compared to the other houses back then.

I really enjoyed the tour of the Blandwood Mansion. I learned a lot about historic Greensboro and saw some really interesting things, like the original pieces of furniture and the law office outside. I wish that we hadn't been so short for time so that we could've talked more about the history and architecture of the time.

Some of the stuff out in the law office: a model of the house, a map of the trains running through NC and SC, and a smoking chair with a spot to store your tobacco paraphernalia.

The big tree outside.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The full blog is on Taylor's blog,

Observations about the commercial area in College Hill:

As you walk right across campus, it seems to look nice (around Jack's and Walgreens), but as you move further out, the appearance goes down some (around the apartments). Then once you move to the residential area, it looks well-kept and clean closer to Walker Ave.

There were 2 churches in the area that we saw, including Spring Garden Friends Meeting and Ebenezer Lutheran Church (on Walker Ave.)

On the edges of the neighborhood, we saw a lot of gas stations and convenience stores. There were also several smaller (probably local) stores along Spring Garden St. and Walker Ave., including Cheap-O-Video, Greensboro Electric Trains, and Spring Garden Bakery and Coffee House.

Turning on Elam St., the area was residential until we reached the intersection of Elam St. and Walker Ave. At this intersection, there was a bus stop with benches for waiting, a sign that said "Taxi Cab Parking", and several stores/restaurants such as Fishbones, The Property Source, Walker's Bar, and the Blind Tiger.

The College Hill neighborhood seems to be residential on the inside, and commercial along some of the edges.