Friday, October 23, 2009

Downtown Greensboro: The Arts District

Welcome to another exciting edition of my blog journeys! Today, we continue our journey into downtown, but this time, we focus on one special district, the Artistic District. This is the area where the arts hold a main portion of the area. We will begin in the Central Park.

Center City Park is a more recent addition to the city of Greensboro. It is a tribute to the arts through the artistic pieces placed throughout the area. We have, on the right picture, a vase of sorts and a building with bronze plaques of donators (and the restrooms...haha). Now, there's a mystery here. The area where the park is had many buildings there. Why did they need to have this empty space for arts? Well, I believe that the area of downtown was developing so quickly that there was no space around for miles. Kids in the area worried more about work and left behind the aspects of nature and art. The people saw this and thought about saving a spot for those aspects. So, I see this park as a way to restore and uphold the aspects of art and nature.

Another area we went to is the Cultural Center. The Cultural Center is actually a cross from the New Library back to the Central Park. Along the way, there are areas where there are offices for the performing arts groups and meeting places. Also, as you can see, there are artistic pieces placed all over the area. Now, this building speaks out to the issues of the lack of art in downtown. The issue is that this is one of the only areas where the arts are openly displayed. The access of the arts are slightly limited because of the areas of businesses around. So, there's no space for artistic designs out in the open. Instead, there's only the "avenue" and the alleyways from last time. So, the Cultural Center is a key stand out to the arts and the lack of space for it.

Next was the Central Library. This library is actually a newer library built by the Historic Museum. The Library is one of the big areas here in downtown. The biggest symbol here is the dome in this picture. This dome symbolizes, what I believe, is open opportunities. The sky is the limit for education and the arts. The hole in the middle, I believe, represents that education and the arts will always poke through the stone of the norm and technical style.

The Historical Museum is a place where the history of Greensboro is shown. It started as a Presbyterian Church, then became a auditorium, a hospital (right picture), and finally a museum. Now, why did they re-use the church to make a museum? My idea is that why build a new building for a museum when you can put history in history? Also, space is another key to the equation. Still, the history is what the area was trying to recover from the trouble of multiplying businesses. History is another of the arts that was fading away and the people wanted to keep despite the growing presence of business.

Finally, we stop by the Old Public Library. This area was the old library, but was closed because of a new school for Elon University, the School of Law. As you can see, there is a atmosphere of quietness and tranquility. The other building has more of an artistic style while this area has more of a bankish style where the normal is there. This area does fit more of the law style and courtrooms. Now, this area seems more of a conference area than a library. The spacing of the rooms are not very huge and it's more of a place of work. The newer library is wide-open and the arts reassure the use of books and imagination. It's a great spot for reading and artistic ability.
In the end, I believe each of the buildings meet the streets in a crazy way each time. The museum has a fence, the Cultural Center has a mini-park with art, and the Library actually meets the street but doesn't blend in with every building. Now, there are little companies around the areas like car dealerships and factories. I believe that these areas symbolize the times where businesses were dominant in the area, but the arts have taken over and businesses have to adapt to this.
Thanks once again for reading! Leave as much feedback as you can!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A New Era: Downtown Era

Welcome back to another exciting episode of the Amazing Journeys of HSS 105! Today, we leave the College Hill and College Park area and we go to our new area: Downtown!! This is considered the center of Greensboro itself because this was the road to where the market was. Hence the name of the street that bisects it: Market St. Downtown Greensboro has some great history behind it. Still, what fun would the blog be without Clay's wonderful vocabulary to define the city and its elements? Also, another thing we will look at how the vocabulary changes from an older time to a more modern time.

First, let's begin with our obvious beat. The obvious beat of Downtown is right near the center of downtown. It is the intersection of Elm St. and W. Market St. Many people cross through here because it leads to many different areas like UNCG and A&T State University. It also is a merge point for the 4 districts of downtown, which we will get to later. Therefore, this is the beat of downtown. Now, the beat desn't really change. The definition still is the same, really, but a change I would say is the fact that not only is it a crossing point, it becomes the point where two or more districts meet and form a mutual point.

Next, we have our stack. Our stack is the County Jail. This jail has no more use for the community except to keep the inmates in and away from society. Also, it is a huge stack that might grow taller if the inflow of inmates continues to grow. Side note! Why would the people of Greensboro put a jail in what was once a growing part of Greensboro? Isn't that a safety hazard if an inmate escapes? Well, I believe that this jail was built around the time where people began to live over around Friendly Ave. instead of downtown, so people were not as affected. Also, it could serve as a reminder to people in the business side of downtown that crime will not be tolerated and this is where you will go if you do not follow the law. It becomes a menacing tool to control downtown. Now, a stack has changed from its definition of useless junk. I believe it changes to an area where it will be useful but there's no area to expand except up. Thus, a stack is usually very tall.

Next, we have our sink. Now, the sinks change into a treasure that is hidden behind the drabs of the city life. My sink is actually multiple parts of the area. It is the art hidden in the alleys of the downtown area. These are hidden treasures placed by the city to revive the artistic values of downtown. They are hidden in areas where they could fins it, like alleys or in a traffic circle. Something like that.

Next, we have our strip. The strip represents the most developed area in an area now. Not exactly a developed area, but the most developed area. My strip is Elm St. Sadly, I did not get the street sign, but I got the developments along Elm St. What you see here is a few general stores and a theater of sorts. You only see a few of them, but there's actually tenfold. There's also a lot of historic aspects to this street. Woolworth's (the bottom picture) was actually where the first Civil Rights Sit-in took place. It was one of the birthplaces of the Civil rights movement. Amazing history on a strip of Downtown!

The districts are numerous in this area. In downtown, we have 4 big districts that resonate from one big merge point. It all begins at our beat, the intersection at the top. On West Market St. which lead to UNCG is the government district. This area consists of Guilford County Courthouse, the city hall, and numerous other government facilities.

On West Market St. going towards A&T University is the more residential and parking district. This area consists of more of the apartments and parking lots. This would be a more popular area for the downtown area. One special area is the big parking lots that decorate the area.

Next, we have to the left of Elm St., our arts and humanities district. This is where the artisitic areas are and even the human rights areas are. It represents our artistic interests and our city's values in art. Presently, this has begun to spread into the other districts, so tis district could get bigger.

Finally, there is the right side of Elm St. This district is called the business-oriented district. We have our strip here. Also, we have our banks, general stores, and even some bakeries too. Through here, you will rarely see an apartment complex or anything like that. This is what I would also call a "money" district.

Finally, we have our fronts. Our fronts are actually two streets that create the boundaries for downtown. First, there is Davie St. Davie St. marks the street that cuts the downtown from the area with A&T University. It serves as a boundary for this area because on one side, you see a lot of businesses and apartment areas. On the other side, you see clearing that soon lead to the university. Interesting, huh? Then, there is Cedar St. Cedar St. spits downtown from Greensboro College. Also, it marks the barrier for the College Hill neighborhood which doesn't look a thing like downtown.

Well, that's it! I hoped you enjoyed my ideas and give me as much feedback as possible. Thanks for listening!!

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Progressive Mansion of Greensboro

Well, here I am again!! This time, we went to a new part of Greensboro, out past McGee St. and onto Blandwood Estate. Blandwood Estate is a place that stands out today and in the past. It was the home of former Governor of North Carolina, John Motley Morehead, and his family. It was a progressive style of house that changed over time, but why did it change so much? Also, a little note to remember is that this mansion was built by James Bland in the 1770s.

Now, why did this place change so much? Well, from its time of being built to its final change, it was meant to impress the masses of guests that came in the building. It stood out so much that even people were scared to go in, but most people still did. Still, Gov. Morehead was a porgressive governor. He saw that his house had to represent what he stood for. Therefore, his house had to change to fit the progressive style. Now, to begin the tour.

Now, this was the ceiling of the first room people saw when they entered the Mansion. Right off the bat, you can see that this is a different ceiling from what you see in a normal house back in the 1800s. It's too nice for any other ceiling. Plus, when you came in, your breath was taken away from the beauty of the room. Once you came in, you would go to one of two parlors if you were a guest. One's the King's Parlor and the othe ris the Queen's Parlor.

Now, the King's Parlor is the one on the left. This area was a parlor for quiet entertainment and good conversation among the Governor and the guests. The furniture is set comfort and there are so many interesting things in this room. The big thing is that there were mirrors on the back of the doors. For what reason, you ask? Well, it was used to reflect light from the big window directly across from it and light up the room. The rooms were still old-age rooms, which meant that they were dark. This could mean that Governor Morehead had guests over even into the still of the night.

On the right, we have the chandelier from the Queen's Parlor. Now, if you can see, there is a crown on the chandelier. It's a little crown of leaves. CONTEXT CLUE!! If there is a crown on the Queen's Parlor's Chandelier, then the King's must have one as well. Indeed. The crown on the King's Chandelier is bigger and more royal-looking. Now, the Queen's Parlor was the entertainment room. There was music (mostly) and more furniture for talking. Now, each of these rooms had the strong decorations and, especially, the ceiling decoration we saw earlier. Why are these rooms so nice? Well, my belief is these rooms were the main areas for guests to be in and the other rooms, like the bedrooms and upstairs rooms, were not.

Now, I'm going to use the kids' room to represent all of the rooms of the Blandwood Mansion. First, these pictures were just a little indication to know that this was the kids' room. There's c cage over the fireplace in the room and there's games for the kids to play. Interesting, huh?

Now, this represents the rooms. Each had the style kind of like this. There's nothing special about it or anything that sticks out. It's a nice rom that is relaxing. This could represent the idea that the people of the house did not expect anyone back here , but kept them in the guest rooms at the front.

Now, the final part of the blog is the big question. Why did they change the house so many times? Well, I believe that the house represents what the state of North Carolina was changing into. It was becoming a progressive state. NC was changing and Morehead knew this. He had to represent what NC was becoming. So, he changed his whole lifestyle to fit change. Plus, he had to impress due to the fact that he had so many guests. So, he changed the house a lot to fit the changing style of North Carolina. Now, you see that this is a great Estate that is esteemed by all of North Carolina.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

College Park vs. College Hill: What's the Difference?

Well, another day and another blog comes around. This time, we will be looking at the neighborhood College Park and how it compares to College Hill. To begin, we need to know more about College Park to make our comparison more credible. College Park is a neighborhood that is right outside UNCG. It starts at Spring Garden St. and goes around S. Elam St., and of course, Walker Ave. So, here we go!

Let's start with Spring Garden St. Spring Garden is the big street for this area because of its location to the university and its developments. 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 downsome (around the apartments). Spring Garden St. is a big street due to the fact that Spring Garden developed very quickly after its construction. You can see that near the university, the area looks quite taken care of (Walgreens, restaurants). We believe that this part of Spring Garden was developed more recently and it is more taken care of due to the fact that it is near a big landmark, UNCG. As you go down the street, you see more of the residential part of Spring Garden St. There are more apartments down this way and some residential areas. This could show that these apartments are used by college students. More likely, these students want a safer environment near the university. As for the residential areas, the areas here are weird though because as you can see from the picture below this one, the buildings do not face the street. It faces the other houses on the street. This could have been a style of the times when Spring Garden was made. They could be infills for lots that had been down this area. All we know is that they are not like College Hill, where the houses face the streets.
Next, we will talk about the residential areas of College Park like S. Elam St., Mayflower St., and even parts of Walker Ave. The College Park neighborhood obviously is a residential area. The homes in do not vary tremendously, although a few styles are seen as you walk the streets. Larger apartment complexes were found along with the average size we have been seeing in recent weeks. On the side streets in the core of the neighborhood we found craftsman style houses, and some more boring looking ones. I would guess they were built in the 1960's because of the boxy feel they have. The houses along Spring Garden St. were situated very close to the road, where the houses farther in the neighborhood had bigger yards in some instances. We noticed more retaining walls in front of houses. We did not ever come to a conclusion to what that signifies exactly, but more houses were above the road. Maybe a value of housing is what is to be learned from the walls. Even though the land was not perfectly convenient for building, the need exceeded that inconvenience. We also noticed a creek that went under the road and did not come out on the other side, I would consider this another sign of the importance of housing for the same reason as the retention walls.

Along with this we noticed that each residential house was pretty big and full of space. They looked more like permanent homes. We believe that these houses on S. Elam St. and the the other small roads are family homes, not the student homes we saw on College Hill. Therefore, we could tell that these buildings were around to add more space for the families of Greensboro at the time. Besides, it was right beside a strong part of campus. It was beside Walker Ave., the first strong street, the Spring Graden St. Before we move on to the next part, just a quick observation we found. We saw that the sidewalks in the back roads were lined with brick as we went on. It was tough to decide what these bricks were for. Were the for looks? Probably not, due to the fact that there's a use for mostly everything in Greensboro. What about a drainage system? It's tough to decide because we found no particular use for the brick beside the siewalks.

Finally, we came to our cut-up street, Walker Ave. Walker Ave. is a street that is used mostly for residential purposes now. We have seen many houses along the way and these are very nice houses as well. We see the bungalow type mostly from this street, so we can see that these houses were filled in for something else. Now, Walker Ave. looks like it used to be a dominant street for this area and the proof is there. Back at the part of Walker Ave. we came on, we saw many developments and old time buildings. For instance, we saw an old bar called The Blind Tiger. This bar was very special due to the fact that we looked at the sign and saw that it had been around since the 1920s. Maybe earlier than that. Also, we saw other developments like Fishbones, Walker Bar, and The Property Source. Also, we saw a ton of infills, but we also saw another piece of evidence. Lots. Lots were all around Walker Ave. whether they were used or not. Something must have been there before and had been taken down for the sake of the infill of houses. Now, we move on and see that two churches had been placed along Walker Ave. These churches looked pretty well kept so the may have been placed in for the houses so no one would have to walk to the churches around College Hill.

Now, the fun part. College Hill turned out to be mostly a residential district for college students and some bachelors and bachelorettes with a job. It had its own strip right beside Tate St. and it was near two of the colleges in Greensboro. It was not developed as well. and you could tell that these buildings were older and more useful towards livng purposes. The only development we saw was around Mendenhall St. and Tate St. There were infills, but not as many as College Park.

College Park, on the other hand, is a more developed area of Greensboro. It has more businesses and restaurants than College Hill. The residential part of the area is more for families than for students, though there were a few areas with student housing. College Park is based around two strong streets, Spring Garden St. and Walker Ave. compared to College Hill. There is more of a contemporary style with this area and it doesn't follow the old style of College Hill. Therer are more bungalows compared to the Queen Anne style houses. There are definitely more infills in this area due to the developments. All in all, this area was developed quickly compared to the historic style of College Hill. So, you can see that College Park is very different from the oder and more historic College Hill.