Monday, November 13, 2006

Wrong Turn

In my haste to escape North Wilmington traffic this AM, I took a quick left down a road that I hoped would intersect Philadelphia Pike, and I would up slowing down in the morning mist to enjoy something wonderful.

I had stumbled upon one of those lovely neighborhoods that we find by accident. It seems I always wind up taking these wrong turns in the full bloom of autumn. Through the grey drizzle and a snowfall of golden maple leaves, I toured through a tree canopied streetscape of modest tutors, split faced brick bungalows, cape cods and colonials of every variety. Each house was completely different yet they radiate some sort of homogenous mood that glues them into one.

I found this neighborhood before... near the Keswick Theater in Philadelphia, off of Collier Road in Atlanta, in the gridded, Elm lined avenues that surround downtown Edmonton and just north of the Bow in Calgary. These are the neighborhoods I walked my dog through when I was in college and imagined myself living there, taking kids trick or treating there, taking early AM jogs on the sidewalks, past the pocket parks, to the nearby rivers and open spaces....

As I pulled onto Philadelphia Pike it struck me that as much as we all love these places, so few of us live there. And often, if we tried to design a neighborhood like this we wouldn't get approved. Not enough setback. Not enough ROW. Not enough lots. Lanes? Ha. Never.

So we drive though the mist and daydream... then continue on to our tract homes, our McMansions, our island neighborhoods that connect to nothing and that despite the best architectural control efforts to remain uniformly beautiful still come off as disjointed and out of place....

And we forget about the golden maple snowshowers until next fall when we take a wrong turn.

1 Comment:

Dana said...

So somebody DOES live in neighborhoods like that!!!