My wife and I recently moved uptown to the Washington Heights area. I can’t tell you how great it is to be out of the Lower East Side. I’m sure that may sound odd, since the Lower East Side is the hip and happening place to be, but it’s also noisy as hell, full of drunks, and groceries are exceptionally overpriced. We have a nice quiet apartment on the back of a building now, it’s quiet outside after 10PM, and we have easy access to necessary stores and transportation.
Before moving up here, I’d never been to this neighborhood before. I was even surprised to see that Manhattan could have hills. I like it, though. The different elevations of the buildings adds a lot of character to the neighborhood. Speaking of character, the buildings in this part of the city are fascinating to look at, too. A lot of the stuff downtown is new construction. I prefer older architecture. I’m looking forward to taking some time later this summer to just walk around and take photos. That’s one of the things I love about New York City in general: there’s never a lack of things to do or see.
Anyway, these are some photos that I took with my iPhone a few days ago when my wife and I went on an impromptu stroll down Riverside Drive and some of the surrounding streets. Great view! I’m looking forward to going back when I have an actual camera with me.
While walking down Riverside Drive there, we ran into a guy who was sitting on the ledge. You can probably see him in the photo I took while still under the shade of the trees. As we walked by, I noticed him giving my wife the up-and-down so I said, “Hello there. How are you?” He looked at me and started screaming about CIA surveillance. He might not have made the connection, but even if he didn’t, he’s still a nut job. We moved along at a brisk pace.
So, down in Georgia, there’s a river called the Chattahoochee. According to Alan Jackson, it gets hotter than a hoochee coochee and it’s a great place to learn to swim, love, and live.
Back in the 70’s, which is when I assume he’s talking about, that might have been true, but these days there’s so much industrial pollution and waste water run-off in the Chattahoochee that if it’s hot, it’s because it’s burning your skin. Atlanta pumps a lot of waste into the river, ruining it for all of the cities downstream.
That hasn’t stopped both Columbus (on the Georgia side of the river) and Phenix City (on the Alabama side of the river) from both trying to develop the area. One of their projects is a river walk. I remember when the Columbus government first started building the river walk back in the mid 90’s. If I remember right, I did a March of Dimes event there when I was a sophomore in high school. It was pretty nice. The view was good. Even going back there now, after having seen the skylines of so many cities in and outside the US, it’s still good, though that may be partly the nostalgia.
The other project that Columbus is working on is something to do with white water rafting. The city government has this idea in their head that if they build it, ‘they’ will come, in the hundreds of thousands, so, sure enough, several historic dams that were built to power factories that used to operate along the waterfront were blown open to create a ‘white water’ effect in the river. Personally, I think it looks more like a ‘lazy river’ ride at a theme park, way too tame for someone seeking a real white water thrill, but maybe they haven’t opened up all the dams yet.
My wife and I went down the Phenix City riverwalk with my dad and he was telling us about how the city made a big deal out of blowing the dam we happened to be looking at, at the time. It was televised and people were expecting a large explosion, but it wasn’t really anything special. I still wish I’d been there to see it, but mostly because I’d have been interested to see what was at the bottom of the river. I bet they pulled a lot of neat stuff out of there.
Across the river from where we were, for example, there was a wall built of large square stones that was previously submerged. In the side of that wall there were square tunnels running back into the bank. I wonder what’s in there? Was it used fro waste run-off or sewage? The way it was built, with two walls in terraced set-up, it seemed like there used to be a road down there.
Anyway, there’s a lot of history in that area. One of the last major wars of the Civil War was fought in Phenix City. Columbus used to produce most of the boots and swords for the Confederate Army. Columbus was also the end of the line for river cargo from the Gulf of Mexico, since it sits on the fall line. Now, those old factories are being converted into expensive lofts and the river is being turned into a commercialized tourist attraction (which will probably fail due to health concerns), but at least the river has a bit more character now. I wish I could get down in there with a metal detector…