Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pedestrian Perspective: Lunch Break in Center Square

Yesterday, I left campus for my lunch break and went home, something I rarely do.  After stopping at the bank in the One Commerce Plaza building, I took a stroll home, then grabbed the bus back uptown a bit later.

One Commerce Plaza is the big ugly building in this picture.  The original marble cladding was replaced a few years ago because it was too heavy for exterior material.  During the renovation, a chunk of marble fell off and injured three people, a la the windows of the John Hancock Tower in Boston.  Well done, modernism...
Today's route. Bank; home; bus.
Even though it's a short walk from the bank to my apartment, there was an unusual amount of interesting (to me at least, and probably you if you're here) stuff going on.  Center Square is beautiful, but for the most part, and especially during the day, it's rather uneventful outside of Lark Street and Washington Park.  The only real excitement going on this summer is rather high amount of renovations.

New sidewalks going in along Dove Street, a street we've visited.  I think I even took a picture of this very building.
I've noticed more sidewalks being replaced this year than in years past.  Maybe they just happen to coincide with places I see.  Either way, it's a nice sight.

To get to Lark, we'll go up Chestnut, the streetscape of which I did not take a picture of.  This post is  impromptu and included no foresight whatsoever.

Always sad to see this kind of stuff in the area.  However, it never accumulates.  The Broken Windows Theory doesn't have a chance to take hold here.
It's always sad to see trash laying around the area, as it is anywhere.  It's particularly striking in Center Square, an emphatically urban neighborhood that contains regular middle-class people and gorgeous architecture.  You first expect it to be a dump, like so many inner city neighborhoods sadly are (though I will always place the blame on highways and suburbs rather than anything in the city itself).  When it's realized to be so beautiful, the reaction is unexpected.  And then garbage adds a cruel twist to the whole thing.

You can't really see the height difference in the two slabs of concrete, but trust me, I tripped on this.
The slab I tripped on is probably only raised about an inch, but large enough to almost topple a fully grown and incredibly clumsy adult male.  This is why sidewalk replacement is such a nice sight.

After leaving my apartment again, and getting to the Armory bus stop, I realized that while I have always taken pictures of the bus stop, from across the street, I've never taken any shots from inside the bus stop itself.  What kind of perspective is that?  Here's the pedestrian/bus rider perspective:

It's not the most peaceful place.  This is a busy intersection, and the most dangerous in Albany County.
Washington Avenue.  Seen from this angle, it's not so unpleasant of an environment.
Washington Avenue toward downtown.  One Commerce Plaza is hidden behind those trees and that BusPlus sign.
Looking through the back of the shelter to the Washington Avenue Armory, an arena and concert/convention hall.
Bike racks of the type that I believe are found at all BusPlus stations.
Looking at Lark Street.  You can see why this is a scary intersection to cross.
A more flattering photo of Lark Street.
The corner of Lark and Washington featured in the last photo is home to a complete rebirth in restaurants over the last year and a half or so.  What used to be A Taste of Greece and Romeo's Pizza is now Kinnaree (Asian), a new Romeo's Pizza (recently opened after the last one closed 1 1/2 years ago), Jewel of India, Gyro Station (my personal favorite) and Subway.  The only business on the block that was there when I first moved to Center Square in December 2009 is the bodega.

Townsend Park, which we will visit this weekend as part of the long-delayed second installment of Albany's Highway System.
Even though I've had trouble posting as much lately (which may become the new norm as the semester begins next week) I have a few posts waiting to be written, with the pictures already having been taken.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed the walk around Center Square and our sitting time at the bus station from yesterday's lunch break.  Maybe this weekend we'll take a trip to a nice, sturdy structure like the mall to acknowledge/ride of Hurricane Irene.

Have a nice weekend, Albany...
An earthquake and a hurricane in one week.  And people say this city is boring! Psh!

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