I really like the rounded corners on this shop/garage in the Smokey Mountains (just East of High Top and Lotterdale Knob, among other awesome placenames). It looks like it was built in the mid-20th-century according to modernist principles and never, thank goodness, redone as fashions changed. Evidently "Greenback" was the fourth choice for the town's name—Thompson Station, Pine Grove, and Allegheny Station were already taken. So the town was named for the Greenback Party, a populist movement that favored the re-issue of paper money, formed largely by farmers who had lost money in the Panic of 1873.
I liked that these giant tractor tires are both the product this garage sells and services, and the roadside sign advertising said product. The medium is the message! Meanwhile, my local correspondent adds: "I've been told by others that we should try to have service done here when possible (there's another tire/auto place in town) because this is the one that services tractor and big truck tires, so if they go out of business, it would be very difficult for locals to get their tractor tires serviced."
It's not the design of these Sunday-drive posts to simply be a litany of the worldwide march of Google Street View, but it does seem to turn out that way. This week I coincidentally started Keri Hulme's novel (and winner of the 1985 Booker Prize) The Bone People and discovered that GSV had finally reached the Antipodes, and I was thus able to get some sense of the novel's setting—and the town where the author lives—on the remote Westland coast of New Zealand's South Island. There I found this bit of local culture, an austere but well-labeled general store. The roadside forest outside town, meanwhile, is as ferny and wild-looking as one would hope and expect.
I love the little flourishes of local architecture that you discover on Google Street View—particularly, of course, in neighborhoods that've been around for a century or more. Things you first notice as totally odd—like this turquoise tile in a window-arch—come up again and again as you click your way down the street.
Google Street View's European march continues; here the camera'd car pauses on the medieval bridge over the Arno. The shops on the bridge, as any tour guide will tell you, used to house butchers (easy offal disposal), but are now, of course, given over to jewelers and other merchants of tourism.
I love the kids in this one (zoom in to see the little girl waving)—usually the Google Street View photos are rather depopulated. This American Life ran a great full hour about Cicero in 2001: "The story in a way of a town that time forgot, or more accurately, a town that tried to forget the times. A special broadcast of This American Life, co-hosted by award-winning journalist Alex Kotlowitz, author of the books There Are No Children Here and The Other Side of the River. It's the story of what at one time was one of most notoriously racist and corrupt suburbs in America. In the 1920s, Cicero was reputedly run by Al Capone, and federal indictments against organized crime there continued steadily all the way through the 1990s. In the 1960s, Cicero residents reacted so violently to threats of integration that officials told Martin Luther King, Jr.'s supporters that marching there would be a suicide mission. Today, two-thirds of the population is Mexican-American, but the political machine from decades past still holds power. A parable of racial politics in America, of white Americans not wanting change, not wanting to let in the outside world, and what happens when they have no choice."
I'd never seen an urban playground set up like this one, in the heart of Madrid. There are more little rainbow-pickets down the street, interspersed with the more expected urban furniture—benches, bus stops, and cafe seating. I like how integrated and open it all is; usually you'd expect to see kids more sequestered.
I like the way someone's enclosed their exterior stairway here. And also, considering the area a little more broadly, this evocative line from the Rural Hall Wikipedia entry: "The town developed after the Cape Fear & Yadkin Valley Railroad erected a train station here in 1887."
I was struck by the rust streaking on this church in the evocatively named Weeping Water, NE (pop. 1003). The church seemed to be weeping too! At first I thought it must be derelict, but I think the staining is a sort of natural patina that grows from flecks of iron in the limestone—the Weeping Water Public Library has the same facade, also out of stone from the town quarry, which is listed as the largest limestone mine in the state.
Mixed emotions here: it's sad to see the beautiful panelled doors at No.8 defaced with graffiti—and yet how thrilling that our vandals have done such a great job of matching the wrought-iron scrollwork of the balconies above!