I guess I should talk about the house itself too though. It's a 50 year old cape cod, or is it a rancher? I'm not sure exactly what to call it, but I sure know it's built solid, and it's in a neighborhood that I don't have to put up with a bunch of silly covenant restrictions and stupid zoning laws. One thing I do hafta put up with is friendly neighbors though. I am pretty satisfied with where I live because I can simply enjoy it. Sure a big fancy place out in the West End would be nice, but in order to enjoy it, I would be working so much that I wouldn't even be there in the first place.
The neighborhood I live in is called "Lakeside", nobody really knows where the actual lake it's beside ctually is. At one time, it was on the outermost fringe of the city when it was built, and considered a typical upper middle class subdivision, the in-style place to live in the late forties. Today, itís more of a blue-collar neighborhood, right in the heart of things. The location of the neighborhood is one of the reasons I enjoy it so much. Since I work out in the West End, which is now the upscale fashionable place to live, it means that I am traveling in the exact opposite direction of the rest of the commuters, traveling out of the suburbs, and back into the city the afternoon commute. Now, when I say traveling, I use the term loosely, since most of the commuters are basically sitting still in traffic jams. It just really makes me wonder what others find so appealing about those neighborhoods. I guess itís the fad of having the latest trend in housing to show off to others, just like having the latest fashions, vehicles, and electronics, no matter what the pain and aggravation I puts you through. Talk to most of the homeowners that live in these places, and you will frequently get horror stories about the poor craftsmanship in their homes
This brings me to one of my peeves about society though, that peeve is that we are too dependant upon the almighty automobile. Now, donít get me wrong, I enjoy cars, and most of the time, also enjoy driving them, but a car is most efficent out on the open highway, not sitting in the stop and go traffic weíve created nowadays. City planning is perhaps the biggest reason for this. The typical design of modern communities is to use sort of a "tree" layout. There's a main road that handles all the traffic through the town. Along that road are most of your commercial and retail businesses. Branching out off of that main road are secondary roads that handle all the traffic into neighborhoods. Of course branching of the secondary roads are the neighborhood streets, usually cul-de-sacs and dead-end streets. These are very popular because there is very little traffic down them. Located far away from neighborhoods are industrial and heavy commercial areas, because people don't want the noise and pollution typically associated with this type of land use.
Now, all this sounds to be quite fine and effective at handling traffic, and the needs of neighborhood dwellers, but there are big problems with this. The simplest is that the main road handles all the traffic. No matter where someone tries to go, the trip requires driving on the main road. Now it's very easy to see where the problems develop. Now, also think about what I mentioned before about industrial and heavy commercial areas located away from neighborhoods. What this means is that not only are all the commuters traveling on the main road, but since the destinations of all these commuters are so far away, it means that this commuting traffic is driving longer distances, and spending more time in their vehicle.
Before the automobile came along, communities were designed much different. The typical neighborhood community was designed in sort of a grid layout. Walking, or the horse and buggy was the typical modes of travel around town. Houses were located close to the street, and close to each other. Frequently, at the end of the city blocks were located shops and stores. Residential areas would develop around a central point, like a factory or office where the people would be employed. Bigger cities would sometimes use trolleys to move people back and forth.
As time wore on, cities developed, and automobiles became the popular mode of transportation. The suburban neighborhood with large lots, and shopping centers became a place to escape the noise, pollution, and blight of urban areas. The only problem is that suburban development ended up encouraging more of these problems. So citizens continue to move out to the fringes of the city, leaving behind older neighborhoods to deteriorate. It's as if homes and neighborhoods go out of style just like the latest trend in clothing. Out of style clothes end up at the thrift store. Sadly, once beautiful homes in older neighborhoods loose their value almost as much. Luckily, with the economy being good in rather good shape for a while, and lower interest rates on mortgages, many older homes have been bought, and returned to their former glory. Urban neighborhoods are being re-vitalized. Some people are getting smart and moving into these neighborhoods because of the good commuting virtues associated with them. It's nice to see people putting effort into maintaining not just a structure, but a piece of history. Maintaining an older home re-vitalizes it's neighborhood along with it.