Short tours of a small city, Elmira, U.S.A., deep in the heart of Upstate New York. Click on photo for detailed view.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Welcome Input from ECTC

A local agency (paid by your tax dollars, dear Hometown Tourist) has responded to our griping posts by offering the illustrated Elmira Promenade Priliminary Design Study of June 2005 for your perusal. I'm posting two of the graphics below, more later if you show your interest. Leave a comment.

Mr. Jay Schissell of the Elmira-Chemung Transportation Council indicated that we are encouraged to post these enhanced computer simulations, with this caveat:

"Keep in mind that display areas for local artists, museums, school and the library is an important component of the Promenade project that will hopefully make it a "destination."

I hope he will not mind some of my editorializing.

Little Pond

ECTC vision under the viaduct

Coming in from the opposite direction, with our back to Church Street. Transportation Center at left. Love the colors, love the light. My only objection is that the hanging art will cut back on the natural light. I prefer the area as open as possible under the trestle.

Friday, July 15, 2005

ECTC vision of the Transportation Center

Note how the colors would tie into the existing buildings' scheme. Gives it an almost organic look. The busses would load on the other side of the viaduct.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Train Trestle: The Viaduct

Word is out that the Elmira-Chemung Transportation Council is aiming to spruce up the railroad viaduct that bisects our little town. Plans are to transform the old "eyesore" into a Promenade. Sounds good to me, as long as they promise to restore or rehab the derelict train station along the way. Quite costly even in theory, to the tune of a couple of millions, the plan would install better lighting and resurface just about everything from top to bottom. Gone would be the white, gray, blues and green, and various shades of sand and sandstone would be used instead.

In fact things wouldn't be all that different than they are now, just newer and cleaner, a little more elegant. I like that, too. As a life-long fan of trains and railroads, anything that preserves and protects the viaduct appeals to me personally. Love to watch those trains passing through our little corner of the earth.

So, dear Hometown Tourist, start on West Gray Street, about a block east from the Community Bookstore. All our downtown tours start there. Stop in for a snack and chew the fat with authentic Elmirans. If Louis is there, give him my love.

Little Pond

Viaduct: Railroad Avenue and West Gray

Our back to the parking garage on West Gray Street; facing Church Street. This is a primary boarding area for the County Transit System. Looking three blocks up, where the defunct railroad station awaits some serious rehabilitation and restoration. But that's another blog. Let's cross under the trestle. Posted by Picasa

Overdue Paint Job

Local businesses keep attractive landscapes. Many people wait for their rides under the viaduct, especially in rainy weather. We are long overdue for a new paint job. Posted by Picasa

Viaduct at Transportation Center

This shot shows where the busses load for the Chemung County routes. The long distance busses board on the other side of the Transportation Center, across from the Post Office. While I like the blues and greens, they represent our old bus company and no longer apply. Posted by Picasa

Toward Riverfront Park

Looking backward towards Water Street. Just beyond the greenery is Riverfront Park, blogged earlier here. The chipped paint is unfortunately obvious and faces our recently remodeled Clemen Center. Posted by Picasa

Clock Kiosk on West Gray

New take on an old favorite. A modern clock tower with advertising kiosk faces West Gray Street just beyond the viaduct. Posted by Picasa

Transportation Center Walkway

This little planting provides a much-needed touch of green in this concrete habitat. Posted by Picasa

A travelers' oasis, with benches. Never busy, although often occupied. Posted by Picasa

North of Church Street

Coming around the Transportation Center, we are now facing the Steele Memorial Library and the Viaduct crosses Church Street. Posted by Picasa

Window Box Garden

A cheerful sight on a cloudy day. What is that sign? Posted by Picasa

Thank you, Volunteer Master Gardeners and Citizen Pruners.  Posted by Picasa

An eyesore? Depends on the beholder. So lets scrape the peelings and repaint, already. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Remember by Morning with Louis?

A comfortable, indoor visit to the Mark Twain Hotel Museum is now available. Go alone, or with an intimate little group. Maybe you, too, will meet someone nice enough to fill you in on the local lore and details.

Little Pond

Monday, July 04, 2005

An Independence Day Tour of Wisner Park

This is the perfect place to make a quick tour in honor of Independence Day. Downtown Elmira has this little gem; Wisner is actually a memorial park. Go to the corner of North Main Street and West Gray. Two quadrangles perfectly maintained by people dedicated to the memory of our heroes. Even the trees are carefully pruned to give a nice high canopy, enhancing the light and the safety of the walkways.

Start your tour here. It is likely there is someone inside who can regale you with stories about the memorials you are about to visit. There are books and maps to the area here. Then head straight down West Gray toward the First Arena, in the upper right. Our first stop is across the street. Posted by Picasa

This is a nifty statue, if only because it gives a pretty complete picture of the Spanish American War, largely fogotten by most Americans. In fact most of these memorials are like history lessons. Head past the statue to another one facing North Main Street. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Thomas Beecher with his back to the church he pastored. He was a close friend of author Samuel Clemens and the Langdon family, who used to live across from the church. Posted by Picasa

Let's continue across the street, around the spreading triptych of marble, the memorials to our foreign wars of the 20th Century. Behind them is a minimemorial, sort of an engraved prayer, with something different on each side. Note the gazebo behind it, just in front of the Baptist Church. This is really a beautiful, peaceful park, perfectly set up for a quiet meal on most days. Posted by Picasa

Coming up Main Street, headed south, we are presented with three related memorials. The battles and the names of the fallen, all engraved. Each of the three is a complete history lesson in itself. They are beautiful and touching memorials. This is to our heroes of World War II. Likely we may know relatives of those whose names are engraved here. Posted by Picasa

The centerpiece is dedicated to World War I. This was the Great War, the last of the conventional wars, before the Atomic Bomb. Yet millions still died. Posted by Picasa

The third and last of this triptych is dedicated to those who died in the Korean and Viet Nam conflicts. Again, the lists and the seats with the battles. Posted by Picasa

This elegant memorial is my favorite. It is dedicated to our fallen peace officers. It faces the Mark Twain Hotel. That's another blog at a later date. Say a prayer for all our fallen heroes, and thank a veteran or serviceman for our freedom. We are the lucky ones: Every day is Independence Day here. Posted by Picasa

Main St to Church to Clemens Pkwy to Gray

Our little downtown has some very interesting architecture and a charming mix of both new and old. We are going around just two blocks, passing under the railroad viaduct. There was a time when the viaduct defined two halves of the town. Now the Clemens Center Parkway creates the dividing line. We will treat the little streets being used by the transportation center and the county buses as part of our block.

Little Pond

A quick tour of Little Sights to See Downtown

All downtown visits should start here. The Community Bookstore has maps and people who know the area. The owner is happy to help. We are going to walk around one block. Head across Main Street and look west on Gray to the little white sign. Posted by Picasa

From the distance I read PARK CHURCH, but closer up, it's just a No Parking sign. Cute. Posted by Picasa

The stately and historic Park Church. The Rev. Thomas Beecher was a personal friend of that renowned diehard agnostic Samuel Clemens. Clemens, aka Mark Twain, used to walk all the way down from Quarry Farm on East Hill to visit Beecher. Posted by Picasa

Crystal Eastman Marker

Why is this attached to the Park Church? Go to Pages from the History of Elmira to find out.Posted by Picasa

On Church Street, headed towards the Clemens Center Parkway. A small, glassed-in building on the edge of Wisner Park contains the Popcorn Truck, kept in mint condition for all local events and parades. Posted by Picasa