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

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Sunny Day Downtown, Elmira, New York

The Geo Tracker is left behind for repairs at Elm Chevrolet, and I am left to my own devices on a warm October morning.

Shank's Mare it is. I've a camera, monopod, and a full gig of memory for shots and videos. And a plan. I head over to the viaduct and hang a right at Church Street and Railroad Avenue, moving north.When I was young, the average person would take a train to go to another city. In many metropolitan areas, this is still the norm. Other cities have returned to heavy use of the rails, but not Elmira. What a shame. I hate flying, and can no longer drive long distances. Used to be a sign like this would have signaled the end of a homecoming trip. Now it is just a memory. Not even my memory, because I am from central Massachusetts.

Here is the real reason I brought my camera with me. This is not an abandoned building. It is owned by the Hilliard Corporation, and is relatively protected by being adjacent to the factory complex, directly behind it.
While I was snapping pictures of this wonderful relic, I was overwhelmed by the ghosts of long-dead railway riders, swarming around the building. Images of full skirts and travelling jackets, smart hats and walking sticks were worn or carried by tired people, glad of a moment to stretch their legs. Or maybe a lone passenger, standing on the platform, looking over the little City of Elmira.Just before I began blogging this building, I Googled the words "Elmira railroad station" and got a site for a lovely little piece of history in Canada. Maybe someday we can make another such site for our own little station. For now, it is derelict: a favorite of photographers such as myself.

At my back is a spire familiar to all downtown denizens. It serves as a beacon to lead me to my next stop. I am very glad we have a beautiful sunny morning for photos.

The skies are crystal clear and the air is perfect. Monday morning and the world is bustling.
One of the most imposing houses of worship in the city is not located on Church Street. This is St. Patrick's Roman Catholic Church. Kitty-corner across West Clinton Street are the St. Patrick's Apartments. They are no longer affiliated with the Diocese of Rochester, but the facade has been wonderfully preserved and it looks exactly as it did when it was a Parochial School.

The church was recently renovated, and is now the center for the main parish cluster here in Elmira. Clustering has encouraged local Catholics to visit all our churches, and I have attended Mass there a number of times. Directly across the street is my favorite store in the whole commercial universe.
My daughter used to live in one of the upstairs apartments.
Here are closeups of the little murals on either side of the entryway. They are scenes from stories by Mark Twain. When he was still Samuel Clemens, Twain came to Elmira to visit a friend of his youth. That friend introduced him to his future wife, Olivia Langdon. They would spend summers in Elmira.

Here is the first peek through the door. It always gives me an initial feeling of pande- monium, followed by an overall sense of comfortable clutter being the norm at Cappys.

The place is chock-a-block with gifts, books, cards, cosmetics, fashionable accessories, and even shoes. It is a bad idea to alert a friend to something in the place, especially if that person is likely to put off investigating. The turnover of product is unpredictable. See something you like? Better snap it up, or someone else will...

Anywhere a product can be displayed, some goody has been set. My daughters and I have literally never gone in with a list and left empty- handed.

Once the VeggiGirl KT actually told me we would probably not find an item. I laughed until she told me she wanted a Buddha for a male friend.

After all, why would anyone but a Buddhist have a statuette of a Buddha? Then, Oh-me-of-little-faith, began to think we might not find it. When we were done, we had located three different Buddhas, and there might conceivably been more.

At Cappy's, items are scattered everywhere. Many are literally hanging from the ceiling. On top of that, it is important not to neglect the merchandise that is below waist level. Here, people are not exaggerating when they say they looked both high,
and low for a gift. I took many pictures, but these few were the most represent- ative of the sense of organized chaos I get whenever I shop Cappy's.

One of the best things, I think, about this post: Cappy's does a very brisk shipping business. They are excellent shippers; we even sent a Galileo thermometer to our folks in Maine through them. It arrived unscathed, glass, liquid and all! That's very good news for the reader who likes to shop online.

Best of all: they have a wonderful web site!

(If you want to order, you will need to call the number on the home page.)

Next was a quick trip into Langdon Plaza for hiking shoes. All these pictures taken without benefit of proper walking shoes! The new ones from Panosian's Famous Brands fit the bill perfectly. I wore them to walk home.

One Last photo of a lovely painted lady on Church Street. My first encounter with it was as a customer at a hair salon. My hair cutter has since moved, at least twice, and finally retired.

This building was damaged by a terrible fire one night a few weeks back. It was badly damaged out back and they say it might be razed. Too bad. We lose a lot of lovely ladies that way around here.

This style is what I would call Victorian Canal Town, all cupolas and mansard roofs.

If you love this sort of architecture, we have an excellent resource in the Near Westside Historic District and their website. Take a look.

Little Pond