Great Streets

Salem, Massachusetts
OK. I thought I'd see if I can get a conversation starter here. Lately, I've been taking a lot of long walks around Boston, mostly to kill time and try and break in my feet for the long trip ahead of me, and it got me thinking about some of my favorite places around the world. Being a list maker, I came up with a short list for my favorite streets to walk down (that I can think of off of the top of my head). It's kind of a random list, and not in any particular order, but these are all places that I really like.

Karl-Marx-Allee (Berlin). Besides the obvious attachment to the name... Karl-Marx-Allee is a monumental boulevard that ran through my neighborhood in East Berlin. It was totally destroyed during the war, so the architecture is something called Socialist-Realist and was supposed to showcase the east's design practices. Actually, now a lot of architectural historians think Socialist-Realist was the earliest form of Post-Modernist Architecture. Anyway, I always walked here on the way to the U-bahn. It was really different then the rest of the neighborhood and made you feel kind of grand, even though you were just living in a working class neighborhood. So I guess it worked.

Neue Schönhauser Straße (Berlin) is this little tiny twisty road that only goes for a couple of blocks. It's not very wide and it has a tram running down the middle of the street, which makes it even smaller. It's the sort of place where you go to buy a 100 Euro White-T-Shirt-With-a-Hole-in-Just-the-Right-Spot. What I love is that the shops are so high class, but the buildings are decrepit. It's got graffititi everywhere and it looks like everything could fall down at any moment. Very Berlin.

Unter Den Linden (Berlin) is a monumental boulevard that ran from where the Prussian royal palace used to be to the Brandenburg Gate. It's be designed to impress, so it's easy to like. I have quite a few great memories from there though. In particular, rememberer that I had just seen the movie The Hours with Jessica. Not exactly uplifting. But there is a line in there where character says something like she always felt she was on the verge of the best times of her life, but finally looked back and realized that being on the verge was the best time. I remember walking down Unter Den Linden thinking to myself that I should remember right then because it might be the best time of my life...

Schönhauser Allee (Berlin) has a great book written about it by Wladimir Kaminer. I like the part where the U-bahn is above ground. It makes me happy.

Commonwealth Ave (in the Back Bay, Boston) is just a beautiful place to walk. It was designed by Friedrich Law Olmsted. The architecture is beautiful (and unique).

Salem Street (Boston) is a tight little street in the North End. It's got restaurants and tenements and people yelling in Italian. On our honeymoon we ate at a restaurant there (which is closed now). We still eat on the street though. La Familiga Georgios. mmmm.

Union Park Street (Boston) in the South End has this block with a little park and matching townhouses all around. It looks like it belongs in London. If I were picking a place in Boston where I'd want to settle down, it'd probably be here.

Loring Greenway (Minneapolis). I'm not sure that a lot of people even know Loring Greenway exists. So many people in Minneapolis never bother to get out theirier cars in the neighborhoods near downtown. I was just kind of wandering around when I found it. J and I used to use it all the time to walk downtown when we lived in Loring Park. I loved how it was so green and quiet, but still obviously had the city surrounding it. It should be a model for the greening of the rest of downtown.

Milwaukee Avenue (Minneapolis). I honestly didn't really know about Milwaukee Ave until I was more of a tourist in Mpls then a resident. I still really like it though. I've been told my great-grandpa used to live in one of those houses.

Oak Grove Street (Minneapolis). I think the first time I saw Oak Grove Street was on my way to a concert that we didn't get in to. I had no idea there was a street like that in Mpls, and I totally fell in love with it. It's one of the few places in the city that feels like you could be in Europe. That's why I found an apartment on it.

So, anyone else?


Brother James 7:14 PM  

I have two favorite spots in Edinburgh's Old Town, very close to each other. The first is Borthwick Close, which runs north off the Royal Mile (the High Street segment). It's just this tiny, claustrophobic path that runs between a few buildings. After dark, it takes on this Jack the Ripper feel. It's very cool.

The other place is just a short walk up towards the Castle. Near the castle is a flight of stairs that goes down to Victoria Street. Victoria street slopes down and the shops and bars follow it, but on top of them is another sidewalk with another set of shops and pubs. It's not much, but I like it.

onetenchelsea 10:10 PM  

I really love stairs in cities. We need more stairs.

Actually, they could really use stairs in Minneapolis in Loring Park between 15th St/Oak Grove St and Clifton Sts. They all have really long blocks and it's really steep.

It reminds me too of Bosworth Street in Boston. Right next to the Littlest Pub. Really cool old stair case from one street to another.

jessica 1:32 AM  

The street I live on in Ho Chi Minh City is pretty typical of small streets here, but I love it because it's mine. The street is bustling from 5:00 in the morning until at least 11:00 at night. It actually gives "bustling" a new meaning- I don't think I'll ever walk through a street in the United States and comment that it's crowded or busy ever again. Every time I walk down the small street, I see something new- a hairdresser, a fabric store, or an up-scale cosmetics boutique next to a run-down, dark, room where an old man is selling ice for 500 dong per kilo. As I walk down the street, older men leaning up against their motorbikes yell to me, "Madame! Xe om! Moto-bike!" They are offering to take me anywhere in Saigon for sixty cents. Women sitting on small stools at the side of the road are ready to sell me pineapple, noodles, waffles, sticky rice and dozens of other delicious Vietnamese snacks. There are at least a dozen internet cafes on this short street- all filled with young boys playing internet games. I can also do my laundry and get manicures and pedicures- all within two minutes of my house. Bubble Tea is my new favorite treat in Vietnam, and of course I can get that on my wonderful street, also. Most of all, I'm going to miss my home. I'm going to miss the old woman who sits outside with huge, pink-rimmed sun glasses that are always a little bit crooked. I greet her with, "Chau Ba!" And she acknowldedges this simply by chuckling to herself and repeating, "Chau Ba! Chau Ba!" I'm going to miss the scruffy but harmless dog who always tries to get me to let him outside but then follows me upstairs when I refuse. And, won't I be sad when I can't go home to my little room where my roommate, My, is waiting for me? My has so wonderfully shown me around our street and around Saigon. Without her, my experience here would not have been as meaningful or exciting. I can take many pictures of my street, but I will never be able to capture the feeling of being there, the smells, the sounds, the excitement, the living, on Vuon Choui.

Jerry Plagge, Jr. 12:04 PM  
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Jerry Plagge, Jr. 12:07 PM  

Penn Ave just between 65th street and 67th, what a beautiful demonstration of architecture.

OK, I'll actually give my real answers now, no particular order though.

W Bow & Victoria St. (Edinburgh) - This is just on the south side of the Castle. W Bow has a bunch of shops and food places and there are like two streets witha little sidewalk in the middle. Then you go up this small road (Victoria) with little shops. Fun place to walk.

Any street (Edinburgh Castle area) - I picked a specific above, but while I was in Edinburgh for 4 days I walked around the Castle area 3 times and I love many of the streets.

Dircksentraße (Berlin) - This goes along the elevate tracks theme. This is right by the Hackescher Markt stop for the S-Bahn. I just liked walking by there. I had an interview there and I also ate at some of the food joints there.

Stralaueralle (Berlin) - If you walk on this street and look back at the U-Bahn bridge crossing the Spree, it is beautiful. I love that bridge over the Spree.

Valley Street (New Ulm) - Grain elevator, old train depot, train tracks, train loading dock, old brick "cube-like" house (ours) built in 1880's and the river a block away. I just liked where I grew up. I'd stare out of my bedroom window looking at that train depot and rail yard as the trains busily worked.

Anonymous,  12:46 AM  

I love the combinaton of grunge and hip on Chicago's north side, particularly the corner of Lincoln and Halstead.
I agree about Union Park in Boston, best viewed at night when the sprinklers are on, I also like Columbus Ave at night, the brownstones and the quiet night life.
I enjoy the quaintness and small shops of Pine Street in Center City Philadelphia.
Rainbow Row in Charleston is a treasured walk on a warm evening, right along the water.

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