Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Beauty at street level

Tonight for the first time since arriving here 10 days ago -- I think because it was such a satisfying day -- I took a walk through Evanston. I've never lived in Evanston before, and its beauty is stunning, I can understand why it's so expensive to live here. I walked under an arching elm tree that must have been 100 feet tall, absolutely exquisite. And many maples, oaks, and other leafy trees I've missed.

We've had a lot of rain, so everything is verdant and fragrant. I discovered a park I'd never noticed before, Merrick Rose Garden, where tonight the season's first roses are blooming. There's a historic fountain at the south end of the garden.

I walked by the Emmanuel United Methodist Church on Oak Street, whose amber windows were lit from within. Something about the church was very beautiful, and when I arrived home I did a Google search, which turned up the fact that the church was designed by the famous architectural firm Burnham and Root, which designed "the White City" for the Columbian Exposition of 1893 on Chicago's waterfront.

This next paragraph will piss off my friends in Colorado. Colorado is widely thought of as a beautiful state, but it's the mountains that are beautiful, not the rest of the state. I remember when I first arrived there, I thought the "housing stock" (to use an architectural term) was really disappointing -- houses poorly designed and maintained -- and the street level remarkably plain, populated with ugly trees and brownish grass except during the rainy season. When fog obscures the mountains, the Boulder area becomes incredibly ordinary and even ugly in places.

1 comment:

Kathy Kaiser said...

As a native Illinoisan, I agree that the architecture in Colorado's cities is disappointing. Maybe because it's newer than the Chicago area cities, most of the housing in Denver and surrounding area is more of the cookie cutter variety. This is not helped by the fact that Colorado trees don't grow as large as Midwest trees and help hide some of the sameness and mediocrity.
However, I do think the architecture in Colorado's old mining towns is pretty spectacular.
And I do think that Evanston is one of the most beautiful cities in the country, with its old neighborhoods and lakefront.