in Raleigh

The traffic or the view?

I took a walk past the State Capitol today to clear my head, on my way to the credit union branch on neighboring New Bern Avenue. The credit union sits on a little sliver of New Bern that has since become essentially a parking lot. Its a shame that this slice of New Bern is cut off from the rest of the street grid, because it absolutely offers the best view of the Capitol.

I was amazed that I’ve lived in or near Raleigh for 15 years and never appreciated this view of the Capitol. Its easily the best one and yet with the way the traffic flows no one will ever see it! The west side of the Capitol, the Hillsborough Street side, is obscured by the horribly out-of-place Confederate war memorial and two poorly-sited trees (not even oaks). The Capitol’s east side, however, features stately oaks that nicely frame the building, fountains (when there’s no drought), and an attractive, well-placed memorial to James K. Polk and Andrew Jackson. I was stunned when I saw it. The east side beats the other views of the Capitol, hands-down.

I wonder if downtown’s traffic flows are part of the horrible thinking responsible for all the faceless, ugly concrete state government buildings that litter the area, the kind of thinking that a street’s most important feature was getting one out of downtown. Gorgeous streets with gorgeous views should not be relegated to parking lots!