Maybe you were expecting me to introduce you to Northampton, our new home, with something a tad more glamorous? More exalted? But Northampton is a very quirky place and I think it’s really fitting that I start you off in the Parking Garage, which everyone in town is inordinately proud of.
There are a lot of wonderful things to say about Northampton, and a lot of interesting things, but there’s one really terrible thing to say about it, and that’s summed up in one word: PARKING.
Downtown (which in effect has double main streets, don’t ask) is crowded with lots of quaint shops and ethnic eateries, and also contains Smith College, a renowned women’s college with lots of students and buildings. AND for good measure it has three highways (routes 9, 5 and 10) running through it, not to mention the broad Connecticut River hemming it in at its eastern margin. Which leaves lots of people looking to come and spend time here and very little land on which to park their cars to do so.
There are quite a few outdoor lots sprinkled around behind the main streets. How long you can park and how much you’ll drop in the meter depends on where the lot is: the closer to main street, the shorter the parking time allowed and the higher the fee. Even so, those lots are always crowded. Hence — the Parking Garage, although folks felt so bad about having to charge at all that the powers that be decided the first hour should be free.
Northampton happens to be one of the GREENEST places you’ll find in these United States (we recycle everything, if you don’t move fast, you might find yourself recycled ((joke))). If we can’t talk you into using a bike instead, we’re certainly not going to settle for less than a green garage. I mean that literally. See the hanging baskets outside of the pay station. Then there’s the landscaping and the sculpture —-
Which was specially created for this space. It’s called “Birth” —
and this is the little one born from the mother sculpture.
Whoever heard of a parking garage doing double duty as an Open Air Art Gallery? But it suits the unique viewpoint of a town filled with musicians, artisans, craftspersons, and artistic folk in general —
Now that you know where to park, I look forward to showing you more of Northampton in the coming weeks. It’s a special place with a sense of humor and a distinctive personality, and there’s nowhere else quite like it.
(Quick time out for a click, to allow some unusual people to wish you a happy Thanksgiving, complete with Youtube song, over on A View from the Woods — )