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Old September 11th, 2011, 01:42 PM   #1
hauntedheadnc
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Perhaps one day this city will be of some importance... (an ongoing photo thread)

I was thinking recently, and came to the conclusion that it would be so much less fuss and bother for everyone if, rather than set up numerous photo threads that receive little attention and drop out of sight in a day or so, I set up a single megathread that will receive little attention and repeatedly drop out of sight in a day or two.

Thus, I present to you this thread, which I will add to in spurts and fits now and again. Of course, I'll also be adding specialized threads in here, usually with appropriate theme music because that's just how I roll.

And now, here we go, with photos collected over an evening and a morning in June.

Whee!

Should you deign to look at these pictures, enjoy them to the sounds of some Asheville street buskers. It'll be the next best thing to being here.

(Please note that no one, and I do mean no one, can play a saw like the man in this video, and I'll entertain no argument from you otherwise.)



















































































And then quite suddenly the next day, the sun rose, taking everyone by surprise.

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Old September 13th, 2011, 04:32 PM   #2
hauntedheadnc
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And now some photos from late August...

Wherein I attend a festival under false pretenses.

So, considering that he is Black, perhaps it should not have come as a surprise to me that my boyfriend wanted to attend the annual Goombay Festival, which is Asheville's Afro-Caribbean festival. It's held every year in The Block, the heart of downtown's historic Black business district. The Block is one of the very few areas of downtown yet to experience the renaissance that has brought the rest of the area roaring back to life. Thus, not only is the festival held to celebrate the contributions made to the city and region by African-Americans, it's an attempt to bring The Block back to life.

There's been some success... I can remember when The Block was an area you didn't dare visit, day or night, whereas now there are a number of popular restaurants in the area and a museum housed in the building that was originally home to what may have been the very first Black community center in America. There's still quite a ways to go, however.

All in all, it was a small and mellow, manageable festival. I enjoyed it, my boyfriend and I found a couple of bitchin' masks to add to our small -- but growing -- collection, and I even ran into a friend whom I haven't seen for months. Then, oddly, my boyfriend insisted on coming home and cooking supper. This was strange because he's as much of a restaurant fiend as I am; there's nothing we like more than to eat a good, hot meal prepared by someone else in a kitchen we won't have to clean. He was very adamant about coming home to cook and eventually I gave in. Meh. We had leftover ceviche to go along with the shrimp and rice he wanted to cook. It would save money.

Lies. All lies, as you will see later.

But first, Goombay!

If you're interested, you can watch this year's opening parade.



























The Block lies in the shadow of Asheville's government buildings: the county courthouse, city hall, and the old public market building that now houses the headquarters of the police and fire departments.







The weather was absolutely perfect. All we got from Hurricane Irene over on this side of the state was a good stiff breeze that kept the heat down and a gorgeous pattern of clouds that danced and changed all day long.





















Over on Biltmore Avenue, construction of the Aloft Hotel is moving right along.





No idea whatsoever.







If you're ever in town, I recommend the salt fish and collard greens served here.





A friend of mine. Haven't seen her in practically forever. You may, but almost certainly don't, remember her from our photographic jaunt through an abandoned factory building downtown last August.











Nothing attracts the street proselytizers like a street festival. This one seemed a little less self-righteous than they usually are, however. He had the decency to erase the Y and admit he wasn't perfect. That's -- sadly -- a big step forward. Nobody was paying him any attention.





In the opening parade of the festival, which wound its way through downtown on Friday, a few of these guys went walking along atop their very high stilts. I was impressed when this guy came trotting up the street as comfy on his stilts as you would be barefoot. On his stilts, he stood about nine feet tall.





Unfortunately, when I take crowd shots, I try to take 'em quick. The background usually ends up tilted.



In another recent thread, someone mentioned that the South is home to a ridiculous number of extremely attractive young men and women. Allow me to present Exhibit A.



Stilting right along.













So, we'd had our fun and I suggested going for a walk over to Martin Luther King Jr. Park to see a statue of MLK that I've been meaning to take a look at forever. Boyfriend agreed and we went for a stroll.







MLK Park lies in the middle of what used to be an extensive Black residential neighborhood called the East End. It fell to urban renewal in the 1960's. Only about a fourth to a third of the old East End survived.



The statue was quite lovely.





Then we headed back through downtown to the parking deck where we'd deposited our car.



Surely you wouldn't think that Goombay would be the only thing going on downtown on a summer weekend. In Pack Square Park an ongoing bluegrass event called Shindig on the Green was just starting. By the time it winds down, the park is usually packed.



Over in Pritchard Park, meanwhile, Praise in the Park, a low-key contemporary Christian music event was going on.



And of course we mustn't forget the buskers. They were everywhere, playing all manner of instruments from mandolins and cellos to trombones. And that is to say nothing of the firebreathers, living statues, and the guy in yellow body paint and very high, rhinestone-studded high heels balancing on a small teeter-totter while juggling scimitars.



Boyfriend wanted coffee. Odd... First he wants to rush off home and then he wants to linger.



Few things are more enjoyable than chugging frozen green tea while watching people come and go, including this gigantic guy and his itty-bitty wife/girlfriend/whoever, who stood about two feet shorter than he did. Their baby was utterly fascinated by the ceiling fans. I can remember being entranced by ceiling fans when I was little myself, actually, so I could relate.



We got home, and there were twelve people crowded into our apartment who ambushed me with a surprise birthday party. To say I was surprised was quite an understatement, but suddenly so many things made sense -- my boyfriend's sudden, severe urge to nest and just clean the everliving hell out of our apartment today and last night, the surreptitious text messages, the burning desire to go to Goombay and leave the apartment unattended, and all the rest. Our living room was bedecked with pink crepe paper.

Some day, some time when he's least expecting it, I'll get him.



The theme of the party was "Pretty, Pretty Princess." I was forced to wear the pretty princess tiara and sunglasses, the pretty princess sash, and hold the pretty princess bow and glitter-encrusted pretty princess My Little Pony before I was allowed access to either the liquor or the sushi, and that's just plain cruel. There are pictures out there, including some taken with my very own camera, of me wearing the pretty princess garb but you will never see them. Should they ever be leaked to the outside world, I will track down the culprit and pieces of said culprit will turn up over the next few months in various selected weedy ditches throughout the greater Asheville metropolitan area.

This means you.





My favorite part was the pretty princess crown cake, by far.

[IMG]http://i205.photobucket.com/albums/bb88/hauntedheadnc/Goombay%202011/Goombay_72.jpg[/IMG
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Old September 13th, 2011, 11:46 PM   #3
Joao Pedro - Fortal
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Awesome!!!
So good to see these pics.. I spent about an year living in the western NC aroud Asheville where I used to go a couple of times per month..
Such a great region..
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Old September 14th, 2011, 04:47 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao Pedro - Fortal View Post
Awesome!!!
So good to see these pics.. I spent about an year living in the western NC aroud Asheville where I used to go a couple of times per month..
Such a great region..
Glad you liked 'em! Thanks for stopping in to take a look. What was it that brought you to this area?
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Old September 14th, 2011, 09:22 PM   #5
Joao Pedro - Fortal
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I went to Mars Hill College to study and play tennis for a semester.. then also lived and worked at lake Toxaway and Cashiers..
Love the mountains and the people in there..
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Old September 15th, 2011, 05:52 AM   #6
hauntedheadnc
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joao Pedro - Fortal View Post
I went to Mars Hill College to study and play tennis for a semester.. then also lived and worked at lake Toxaway and Cashiers..
Love the mountains and the people in there..
Sweet! Come on back for a visit some time.
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Old September 15th, 2011, 05:53 AM   #7
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Lexington Avenue Lullabeast

Taken on a misty morning...

















































































































































































































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Old December 29th, 2011, 02:32 AM   #8
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Caution: Artists at work!

Welcome to the River Arts District! Formerly a neighborhood dominated by heavy industry and workers' shacks, this area followed the path forged by so many other Asheville neighborhoods before it -- boom, bust, protracted decline, stagnation and interminable decay until, at last, a rebirth.

This time, it was the artists who did it and now the former industrial buildings -- including cotton mills, tanneries, and a chicken hatchery, among others -- house artists' studios. These include spaces for painters, potters, meltalworkers, weavers, photographers, and many more.

Though it's a small area, I wandered around for more than two hours and still only managed to scratch the surface of this neighborhood. There were plenty of nooks and crannies I didn't manage to get to, and it would definitely be worth a repeat visit to explore what I missed this time around.















In addition to the old factory buildings, a number of auxiliary buildings remain. These once housed apartments as well as shops and cafes that served the workers.













An artist at work.



This part of town originally grew thanks to the railroad, and it was divided into two parts. This part was the heavily industrial area. The other area consisted of hotels that sprouted around the city's train station. Those hotels served the middle class and the poorer tourists who couldn't afford the great resorts or downtown's luxury accommodations.

Despite all that remains, a great many buildings in the River District were lost to fire, floods, and decades of neglect.









If memory serves, that building over there used to be some sort of power plant.



Some day I will remember that sunny days are not necessarily ideal for photography. They tend to leave my pictures washed out and sunblasted.

Or that could just be my lack of skill.









Asheville: Creepy and loving it!









This particular gallery wasn't home to what you might call a lot of "happy" art.





















Meanwhile, down by that old, old river...



























There were a couple of these tricked out buses parked behind one of the studio buildings. People live in them, and from this one came the smell of wood smoke, from the little fire they'd built in their stove.











These houses are part of a neighborhood adjacent to the River District called Chicken Hill. It gets its name from the chicken hatchery and chicken processing plant once located nearby. The hatchery and plant are still standing, and are now home to art studios.

When considering the chicken plant, it's an interesting thing to remember that for most of its history, Asheville used the French Broad River as a flowing sewer. It's almost guaranteed that with every batch of chickens slaughtered, another bloody red sluice spewed into the river to join all the dyes from the mills and sludge from the tanneries, not to mention the city's sewage, which was dumped raw into a creek that flowed into the French Broad. That's a pity, considering that Asheville is one of only three cities of any size in North Carolina with a waterfront. In recent years, baby steps have been taken to give Asheville the grand waterfront it deserves, and now an expansive park system lines a large part of the river. Plans have been drawn up to line more of the French Broad, as well as the Swannanoa River and several of the small creeks that flow through town with greenways and parks.















Inside one of the studio buildings...







Caution: Artist at work. As he explained to my boyfriend and I, he's working on an art installation for a hotel in metro Atlanta.











A steel mill used to stand here.













Tourists come to Asheville from all over the world. Where are you from?





Are you from Europe?



Or maybe Africa?



Central America, perhaps? My boyfriend, who lived for several years in Ecuador, was disappointed to find that someone had already stuck pins in both Guayaquil and Quito, where he'd lived.



The River Arts District in all its glory.





The Center for Ceramic Arts boasts this eye-catching tile mural.



Surprisingly, some industry remains in the River Arts District, even after all this time and the artists' takeover. Here's a plumbing supply warehouse.



































This building, if you couldn't guess, houses Pink Dog Studios.







Depot Street leads to the section of the River District where all the hotels used to be. It also leads into one of Asheville's surprisingly large number of public housing slums. Until fairly recently, Depot Street was a place where you absolutely did not venture after dark, and you didn't go there during the day if you could help it. Slowly, the revitalization is moving out along Depot Street, though.





This building, which houses rental apartments as well as a bar, studios, and live theater venue, is part of the revitalization of Depot Street. It's located across a small creek from the carcass of what used to be the nicest hotel by the river, the Glen Rock. the next phase of this project will be the eventual revitalization of the Glen Rock Hotel, in fact.



Here's the creek, Town Branch. For most of Asheville's history, however, Town Branch was known as Nasty Branch, because this was where the city dumped its sewage.





And here we have the Glen Rock Hotel, built in 1930.

















Goodbye -- for now -- from the River Arts District.

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Old December 29th, 2011, 04:48 AM   #9
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Nice to see the area, the scene and the locals.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 08:01 AM   #10
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Thanks! I'm glad you stopped by to take a look.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 10:34 AM   #11
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Great, very nice photos from this area
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Old December 29th, 2011, 10:47 AM   #12
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Love me a bit of urban grit. Very nice!
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Old December 29th, 2011, 03:12 PM   #13
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Nice shots of an interesting little city. Love it when I can get a look at some of these often overlooked places.
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Old December 29th, 2011, 03:47 PM   #14
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What an interesting place
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Old December 29th, 2011, 07:26 PM   #15
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Very interesting, and synchronistic, to sea thread of photos from Asheville -as a friend is planning a trip there with a view to relocating.

I know it is very 'hippyish' with lots of 'new agey'/green things going on - but what else is it known for? main employments? overall demographic?
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Old December 30th, 2011, 05:18 PM   #16
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To everyone, thanks very much for commenting! I know that I'm not a magician with a camera, but I like taking pictures and I like it when someone appreciates my effort.

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I know it is very 'hippyish' with lots of 'new agey'/green things going on - but what else is it known for? main employments? overall demographic?
Asheville is mainly known for being a liberal (by American standards) place with lots of New Age sorts and a population that's fairly well obsessed with saving the world whether it wants to be saved or not. It's also known as a place with an obsession for providing for itself -- local meats and produce served in the restaurants, local wool woven into locally-made clothes, local clay turned into locally-made pottery, and so on.

However, it's also a resort city and it's known for attracting a wide range of visitors. People with money to burn come and buy all that local art, stay in the upscale hotels, and visit Biltmore House -- the biggest house in the US, our biggest tourist attraction, and a master unparalleled at separating visitors from their cash. People without a lot of money to spend come to play in the woods -- we're a center for outdoor recreation.

Our biggest employer is far and away the local hospital, which lies at the center of a medical district of hospitals, clinics, and doctors' offices that covers eleven blocks. And counting. There are several manufacturing facilities and distribution centers in the area, and the arts community also provides a lot of jobs.

Demographically speaking, Asheville was declared the most statistically normal city in America about a decade ago -- the same year, ironically, that it was also declared the new freak capital of the country. About 70% white, 20% black, and the remaining 10% is made up of Asians, Native Americans, Latinos, and the rest. We attract a lot of young people and also a lot of retirees... A pretty good mix of everyone over all. If anything, our populace is a little too white and a little too old.

I'm writing this up after having worked a 12 hour shift, so I may not be as coherent as you'd need in your answers. Feel free to PM me if you want and I can be more specific.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 06:02 PM   #17
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Thanks very much for your full response. I will pass the information on to my friend. She is from New York, but like me, lives in Liverpool. Her two boys live in Florida, but one of them is considering a move to Asheville - and she would like to join him.
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Old December 30th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #18
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It's maybe not the most beautiful town on the Earth, but it has some charm. I like all those details u captured!
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Old December 30th, 2011, 09:48 PM   #19
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Thanks very much for your full response. I will pass the information on to my friend. She is from New York, but like me, lives in Liverpool. Her two boys live in Florida, but one of them is considering a move to Asheville - and she would like to join him.
You're more than welcome. I hope the information was helpful. Again, feel free to ask me anything you'd like about the place. I was born and raised here and I know it well.

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It's maybe not the most beautiful town on the Earth, but it has some charm. I like all those details u captured!
Perhaps not the most beautiful, but it's actually quite lovely. I've focused on that aspect of it in some of my other threads, which would garner one or two responses before dropping out of sight. Should I go out with specific eye for the beauty of this city -- and sooner or later I will -- you might be surprised.
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Old December 31st, 2011, 12:13 AM   #20
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I think that you ought to indicate Asheville in the thread title - it is easily overlooked otherwise!
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