Surprisingly…

I really liked Fort Wayne as well. From my last drive-through in 1997, I remembered it as being sort of dowdy and unpleasant, but after spending a day or two exploring, my opinion has changed. There are some really dumply and abandoned areas, but Fort Wayne has largely been spared that whole Rust Belt depopulation thing as well, and the city is a treasure trove of older commercial architecture (despite the destruction of much of the older part of its downtown core).

There were just great little surprises every time I turned a corner. I could take pictures there for days.

Because of the amazing public library city directory collection I mentioned before, I’ll probably be back, and it’s nice to know there’s an interesting town to explore. And shawarma.

Furniture City/Beer City

Grand Rapids is known as “Furniture City.” So is High Point, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is known as “Beer City.” So is Asheville, North Carolina.

Grand Rapids is very different from either place. It sort of fascinates me, because it’s never really seen the depopulation that most other cities in the Upper Midwest have. There have been decades where the population declined a bit, but current estimates show that the city is currently at its highest population ever. And it reads like a much bigger city than it is, in some ways. The downtown area is aided by the presence of a major medical facility and several universities and colleges.

There are a ton of craft breweries and some interesting neighborhoods. The main public library rocks.

This is the first time in quite a while that I’ve spent a significant amount of time in a city I’d never visited before. And best of all, I got to hang out with a friend I hadn’t seen in almost 13 years. Bonus all the way around.

Another crush…

Never said I wasn’t fickle. I now have a tremendous crush on Milwaukee.

But April can be harsh:

Other random things to talk about at some point:

 

The old hometown

Just an excuse to post a pretty picture I took when I was over there for a conference earlier this week. The colors are nicer when you look at it full-size.

It’s been over five years since I really lived there, and more than three since I sold the house. Time flies when you’re — um — old.

True north and all that

So this conference that is keeping me from being in Canada for Thanksgiving and also making me miss The Bandicoots is now redeemed by the fact that I will actually be there for this (which I’ve missed for the past year or two) and for a friend’s graduation from library school in London (the one in Ontario that actually has its own Thames). Pretty good tradeoff all in all.

Also on the agenda:

  • Groceteria research in Detroit, maybe Toledo, and Niagara Falls
  • Quality time in the Toronto Reference Library
  • Falafel Queen (just discovered it’s now closed and I’m depressed) and all my other favorites
  • London and Windsor for the first time in twelve years
  • Seeing friends (I hope) in Toronto, Detroit, and Buffalo
  • Maybe another side trip yet to be determined

More later…

Cross-promotion

In case you haven’t visited the other site — you know, the one that actually still gets lots of traffic and attention — you might be surprised to see how much its geographic reach has expanded in the past two years or so that I’ve been really actively updating again. There are now entries for forty of the fifty United States and eight of the ten Canadian provinces (none of the territories, alas). My goal is to get something up for all them within the next year.

Here’s a handy map:

Everybody needs a hobby…