Supersized sidewalks and a few thoughts about summer in Athens, Ohio

A few random thoughts related to summer in Athens, Ohio

I like the new extra wide sidewalks on West Union Street in Uptown Athens. I’m not sure I completely understand the reasons for them, but they look sweet. I enjoy how they appear modern with the smooth curves, but also historic with the bricks that have been included. They even have benches and super short trashcans that make me feel extra tall while walking. I may take some trash up there just because it looks fun to throw it into those short cans.

Best of all, I like having extra space while walking or jogging uptown. I like to have lots of room between me and other people at all times, and in this new sidewalk you can comfortably walk four or even five people wide. I’d say you could comfortably walk three clowns wide on the new sidewalk. Of course, if I see three clowns coming down the sidewalk toward me, I am crossing the street immediately.

I imagine that walking in the extra wide sidewalks must be similar to sitting in a first class seat on an airplane. Ahhh. I feel a little disappointed now when I have to walk to walk on the normal, economy class sidewalks in other places in town.

The new sidewalks are also a safety improvement since so many people are looking down at their cell phones while walking these days. The next step surely will be moving sidewalks in Uptown Athens, which will be awesome.

I should add that the Uptown area is fortunate to have several areas with wide sidewalks, and I am quite happy that this magic has now been extended to West Union Street. What’s next, extra wide swimming lanes in the new city pool? Super tall doorways? Curved street crossings?

I also like the grass growing through the old brick streets in the neighborhoods. The brick streets are always pretty (but bumpy), but I especially like driving, walking and jogging on them in the spring and summer when they are partially green from all of the grass and weeds growing through them. You don’t get that on your fancy paved streets.

Grass in the bricks
An evening shot of the grass growing through the bricks of one of the streets. By Sophia Mohr.

We are fortunate to live in such a scenic area, especially in the summer. In addition enjoying the green streets, it’s nice to have so many trees, flowers and other plants in the yards and hills all around us. It’s also impressive to see how hard people work on their yards to make them look so amazing. I enjoy looking at them while walking, if I happen to look up from my cell phone, of course.

flowerIt’s also interesting to see flowers growing where you wouldn’t expect them. This includes the old brick root cellar behind our house. How does a flower grow out of that? The ivy along many houses and buildings also looks nice and it’s amazing to see how well it grows in tough places. It is also, though, often annoying to see how quickly it grows in tough places when I am trying again and again to take it down.

I can find poison ivy anywhere. I rarely recognize it in time, but I am constantly getting into it at home, on walks, playing sports, visiting family and probably even just walking down the brick streets.

It’s nice to see new businesses popping up in the summer. While I was upset about the sidewalk being closed on Carpenter Street for the new building, I’m pleased to see that something will be going in there. It’s the same with the old Abrio’s property on East State Street that will soon be home to two new businesses, and with other spots where new businesses are planning to open.

When will something go into the old Ponderosa building? It seems like a good location, and I was a little surprised when the old steakhouse went out of business. After seeing how busy the newest steakhouse is further out on East State Street, it makes you wonder how Ponderosa ever closed. Seriously, have you ever driven by the mall and not seen the parking lot in front of Texas Roadhouse packed with cars? If this keeps up, they are going to need to put in extra wide sidewalks. I should add that it should be a goal for students and area residents now to become successful and famous enough that they can be included on the mural in the back of the business.

It’s interesting to see over the years how one business feels normal, and soon it is replaced with something else that seems like it has always been there. If you think about it, we have had an airport become a grocery store (and a bunch of other stores), a grocery store become a movie theater, a movie theater become a popular restaurant, and so on. I can add that over a longer period of time, we’ve also had a canal become a highway, a railroad become a bike path, and even empty land become a river.   It’s makes you wonder what other changes are coming in the next few years.

Jefferson Market is huge. Speaking of changes, the transformation from the old dining hall in Jefferson Hall to the new Jefferson Market is amazing. I don’t think it is open in the summer, but you should take a moment this fall to stop into the new Jefferson Market on campus. It has a coffee shop, juice bar, deli counter, another drink counter, baked goods, pet products and an unbelievable amount of items.

Finally, there is one change I would like to see in our grocery stores. It seems like any time visit a grocery store in Athens it is crowded. While the stores like having lots of customers, they must recognize that this is a problem. The solution seems obvious, and I know it is one that would make the shopping experience much nicer for most of us. We need super wide grocery store aisles! Ahhh.