Monday, April 16, 2012

Maps, Maps, Maps

I love maps. It is a pretty intense situation, my love. One of the best things about my job is that I get to look at maps all day long. Looking at maps to find people, to find cities, to find townships, to find stores or addresses, to find land marks or highways or intersections.

It is surprising and kind of funny that no one ever really knows where they are (with all the access we have to maps these days.. right?). But I get to pull up my best friend GoogleMaps and search away! Last week, using my map skills, I was able to find a road that no one else could find! Good old Shirley-Leominster Road that is like one foot long.

Since people are always driving everywhere, I get to learn about some of the most captivating places. I can take one call, google map it, and then spend the rest of my shift learning about a new place (in between other calls and work of course).

Anyways, I figured I would share three of my recent discoveries with you! Take a gander:

Did you know that Old Oaken Bucket Road in Plymouth, Massachusetts actually has a world famous poem written about it, and also has a Big Ten college football trophy named after it?!

Who knew that off the coast of New Hampshire and Maine lie a small gaggle of islands known as the Isles of Shoals? These were discovered by John Smith in 1620, used as fishing villages populating up to 1,000 people, then as an artistic colony, then resort getaway in the 19th century, and now sit mostly uninhabited except for a lighthouse and Star Island which is owned by the Unitarian Universalist Association as a camp ground. (Maybe a few ghosts as well)

In my own Smith Hill neighborhood lies an entire historic DISTRICT! This was quite surprising to learn about from Google maps, as I pass these little houses a few times a week. (Since this picture was taken, they have all been painted different colors). This district, called the Andrew Dickhaut Cottages Historic District, consists of 18 homes on Bath, Orms, and Duke Street in Providence built in the 1800s. They were small worker's cottages built, owned, and rented by an entrepreneurial butcher from New York City. Here you can see the names and professions of all those who lived in these cottages in 1892, which is super interesting! That link also references information from the National Register of Historic Places.

I am hooked. And haven't even begun talking about the wonder of Google Earth.

Have you ever discovered something new from a map? 

p.s. even one of my favorite songs is called "Maps" (by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Experience New England: Lowell

Adam, Niki, Sarah, Hannah, Chris
Lowell, the fourth largest city in Massachusetts, has been on my radar for a few years. The christian student fellowship of University of Massachusetts Lowell is pretty involved in the same circles that Johnson & Wales campus ministry was, so I know a few people from the area, but I've never had a reason to visit or learn more about the city.

 Until now. My good friend Sarah (who also happened to live with me a few summers ago) moved to Lowell to work as a semester missionary on the UMassLowell campus, and a couple of us from Providence decided to head up there for a little day trip to explore the city and have little reunion with Sarah! 

Before my trip I did some research on the city. All I really knew was that it had a lot of mills (simply because everything there has "mill" in the title), and that it was in the Merrimack Valley (a AAA term).

Well, yes it is on the Merrimack River, and about an hour and a half drive north of Providence. And the city lays home to many old mill buildings, many reconstructed into lofts and apartment communities.

We started off in the historic down town at Brewed Awakenings, and our friend Sarah gave a grand tour (coffee included) of the fascinating historic district. We wandered down to the Riverwalk, a delightful walkway right next to the famous Merrimack River. A few little children passed us on bikes with their parents meandering behind. There were ducks and geese along the river and a wonderful evening view of industrial bridges and landscape.

We made a giant loop near City Hall, past an old train turned into adult play ground, back to our cars. Sarah gave us a driving/walking tour of the University of Massachusetts Lowell campus, which was a pretty large campus, and where we topped the hill with the best view of Lowell around:

Holy Moly!

Dinner was at the unique Egg Roll Cafe, where we each picked out some delicious egg rolls and curry soups to try. (Everything from pizza to Buffalo to Chicken egg rolls) Yum! And we walked over to Sarah's apartment to hang out for the rest of the night.

Lowell is definitely an beautiful little city that I want to know more about. In the summer there is the Lowell Folk Festival, and many other out door activities. Sadly the Visitor Center was closed when we walked past, but I, of course, want to check that out too and get a few post cards.

Hopefully that will happen this summer!
Have you been to Lowell? Do you have a favorite restaurant, hang out, etc?