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The Stranger's Path

J. B. Jackson wrote about the "Stranger's Path", the path that a newcomer to a town would take. In his age it was defined by the bus stations and train stations and the path that strangers would take from there to the town or city. In a more modern age it is the airport and the starbucks and the rental car aisle etc...

But it is my contention, that path has become so generic that it has no meaning to people any more. It conveys little about the place you have arrived. There is little to distinguish one city from another.

So what can you do in a new town? Walk... drive... stop along the way... take some time to see what is there down the block, and the block beyond and the block beyond that. These are are the things you can see if you take a minute to get out of the car or take a short walk.

Click on the photos for access to a larger version.

snoqualmie- alls-2Snoqualmie Falls-2

snoqualmie-fallsSnoqualmie Falls

520 Floating Bridge520 Floating Bridge

Seattle DocksSeattle Docks


Comments (1)


Your sentiment is admirable, and at different times in some people's lives, the desire to experience locality grows or wanes. The generic space you describe is known to geographers as "anonymous space." This is the quality that makes the inside of your hotel room in London look just like the inside of one in Peoria. The collection of fast food restaurants and gas stations look the same in Arizona or New Brunswick.

Space and place are there for the adventurous and the curious to discover. You are correct that there are wonderous places like the Seattle Docks, waterfalls within easy reach, or simple corners of the urban landscape that can amaze.

However, I have learned that you cannot lead others into this space, it is something they must discover on their own, and not everyone would like to discover those places. I have family that try as I may, would not join me on excursions to discover the unique. They would rather watch Huell Howser on television as he visits the amazing places in California than visit those places themselves.

Instead, work to surround yourself with people that also appreciate the scenes and places that you do, take pleasure in a shared experience that you know is rare among your fellow man.


ps- John Humble has made a career of photographing the gems and silent statements of the urban landscape: www.johnhumble.com

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