Wayne's Weekly Reader

by Wayne Klick

October 28, 1998

Downtown is composed of open-ended corridors.  All of these sprout from the central corridor of Route 66, which is known as Central Ave. between the Albuquerque city limit signs.  Route 66, at one time the chief corridor through America, lends its venerable character to sidewalks, alleys and streets connected to it directly.

I find all of these semi-enclosed straight-line pathways, each laid on top of the other in the grid pattern common to cities, to be generally dark, but inviting in some mysterious way.  I like to bicycle the alleys straight through.  You can go from the bus station at 1st St. east all the way to the Alvarado Apts. on 8th St. via an alley.

For me, an urban grid encourages linear travel in getting across or through -- point A to point B -- rather than non-linear exploration.  Most often when I'm downtown, walking or riding, I'm not really going anywhere, so it's good that the lines are there to ground me enough that I at least make it back home.

What's nice about our downtown is that there are places where you can bravely abandon the line and create your own corridor, through the Civic Plaza or across a parking lot.  And thanks to the Americans with Disabilities Act, a bike is never limited to the street.  You can easily move in amongst the buildings and through courtyard and mall areas.  All the tall buildings crowded curiously together in one area do however tend to limit choice in direction.

For all the pathways intersecting here, there seem to be very few destinations.  Downtown is somewhat like a labyrinth, where you can take many turns but only have hope of finding the one opening to the outside.  They have created a 4th St. walking mall from Central to Tijeras, yet there are only two businesses (both M-F breakfast/lunch cafes) on the whole thing.  It's there just for walking and nothing else.  Lots of corridors but they don't really go anywhere, unless you can see past limitation and are willing to branch out.  Downtown is well-suited to the wanderer.  That must be why I like it.

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