Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Walking Tour of the Boulevard

I'll admit I was just as beguiled by the sun today as everyone else in Richmond was. So when a friend asked me to spend the afternoon seeing a play, I declined. Instead, I went on a walking tour of the Boulevard area with Richmond landscape historian Tyler Potterfield (and, oh, is there a story from my past there) to tie in with the publication of his new book, Nonesuch Place; A History of the Richmond Landscape.

The tour group gathered at Black Swan Books, munching on ginger snaps provided by the store ( a fellow tour-goer and I discussed our inability to eat just one). I had run into an old friend from my radio days only yesterday and she was there, as was my delightful landlord/friend Bill and Suzanne Hall, she of the VA Museum, with her little dog accompanying her. We were undoubtedly a geeky group, all sincerely interested in learning more about the planning and design of Richmond's urban landscape. The absolutely perfect weather didn't hurt any, either; what could be better than a two-hour stroll on an afternoon like this?

It was a meandering sort of a tour, taking us up the Boulevard, into the Museum District and back into the Fan and onto Monument Avenue. Along the way, we learned about tenements (no negative connotation; the term refers to rental properties), the uses of different kinds of brick for front and sides of houses, the shame of porch removal and the absence of spires in rva. It was all fascinating stuff, if you care about such and this group did.

As for other people's sunny day activities, I saw sunbathers, a lemonade stand with a line, bikers in shorts, people chilling on and on top of porches and plenty of people just doing a walkabout. And, sure, I could have done any of that, but why, when I could walk around with a big geeky group instead?

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