Monday, December 20, 2010

Daytripping Lawrence, Kansas

Every year at christmastime, we make it a point to make one daytrip to downtown Lawrence, Kansas.  The town and the shop keepers do a good job of bringing on the christmas cheer.  Everywhere you go this time of year, the myth of the traditional americana christmas is prevalent.  Though most modern shopping centers are very far removed from the small town christmas, they still try to sell it as contemporary.  Lawrence always puts me in the christmas mood simply because the downtown comes closest to the ideal, I think, than anywhere else in the area.  Most places have long abandoned their downtown areas for the strip, the mall and then the big box, or whatever is the flavor of the week.  In many areas, you can find the downtown area taxed out of existence, while the Mal*Wart at the edge of town has been given incentives to bring low paying jobs to the area.  I have successfully avoided the big box wherehouse chains, and have pretty much shopped locally.  Last week I did so in Warrensburg, where I attended school.  This week I visited Parkville and Lawrence.

Ceramic shop in an old gas stationIMG_4019
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Varsity Theatre googie front facade
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Downtown 1950's googie
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Looking out the window of one of our favorite antique stores -- formerly a downtown J.C. Penney.  Penny's used to be a fixture of every downtown -- often locally owned in a partnership with the parent company.  Now, Penny's, like everywhere else, has moved into the suburbs.
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It was a cold day.  Tima is all bundled up.
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The lights in Lawrence are easily comparable to the plaza lights.  Low cost led lights are the way to go.  I wish more shops would light up as well.
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Ernst and Son Hardware -- an old school hardware store downtown that has been a fixture here forever it seems.
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I love the downtown barbers here
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Tima wrapped up for the cold.  No, dogs do not like to dress up!
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Tima in Arizona Trading company -- a locally owned business
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Hobbs
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Opposited elements
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Tima in Hobbs
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My English Aunt and Uncle came to the United States to visit Little Big Horn.  On the way there, they toured many civil war battlefields.  So, I asked them if they wanted to see where the American Civil War actually began.  They were not aware of the local history here in Lawrence -- of John Brown, and the sacking of Lawrence.  We toured downtown and read the plaques on the buildings and on the walking tour.  We walked downtown after visiting Haskell University and the children's cemetery there.  We ate at Free State Brewery for lunch.  That was 1999.
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Liberty Hall post modern googie sign
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Liberty Hall.  I saw Henry Rollins here
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Free State Brewery.  I've been coming here since I have been coming to Lawrence.  I love the fish and chips.  Suyen and I split the fish and chips and had the prime rib special.  I usually top my christmas dinner off with an aspen coffee for desert.  Our waiter is one of the best I've ever seen.  While in there, I decided to get my dad a christmas present that is unique to this place.  Now this is my kind of christmas shopping!
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The coffeehouse here looks very warm and welcoming
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A few years ago, in the antique mall, I found a study that was released about 1980.  It recommended tearing down most of downtown Lawrence and building a new modern Mall.  I think downtown Manhattan, Kansas did follow this type of plan, and has never been the same.  I first came to Lawrence in 1990, and the Riverfront Mall had just opened up to protesters.  For some reason, the outlet idea (riverfront was an outlet mall) just never worked.  I think it was all the overpriced crap they sold.  Seeing how this mall, and the outlet strip mall in the north part of Lawrence died, I am glad the right wing conservative nimrods didn't have their way and ruin downtown Lawrence like they've tried to ruin the rest of the United States.
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This place used to build pipe organs.
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When I worked in Lawrence in 1996 and 97, developers tore down a whole block to build a corporate book store.  The north end of downtown has had to deal with the incursion of chains like the gap and borders.  This borders, due to public outcry, was forced to maintain the two northern outer walls of the victorian functional building that they tore down to build the imperial corporate chain and parking lot.
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I worked at Sunflower Cable as a part time news photographer in 1996 and 97 for the Lawrence Report.
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Sunflower bike shop has done the lights up right.  This place burned down when I lived and worked in Lawrence.  They rebuilt the inside and kept the facade intact.
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I had to get a pic of the old neon sign.
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Downtown Lawrence sports a local department store, that has been here over 150 years.
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Gone are the days when small town department stores took pride in their window displays.
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What can you say about a town that lights itself up and takes pride in its heart and soul?  Oh, perhaps you noticed in every photo that the parking spots are quite full.  Downtown Lawrence has a parking problem at almost all hours of they day.   Not even downtown Kansas City can say that about itself.  Definitely not disasterously blighted cities like Topeka can make that claim, though they try to charge exhorbitant rent and then claim that they are doing so because that is what they ask in downtown Lawrence.  Hello!  Downtown Lawrence is booming.  Perhaps it is because of all the liberals who live and work in Lawrence.  If we can only keep the conservative from moving in and destroying the neighborhood.

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June 4, 2009 at 8.06am PDT
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1 comment:

degravelle said...

Lawrence is quite charming, I have lived here for several years and I like it very much. You're pictures are wonderful, thanks for sharing!

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