Dean Clough

October 27, 2021

Portico Darwin: Tear Down That Wall

First, a quick highlight from our visit Monday to the ethereal Ten Thousand Waves spa in the foothills above Santa Fe.   It was a Chamber of Commerce late afternoon in a Diamond Certified private spa - ours had a superb hot tub, a perfectly frigid cold plunge, a sauna, two showers, a bed and a comfy Adirondack chair.  There are 6 similar private spas on the grounds, that can accommodate between 4 - 8 people.  It was glorious and a must-do on your next visit.  And yes, that's Julie in front of the sauna.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

Since I've got a lot of socializing to do, what with Arthur and Mrs. Crup here in Santa Fe, I'll keep today's post a bit on the shorter side.  No, really. 

We kicked off their visit at a real find, the local haunt Tiny's.  How can a place named "Tiny's" be anything but Textbook?  Indeed it was that and more.  Great first night, but now, on with my rambling.

Storm survivor Hunter Deuce was kind enough to send me an excellent article about my hometown of Albany, New York.  Knowing how much I rail against cars (pun!) and also how much I love urban architecture and design, he sent along an article on how they're trying to fix Albany.  Or at least a part that can be fixed. 

You see, like many cities, Albany fell under the spell of the automobile in the 1950's and 1960's and decided to destroy access to the city's waterfront in order to make it easier to drive in and out of downtown.

It worked from the perspective that it was the final nail in the coffin for downtown Albany.  Then, as now, the entire area is completely dominated by the massive freeway, and devoid of any kind of real urban neighborhood and community. 

Don't let the greenery fool you - just try to access that pedestrian bridge over the freeway and you'll experience how awful it is.


The wall of highways, ramps, and ridiculous cloverleaf interchanges ruin access to the waterfront.  This is I-787, a part of the Federal Interstate Highway system.  This is a perfect example of why building around cars and not people can be a disaster.

But as it was being built and when it first opened (and I remember this), it was seen as a sign of progress and improvement.  We had nothing like this in Albany before - it was like California!  But it was wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.  Wrong.

So, many have dreamed of it being removed, and the article Hunter shared is a wonderful summary of the current status.  There's been action in fellow upstate garden spots Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo in removing similar monstrosities, so maybe it's not a dream any longer.

Bloomberg News:  Finding a Creative Way Around a Bad Highway

And if for some reason you're an urban development compulsive as am I (or you are Steven Simon), here's the extra-deep dive.

Capital District Transportation Committee 2018 Report on I-787

Would you like to see how good it can turn out? 

San Francisco with The Embarcadero Freeway
San Francisco without The Embarcadero Freeway

And if you made it this far, here's a real treat on the impact of highways on cities across America.

Great photos from our niece Nicki Vale, who returned recently from a clearly superlative trip to Maui.  Check out these two photos from the top of Haleakala.  A well-earned break for this great young(-ish!) woman.

OMG:  Dr. Doreen Downs will be in the house in early 2022!  No pressure, Julie, but jeez, please don't blow this meal.  But before she graces The SF Marina with her scholarly presence, the good PhD is going south - way f'ing south - for a big trip.  Here's to a safe and Five Star experience, Dr. Doreen.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.

What else could it be?  This also serves as a major shout-out to AC/DC booster Bob Scarf, who has been in our thoughts lately.  Here is AC/DC and "Highway to Hell". 

I say this often:  no other rock guitarists made the sound of Angus and Malcolm Young playing together.  None.  Ever.  Go ahead, doubt me.


About Dean Clough

Plans To Enjoy Life.