Creating Places: A Citizen Observer's Look at Nashville's Built Environment

Writer's Note: William Williams' interest in the manmade environment dates to 1970, at which point the then-young Williams started a collection of postcards of city skylines. The collection now numbers 1,000-plus cards. Among the writer's specific interests are exterior building design, city district planning, demographics, signage, mixed-use development, mass transit and green/sustainable construction and living. Williams began his Creating Places column with The City Paper in February 2005. The column in its original form was discontinued in September 2008 and reinvented via this blog in November 2008. Creating Places can be found on the home page of the website of The City Paper, at which Williams has worked in various capacities since October 2000.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Creating Places: Barbed Wire Mess

As noted within a piece I penned for this week's hard-copy edition of The City Paper, Nashville's inner-interstate loop is marred by areas ringed by rusted metal fencing, some of it with barbed wire. This stuff is nasty and unnecessary — and, of note, uncommon in other cities.

For example, a quick Google Maps Street View search reveals Southeastern peer city Charlotte is minimally pockmarked by chain link/barbed wire fencing at exit points along inner-interstate loop I-77/277. Similarly, Street View shows only modest segments of metal fencing in Memphis along I-240 but none straddling the I-40 segment slicing through downtown.

So do these two cities — and many others — fail to "get it," simply not understanding that barbed wire metal fencing is attractive and functional? Obviously not.

You can go down the list with our built environment problems: TDOT's barbed wire fencing; streets that not only lack sidewalks but curbs or even white edge stripes; fire hydrants whose red paint is so sun-faded as to suggest Pepto-Bismol pink. I could go on but am tired.

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