The Ukiah Daily Journal

Or put in a parking lot

- By Tommy Wayne Kramer

When tourists visit San Francisco they take photos of the Golden Gate Bridge, Coit Tower and those beautifull­y painted Victorian houses lined up along Alamo Square.

In New York City visitors shoot shots of the Empire State Building, the grand Main Public Library, Carnegie Hall, St. Paul's Cathedral and, perhaps, Grant's Tomb.

In Chicago the major draw is Michigan Avenue featuring the old Chicago Bee newspaper building, plus Wrigley Field and Thalia Hill.

Cleveland has one attraction, the Terminal Tower, and it manages to make every page, every year, of every calendar featuring the city, and is the only building in all of Cuyahoga County visitors bother taking pictures of.

In Los Angeles tourists take photos of their lunch, and later that day a selfie at Dodger Stadium.

It's this way in any and every town or city in America, and also the world. People appreciate certain aspects of cities no matter where they visit, and they shun the rest. The secret, at last revealed:

People love, admire, visit and take photograph­s of buildings and landmarks that are examples of old, beautiful architectu­re. People want to see the handsome structures that once stood proud across the lands, in the banks, hotels, schools, courthouse­s and neighborho­ods.

And to prove it, again, every one of the cities mentioned above (and others across the country) feature the same architectu­ral beauties on their tourist guides and hotel brochures. If you don't see a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge on a `Frisco visitor informatio­n pamphlet I'm guessing you landed at the wrong airport.

How about Ukiah? Tourist guides and publicity shots of Ukiah are inevitably variations on the same scant material: a block of South State Street that shows the backside of the courthouse, then a shopfront or two and, finally, the old Hofman Victorian across from Alex Thomas Plaza.

And that's it. No one has ever taken a picture of the barren lands of South State Street, nor of the painful stretch of North State that runs out to Redwood Valley. Ukiah has dozens more neighborho­ods and parking lots that are as bad or worse, remnants of slipshod constructi­on, lousy planning and drab results, and each and every one of them has gone a lifetime without having their picture taken, except by a real estate agent.

The worst and ugliest of Ukiah has been installed during the last 75 years. We've gone from grand, handsome civic structures and lovely houses to shabby “modern” styles and “improved” building methods that cut so many corners builders used the discarded pieces to build an extra half mile on South Dora Street.

We all see it, we all know it, we all take pictures of the architectu­ral beauties and drive six blocks to avoid the dreary new stuff. And yet we plow on.

Knowing there are pretty buildings and lots more ugly ones, we continue to allow, nay, encourage developers from 500 miles away to dictate the style and quality of proposed developmen­t.

Why doesn't Ukiah say NO to their cheesy proposals?why doesn't Ukiah demand modest concession­s when some corporate entity comes to town with artist renditions of how a new hotel will look when carefully inserted next to Fort Holiday Inn down there on Walmartcos­tco Boulevard?

They want to profit from the Ukiah area? Fine. In return, Ukiah demands the new building harmonize with our best architectu­ral examples, not our worst. Make your new car dealership / hotel / box store / courthouse rhyme with the city's old Post Office, or with the old Carnegie Library, not with Safeway.

Check the examples above that draw the customers to New York and SF and Ukiah, and you'll see that the main attraction­s are a hundred or more years old.

If they tell us it's too expensive to build an awe-inspiring courthouse in the 21st century, that there's no way to have columns, marble cladding and turrets at the front corners of the new courthouse, tell them to take some of the money from the millions going to the Rail Trail.

More people will enjoy and take pictures of a beautiful Mendocino County courthouse in 2299 than a northbound weed-choked strip of nothing.

Tom Hine, burrowed deep into his semi-temporary Carolina home, continues to monitor events in the Golden State, the better that he might instruct citizens 3000 miles away on the prudent course to navigate their ways. As always TWK contribute­s nothing much of value, but says to say `Hello, youse folks!'

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