Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Downtown Columbia, SC

So I flew out of Portland last Monday evening and didn't arrive in Columbia, South Carolina until the next morning. Some of that was time difference, but regardless I missed out on most of a nights sleep. (I did manage some on the plane, I think they keep the temperature on red-eye flights very low so your body defensively shuts down and you get some rest.) A sensible person might've thought "hey I'll sleep when I get there." I did think that, actually, but I had coffee in me, it was daylight and sleep seemed weird. Instead I asked to be dropped off in the middle of downtown to wander. 

I spent a lot of time on the state house grounds, which are large and interesting. Interesting includes a statue of Strom Thurmond, a monument to the father of modern gynecology who was known for "treating alike empress and slave", and, yes, the confederate flag which is now somewhat discretely hidden behind a statue rather than propped way up on the top of the dome. Also of note: the cane on the statue of Washington was broken off by Sherman's Army. The landscape of parts of the grounds is very naturalistic; I can see why my friend likes it as a spot to take lunches.:

State House grounds   State House Grounds

The downtown has seen some recent re-use and revitalization. Despite the entire stretch of main Street getting burned in 1865 it still has a very historic character. It's a mix actually, as the walking tour guide book I picked up says it reflects "waning and waxing interest in the corridor's future."  I stopped for an extra dose of coffee in the Sheraton, also known as the Palmetto Building (below, left) built in 1913. The Arcade Building (middle) was Columbia's first indoor shopping area, originally built as an open arcade & enclosed mid-century. And the Art museum pictured on the right gives you a feel for some of the more contemporary buildings that have gone up in the downtown area.

  Equitable Arcade Building    

Speaking of the newer buildings, I think I have to mention the odd "new brutalist" city building that looks like old computer punch cards. And then the capitol restaurant looks like it could use a new coat of paint and maybe a tenant...although I think it looks very photogenic.

1339 Main Street Capitol Restaurant

Eventually I got some sleep. I also decided I was fine to go out for dinner and drinks after exploring all was probably more fun that way, right? Regardless, I think I am finally (finally!) caught up on my sleep. Now to catch up on my blogging over the next few days!

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