This site contains the archives of my travel blogs from 2010-2016.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

They Paved Paradise...for an empty parking lot

Have you encountered a place where, to borrow a line from Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot"?

I don't know if you would call Memphis, TN a paradise, but the all the empty pavement sure isn't helping.

We got there on a Saturday.
As you can see, the giant mall below us and the numerous parking lots were completely deserted. Downtown Memphis isn't exactly a thriving community.
On a Saturday morning a downtown should be full of life!
Where there are businesses, parking lots are inevitable; I have nothing against them. Most of what gets paved over isn't very appealing landscape.

This leads me to the next prompt:

Reflect on what you've observed on the road that lets you know we're in the middle of a global economic crisis.

I wouldn't use Memphis as evidence of "global economic crisis," but all the empty storefronts downtown, the giant mall that was closed, the desolate parking lots downtown (I counted 20+), they definitely make me doubt the solidity of Memphis' economy.

This "global economic crisis" is the talk of the nation. I haven't felt it much personally, but I'm also not exactly out in the workforce.

I met some Polish college students at Ellis Island last week. They were very friendly and interested in our trip. When I asked them what it meant to be an American, one girl almost cut me off, she responded so fast. "You know--opportunity--to work, be educated, to make a good life."
"So do you plan to go back to Poland after you've graduated from college, to live near your family?" I asked.
"No, no. The economic situation in Poland is horrible -- I can't ever imagine going back."
"And the recent economic downturn in the States isn't enough to send you elsewhere?"
"Oh no! Poland is still recovering from the Cold War, so the current 'economic crisis' in America is nothing for us. Just being able to travel and take a day trip from Connecticut to New York is a huge opportunity for us."

I know corporations are making huge layoffs and cities like Detroit have been practically evacuated, but in the eyes of the Polish, this is still the best place to be.
I like their style.


  1. i think you're very right. i'm not sure this 'crisis' is helping the city of memphis, but i'm pretty sure memphis would be experiencing the same abandonment by businesses even if we weren't in a recession. that's just my feeling.


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