you want to fly down the Thruway, going as quickly as possible, that
is fine with me. But you would do better going down New YorkState
Hwy. 5, and feast your eyes from going from the undulating block of
an old mountain range, and gradually making your way to the inner
Sea, which is called the Great Lakes.While New York State number five
often parallels the Thruway, it is all a completely different world,
a world that has stopped in time in the 1950s and 1960s. But this is
the point of the exercise, because in that iconic landscape you see
trees along the alternate path, ending up at a different direction
than tearing along to get to your destination.
starts the moment you leave the Capital District, by departing
Schenectady New York, and reach in to and other worldly region of
farm landscapes, and a Vista that transforms your scene from laconic
and scrubby mountain, through the hills of Schoharie, which is so
named allegedly from the Mohawk meaning “Floating Driftwood”.
Though it claims to be in the capital District, and has one of the
last towns associated their, you can feel that the lands are
shifting. This is a place where “soda” is replaced by “pop”,
and everything moves slower to the beat of a farmers drum rather than
the edges of a city dwellers home. Instead of cities with factories
running huge distances, even if dilapidated or dismantled, there are
towns with maybe a brewery. Instead of looking south to the city,
they look to themselves.
landscape is gentle, but by no means flat. Instead incurs to and fro
with grassy landscapes alternating with oak trees and the occasional
chunk of white pine. Here and there there are villages with the
latest addition built in the 1870s, but most are older, back when the
Greek Revolution was in full swing. People came here to forget,
forget about urbanization, forget about schedules, and forget that
there was a time where time was measured. The routes in the towns are
tree-lined and during the spring through early fall, verdant with the
last mix of New England mixing with what will come to be the Midwest.
through the Mohawk River Valley, entwined with New York State 5,
there are stretches which go towards the horizon, but they are short
by comparison with the longer stretches to the West. But you can feel
that the landscape is changing from Mountain, to a long stretch of
plain. If you look and see the Mohawk River, it feels wider than its
short stretch of being in existence would imply. Over the banks there
are tree lined cobs, mainly maple and mak, which run down as far as
your high can see. You are in a different world then an hour ago when
Albany New York said Imperial. The capital of a state which prides it
self on industry. Here there is very little of that. If you glance
your eyes down to the map, you see it is a place known as Amsterdam,
but in saying the word you have exhausted all of the connection with
Amsterdam Netherlands. There are still buildings reminiscent of Greek
architecture and Roman façades with tall columns guiding you to the
front of the building, with brick of a particular kind forming the
back. Then you pass by a castle, for forming a tower in the great
construction of the civil war, to protect the inhabitants should the
rebels get this far, because the first priority in that war was to
defend against, not to take the offense.
above you lies the blue sky above, reminding you that those were
different times, and people wanted nothing to do with the war which
was cast upon them.
you go out further West, you see things like Dairy Bars along which
line narrow streets and short front yards, but longer than you saw
them in the Capital District. There is also a slowness to peoples
walking which was not there before, a kind of easy relaxation which
is foreign to Albany. Here in just a view towns up, the architecture
is wildly different. It is truly Victorian, with people moving back
much further in to the past, which with each corner that you turn, is
more probably displayed. Towns here have names such as Fonda and
Fultonville, names which meant something once upon a time, and to
their residence still mean something.
stop your car at a streetlight, and only the cars would tell you that
you are not in the 50s, with Dollar Buildings, and the sort of
paraphernalia which proclaims them a proud member of the community,
rather than where the poor people shop. It is a different way of life
then a town masquerading as a city, this is natural, rather than
being cloyingly artificial. It does not need to have minor league
teams associated with it, or trumpeting up delusions of shopping.
This is where town has not the need for townhouses to line the
streets with, but instead tall twin story buildings, made to look
Victorian but instead were assembled in the modern style. Their is
plenty of room here, another piece of saying that they are not the
have given slightly more than an hour and have, and the scene around
you has completely changed. They are not making things to be used by
others, whether manufactured goods, or knowledge, or law – but
instead are just being as they came in to the world. And would rather
not know too much about the rest of the world, should truth be known.
Just the trees, and occasional fields with cows are more than enough
for this tract of people, living in a past that suits them just fine.
They have scenery to contract enough people, and enough gas stations
to fill them up, and go on their merry way. And leave them to do
their business, which is generally wholesome, but has under side that
they do not wish to talk about.
finally you get to Utica, With what passes for skylines in this part
of world – a Radisson Hotel, and other forms of landscapes of
urbanization – you see buildings from the turn of last century in
brick, and even granite, glowering that they are a city even if very
small. But you notice something else, there is no sloping mountains
in the background, no hills that reach up, no hint of anything
resembling the land over the horizon. You have reached the beginning
plains that will carry you through a new frontier, called the
Midwest. And it started here in New York.