An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

May 25, 2008

Freemason Harbor - A Walking Tour Pt. I

The first time I came to live in Norfolk was in the late 70's to go to university. What was left of downtown was at the bottom of a long decline that started shortly after WWII. Most of the harbor activity had moved out of downtown to the new terminals that used the current container method of shipping. I use the term "what was left", because Norfolk was the first city in the nation to receive an Urban Renewal Grant. It used this grant to raze an overwhelming percentage of its downtown core, particularly parts that many citizens would like to have pretended never existed. Norfolk was a navy town (and still is), and during both world wars there were lots of bars, burlesque theaters and other "diversions" for sailors and soldiers to while away shore leave. The old families and and the established power structure were more than glad to see these parts of town leveled. So when I got here, downtown had a dying retail area, a few tall buildings and lots of open fields.

Fast forward to 2008; the downtown section of Norfolk is now one of the most vibrant sections of the whole region. Included in this mix is Freemason Harbor. It was one of the few downtown areas spared the "renewal" and is currently a mix of old and new residents. Most are on land in the form of historic townhouses, converted lofts, new construction or you can also live on the water in a converted pier or on your own boat. There are not a lot of gardens in the area, because it is really dense, but there are a few green spots among the bricks and cobblestones (brought over as ship ballast).

Old fence...

... new fence.

What's up with the house not showing colors?
This is the old city library.

A couple of mermaids; the city's mascot.

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