Cheap Sightseeing Tour: Your Neighborhood: Introduction

A cheap and easy sightseeing tour idea, explore your own neighborhood like it were a new exotic location, introduction and tips.

Sightseeing in Your Own Neighborhood

Whether we pay attention to it or not, we all belong to a neighborhood of one sort or another. Some of us live in city neighborhoods, some in suburban ones, others in rural neighborhoods, such as the mountains or the high plains. What is your neighborhood? Is it a place, a group of buildings, or a collection of people? Before you get into knowing your neighborhood, look at the Almanac's neighborhood map, drawn up by one who lived there. As he spotted items onto the map--which he got from the local town hall--he took notes on each item and keyed these notes to the map. You can do the same for your own neighborhood.

Our sample neighborhood is a suburb, about 1 1/2 hours from New York City. It contains 500 acres, about 200 houses, 275 apartments, and nearly 1,500 people. They are mostly young to middle-aged families with an average of slightly over 2 children per household. It can be described as a solidly middle-class neighborhood. Listed below are its parts and a description of each:

1. Shopping Center. People from all over this town and surrounding towns come here to shop. The land was developed and owned by a national company and the stores are leased to large chains which are not oriented to the neighborhood. Some smaller shops like the stationery and gift shops, however, are owned by neighborhood people. They like the heavy traffic which the chains bring in. The neighborhood on the whole, however, doesn't like it. Three years ago the shopping center was an orchard.

2. Highway, U.S. Route 1. Follows the old Boston Post Road. Four lanes of heavy traffic carry outsiders through this edge of the neighborhood as well as neighborhood residents to and from work and the many stores that line the highway strip. Two private companies have buses connecting the neighborhood to the town and the nearest city. But the service is poor and is nonexistent on Sundays or in the evenings. The very young and the old who don't drive can't get out of the neighborhood to do things. Take, for example, Mrs. Robin McKenna. You can meet her easily enough because, although she's 75 years old, you'll often find her hitchhiking along Shore Drive (4). Pick her up and she'll tell you that since the old trolley was abandoned 25 years ago, it's been harder and harder for oldsters like her to get into town. She doesn't drive, but all the large stores, doctors' offices, and meeting places are in the town or nearby city. She tells her friends to hitchhike but they're afraid. Mrs. McKenna admits that some strangers are weird, but most are friendly and all are interesting. Her regular rides get cookies from her at Christmas.

3. Alps Road. A feeder street for the neighborhood it bounds. It is so narrow and winding over the small hills in the neighborhood that the old farmers called it "Alps Road." Some of them live in older farmhouses along the road, but most have been squeezed out by single-family homes built over the last 10 years costing $30,000 to $40,000.

4. Shore Drive. Another feeder street and neighborhood divider. It is also State Highway 142 and carries outsiders through the neighborhood to the nearby shore and beaches which gave the road its name. Summer traffic is heavy and generally keeps people from crossing it to go to stores and schools in the next neighborhood. The road has mostly older, single-family houses, lived in by older couples whose children have grown up.

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