Cheap Sightseeing Tour: Your Neighborhood: Tips For Exploring Part 1

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

Sightseeing in Your Own Neighborhood

Now that you've examined the sample neighborhood, you can start asking questions about your own neighborhood: What makes it different? What makes it a neighborhood? Is it part of a larger unit? You'll have to do a bit of legwork to answer some of these questions. But walking is the best way to get to know your neighborhood. First, get an overview, maybe by car or bus. Whether you're new or old to your neighborhood, you'll enjoy a special tour given by someone else. Many large cities offer such guided tours on foot or by bus. But if your area doesn't have one, be your own tour guide. Pretend you're a stranger and look around your neighborhood through his eyes.

Determine the shape and boundaries of the neighborhood by looking for physical obstacles. Our sample neighborhood is shaped by the major streets that cut off foot traffic. Would you ever think of walking across a 4-lane highway to borrow a cup of sugar? There are natural boundaries, too, such as rivers and hills. These characteristics often give names to the neighborhoods, such as "Riverside," "Valley Acres," or "Hollywood Hills."

Next, notice the street and road system. Generally they are the 1st things built. Houses and shops come after the roads or trolley lines have been built to link the neighborhood to the city and other neighborhoods. What are the links in your neighborhood? Some streets are laid in regular, straight lines while others, like those in the older section of our sample, follow the crooked foot and cow paths of another century. Go to the town clerk and ask how the streets were named. Some street names follow an alphabetical pattern such as Ash, Bay, Church streets. Or they may be named for States, such as Michigan Avenue in Chicago. Or they may be named for historical events or personalities. Most cities have a Madison Avenue or Washington Street. The avenues may run in one direction, the streets in another.

Traffic arteries, heavily traveled streets, are often called boulevards or highways. What happens along such arteries is different from what happens along smaller residential streets. Arteries often form commercial strips. Because they draw more traffic, stores, apartments, and factories are often located along arteries and major intersections.

Not only the homes, stores, and factories of your neighborhood feed traffic to local roads. So do outside neighborhoods. Ask yourself where your neighborhood's roads and streets begin and end. Are they carrying your neighbors' cars or outsiders'? What about buses and heavy trucks? They may be carrying goods or people to and from or through your area. Since streets, roads, and parking lots can consume as much as 50% of your neighborhood's land area, it's good to question who uses so much of your area's resources. By comparison, look to see how much of your area's land is given over to sidewalks, bicycle trails, parks, or pure open space. In our sample neighborhood, one apartment area (9, 10) provides parking for cars but no play area for children. You might also note the noise level of major streets and compare it with that of smaller ones.

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