Cheap Sightseeing Tour: Your Neighborhood: Tips For Exploring Part 3

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

Look also at the features of the park. Statues, monuments, markers, bandshells. They may reveal some local history. Find out what cultural events take place there. There are often important neighborhood events such as parades or picnics. What was used to build the walkways or walls or fences in the park? These building materials will tell you a lot about the architecture and history of your neighborhood. The same brick that was used to pave the walkway may have been used to build your house.

What are most of the buildings in your neighborhood built of? Wood? Stucco? Concrete blocks? Very often whole neighborhoods or streets have been built at the same time and in the same style, sometimes by the same builder. Pay close attention to the shapes and styles of the buildings. Are the roofs flat or peaked? Do all houses have porches? Why?

What happens behind the building faces? How many families are in each building? Do the families who live in the buildings rent or own the property? If your neighborhood has many apartments, most likely it is a rental neighborhood, although apartments can also be owned as cooperatives or condominiums. Rental neighborhoods differ from owner-occupied neighborhoods. Renters stay for shorter periods of time than owners would. Who owns the apartments that are rented? Landlords may live in the building or they may live in a different neighborhood altogether. If outsiders, they may or may not be concerned about the neighborhood. Find out. Go to city hall, the tax office in particular, and compare the residential addresses of the property owners and the addresses of the properties they own.

How many of your neighbors work within the neighborhood? How many outsiders come to your neighborhood to work and make money? It may take some time before you're comfortable enough to ask such questions of your neighbors. If you prefer not to ask them directly, go to the main library and look up the census information for your area. The census will tell you the age of buildings, their condition, whether owned or rented. It will also tell you about the people: how many people live in the neighborhood, where they work, and how long they've lived there.

But the best way to get to know the people of your neighborhood is to get into friendly conversations with them. To do this, go to the local gathering spots and involve yourself in the activities which draw the people of the neighborhood together. Such spots include the corner market, newsstands, the local bar or the drugstore. Store proprietors are a mine of information, especially if they're native to the neighborhood. Supermarkets and chain stores, while their prices may be lower (you should find this out), are generally not as friendly. Moreover, find out if the larger stores draw shoppers from more than one neighborhood. When you find the nearest small store, get to know the owner and ask him about his shoppers. He will probably tell you that they all come from the local neighborhood and that he is devoted to them and the neighborhood.

Activities which draw people together and tighten their sense of neighborliness are such things as day-care centers, churches, schools, block parties, sports events, and politics. Canvassing for a political party or a legitimate charity provides a ready-made excuse to knock on doors and talk to your neighbors. You can find out what they think about their neighborhood and where it's going, its needs, and their goals for it. Such activities not only will tell you about a neighborhood, but they will make you a part of it.

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