Exercise III: Downtown Ames a Text


During a 15 minute stroll east from Design on Main and a 15 minute walk back, I encountered 4 main sections of the city. The first was the commercial area on Main Street. Here I saw local shops, local bars, and a few financial institutions. Next I wondered into a city operated zone which consisted of a power plant, a water treatment plant, and an electrical services building. The third section was residential. Mostly older and smaller homes lined both sides of 6th street all the way to the dead end. The sidewalk was worn, and it seemed like it wasn’t a popular area for walking around in because a woman tending her garden seemed suspicious of my presence. On my way back, I walked through a fourth section: a city park. There were picnic tables, trees, benches, a sculpture, and a venue for bands to perform outdoor concerts.

The Main Street area definitely feels local. The shops are not chains and neither are the restaurants. It features sculptures and statues that make the area feel supportive towards the arts and the community. The sidewalks and shops encourage the area to be used by primarily pedestrians.
The power plant area was not designed to be visited or viewed. It is fenced off and there are signs advising people not to trespass. It keeps the city running, but it looks foreboding and almost sinister.
The residential area feels tucked away and old. There are vines on many houses. The people living there seemed alarmed and a bit confused to see strangers walking through the neighborhood. Has it always been like that? Or did we merely look strange walking around, observing, and taking notes?
The park provided the most interesting juxtaposition in my opinion. Both the park and the power plant are owned and operated by the City of Ames. They both provide humans with some basic needs. But they look so different. The park is beautiful, welcoming, and decorated with art. It is a place for the community to gather, listen to concerts, have picnics, and remember community members whose names are recorded on the benches and memorial stones. The park supplies a positive emotional energy while the power plant provides practical energy for the city. It keeps the lights on and serves a utilitarian purpose. It is hideous, not welcoming, and probably dangerous. It may be polluting the air right next to the park as well. Humans have reshaped their environments so much that even the patch of nature left in this area is a manicured square of arranged plants and grass. It’s not quite even natural anymore.





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