A Walk Downtown

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 26, 2017

Filed under: Personal 112 comments

Before my daughter Rachel moved out, we used to go for walks around town and I’d tell her little stories and anecdotes about the locations we came across. It was one of my favorite things to do together. I’m in the mood to take one of those walks by way of Google Street View, and I’ve decided to drag you along.

Grab your coat. It’s still chilly out this time of year.

Butler PA

I’ll admit this is not a brilliant town. My attachment to Butler is 100% nostalgic. If I’d grown up somewhere else, I wouldn’t give this place a second look.

There’s not much here that’s special. The only famous things to come out of Butler are the Jeep and Barbara FeldonYou might know her as Agent 99.
. It’s one of those obnoxious towns that “steals” the highway. You know how it is: You’re minding your own business driving from one town to the next when all of a sudden the highway you’re on transforms into Main Street. Now you’re tangled up in downtown traffic and staring at the chorus line of traffic lights stretching off into the distance, wondering where it all went wrong.

It’s actually even worse than that, but I’ll explain when we get to the south end of Main Street. Let’s start on the north side and walk south.

So THIS is where they keep the internet. I thought it would be WAY bigger.
So THIS is where they keep the internet. I thought it would be WAY bigger.

The Armstrong Cable building. It’s where the internet comes from. Or fails to, as is sometimes the case.

I really wanted a job here in the early 90’s. I think it was some other company at the time, but I wasn’t really interested in who they were so much as where they were. I liked the modern-looking building. It made me think it was a modern company, which would in turn suggest that they would have modern computer systems. This is opposed to a lot of businesses of the day, which still had clanking mainframes that ran on COBOL and whale oil. Having accrued an additional quarter century of life experience since then, I know enough now to realize that the assumption of modern building = modern infrastructure does not hold up.

I guess it’s just as well they never responded to my resume.

I still call this place a 7-11. I can never remember the new name.
I still call this place a 7-11. I can never remember the new name.

In ~1982, a 7-11 convenience store opened here. This was the first time I’d ever heard of a “chain” like this. Before now, all the gas stations and small shops I’d ever seen were strictly local.

Around that time, someone showed me that holding a magnet up to a TV screen would make the screen warp into psychedelic color bands. Unfortunately, that same guy never bothered to explain that this could potentially be harmful to the device. I carried a strong magnet with me and liked to show people this trick when the opportunity appeared. I tried it on the Ms. Pac-Man machine in this 7-11 one day. Except… When I pulled the magnet away, the color bands remained. I stared at the deformed spot in terror, waiting for the distortion to un-kink itself.

“Why did you mess up the machine?” one of the older kids demanded in a loud voice.

I shook my head. The anomaly would go away. It had to. I mean, it always had before.

All the kids were looking at me now, but this wasn’t the kind of attention I’d been looking for. I booked it and avoided the place for years after that, assuming I was a wanted criminal for vandalizing the Ms. Pac-Man with badly understood science.

Ugh. The downtown area has gone all respectable.
Ugh. The downtown area has gone all respectable.

The green awning is a nondescript office now, but back in the 80’s it was a notorious head shop. They sold the usual accouterments of the lifestyle: Tie-dye clothing, incense, lava lamps, candles, and such. They also sold pipes, and if you were stupid enough to refer to a pipe as a “bong” they would throw you out. They made it very clear that they sold tobacco pipes, and not pipes for any illegal drugs.

This was a really straight-laced town, and they did not like having this unseemly business (right on Main Street no less!) in their supposedly upstanding community. Undercover police would come in and try to buy weed. The place would often get shut down for various bureaucratic excuses. I think it spent as much time closed as it spent open.

See, it was (and still is) illegal to sell weed around here. But it’s also illegal to sell weed “paraphernalia” such as pipes. But to get arrested for selling a weed pipe the prosecutor has to be able to prove that, deep down in your heart of hearts, you know or intend that this pipe is for weed and not tobacco. That sounds tough to prove, but remember that cases are often decided by juries and juries are made up of locals that don’t like having your kind in their town.

I visited the place in 1992 or so when my then-girlfriend Heather took me there to buy a tie-dye shirt. Based on its reputation I expected a dangerous, seedy place filled with sketchy dudes. Instead they were enormously polite and friendly. I imagine that whenever the whole town is out to get you, you’re glad for anyone that comes through the door and isn’t looking to cause you trouble.

The 'lower' Main St. parking lot. That's the library in the distance.
The 'lower' Main St. parking lot. That's the library in the distance.

Back in the pre-internet days, this was what bored teens did on Friday nights. They parked in this parking lot, smoked cigarettes, played music, cruised up and down main, engaged in the familiar teenage mating rituals, and did a lot of shouting. (If the weather was cold, they went to the mall instead.) This was a town with a graduating class of over 700, and there was nothing for any of them to do, entertainment-wise.

Local businesses hated it because they took up all the parking but didn’t patronize any of the shops. The cops would come in and try to scare the kids away, but there wasn’t really a lot they could do. As long as you feed the meterDo you need to feed the meter at night? I forget., it’s not illegal to park here and do nothing all night.

I never concerned myself with any of this. Wasn’t my scene. Why would I sit in a parking lot all night? I had a computer!

This hasn’t been a problem in decades. Teens have cell phones and internet now. They can “hang out” without needing to congregate in large groups. As much as people groan about those dang millennials and their smartphones, I have to say they’re way less disruptive and annoying than my generation was. I love being able to make a quick run to pick up milk and eggs and not get tangled up in a twenty minute traffic jam of newbie drivers because I forgot it was Friday night.

I was going to walk downtown and take a picture of the site as it looks today. In fact, this before / after shot was one of the main reasons I wanted to write this. But then I never got around to it.
I was going to walk downtown and take a picture of the site as it looks today. In fact, this before / after shot was one of the main reasons I wanted to write this. But then I never got around to it.

Worsley’s. I don’t think I ever went into Worsley’s as a patronOutdoor furniture and dolls both fall WAY outside my areas of interest. but it’s been a fixure of Main St. for as long as I can remember. (And I can remember back pretty far!) My Dad lived in the apartments just above this shop. It’s where he was living during this period of my life.

It burned down about six months ago. Since then they’ve knocked down what was left. It still feels like a missing tooth when I see the empty lot.

I will never see this as anything besides a bank.
I will never see this as anything besides a bank.

Look at this gorgeous slice of classical architecture. It was a bank when I was young. Then for a long time it was nothing. And now it’s “The Workingman’s Store”. They sell bluejeans, steel-toed boots, work gloves, and such. This makes no sense to me. I mean, it’s a business and you’re allowed to sell hardhats out of any kind of building you please, but I just can’t reconcile walking into the Greek Parthenon and buying a flannel shirt. I’m not saying it should be illegal per se. I’m just saying if it was illegal that would be the sort of petty, small-minded tyranny I could get behind.

We’re almost done. One stop left…

The building hasn't changed in my lifetime.
The building hasn't changed in my lifetime.

Butler County Ford. One of the earliest Ford dealerships. Established in 1918, it will be 100 next year. Were these streets even paved at the time?

Well yes. With brick. There are still some brick streets left in town, too. I grew up on one of them. I can still remember the strange howling sound tires make when you drive over brick.

I’m not sure why the brick streets have endured into the 21st century. Or perhaps I should look at it the other way: If these streets are so old, why aren’t more streets made of brick, instead of asphalt that needs to be replaced every decade or so? I don’t know. I will note that all of the brick streets are steep hills, so maybe brick is somehow better in those cases.

Anyway, here we are at the end of Main.

Note the red brick road in the far distance. It's REALLY steep.
Note the red brick road in the far distance. It's REALLY steep.

Here Main St. curves off to turn back into Route 8 and the people trying to pass through the city can finally break free of the stoplights and resume their journey. But it didn’t used to be this easy.

Up until 15 years ago, there was a much different bridge here. It cut straight across this valley and joined that red brick hill you see in the distance. It joined there to form an oddball 5-way starfish intersection.

So if you were on Rt. 8 to go from (say) Pittsburgh to (say) one of the college towns to the north, then you would arrive here to find the city of Butler was suddenly in your way. You would get to the 5-way intersection, which had an interminable duty cycle. You then had to make a left-hand turn onto Main Street and pass through an additional ten traffic lights to make good your escape.

The problem is that Butler is at the bottom of a crater, which the locals adorably call a “valley”. The hills are steep and unruly, which means there isn’t a good way around the city that won’t take you many miles out of your way.

That’s it for the walk. I’m tired.

EDIT: It turns out I need to show you one more picture. This is pretty far off Main St, but here is the diner on Center Avenue:

The Center Avenue Diner. Center Av. is in fact nowhere NEAR the Center of anything. It should be called Fringe Of Town Avenue.
The Center Avenue Diner. Center Av. is in fact nowhere NEAR the Center of anything. It should be called Fringe Of Town Avenue.

And here is a photograph my wife sent me, taken about 5 hours after this post went up:

Someone should probably be keeping any eye on this.
Someone should probably be keeping any eye on this.

So… that happened.

 

Footnotes:

[1] You might know her as Agent 99.

[2] Do you need to feed the meter at night? I forget.

[3] Outdoor furniture and dolls both fall WAY outside my areas of interest.



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112 thoughts on “A Walk Downtown

  1. Lame Duck says:

    “Teens have cell phones and internet now. They can “hang out” without needing to congregate in large groups. As much as people groan about those dang millennials and their smartphones, I have to say they're way less disruptive and annoying than my generation was.”

    Maybe, but I’m not sure they’re getting a healthy amount of fresh air and exercise. I’ve even seen someone try to pass off looking at a series of pictures on Google Street View as being a walk!

    1. Nallenon says:

      “Millennials are Destroying walking culture! Here’s how!”

    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Fresh air in a city?Ha!

    3. Steve C says:

      I’ve never given much importance to “fresh air”. London England has had terrible air quality for as long as I can remember. Before that it had worse. Yet there’s lots of old people in good health. Maybe the bad air thins out the weak when they are young? (Pun not intended.)

      Personally I can’t stand bad air filled with car fumes. But apparently fresh air isn’t that important to health.

    4. Christopher says:

      I suppose the big reveal at the end of this is that these walks were always done with google street view.

    5. Hal says:

      I definitely think we’ve lost something in the smartphone/social media era. When your entire “peer group” is digital, there’s a tendency to lose out on in-person interaction that’s really important for social development (much less sanity.) More so, I think having our social mores, standards, and culture established digitally is getting toxic because people on the internet are toxic, by and large. If it seems like politics and the culture are breaking down and becoming really angry, I’d place that at least partially at the feet of a society that spends all its time online, where being really angry and divisive is SOP.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Because that never happened before the internet?People never got angry at others due to differing beliefs before the internet?

        Joking aside,the exact opposite of what you are talking about is the case.Before being able to talk to anyone anywhere in the world,it was much easier for groups to insulate themselves in their tightly knit communities,never having their beliefs challenged.Or worse,never daring to voice their doubts about the beliefs of their group because they never knew that someone else agreed with them.But now,if you are gay,its much easier to find support even if you know your family is strongly against that,if you disagree with their religion,you can find support elsewhere in the world,if you disagree with their political views,you can talk to people from the other party without fear of being ostracized.

        Yes,some of the social structure was lost,but thats because most of it was built on the foundation that you cannot talk to people who share your beliefs unless they are really close to you.And yes,some new ills have emerged,but thats because we are still adjusting ourselves to the new age.It will be at least two,three generations before the new social norms get firmly established.Thats how it goes every time technology surpasses our society and we have to adapt to it.It happened when the roman empire fell,it happened when the “new world” was discovered,it happened when the industrial revolution occurred.

        1. Hal says:

          Two points I’d counter with:

          1) Sure, marginalized groups can find each other with ease now. For better or worse, though. I won’t belabor politics (don’t want to give Shamus any reason to put the kibosh on me), but there’s a lot of groups we’d be better off if they were marginalized than not.

          2) I’m still thinking much more locally, though. This isn’t just about beliefs and ideas, it’s about actually connecting with people. In this era, you can be “social” without ever leaving your home. You can have a thousand friends on Facebook and not have a clue who lives next door to you. Fine and dandy, but how many of those digital acquaintances are going to visit you in the hospital or support you in the midst of a crisis? (It would be dumb to say “zero,” but the sense of alienation with our community that comes from having a stronger digital than physical social circle is very real, and I’m certainly not the first person to notice.)

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            I wont go into your first point because of the same reason you mention,but the second one is based on the fallacy that you are automatically closer to the people you have met in person.Is that guy you see every day at work and say only “Good morning” to somehow more connected to you than that friend who has always talked to you when you were in trouble,despite never seeing you?You can get much more connected to a person you never saw but know everything about than to a person you see every day but dont know even their name.

            And this isnt even a new thing.My parents have these friends from another country who they speak to once a year or two.They met on a vacation once,and since then they had sporadic meetings with them.Yet when the situation in my country was really hard,its those people that helped them,whitout prompting.Meanwhile some other “friends” who they lived with in the same city for decades,who knew them since childhood,flat out refused to help when asked.

            Yes,the social networks has increased the number of acquaintance,people you occasionally speak a few words to and nothing more,but it hasnt diminished the number of true friends.Because actual friends were always a rarity,something that you rarely found.The only difference is that now you can find true friends in a much wider area than before.Its just as difficult to do so than before,but now you can sift through many more people in your search.

            1. It depends a lot on the person and their methods of socializing, too.

              I’ve noticed in my age group that the men have a LOT more difficulty creating and cultivating friendships without face-to-face interaction of some kind, because men my age want to *do* something when they are interacting with friends. The only real outlet for this is online games, but that also tends to mean that your “social circle” is going to be mostly youngsters that you find emotionally vapid and sterile.

              Women can connect fairly well from just chatting, but it doesn’t work so well for most of the guys of my acquaintance. Well, unless they are gay. It just doesn’t have the same qualitative impact for them.

          2. Abnaxis says:

            I think you underestimate the ability of strangers to affect others over long distances. Yes, they might not physically visit you, but they can support you financially, or help you navigate bureaucracy, or help you find the right resources you need through personal connections.

            Also trying to keep out of the political weeds, but I think a massive issue with polarization that we face today is that society evolved to use shunning to weed out undesirable behavior. If you did something society (rightly or wrongly) found unacceptable, you would get shunned from social networks that you needed to survive, so people largely got in line.

            With the internet, people still keep shunning each other but every subgroup, no matter how socially unacceptable, can find a virtual community that is willing to support them in the real world. Unfortunately, while all the colors of the political rainbow can’t seem to agree with each other on anything, “ostracism of anyone who breaks ranks” is universal…

      2. Raygereio says:

        people on the internet are toxic

        The important thing that people tend to misinterpret is that the Internet didn’t make these people “toxic”. Without the soapbox and anonymity the Internet provides, they may not have had the ability and balls to spread their toxicity, but they’d still be the same shitty person.

        So…

        If it seems like politics and the culture are breaking down and becoming really angry, I'd place that at least partially at the feet of a society that spends all its time online, where being really angry and divisive is SOP.

        Without the Internet and with only face-to-face forms of communication that anger and divisiveness would still be there and would still have grown because that’s caused by things other then the Internet. It would just be hidden under the tiniest veneer of civility.
        I don’t think that would have been better because the first step to potentially fixing a problem, is to be able to recognize it.

        That said I do think there’s something sad about seeing a group of teens sitting together who are all glued to their phones, instead of directly interacting with each other.
        Guess it’s official and I’m an old man.

        1. Hal says:

          The important thing that people tend to misinterpret is that the Internet didn't make these people “toxic”. Without the soapbox and anonymity the Internet provides, they may not have had the ability and balls to spread their toxicity, but they'd still be the same shitty person.

          Maybe. Plato speculated that anonymity and a lack of consequences would turn even the most moral person into a monster. There are some modern interpretations of this for the internet age.

  2. The Rocketeer says:

    I spent a lot of my young life in a town called Paducah, KY. Great place, great food. Downtown, the old Market House, which has been a theater/museum/gallery as long a anyone can remember, has one-way brick roads on either side of it. The brick roads stay in purely as a touch of tradition, complementing the venerable Market House. If there is any sort of unique advantage to brick over asphalt, it’s sort of obscured by how damn uneven those two streets are, but I’d be heartbroken if I ever rolled back into town to hit up the deli and found them paved.

    1. Droid says:

      We have a few parts of almost every town and village paved to indicate that it’s a pedestrian zone, or the historic city centre (usually both). Brick roads are definitely better than asphalt for pedestrians.

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        Better? In what way. While I’m only familiar with old rock paved streets (brick covered streets were never a thing here before concrete and asphalt came) but those get polished to a miror shine and are uneven and a bit slippery. Also asphalt is “softer” than brick.

        But yeah old roads are just that sections of the city where they were left either because it’s “authentic” and it’s not a high throughput street or because the people deciding what gets paved don’t care for that street much.

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    As someone who lives in a city where the highway goes straight through the middle of it,I can say that its an idiotic practice that needs to be eradicated.Having your highway jammed 5 days a week,twice a day,just because the urban planners didnt think ahead to make a bypass is really infuriating when you live there,and doubly infuriating when you are just passing through.

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      The town/city might have demanded it, so that the town wasn’t bypassed by the highway. It sounds stupid (and in many ways it is), but otherwise a big new road can be the ruin of nearby towns that once relied on people passing through.

      1. Toby says:

        Exactly, just look at Radiator Springs…

        1. Mistwraithe says:

          Exactly! Not every town can count on a famous racer adopting it to solve the problems caused by motorway bypasses…

      2. This exact conflict is playing out now in my hometown. The highway goes right through the middle, exactly where it’s been since pre-car times. Afternoon traffic is terrible every summer and the locals all hate driving through the area, but the business owners don’t want a bypass because they make a lot of their money from tourism. So, every decade or so, the state tries to fix things by widening roads, adding turning lanes, and traffic lights; and everybody complains that the “character of the town” is being “ruined”.

        You can’t win.

    2. BeardedDork says:

      There is a pretty major interstate in Missouri, that just stops and becomes a city street for about three quarters of a mile, as a Truck driver that stretch of highway always seems to be between me and where I need to go. It’s infuriating.

    3. Lachlan the Mad says:

      I think that it’s a historic thing, at least in part. Here in Australia (and presumably in the USA as well), most towns were set up at the crossroads of major routes, so you could have a staging point to rest your horse, buy some lunch, have a beer etc. etc. As those major routes grew into highways, they followed the same roads — because the cars weren’t going that much faster than the horses, so you’d still need to stop in every other town to rest up, buy lunch, have another beer etc. etc.

      But as time moved on, cars got faster, highways got better, people built houses along the main road, and semi trucks became the main method of moving freight — all of a sudden these highways that go through the middle of town are an inconvenience to both the people of the town and to the drivers who have to go through it. So now we’re running around slapping down bypasses everywhere we can in a desperate attempt to catch up. Of course, the bypasses can lead to their own problems, where suddenly the local businesses of some of these highway towns don’t get anywhere near as many people stopping to buy coffee, lunch, or beers, but that’s another kettle of fish.

      Also, taking a quick look at Google Maps, I suspect that a Butler Bypass on Route 8 might be pretty low on the priority list. Shamus says that a lot of the traffic through Butler on Route 8 is headed between Pittsburgh and the college towns for the north, but Google Maps seems to say that I-79 (about 30 minutes’ drive to the west) is a better route if you really want to floor it for that same trip. Route 8 is probably a much nicer drive, but technically speaking a “Butler Bypass” already exists.

      That got out of hand. But ANYWAY, there’s a reason (at least in relatively recently-colonised places like Australia and America) that most older highways go through the middle of towns. I imagine it’s at least semi-applicable to Europe as well, although the development cycles are probably quite different.

    4. krellen says:

      In the US, as a general rule, Interstates (Federal highways) bypass all but the most major of cities, while State Highways (those built with individual State funds) frequently run through smaller towns and villages – largely because those places already had paved roads at the time and it saved the State a lot of money to just reuse the road. Also because those highways frequently exist solely to bring people to said towns.

      (For non-Americans, you can tell Shamus is talking about a State Highway because it is “Route X”; the Interstates are all I-# (and further divided such that odd numbers are North-South and even numbers are East-Wast).)

      1. To add another wrinkle, there are Interstate highways (which have the I- prefix), and U.S. highways (which have the prefix US- ) and both are technically inter-state, but they can be very different in size and traffic volume. U.S. highways might or might not pass through small towns. (One actually does go right through my town. The speed limit drops to 25 mph and everything.)

    5. 4th Dimension says:

      Well many times IMO in cases of our Balkan towns the town literally grew along the road. Also back in the day the roads were being planned in the “good old days” they never really anticipated this many cars. Seriously look at how little parking space was being planned for older buildings. It was almost expected for the cars to remain this luxury thing and that most of the population would walk or use public transport. And since our public transport outside big cities (and even there) is an uncoordinated mess, everyone drives if they can.
      Also making a bypass costs money, and in general smaller towns are barely scraping by….
      Also even if you have the cash it’s a huge problem where to drive the bypass since Balkan is hardly a flat place and makes Buttler’s ringing hills seem like mounds (less than 100m elevation change.. hah) which guarantees that the road will HAVE to go through somebody’s garden or even house. That in turn guarantees that the people whose property would be paved over will raise a stink about it.

      Basically you need the space, the political will AND cash, and rarely all three are present.

      Although our smaller cities, and in particular the ones over here on the coast suffer from the fish bone problem as I call it. Since the town sprawled allong the main road, all the access roads servicing the neighborhoods connect to it bit they almost NEVER INTERCONNECT. Meaning that the road network is like a fishbone where the main bone is the main road and the secondary ones are the smaller roads that never connect to each other. Which means that if there are road works you can’t even be diverted using these smaller roads, because there are no routes.

      As for traffic jams, like half of the year I have to indure a regular one caused by in interesting cause. The traffic jam is caused by cruiser/ocean liner traffic. No not in the way you might thing that they block some bridge or something. The trouble is that I work in the city of Kotor and to get to the my place of work I have to pass the old fortified city of Kotor. Better show you an image. Note the old city with narrow streets? It’s all a strict pedestrian zone. Note the only road going between the sea and the city? Now pay attention to the tourist cruiser that is moored on the pier next to the city. Let’s call the ship point A. Let’s refer to the city as point B. Point C can be one pedestrian crossing near to the ship.
      Now what do you think happens when ship docks and like an entire building block worth of people all try to go from point A to point B over a single point C, right in the middle of rush hour? COMPLETE COLLAPSE OF TRAFFIC. It takes me upwards of 20-45 minutes to go the couple kilometers untill I can pass the jam.
      BTW this is not slam against the tourists. We are fine with them and like people to come (Visit Montenegro Summer 2017 :D), but there are limits. And these particular guests aren’t actually staying. They will tour a bit during that day and then they are gone, and we are stuck with the traffic jam.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Basically you need the space, the political will AND cash, and rarely all three are present.

        Sure,but in the case Ive mentioned its just poor planning,nothing else.Its the capital city,that was practically completely leveled during the second world war,and thus was rebuilt practically from ground up,so there were no previous constraints.It was also done during the time when the country was extremely rich,and in fact a whole new part of the city was built,where a huge swamp used to be.And that part of the town was built with wide boulevards* because traffic was on a huge upswing,with a massive amount of people moving to the city.And yet no one thought “maybe we should build the highway around the city”.It was deliberately incorporated into the center of it.And the old part of the city was deliberately rebuilt to be as cramped as before the war(a big problem for many european cities that were destroyed at that time).Worst of all is the fact that now that the country is much poorer,the bypass is being built.

        *What makes this whole situation tragically funnier is that at the same time when this was done,while they made wide streets between the blocks,they made narrow one way streets running between the blocks.And no,its not like they made streets just for pedestrians that were later repurposed(there are a bunch of pedestrian only paths in those blocks),these are streets deliberately made for traffic,from scratch,connecting big buildings,running between wide 4-6 lane boulevards,that are just 1 lane narrow.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Oh no!There is one picture wihtout the rollover text!I keep hovering my mouse over it,but no text shows up!No teeext shoooows uuuuuppppp!!!

  5. Galad says:

    Can anyone give me a quick explanatio n on why lawsuits in ghe US are decided by juries? How is it a good idea to have a bunch of not-law people decide on someine’s fate, crime and punishment, and how important are juries? – Not a law person either.

    1. bionicOnion says:

      I’m far from a legal expert myself, but I think that it’s a sort of tyranny-prevention failsafe. If legal judgement were passed down by the government (or governmentally-appointed officials), it could potentially be easier for the system to be abused to frame political opponents/dissenting voices and lock them away. Conversely, in a trial by jury, the people most directly responsible for passing judgement on the accused are selected at random and are therefore less likely to have any particular motivation to decide for or against either side. Of course, this doesn’t actually eliminate that threat, and (as you point out) there are plenty of other concerns to be raised in a jury-based system, but there’s far more nuance involved in going deep on comparing different trial formats than I’m even close to qualified for.

      To be clear, I’m not actually sure if this is the ultimate explanation, but it tracks with what I know about the framers of the US government (i.e. a desire to maintain personal liberty and limit the possibility for governmental abuses of power as much as they could).

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well,not entirely by random.The two lawyers decide which of the jurors will be accepted and which ones will be rejected.

        And yes,its just one in the series of failsafes.Not a perfect system,but it does allow for neat things like this:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqH_Y1TupoQ

    2. Syal says:

      One judge who sees a thousand cases can lose touch with why the laws are in place, or can become biased by unrelated factors like how much they like the prosecutor, or in really bad cases can be bought. A steady supply of fresh blood makes the system harder to corrupt.

      Also, more controversially, it’s to ensure a community has the main say in what’s legal or illegal in that community. It sucks when a town judges someone based on whether they want them around, but it’s worse when that judgment is coming from people who have never even seen the town before.

    3. BeardedDork says:

      As with most things in our country the original intent was to prevent governmental abuse of power. We were pretty butt-hurt over the way the British Empire had treated us, and virtually everything we did following the revolutionary war was a result of that.

      1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        This only applies to the US Federal level, where the specific concern was that Federal judges wouldn’t be sympathetic to local variation in the law. Thus federal criminal and civil cases required a jury drawn from the jurisdiction in which the case was brought.

        State criminal and civil cases could be heard by a judge at state discretion until 1967 for criminal cases, and all states have bench trials for civil cases. Some of them even forbid civil juries.

    4. krellen says:

      As no one else has pointed this out before, it’s also encoded into our Constitution (specifically the Bill of Rights).

      It’s likely, as with many things in the Bill of Rights, that slavery had something to do with it (slave states didn’t want free states deciding whether an escaped slave was free or not, for instance.)

      1. Thomas says:

        Juries aren’t a new or American thing. Romans had juries and the modern jury system evolved out of the British medieval system. Presumably the US does it because it was done before they gained independence. I suspect most Germanic countries and successors to the Roman and British Empires have them.

        I think ancient Greece had juries too?

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          It’s more a question of the American legal system using juries for absolutely everything. Here in Australia, our legal system is considered to be fairly jury-heavy by international standards, but any citizen has about a 1 in 3 chance of being called up for jury duty once in their entire life. In big American cities, most citizens get summoned once every couple of years!

          Another reason why this is, by the way, is that the “grand jury” (guaranteed by the Bill of Rights) is totally unique to America — most other countries’ legal systems consider it a huge waste of time and money. See, in order to be charged with a felony and taken to a full trial, an American has to be indicted by the grand jury. That means that every felony case needs at least two juries, one for the indictment and one for the actual hearing. It’s all a bit excessive.

          1. Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

            Again, only at the federal level, and there aren’t that many federal felonies. There are a lot of them, but they are tiny compared to the states, and most states allow indictment by presentment -that is, the prosecutor presents probably cause that a crime has been committed to the judge, who swears out the indictment and arrest warrant.

  6. Elemental Alchemist says:

    I used to love Get Smart as a kid. But my enduring memory of Barbara Feldon is her narration of a documentary series about dinosaurs, where she would pronounce it “dinosars“. It never failed to crack me up.

  7. KingJosh says:

    I don’t know if you’re planning to make a series out of this kind of thing, Shamus. But, if so? I approve.

    A little reminiscing about where you could and could not get computers and such back in the day would be kinda cool, too. I’m just old enough to know that dedicated Mom-and-Pop electronics and computer shops existed, but it was mostly big chains in big cities, like Best Buy and Comp USA, by the time I was old enough to do much shopping on my own.

  8. Sharnuo says:

    Tell me another one, grandpa Shamus! Another one!

  9. Thomas says:

    Towns in the USA are* so wide compared to towns in the UK, I’ll never stop being amazed by the difference in attitudes to space.

    *often

    1. Decius says:

      The US thinks that 100 years is a long time. The UK thinks that 100 miles is a long distance.

      1. krellen says:

        This is the first time I have really, really wanted a +1 button here.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      And to my Montenegrin eyes it’s sooo depressingly flat. At least this town has “some” smallish elevation change, but it’s piddling next to what my eyes are accustomed.

      1. Jarenth says:

        Which is funny, because to my Dutch eyes those ‘small’ hills in the distance are pretty exceptional. We have some elevation changes like that near the border with Germany, but in the center (where I’m from) it’s Flatlands Ho basically everywhere.

        1. 4th Dimension says:

          You have basically described hell for me. I once visited and stayed in Novi Sad a city in Panonian plane, and I was constantly uneasy about how open everything is. It only stopped once we got to Belgrade which has actual elevation changes. I simply don’t feel rooted if there is a nice big impossible to miss landmark.

      2. Abnaxis says:

        I work in Pittsburgh, PA, and live in Columbus, OH (on weekends at least, *sigh*…).

        I hate the roads and traffic in Pittsburgh so goddamn much, precisely BECAUSE of those “smallish” changes in elevation. I takes me at least an hour (usually 1.5 hours) on a 3.5 hour drive just to get out of Pitt when I want to go home, while I can circumnavigate the entirety of Columbus (which has quadruple the area of Pittsburgh) in roughly half an hour.

  10. Viktor says:

    I don’t know anything about historical brick roads, but modern pavers are set on a concrete bed. The bed alone is close to as expensive as a normal concrete road, before you add the cost of the pavers themselves. And concrete of course is more expensive(and durable) than asphalt. So yeah, even with the advantages of pavers, it’s no surprise mostly they get used for accents rather than as full roads.

    1. evileeyore says:

      “concrete of course is more expensive(and durable) than asphalt”

      Not as much… they’re really comparable.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      That is IF your road makers make the road that way. Over her it’s hard packed gravel (sort off) and the asphalt goes on top of that. And it’s not really a thick asphalt, maybe two layers.

  11. MrGuy says:

    …which still had clanking mainframes that ran on COBOL and whale oil.

    The Outsider is a COBOL programmer? It all makes sense! The creaking aincentness. The terrible social skills. The mastery of a skill nobody else has or cares about. Genius!

  12. Somniorum says:

    I’m not one to normally point this stuff out, but you called the shop with the green awning a “notorious head shop”… I’m guessing by the context that it should be “pot-head shop”. For a moment I was thinking it was some weirdo store that sold, like… doll heads and masks or something : P

    1. jawlz says:

      For whatever reason, head-shop is indeed slang for a marijuana paraphernalia shop.

      1. Somniorum says:

        Oh, wow, I didn’t realise – apologies for the misunderstanding!

        … that is a creepy term -_-;

      2. Joshua says:

        I knew a guy who managed the one we had in the town where I went to college. They were indeed quite stern about people referring to pipes about bongs. Amazingly enough, there were plenty of young stoners who wanted to giggle and talk about the bongs despite warnings. And they were all told to leave the store.

    2. Syal says:

      I was thinking more… red light.

      1. Ander says:

        While I could not explain the logic behind it, I thought the same thing.

      2. Bubble181 says:

        Me too. Possible becaosue of “giving head”? As in, selling head?
        I dunno.

        1. Shamus says:

          As I’ve always parsed it:

          An auto shop is where you get stuff for your car, so a head shop is where you get stuff for your “head”.

          The term is from the time period when young hippies would say stuff like, “You need to get your head together, man.” Sometimes this would mean “sober up” but other times it might mean calming down. (With weed.)

  13. DGM says:

    Two layman’s guesses on why brick roads would be preferred to pavement on steep roads:

    1) There are gaps between bricks for mortar. Maybe that gives better traction than smooth pavement.

    2) I don’t know how “runny” wet concrete is, but if it’s bad enough then brick may be cheaper/easier to place on sloped surfaces.

    1. evileeyore says:

      These days* it’s mostly about aesthetic. The local councils may decide that brick fits the “look” they want even if going concrete or asphalt would be ‘cheaper/easier’.**

      But then also high traffic residential roads almost always go concrete or asphalt eventually (if the council is at all local tot he street) as brick/cobblestone is so much noisier than the alternatives.

      * There are minimal issues with asphalting/concreting a road up a hill. If it’s a driveable grade, it can be paved.

      ** If the street needs serious refurbishing that is. If it’s still driveable and doesn’t require the expense of an overhaul, then it simply won’t get one no matter how much the locals may want a quieter street.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        I assume “brick” refers to cobblestone road, or other forms of stones simply laid down, rather than proper bricks held together by mortar (used to live in a house where the foundations were made of brick and mortar — interesting choice. The basement was always humid):

        The disadvantage of those is that they deform easier over time, so if lots of heavy vehicles go through, they’ll deform the surface more than with asphalt, and it’s also louder. The advantage is that they’re also much easier to fix, and it’s much cheaper to do work below the surface (laying new pipes/cables … that sort of thing), because you can just remove the plaster where needed, do the thing, put some gravel and sand back in to make a straight surface, and place the stones where you took them. With asphalt, creating a hole means you have to put a patch on top of it eventually, and that creates potential cracks which creates potential potholes after the next hot summer/cold winter. That never happens with cobblestones because you already have cracks galore, but they don’t grow because they go around the stones, not through some medium.

        So: You definitely would not make a high-speed road this way, or one with a lot of traffic, but low-use residential roads are can be a lot cheaper and easier to maintain when made of stones rather than asphalt.

    2. andy says:

      On an olden-style paved brick street, the gaps are actually filled with sand, and the bricks sit on a bed of sand. Helps with drainage. The gap is created by raised “lugs” on the bricks themselves, like this. They don’t need to be mortared in place like house bricks – they’re already lying on the ground, so there’s really nowhere for them to go.

      Not sure how traction in general compares, but paving blocks for use on hills often had one beveled edge on the wear face, this made for better footing. Can’t find a photo of this, but you’ll see it if you look at old brick streets.

    3. andy says:

      Update: They talk about the beveled edges here, at the bottom of the page.

      Do they work? Heck if I know. It seems to me like a lot of brick street paving was happening in the teens and twenties, when horses were on the way out.

    4. Decius says:

      The town of Nantucket keeps cobblestone roads downtown despite being more expensive, unsuitable for bikes, and damaging to motor vehicles.

      The cobblestone is superior to dirt for horses, especially in wet weather. That and aesthetics are the only advantages.

  14. Christopher says:

    This was really nice. I followed along on google maps and ended up jumping over to the brick road, which has a pretty good view , all told. As a foreigner it’s just kinda interesting to look at the houses, even. Especially at the beginning of the walk, there were all these beautiful castle-like houses with patios out front.

    Wasn’t expecting that ending, hope everyone’s alright.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      What I like about this, and why for I time a followed a trucking chanell of all things, is that you get kind off to see the real place and not something touched up or down for the purpose of entertainment. You know here people live and not characters.

  15. rabs says:

    I love this kind of posts. As someone that live in France, it’s also quite exotic. Thanks for the walk.

  16. Daemian Lucifer says:

    The reason to use asphalt over bricks/cobblestones has nothing to do with driving,but rather with maintenance.When it rains,the water can more easily get beneath the cracks in bricks and loosen them,which doesnt really happen on an asphalt road.Also,asphalt is more elastic,so big changes in temperature will cause them to crack much slower.

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      There is a bit of difference between cobbles and bricks and that is that bricks are stacked so that their thinnest side is pointing up unlike with cobbles. Which I expect makes them less likely to get torn off.

      And asphalt is “softer” you can literally feel it when driving over asphalt and then switching to concrete.

  17. Ham says:

    I am always surprised that in the US residential streets are mostly asphalt. Brick roads calm traffic in a natural way making that space where people actually live, walk or cycle much better.

    1. Decius says:

      Well, if they have brick roads cycling is impossible.

    2. Philadelphus says:

      …did not like having this unseemly business ““ right on Main Street no less! ““ of their supposedly upstanding community.

      I suspect there might be a few words missing after that second dash.

      Edit: Whoops, that wasn’t meant to be a reply to anyone in particular.

  18. At least you don’t live in a town so depressing, a song was sung about how much it sucked and it became a hit single.

    Literally the story of my life…

  19. dp says:

    The Pittsburgh region has a ridiculous number of five way intersections. Easily the strongest piece of evidence available that the local town planners are actually starfish aliens.

  20. Kacky Snorgle says:

    In a magazine I get, there’s a regular column by a guy who drives around to older small towns and investigates old bank buildings, to see what’s become of them. There are a lot of incongruous shops like the one Shamus describes, some restaurants, some municipal government offices, and even the occasional residence. Bonus points if the original bank vault is still in place, being used as a restaurant dining booth or as somebody’s man-cave.

    The really rare ones are the ones that are still banks operating under the original name engraved on the stone building….

    1. Ander says:

      Plymouth, WI, Exchange Bank Coffee House still uses the vault, now sporting chairs and paintings with which to enjoy your drink. Definitely my favorite coffee shop ever.

    2. Joe Informatico says:

      My old and short-lived gym was in a former strip mall bank. It wasn’t as architecturally grandiose as those older Greco-Roman facades–linoleum and Formica, mostly. I do remember the vault being intact: they kept the chest press machine in there.

      The three story Art Deco bank building in my hometown’s downtown though, has been three different dance clubs, low income housing, and is currently a law firm.

  21. MaxEd says:

    They recently renamed the bus stops near my home from “Furniture Store” and “Lighting Store” to “House number such-and-such” (I think I will never remember the numbers). Well, there goes a part of my childhood. Of course, both stores closed down long ago, so it must have been puzzling for a new person who moved into the neighbourhood. Some may think that naming a bus stop after a nearby store is stupid anyway (in a capital city, no less), but in Soviet times it was a safe assumption that a store, once opened, would remain in the same place for several generations. In the house I live in, “there always was” a Sport store from the year it was build in 60’s… Until in the middle of 90’s it suddenly wasn’t, and now it’s a chain food store.

    Anyway, this post was an interesting look on a small American town for me. It seems in a considerably better repair than most small Russian towns I know, even those close to Moscow. And it also looks more… Hmm, more urbanized. Let me explain. In a small Russian town (even if it has six or ten times the population of Butler), you can take a turn into a side street, walk past a few modern buildings, and suddenly find yourself in what looks like a village street, with the small wooden houses that would not look out of place in a middlingly prosperous 19th century village, picket fences in various state of disrepair and water pumps in the street (though to be fair, even such houses usually have centralized water and gas supply now, though probably no centralized heating).

    1. Abnaxis says:

      I think the “small American town” analogue to those villages you describe would be the infamous “trailer park.” Rather than disheveled old wooden houses, these are basically small villages filled with prefabricated housing. The houses themselves look like semi-trailers–hence the name–with hook-ups and everything, but they are permanent fixtures.

      The villages themselves aren’t always bad, but the worst of them count among the crappiest places in the country to live. When I worked data entry in the health department of my home county, probably 40% of the health code violations came from one particularly bad trailer park.

    2. Lachlan the Mad says:

      Most of the bus stops here in Canberra, Australia are named after the nearest road intersection, or sometimes after tourist attractions. The buyers are also equipped with a robot voice that reads the stops as they approach. What’s particularly interesting is that, because Canberra is a planned city, with no separation of state & local government, the planning department is determined to never repeat a street name. This means that the street names in the newer suburbs can get… interesting.

      All of this is leading up to the fact that there’s a bus stop near my house called “Intersection of Moonlight and Whiskers”. And that’s awesome.

      1. MaxEd says:

        “Intersection of Moonlight and Whiskers”? Way cool! Sounds like you live in a fantasy novel city, the one of the more creative ones :)

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          Moonlight Avenue also intersects with Pixie Lane, although that isn’t a bus stop. I’m pretty sure most of the streets in that development were named after people’s pets.

      2. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

        Haha! That’s awesome!

        Probably not as easy as taking a tram around Melbourne as each subsequent street is named after a monarch but still really cool.

  22. 4th Dimension says:

    This window caught my eye when going down the street: http://imgur.com/a/B5dXc

    What is this guys business?!?!?
    I’m refering to the left pane. I know what the advert on the right advertises.
    At first I thought that it’s a notary office where you can do simple contracts, depositions and such without involving lawyers, like you can do over here. But no, this is an Internet Messaging Service? Of local character? But why then advertise the phone and not the site?!?
    I’m stumped.

    Oh I could probably Google it but where is fun in that.

    1. Christopher Kerr says:

      Having googled it:

      “On-Line Messengers are private businesses contracted to provide Driver Licensing and Vehicle Registration services for customers via an on-line connection with PennDOT”

      So yeah, just a notary who can do licensing and registration. And some truly archaic terminology for good measure.

    2. It is a notary but also has internet access (specifically email and other internet messaging services not available at library- sign has been up for forever, probably included IM and IRC initially) and for those with shadier intentions than the rest who go to the library. Edge of nasty part of town.

  23. Alex says:

    Off-Topic, but I wanted to let you know that you made the list of favourite blogs of the rationalist community:

    https://www.reddit.com/r/slatestarcodex/comments/60c3wq/favorite_blog_other_than_ssc_survey_2017_results/

    I quote from the comments:

    “Very interesting that Twenty Sided makes the list at all – it’s a favorite of mine, but it’s also a semi-obscure gaming blog by a devout christian who as far as I know has never even heard of the rationalist movement and who scrupulously avoids talking about anything Culture War related.”

    1. Shamus says:

      Thanks for sharing. That’s really surprising.

      I’m not a reader of SSC, but I do remember “THE TOXOPLASMA OF RAGE” article, and I really liked that. (This is not an endorsement or denouncement of the ideas it advocated. I’m just saying I liked reading it.) It is pretty surprising to see my blog showing up in such a non-gaming context. Particularly when I don’t generally show up on these kinds of lists in the context of gaming sites.

      I wonder what I’ve done that’s resonated with this community. Maybe it’s the super-nitpicky analysis. Or maybe it’s my refusal to participate in the culture war. Hard to say.

      Anyway, thanks for letting me know!

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I think its your aggressive stance on neutrality that makes it so that people from all sides of the religion/politics can come here and wind down.

        1. That seems like as good a rationale as any. I know I’m mostly a lurker here, but quietly thankful that there won’t be POLITICS RAGE lurking in the commentary on something seemingly unrelated, like analyzing the story chains in the Mass Effect series or whatever, much less an above-the-fold post.

      2. Jeysie says:

        Speaking as someone who has some interaction with the rationalists herself:

        1. This blog has a lot of the same intellectual analysis tone that the prominent rationalist blogs do, just focused on analyzing less weighty geek/nerd stuff instead of politics/economics/philosophy.

        2. A lot of rationalists are programmers and/or geeks of various other stripes, who thus share hobbies and professions explored on this blog.

        So I’m actually not that surprised that the two communities have overlap.

    2. Dormin111 says:

      I saw that too! It feels like a weird crashing of parallel universes for two beloved, but completely different blogs to intersect.

  24. General Karthos says:

    We have some brick streets in the University District of our town. (Students make up about… 20% of our population.) I think they’re brick for… well, actually, I can’t give a decent reason why. Probably because the other streets nearby got updated, but nobody bothered with the University District streets. I used to drive over one every day on my way to and back from work. The students use the whole thing as a walkway, because that’s what it looks like, but it really is a street. Thankfully, I went into work during school when almost everyone was in class, and went home from work after school when almost everyone was home.

    Directions given in our town can be absurdly local, and we still call most businesses in town by what they were called 20 years ago. “Buddy’s” Diner is still called “Fatty’s”. The “PC Market of Choice” down on the corner is still called “Oasis (Fine Foods)” by a lot of people. There’s a store in the mall that we still call Penny’s even though it went out of business about a quarter of a century ago. (Followed by the chain at some point, IIRC.)

    You can still get instructions to a Wendy’s, but they got banned from the town (seriously) for… I don’t know the details. Something shady they were doing. The nearest Wendy’s is actually 75 miles away.

    Finally, somehow, there are no gas stations on the North sde of town. You actually have to drive south, farther into town to buy gas, at which point there are two stations across the street from each other. The one that requires a left turn followed immediately by a hairpin right turn, gas costs ten cents less per gallon on average. The other one only requires a soft right curve, and you’re right there. (But I can’t help but want to save more than a dollar every time I fill my car.)

  25. MichaelG says:

    I’ve driven across the entire U.S. a few times, and when I see some of these small towns, I wonder what’s keeping them alive? There will be a retail district — some motels and fast food — and maybe a car dealer. But no big office buildings with the name of some insurance company on them. No industrial buildings, no farms or ranches. Just a bit of retail and a lot of houses.

    *Someone* has to be bringing money into the town! It can’t all be employees of the retail businesses buying from one another. I understand that there are people driving through that buy food, etc. and lots of retirees living off their Social Security checks, but is that enough to keep a town going?

    What’s the local business in Butler?

    1. Shamus says:

      Steel mill. We talked about this on the Diecast this week, but for those that don’t listen to podcasts:

      This town was built atop two major industries: There was Armco (the steel mill) and Pullman, where they made railroad cars. Pullman bought steel from Armco and it was pretty nice.

      Then Pullman Butler facility closed its doors and half the town was unemployed. The 80’s were a pretty rough decade, but by 1990 the city had recovered. Today the steel mill is the biggest employer in town.

    2. 4th Dimension says:

      Eh, people find a way. Towns can survive without industry but they tend to get smaller as young move away to bigger cities. That is what is happening over here (Montenegro) where the Industry pretty much died during the 90s and most of the economy is retail and service industry. I know how we coastal people live. We live off tourism and our export of sailor labor to shipping companies. But fuck me if I know what and how the cities back north survive. Some tourism I guess, maybe some forestry and such. But there are no big employers up there that I know.

    3. TMC_Sherpa says:

      Pretty much all of Northwestern Indiana is employed by various companies in Chicago[1]. Some places survive because it’s cheap to live there.

      1 I have no proof this is the case but it is part of “The Greater Chicagoland Area” and they use the wrong timezone. If I ever get elected Governor of Illinois I’ll be arrested because I tried to invade Indiana.

      Edit: Annex is a much better word than invade, I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it a few minutes ago.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Well, invading usually precedes annexing…

    4. Abnaxis says:

      You’d be surprised at how well those small towns hide big warehouses/factories. My last job was working on automated systems for those types of facilities, and anecdotally they’re almost always a few miles down back-roads away from the main artery where you would never see them if you just drive through. My best guess is that NIMBY or cheap property value is in some way a factor

    5. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

      As someone who lives in a small-ish town (is 15,000 people living in town considered small?) but I know my town survives pretty much due to cheap housing and a brilliant location an hour away from 3 cities (one regional, one coastal and the capital of the state).

      Local businesses are generally held up by the locals so all the favourites never seem to leave, but some new shops seem to constantly appear and disappear.

      I guess it also helps that our town is surrounded by coal mines and some other industrial things, as well as some awesome farms exporting local produce.

  26. Rob says:

    I really enjoyed this Shamus. Thanks for sharing it. It was very interesting and relaxing in a zen sort of way. I live in a big city (Toronto, upwards of 2.5 million) so the kind of place you are describing is pretty foreign to me, although I can see some of my neighbourhoods charm in your article. I love reading your other stuff but I’d like to put a vote in for more of this if it’s cool with you!

  27. I can’t vouch for anyone else, but (presumably) one-off pieces like this one? Or stepping through how late-night television evolved over the ages? I really enjoy posts like those. It’s something interesting, that I might not have ever really doted on, presented in a pleasant story-telling sort of style. I’m not necessarily stumping for more of them. But they are very pleasant palate-cleansing spates of prose.

  28. Abnaxis says:

    Am I the only one that keeps getting really bugged when people keep using “interstate” to describe highways that aren’t interstates?

    In the US, if a road is an “interstate,” it shouldn’t have lights or businesses on it. If it does, then it’s a “state road.” Or a “highway.” Or a “route.” Or something else that isn’t an “interstate.”

    Re-appropriations don’t usually bother me like this, but for some reason this one really grates. Darn it, “interstate” is not a catch-all term for “big road,” it’s what you call roads with an “I-” in front of their name…

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      The Australian government has been cracking down on this one lately, would you believe. They’re putting very strict signage which states whether the stretch you’re currently on is a Highway (which can have intersections and can pass through towns) or Motorway (which only has offramp exits and bypasses towns). This does lead to odd moments though. If you drive from Sydney to Melbourne, the road name regularly swaps back and forth between the Hume Highway and the Hume Motorway. There are also a lot of roads still called the “Old Hume Highway” (roads which once went through towns that have since been bypassed), just to confuse you.

      1. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

        What’s worse is if you’re on the M1 Princess Freeway, and then go out past the city and it changes to the A1, with no extra name, then the B1 then eventually you are probably close to some other city so it goes back to A1 then M1 Princess Freeway again :/

  29. Blue_Pie_Ninja says:

    Where I live is in a crater too, and it’s awesome being able to drive along the freeway towards town and see the town stretch out to either side of you towards the hills on opposite ends of the valley.

    But our infrastructure is way worse. We are in a growth area so neighbourhoods keep on popping up increasing the local traffic, and seeing as we only have one lane both ways for basically our main road across town, it can easily take half an hour to go about 5km.

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