Alley Views

Yesterday blogger Jim Grey shared some terrific photos of alley views. I mentioned to him that I like alleys for a couple of reasons.

Sure, they tend to be dingy and contain dumpsters and junk. Plus, it’s best not to go venturing down one where you might encounter danger. But just step a few feet inside an alley and look around you.

First of all, you can watch people go by and they rarely even know you’re there. As a lifelong people watcher this is a pretty neat vantage point because you just catch a glimpse as they go by and you have to be quick with your assessment. It also illustrates how little most people observe about the world around them. They don’t look up or down and certainly not to the side or back. Most human beings are are full steam ahead to whatever is before them.

What a pity that is. Personally, I find the most interesting things simply by looking around.

More importantly, alleys often frame the world in a way you wouldn’t have thought to do on your own. This is the Lawrence County Courthouse in Ironton, Ohio.

There’s a lot of visual clutter here but I still like the way the dome is framed. If you want to be philosophical about it, this image also illustrates the grime and the utilitarian stuff that lurks in the shadows of our halls of justice and politics.

Plus, you occasionally find something truly beautiful and unexpected like Umbrella Alley in Lancaster. I think the umbrellas are gone now but I was glad to see them a few years ago.

Rapid City, South Dakota turned some of their downtown alleys into a canvas for street art like this scene.

The humble alley can be grungy and gross but there’s great potential for creativity and found treasures as well. You just have to pay attention and train your brain to seek the unexpected.

Be sure to check out Jim’s blog. He has been influential in my own blogging journey and writes one of my favorite blogs.

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