While we’re on the topic of beauty in urban settings, here is a brief essay in which Charles R. Wolfe muses on the role of ruins in an urban setting. Significantly, Wolfe’s piece eventually moves to public transportation and how it can provide insights for the future.
Provo has fewer urban ruins than a larger city such as Wolfe’s Seattle, but the past is nevertheless illuminative because we too once had a very different kind of public transit system. At some point in Provo’s history, street cars — very much like those that still rumble between New Orleans’ French Quarter and Garden District — ran in downtown. If you’d like photographic proof, go to Provo’s Justice Court, located at 310 W. Center St. Hanging on the wall near the hallway by the two courtrooms are historic photos of downtown Provo, one of which shows the street car on the corner of Center St. and University Ave.
I’ve heard Provo described as a “car town” and auto-centric issues like parking and traffic are certainly part of the community. But it’s worth remembering that as we look to beef up our public transit infrastructure, we are, in many ways, merely reclaiming our own past.
On a related note, if you’d like to read more about historic public transit in Utah, take a look at this digital book. I haven’t read the entire thing, but there are photos purporting to depict rail lines that connected Salt Lake City with Payson, so you may be able to find photos of Provo as well.
And if you’re interested in urban ruins in Provo, go check out the lawn immediately north of the burned out tabernacle. There is currently an excavation going on there, where you can see the substantial stone foundation of the old Tabernacle depicted in this blog post.