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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Gateway Bad Photography Saturday

I think of Lackawanna County Commissioner Mike Washo any time I travel over Scranton's Mulberry Street Bridge.

Let me back up a few decades.  Mr. Washo was always a large figure in preserving the area's architectural heritage.  After the new Mulberry Street Bridge was constructed, there was a debate over the style of lighting that would be installed.  Many favored period style lighting.  In other words, old style street lights.  Washo was against that.  He thought it would be mocking our heritage.  Old style lights wouldn't look right on a stock PennDOT design concrete beam bridge.  I agreed.

Someone, and I don't remember who, came up with an idea for multi colored tubes of light to go over the bridge, like a rainbow.  It looked expensive, at least to me, and a major maintenance problem.  It also seemed excessive.  I think "gaudy" is the word I'm looking for.

Washo loved the tube plan.

In the end, you can see what we got.  Standard street lights.  Boring.

I ran into Commissioner Washo a few weeks ago, and while we were killing time waiting for an event to start, I brought up the bridge.  Our debate raged anew and politely, like thirty years had never passed.  The Commissioner said he still has an artist's rendering of the light tubes somewhere in his collection.  I'd love to get another look at it, and possibly post it here.
The Commissioner's point is the Mulberry Street Bridge is one of the gateways to the city.  It should make a statement.  Light tubes would have shown Scranton has become a modern city, not an old coal town.  Washo has a great point.

Above is the view coming off the bridge, heading into to downtown.  For years, there was a boarded up gas station on the right, and an empty commerical building on the left.  The gas station has been replaced with a donut shop.  Plans for development on the north side of Mulberry Street fell through.  The new building you see above the donut shop is the headquarters of a credit union.  Penn Avenue has bars and restaurants.  The neighborhood has improved. 

It could have been better.

Tomorrow, the gateway on the other side of downtown.