Rome Travel Guide

Rome Architecture, History, Art, Museums, Galleries, Fashion, Music, Photos, Walking and Hiking Itineraries, Neighborhoods, News and Social Commentary, Politics, Things to Do in Rome and Environs. Over 900 posts

Friday, December 31, 2010

Look Down Series: Curb Your Enthusiasm

There may be nothing more prosaic than a curb, but I have an attachment to this neglected species.  In the late 1980s, while living in Buffalo in a house on one of Frederick Law Olmsted's grand thoroughfares, I spent a good part of two summers with hoe, shovel, weedwhacker and wheelbarrow, engaged in a sweaty, Sisyphusian act of liberation, cleaning the dirt and weeds from the the handsome curbs on Chapin, Bidwell, and Lincoln Parkways.  We called this activity "curbing." 

New Orleans Curb
 I've had some moderate interest in curbs ever since, at least in the cities I know well.  In New Orleans, key portions of the concrete curbs--at intersections and at the ends of median strips--are faced with iron, apparently to prevent decay and erosion in an area that some say is prone to flooding.  If you know the city, the one at left is on Ursuline, just north of Broad.  In St. Bernard Parish, to the east of the city, the curbs are so sharply cut and so high--even at driveway entrances--that caution is required to avoid damage to your car.

Rome Curb
Rome (yes, finally) is graced by substantial curbs of whitish stone (left), a building material widely available in the surrounding countryside.  And almost everywhere, and in one of my favorite touches, sections of curb are joined using a special, rounded cut (top and at right) that embeds one section of curb into another--a bit like assembling sections of a toy train track.

So next time, look down--and give those curbs some respect!

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