When we lived in New York City many years ago, the ever-present slogan was "Dig We Must, For A Growing New York." It turns out we are among the large class of sidewalk superintendents, armed with a shocking Morning truck line lack of knowledge but great curiosity we try to imagine what the project would become.
They are building a big building across the street from the hotel where we are staying in San Antonio, Texas. When we arrived here, the bare skeletons of rooms was all we could see, but in a few days the roof was added and now they are filling in the walls. Men in hard hats and overalls are swarming over the rooftops. Yesterday morning, around three a.m. (when Bob typically wakes up) a parade of cement mixers had formed across the street from our room. It was a magical sight in the darkness, where the workers were illuminated mostly by the giant lamps they had brought.
We get a great pleasure from watching construction happen, and we have seen it often in our travels. Looking out of a hotel window we can spend as much time as we like, concentrating on this The Harbor and our hotel detail or that or simply admiring the large articulated machines and their operators.
The first time we learned about the great stage outside our window was during a month we spent in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. During the days we would drive in the surrounding countryside or visit a museum, but before and after, and often during the nights if one of us were wakeful, we would watch the men loading and unloading the ships which ferried supplies to the offshore oil rigs. From our high vantage point, they looked small, so the effect was of many small parts working in concert on a massive project. We would watch the ship thread its way through the narrow opening into the bay, then into the Building site in Halifax sea.
We don't seek urban environments, but when we are in cities, lately, we often discover that we are next door to interesting excavations. Several years ago in Halifax, Nova Scotia, our hotel was just across the street from a deep pit. What could it be? Today we looked on Google maps, street view and discovered that the site, bounded by Prince, Argyle, Sackville, and Market streets, is still under construction.
In San Francisco we marvelled at two multi-year construction projects: the new section of the Bay Bridge, to replace the old one deemed inadequate for a big earthquake; and the huge Transbay Transit Pavement in Dublin Center downtown.
We didn't notice how many times we have taken photos of construction sites until after we returned from last Summer's trip to Ireland and the United Kingdom.
In Dublin, we couldn't go more than a block or so, it seemed, without encountering the temporary metal fences guarding pits or collections of stuff, or parked high-loaders. The big project was the extension of the light-rail track through the city, but there were plenty of smaller projects as well.
Another big out-the-window view was another probable hotel, this time in Leeds, England. We watched as the workmen built ramps and dirt paths in the huge pit, and then trundled the big equipment up and out. Since this is England, it would rain at night, so the following morning would be partially devoted Beginning the work, Leeds to bailing out the rainwater from the various pits and hollows.
Even when the construction is not directly adjacent to our hotel, we frequently manage to find it. In Birkenhead, where we stayed while visiting Newcastle, we wandered into a medeival priory up the street from us, where restoration work is underway.
In Limerick, Ireland, restoration continues every time enough money has accumulated to pay expenses -- this is a long-term project, restoring and rebuilding a castle where habitation dates back to Viking days.
For us, there are many pleasures in finding and viewing this work, because we feel it brings the city into vivid life. The cities where there are building projects are cities hopeful for the future, optimistically predicting growth and future prosperity.