The Mystery of Place

library :: patrik goethe

I am sitting in a creperie in downtown Indianapolis. My almond-milk mocha is half-gone and quickly cooling, my gluten-free crepe a memory slowly digesting. My view is the flagship L.S. Ayres store, a once thriving department store complete with Tea Room. It's eight-story frame houses a modern department store and many offices, but the façade remains an elegant homage to architecture of this city.

I'm not a world traveller. I am lucky to leave my city once every few months. But in the last two weeks, I have gone on many adventures, both flying and driving to new places, and I'm still in awe. Because for me, the thing I am learning I notice, is the mystery of a place.

Every city feels different, even one I have been to before. I recently travelled to New Orleans for the second time, and even though I saw the same buildings, the same street vendors, the same musicians, the entire French Quarter felt new and exciting. Different. Invigorating.

Indianapolis surprises me. For a city that seemed, on the outside, to be typically Midwestern it is remarkably beautiful. With blue-green canals running through downtown, and miles upon miles of multi-use pathways, the city is a unique blend of historic architecture and modern design. My hotel room overlooks the Colts' stadium, but the view is laden with changing Autumn leaves and the rolling valleys of a river city.

And so, what makes a city a place? How does the energy and character of a location come through to it's visitors?