Thursday, July 7, 2011

Zanesville in Black and White

Somewhere downtown.... in an alleyway between 5th and 6th, I think.

This is where I grew up.  It's a place that has BIG history - loads of it - a place that between 1810 & 1812 was the state capital of Ohio, and is located at the confluence (look it up, sweetie) of two beautiful rivers, the Licking and the Muskingum. 

It's the only place in the world* where you can be given the driving directions, "Go to the middle of the Bridge and TURN LEFT/RIGHT".  It's a joke Zanesvillian's like to make with non-Zanesvillians, because, Gee!  Doesn't it sound funny to turn in the middle of a bridge? 

Not when the bridge is shaped like a "Y".  The "Y" Bridge.  Only in Zanesville.   

I say that a LOT.  "Only in Zanesville".  It's a funny kinda place. 

Lock 10 of the Canal System.  A system once used to transport
goods along the rivers of the East, with boats pulled along
the canals by donkeys.

Seated in the Appalachians, Zanesville is home to both Rednecks and Millionaires.  Art Pottery and Longaberger Baskets**Country Music and awesome dive bars along the river (Terry's Tavern, I'm lookin' at YOU).  Sternwheeler Boats and Canals.  1800's Soap Barons and the Underground Railroad.  Fields of Corn and the occasional smell of Bell Farms' Pigs.  Wide open, starry night skies and Fireflies.  A dying downtown desperately trying to revitalize itself.  A stretch of road that I once heard has the most fast food restaurants per square mile (or per capita, I can't remember).  Millions of Lovely Trees and rolling hills.  A surprisingly wonderful Art Museum.  "The Pizza People Come Home For".  Tom's Ice Cream Bowl.  Donald's Donuts (the proprietor of which is a close friend of mine, I am SO lucky).

Home to... Me.


And when I'm out here, in Southern California, home feels VERY far away.  And, indeed it is.  2,337 miles, to be exact.  No direct flights from here to there, so never less than an 8 or 9 hour journey, no matter how you slice it (and, according to my most recent journey, the absolute worst-est plane trip EVAH in my recorded history, but that's another story altogether).

San Diego is lovely.  Don't get me wrong.  It's amazing to live here.  The climate alone beats all.  I can go into my closet in the morning and choose my outfit, then head off to the climate zone that I've dressed for.  Beach?  CHECK.  Mountains?  CHECK.  Desert? CHECK.  See?  No right to complain.

Except that..... well.... the architecture and newness of it all kinda gets to me.  Honestly, my current town was nothing but chicken farms until 30 years or so ago.  And not much more than that up until 20 years ago.  It's a light industrial/higher education mecca with a bunch of Southern California neighborhoods thrown into the mix.  History?  It has plenty.... but it isn't MY history.  It isn't MY story.  It isn't HOME-home.  And I've lived here for 16 years.

I have a postage-stamp of a yard and can practically touch the neighbor's houses from my upstairs window.  My parents have 15+ acres.  Even in the neighborhood I lived in as a child, the houses all had at least 3/4 of an acre.  I have something like 1-billionth of n acre, but don't quote me on that.

I "garden" in three half-wine casks on my patio.  That's all I have room for.  My father could feed half a city with his garden. 

But I digress.  What I love about Zanesville is the history and the people.  You will be said "hello" to more times than you can count and it's highly likely that you will have met them/seen them before, and you will meet/see them again.

The Zanesville Publishing Company...
Currently home to "The Times Recorder" Newpaper.

But what I REALLY love about Zanesville are the buildings. The feeling you get when you look at them - the age, the times, the craftsmanship, the history - it oozes.  It flows.  It seethes.  It vibrates.

Many of the buildings are in serious disrepair - the economy is hitting my hometown HARD these days (especially in the Putnam District, where the 19th century, truly amazing homes are.  Makes me want to CRY), but even before the downturn, things have always been a little patched up (or not). 

Abandoned (?) loading dock behind the old
Zanesville PublishingCompany

And me... well, I find beauty in that.  I see the cracks and fills and rust and rot as symbols of something else... like laugh lines on the face of an older friend... and I think it's beautiful.  I'm perfectly aware that some people would call this "blight", but look deeper.  It's practically singing.

When I took this picture, I was DYING to see inside those windows on
the 3rd and 4th floors. This morning, I found out on facebook that a
friend of a friend recently purchased this building and that it was the
old Montgomery Ward Building.  There are plans for a store on the
bottom floor and an apartment above.  I will DEFINITELY be checking
it out next time I'm home.

These images are from Downtown Zanesville, an area that was dying by the time I was 10- although I do have memories of shopping there before the mall moved in on the North-End of town.  When the mall opened, everyone forgot about things like the tiny little nut shop tucked in between two buildings on 4th street (or something like that), Kresge's drugstore and soda fountain disappeared, as did nearly all of the other shops and department stores.  Sigh.

Aerials in the Alleyway between 5th and 6th and
the old Conwell Candy Co. Building.

There are more pics on my flickr page if you are interested, and tomorrow, I'll have some lovely shots of the former YWCA/Bryan Place. 

There's also a story to come about a day with my Uncle and his farm in Morgan County, and PEBBLES down by the River.

And you thought I'd forgotten about the Pebbles, didn't you?

*Ok, Ok, I think there's another one in China now, or something.... but that wasn't so when I was little.  And Ok, Ok, OK, there was ONCE (apparently) one in Galena, Missouri, but it was built waaaay after Zanesville's Y Bridge, and is closed to traffic.  So THERE.  Pffffffbbbbbt.

**So, Longaberger is in Dresden, but I'm from the north end of town, which is pretty close to Dresden, so I'm claiming it.   Might as well.  It's a small town.

Obligatory shot of the Muskingum County
Courthouse in downtown Zanesville.


  1. I love that you still love your hometown. I've tried to move away from mine twice but it keep pulling me back...heartstrings are strong.

  2. Thanks! Yeah - I get a very confused and strange feeling every time I fly back to San Diego - Happy to be "home" but.... not. It's really disconcerting!

  3. Wonderful! I'm dying to know who you are, or where you went to school, Julianna. I'm also from Zanesville and now live in San Diego. Worked at KUSI on the morning news for a time.


    1. Hi, Aimee! I graduated from West M. In 1991 and Muskingum College in 1995. Actually, I majored in TV/Radio, but lost my air check tapes on the trip out west, so I never broke into the market (My Aunt Penny, my Hero, worked for WBNS in Columbus for years and years and years. I wanted tone I married my Philosophy prof (scandalous!), and we moved to the North County for his new position. These days, I stay at home with two kids and make music in my living room. So nice to meet you!

    2. "Tone" = "to be"... Can't edit on my iPad. Grrr.


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