Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Road Trip: Durham, NC

My husband and I spent this past weekend in Durham, NC, home of Duke University, his alma mater. We hadn’t been back in over 25 years, and spent many hours rediscovering the city and visiting some old haunts from his college days. The city has changed dramatically since he was a student there in the 1970s. Back then, the city was a gritty, working class town dominated by the tobacco industry’s warehouses and factories. Since he graduated, Big Tobacco has taken a serious hit, thanks to the steady decline in smoking due to the recognition of its health hazards, coupled with stronger anti-smoking legislation and the financial blows of lawsuits and expensive settlements. Over the last 20 years or so, the tobacco companies have all moved out of downtown Durham, and the city has experienced a tremendous amount of urban renewal, as tobacco facilities from the early 1900s have been renovated into upscale offices, condos, shops and restaurants. Today, the city is known for its educational institutions, medical and research facilities, cultural offerings at a number of venues (including an expansive civic center and soon-to-open performing arts center), and a well-known minor league baseball team, the Durham Bulls of Bull Durham movie fame.

Above and top, views of the American Tobacco Campus, an enclave of renovated tobacco industry buildings (the water tower in the top photo still sports its Lucky Strike logo).

Below, an old building is turned into upscale condos, with a reminder of its past:

The new home of the Durham Bulls, with new offices in the background:

Brightleaf Square, another example of preserving and repurposing old buildings:

Great shopping at Morgan Imports:

West Point on the Eno, a city park on the Eno River, in the northern suburbs:

More highlights of our Durham trip to come!

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