In the neighborhoods, on the fringe

by Brian Clarey

On a late-summer Monday afternoon, under the fading light of the day, the corner of Walker and Elam teems with life. Cars jockey for position at the intersection, past the foot traffic flowing into the Bestway for six packs or something for dinner, some joggers pounding the sidewalks

to knock out their last miles before dark. The dinner trade will start soon, but until then there’s a lone cowboy drinking beer on the patio at Fishbone’s chatting up the passers-by.

I don’t live in Lindley Park, but I come here all the time to visit friends, have a meal, hammer out some writing in my friend Dusty’s coffee shop. It’s a great neighborhood, a key element in the patchwork quilt of Greensboro I make from my interactions with the city.

Like all cities, Greensboro is made of neighborhoods, each with its own character and vibe.

My own neighborhood, Rankin and the surrounding climes of O. Henry Oaks, Cone Mills and Summit Hills, fewer than 5 miles away, have a different sort of street life. On the side streets, the small cottages that went up in the shadows of the factories give testament to our industrial past while the factories themselves mostly sit silent. Most of the foot traffic moves down Yanceyville Street — though this well-traveled pedestrian thoroughfare that anchors one of the city’s most popular bus lines is almost totally bereft of sidewalks in the stretch that runs by my house.

On the flip side, down in the southeast corner of the city, a jogging trail runs almost the whole length of the Adams Farm Parkway, winding past the YES! Weekly offices and through the wooded spaces.

Today in Adams Farm and nearby Sedgefield — which is not technically a Greensboro neighborhood but is its own little town — I saw all the preparations for the Wyndham Championship: blue PGA signs pointing out the different parking lots, orange cones perforating a stretch High Point Road, the spinning blue lights of Greensboro police cars on loan for the event. No sidewalks here, either.

The city buses don’t come by so often out here, but there’s a predictable ebb and flow of traffic on the Adams Farm Parkway timed to coincide with business hours and a short lunch rush. I’m out here every day, too, for work or to visit my parents, who recently moved to the neighborhood, but it’s not the kind of place where you can drink beer at a sidewalk café and watch the world go by. Sometimes I’ll tie on my running shoes and take in the length of the trail while everybody else is headed home to watch TV. Everybody seems very nice.

I like to do my roadwork on the greenway, too, usually picking it up near the tennis courts at Latham Park and jogging until I run out of trail. One of my favorite spots in town is underneath the Wendover overpass, where the gurgle of the creek drowns out the hum of cars passing overhead. Here I’ve watched the waters rise all summer long, crescendoing into a rushing stream that swept against the overgrown banks.

I’m over here several times a week as well, to run the trail or to visit my sister who moved here earlier this year — my son and I have taken responsibility for her lawn, which this summer has been growing at hydroponic speed.

From there it’s a short hop to Fisher Park, where my wife has kept an office for the better part of five years. And Irving Park, where we do a lot of shopping. And Guilford Hills, where we go swimming. I don’t cover the entire city every day, but sometimes during the course of a week I do.

We don’t have a riverfront in Greensboro, or a gigantic monument. We don’t have a Chinatown or a Garment District. But we do have a vibrant center city, which history and geography suggests is where all the action is supposed to be.

In Greensboro, all roads lead to downtown, making it the perfect place for our various communities to intermingle, socialize, do business. That’s the whole point of downtown Greensboro, why our early city planners dropped it right in the middle of town.

But I no longer get a sense of the entire city when I venture downtown. I go to the theater. I take appointments at the Green Bean. Sometimes I have lunch.

Lately I’ve been sticking to my neighborhoods, where there’s plenty to see and do.