A co-worker of mine finds it funny that we have a part of town that is actually labeled “Downtown”. Well, we may not be Cincinnati, with actual uptown and downtown, and all the towns in-between, but how do you get around your city without having labels for certain areas of it? Of course, most of our directions are related to locations on campus. “Near Bowman”, “near Tillman”, “just off Perimeter”, “by the Stadium”, and “on Tiger Boulevard” just about covers it.
Yes, for all my Aussie friends that asked me repeatedly, Clemson is a city. But since it’s always referred to as a college town, how could I be sure, when I was asked? It’s not something I’d ever thought about. And just a as a reminder, in the U.S., a college is not a high school or junior high. The name college and university (“uni”, if you’re an Aussie) are mostly interchangeable.
People would ask me if my hometown was bigger or smaller than Emerald, which as a hub for several highways (not interstates) in the Central Highlands of Queensland, was a fairly “large” town. Or was it? In Emerald, the population quadruples during the week, when all the miners fly in to work, and then most of them fly back to Rockhampton or Brisbane on the weekend. Well, in Clemson, the population quadruples (or something close to it) during the college semesters, but empties out again during the summer. And during football season, the quadrupled population gets doubled again, for all the incoming football fans. You do the math. I certainly didn’t.
But we’re a city. Wikipedia and Clemson’s website say so (that means it’s true, right?). The students may outnumber us, but we’re still big enough to be a city. So there. And we have a downtown, but not an uptown. How does that work? Downtown is where the Clemson clothing is sold (in way too many shops), the “new” parking garage is located, and the edge of the downtown is where the Astro III is. For those new to the area, the ‘Stro was our dollar theater, which is closed now, but there are people who hope that it will reopen again, someday.
Sorry, I’m rambling about this because I took a trip downtown, during Christmas vacation. I hadn’t been in a while, and it felt like about time for a trip there. Now that I know of its existence, I have to visit All In Coffee, I love wandering through McClure’s bookstore, and of course, the Hallmark has been there since I was a child. When I’m paying attention, I still find the large buildings (pictured by the Moe’s Southwest Grill) odd, as I remember when the skyline wasn’t allowed to be more than two stories. I think they had to pass a city ordinance to allow those buildings to go up. And there used to be a hovel, otherwise known as a travel agency, where the building on the right is. That agency held out for a LONG time against the downtown buildup, so maybe they sold their property for a fortune.
I still need to venture up the hill, towards Bowman Field, to see if any new stores have gone in, since I was there last. Since I don’t own any Clemson clothing (I kid you not) aside from my work clothes, I rarely go anywhere that sells Clemson gear. But some of the buildings are pretty old, and a few bars and stores have been there forever. I really need to go look.
I’ve talked about All In Coffee on this blog, before. After my usual wander through Hallmark, I walked up the hill to get a Panda Bear (white chocolate AND dark chocolate) latte, to go. They were so empty, with the students out of town, it was weird. They gave me permission to take a few photos of the cheerful place, with the bright sunshine streaming in through the windows. I haven’t been in there since then, because I’ve been trying to stay out of coffee shops and give my wallet a break, but we’ll see how long that lasts.
For years, I’ve been a fan of Starbucks, but if you really want to go spend time with a friend or just go somewhere to read a book, while nursing a delicious coffee, All In Coffee is the place to go. They told me how they rotate several coffees from different countries, every week, so that many of the foreign students can have something that reminds them of home. I really liked the table that was decorated with foreign bills, too. If I’d thought of it, I’d have looked to see if any Aussie money is in it.
McClure’s Bookshop is a used bookstore that has been in Clemson for… goodness, it might be ten years now. I especially enjoy wandering through their kids’ section, because it has many books that you don’t find in a Barnes & Noble or Books-a-Million. I’m sure you can order most of them online, but the main fun of a book store is being able to handle the book and look through it, rather than click through the “Look Inside” option on Amazon.
One of these days, I shall venture further uptown in the downtown. That means towards the Subway, on the corner, across from Bowman Field. I shall also venture further down the hill, to see what they’ve done with the park that used to be by the Astro, and what shops are located by the Papa John’s. I have a feeling The White Rabbit isn’t there anymore.
But for now, I’m out of pictures, and my next round of photos were taken at the Military Heritage Plaza (which was quite an eye-opener to me). So, maybe you’ll drop by when I write about that, in the next few days. There’s still plenty of time to explore the rest of Clemson and discover the little things that I’ve never noticed before.