Sunday, February 28, 2010

A tale of two mill cities: Lawrence and Lowell ... and zoning.

Today, on richardhowe.com there has been discussion on what makes Lowell not Lawrence.  I had touched on this myself in 2008 in this post:  http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto/lowell21.htm, lamenting the hard fall of Lawrence.  The discussion on richardhowe is focusing on the geography of the two cities

I'm going to be long-winded and preachy here, so bear with me ;-)

I was going to do a longer post with maps, etc here about the topic, but I found myself making up answers based on basic statistics that might be flawed.  Here's a couple of simple numbers I pulled out from http://www.city-data.com/city/Lowell-Massachusetts.html and http://www.city-data.com/city/Lawrence-Massachusetts.html:

Lowell's population (2008 est) and land area: 103,615 on 13.8 sq miles

Lawrence's population (2008 est) and land area: 70,014 on 6.96 sq miles

Percent of residents below the poverty line in Lowell and Lawrence: 16.1%, 23.6%.

The quoted median household incomes for 2008 ($53k, $33k) don't sit right with me as being too much of a jump in eight years.  I'm more likely to believe the 2000 census numbers with a lesser upward trend to today:  $39k and $28k.  This year's census will help us see where we really are, especially in light of the economic downturn (unemployment and foreclosures), which hit lower income municipalities especially hard.

Simple math: residents below poverty line: 16,682 in Lowell and 16,523 in Lawrence.  Not all that different.  But where is the poverty exactly?

If you want to see this as a visual, go to www.massstats.com and zoom in until you get breakdown by smaller geographic areas than towns.  You'll see, say, for the income map or the educational attainment maps, that the "inner city" sections of Lowell don't fare much better than the entirety of Lawrence...which is basically only inner city.  As a whole, by massstats' data, Lowell is in much better shape than Lawrence on indicators of poverty, but not by a whole lot...until you pass that first two miles or so outside of downtown...which in Lawrence becomes outside the city borders...and at which point things improve drastically.  As nice as Belvidere is, it's no Andover.

I think it's fair to say without being overly politically correct that the majority of people that become politicians, etc have a tendency to be middle class or higher, and not be living below the poverty line or in tenement housing.  I mean, if that wasn't a fair thing to say, the sections of Lowell that are nearly universally unwealthy (Back Central, The Acre, Downtown - you can check neighborhood income and population for 2000 here: http://www.lowellma.gov/depts/dpd/services/planning/neighborhoods) would be producing a lot more city councilors than they do.  Like Dick said, Belvidere, Pawtucketville, and the Upper Highlands are called The Andovers in Lawrence.  And those people can't run for Lawrence City Council.  Of course, this is also used as an argument against at-large councilors in our Plan E system here in Lowell.  Why is Patrick Murphy the only councilor I'm aware of that's from a "lesser" section of the city?  And to his credit as being a councilor that fights for these sections, Sacred Heart / The Grove isn't the neighborhood it was when I was a Sacred Heart parishioner in the 80s and 90s.  At the same time, in many ways, downtown is much improved.  This topic came up on The New Englander's (Greg) blog last week:  http://anewenglanderinlowell.blogspot.com/2010/02/patricks-point-whither-other.html.  I touched on a related point there as well that I'll get to.

Wikipedia has a great article (of value that is often questioned...look at all the complaining tags) about the fight that kept Brookline from becoming part of Boston in 1873.  They, 140 years later, have accomplished their goal:  Brookline is an extremely expensive, exclusive, and desirable little city - almost entirely an enclave inside Boston.  In 1873, Lowell was about to annex Middlesex Village, the upper sections of Bridge Street, important parts of Belvidere, and Pawtucketville.  After this, the only neighborhoods to join Lowell were the far side of Belvidere and South Lowell, all before 1910.  Had the Brookline "we aren't becoming the next Dorchester" momentum hit Lowell a little earlier, we might look a lot more like Lawrence.  Looks like the annexation map at the Center for Lowell History's website is down this weekend, so again, I'll defer to an old post on richardhowe.com for the data (I need to start saving these public domain maps locally...I'm paranoid about these resources never coming back).  Without these annexations, Lowell would not have its more affluent sections and would be 4,000 acres smaller - or nearly half the city - the extra 6 and change square miles Lowell has over Lawrence.

Discussion on zoning after the jump.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wikipedia, copyright, free software, and the search for one simple photo

Although I was very late to the blogging game, on occasion, I am ahead of the curve.  I was a fairly early adopter of Facebook (due to being at the right college during the right years), and I was a bit early to the explosion in popularity Wikipedia has experienced (due to being someone who likes to read and write factual information far too much).  Wikipedia has made me have to learn more about copyright law than I ever wished to know.

This is going to be a long and rambling post, so here's your jump point.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Too much information, too decentralized?

Update:  The Downtown Lowell Blog is already on my blogroll on the right, but this post of an email from COOL, has a great list of upcoming events.

I almost totally missed Winterfest this year (not as if I would've gone anyhow.  Nothing personal.).  The huge sign that announces the date is up in front of City Hall, and my commute stops at Market St.  I've also been reading The Sun less often the last few months, although I do maintain a subscription.  I catch most of the big stories online, and I'm lucky if I leaf through the print version once or twice a week.  So...I've noticed I've been having trouble finding important information about local happenings this year.  And it's not through a lack of places to find information.  It's through the lack of one central location.

I noticed that lowellma.gov didn't have any information about Winterfest on it this year although I do think I found it on lowell.org.  It was not on lowellevents.info.  The same thing is happening right now.  Turns out it's Great Plates 2010, which is an event I really like attending.  Not a single mention anywhere.  I understand the budget is tight this year, but those banners on the Lord Overpass are really effective, and a huge number of residents pass underneath there every day.  Once I had finally heard it's happening, I did find it on http://www.greaterlowellchamber.org/.  It's not on lowell.org, or lowellma.gov, or lowellevents.info.  Nor is it on www.merrimackvalley.org.  You know how I finally heard about it?  Facebook, through friends joining it.  http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=266070406569&ref=ts.  Not even the Chamber of Commerce site has the menus.  Just Facebook.

Conversely, the fact that the city is running a good discount program on food/retail bought downtown called iShop Lowell is only mentioned on lowell.org and lowellma.gov.

There needs to be a place where all of this information is centralized!  Obviously, this problem goes way beyond finding out when good dinners are at lower prices in Downtown Lowell.  This is exactly the same complaints about Google Buzz that popped up recently.  Facebook is a natural monopoly.  Adding Buzz to the list of things you need to constantly be updating and checking will help nothing.  However, when it comes to advertising, Facebook, while it has a huge pool of regular users, is probably still not the most efficient way to go.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Varnum Building to be demolished


I had posted a few days ago the report that the Varnum Building on Bridge Street had had a bad fire, but I wasn't sure if it was repairable or not.  I also put in a few links to the little history of the building I could quickly find online.  Well, The Sun reported yesterday that the building is beyond repair.  The photos they had put up the day after the fire had made that fairly clear anyhow.  The Third Street side that is visible from Bridge Street and VFW doesn't look nearly as bad as the Bridge Street side, where it looks like the fire originated.

So, I was planning to get down here anyway, and I actually got out of bed on time this morning, so I headed over to see it before it was gone.  I bought a bagel and a coffee at Dunks so I could not be in violation of the "parking for Dunks customers only" sign  (I get real weird about that sort of thing) and then walked around the neighborhood. The article says the fire was caused by an electrical fire on a lower floor - you can see the windows on the second floor of the right-hand side of the Bridge Street facade are charred (next to the angled corner), and the fire seems to have gone straight to the roof from there.  I would absolutely love to live in an old house, but 100-year-old wiring with brittle, failing insulation and no grounding scares the crap out of me for this very reason.  I had also mentioned the old-fashioned balloon framing, and another dangerous trait of older houses is the lathe-and-plaster walls, rather than modern sheetrock.  Unlike thin slats of wood, sheetrock doesn't burn too well and can absorb heat.

Like I had said previously, I hope this building is replaced with something else that is, if understandably non-monumental, sensitive to the little remaining urban character this street has.  Realistically, in this economy, I expect it to remain an empty lot for a long time.  However, there is a wonderful block between West 3rd St and West 4th St just opposite the Varnum Building that still has an unbroken row of (occupied!) period storefronts with what looks like upstairs apartments.  A barber, a restaurant, etc.  Parking, unlike many more modern developments, is hidden out back or on the street.  This type of development is finally becoming more popular again - even the single-story, single-use CVS building on the corner of VFW and Bridge did the neighborhood a big favor by nearly hugging Bridge Street and Lakeview, and putting the parking in the rear.  Nothing hurts the feeling of "I am someplace" when walking down a street more than a huge parking lot along the sidewalk, where pedestrians need to compete with cars to get through.  I think it would've done a bigger favor if they had put a couple floors of either apartments or office space above it, but oh well.  All neighborhoods need a quality drug store and the building doesn't look so bad...although, I do miss Russo Music.  Why can't we have a music store downtown by the way?  This is precisely the type of specialty operation that can handle a lack of parking, loading docks, expressway access, etc.

I'm beginning to ramble here, so here are the photos I took today:

Ken Coffin

One of the nicest things about the article that ran in The Sun is that I got a good number of emails out of it from people who had never stumbled upon my site before.  One of those people was Ken Coffin, who worked as a photographer with City Fair in Lowell in the late 1970s into the early 1980s.  As he doesn't have the world's fastest internet connection, he has been gradually sending me some of the photos he took during that time period, and has allowed me to host them and share them.

Ken was born in Lowell in 1948, and grew up in Dracut.  He worked for 20 years with MA/Com on Chelmsford St and is now retired and living in Hillsborough, NH. Photography has been his avocation and vocation since he was six, and he amassed a modest collection of Lowell photos from 1975-1990. These pictures were taken while he worked for a CETA program called 'City Fair'  in the late 1970s into the early 1980s when the Urban National Park was first created.  This is the same era as these areal photos (note: at the moment this link appears broken): http://repository.digitalcommonwealth.org/handle/10240/56

If you are not familiar with City Fair or the CETA, Paul Marion over at www.richardhowe.com briefly mentioned the programs in a recent blog post.

Some of my favorites from his collection are:

Dynamo, Tremont Mill

Mill Fire, Market St

Demolition of the flatiron building at the fork of Central and Prescott, where they recently installed that bell monument.  John Kerry ran his first campaign from this building: http://richardhowe.com/2009/08/18/ambassador-thorne/



I would love to get a set of names to these faces. Discussion:http://richardhowe.com/2010/02/18/who-are-these-people

Pretty sure that's Paul Tsongas on the right...


And, the entire album:

Ken Coffin

I'd like to thank Ken again for granting me access to these photos. If you'd like to contact him, his email address is kencoffin@tds.net

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lower Highlands and Little Cambodia

Dick Howe over at richardhowe.com put up an interesting post about an article in The Boston Globe discussing making "Little Cambodia" a bit more official:  http://richardhowe.com/2010/02/15/lowells-little-cambodia/

Some of this is based on studies MIT has been doing in various Lowell neighborhoods over the past few years - I went on a walking trip with some of the students through the Lowell Parks and Conservation Trust last year when they were studying Back Central / Sacred Heart.

To date, the MIT studies in Lowell have been:

Coincidentally, I was discussing the Back Central plan with Errol over at Comfort Furniture today.  Some of their suggestions are very pie-in-the-sky (reducing sidewalk parking in Back Central, seemingly by imagining people can just drive fewer cars and take the bus) or not fully sensitive to Lowell's history and culture (ramming a road through South Common to improve access to the train station), or both (turning Comfort Furniture into a series of shops for imaginary people who would pay $14 round-trip to take the MBTA from Boston to Lowell to shop at a boutique outlet in that old factory).  

However, I do like urban studies, and I certainly think we should all appreciate one of the world's best technological universities focusing so heavily on our little city.  There are a number of great ideas in these reports - sometimes a blow-in's views can be refreshing.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Varnum Building burns

According to lowellsun.com, the Varnum Building on Bridge Street suffered a large fire last night.

The article says "damaged" and "destroyed" in the same paragraph, and from the looks of it, I'm not sure which it is, either.  The roof is definitely gone as is the tower, but it's hard to tell from the street what the damage is inside.  I drove by to see how bad it was, and as of 10 AM or so, Bridge Street was still closed.  In the confusion and the traffic (plus I was supposed to be in work!), I didn't stop to take any pictures.  Hopefully I'll get down there eventually, but I expect The Sun will have some good ones in the paper tomorrow.

The Varnum Building is a National Historic Landmark, and one of the few buildings of any size and urban proportions that was left on that stretch of Bridge Street - hopefully it doesn't get demolished and replaced with another fast food joint, drug store, or prefab apartment building.  I wonder if it is repairable, if they'll rebuild it, or truncate it?

Lowell, although never suffering a massive downtown fire like Fall River has, or the multiple serious fires that damaged downtown Lynn, there have certainly been buildings of note destroyed, and seemingly frequent neighborhood blazes, some involving multiple structures (one on Rock Street I'm shaky on details for comes to mind, but I know it destroyed a few blocks).  Non-Americans often remark to me "Why is this city made of wood?" and it's a good question.  The best answer I can give is "because look around you, we have plenty of it to spare."  In addition to being wooden, the exact construction method of much of Lowell is Balloon framing, which has the nasty tendency to carry fire upwards from its origin along structural members, with few fire-stops between floors.  This was the fate of the burned triple-decker on Auburn Street and the one on West Sixth Street - a ground-floor tenement fire soon had flames shooting out the roof.  These old buildings generally have no sprinkler systems.

The loss to fire and other demolition reasons in Lowell has been fairly significant over the years.  The Lowell of 1924 had a similar population to today's Lowell, but had noticeably more open land on the outskirts.  As people in the Highlands and Belvidere can attest, they just keep building, paving, and converting houses to apartments in the outer neighborhoods while the city's population doesn't increase.  That can only mean the the population in the more urban neighborhoods is falling (and the fact that the population downtown is growing, the situation is even worse).  Considering most people wants as much space for themselves and their family (and the car...) as possible, I'm not going to outright lament this, but I think it's safe to say character is lost with every apartment that burns and every home that is chopped up, vinyl-sided and has its yard paved over.

Interestingly, I noticed yesterday the burned apartment building on Auburn St in Back Central had its siding stripped off - I was thinking they were going to repair it.  Instead, this morning, it's completely gone.  Takes one day to take one of those down I guess.  I think the burnt house a few doors down is still there. I drove by quickly this morning, but the large apartment building near the corner of West Sixth St and Aiken Ave looks like it has been or is being repaired.  In the same neighborhood, the house that truck drove into on Lakeview Ave is gone.  I'm not sure what the fate of the house on Broadway is, does anybody know if there are plans to put the roof back on the house on the corner of Highland and Thorndike?

In construction news, there is now a two story parking garage on the corner of Hall and Cabot Streets, across from the new Perkins Park Lofts.

2/18/10: Building is a total loss:  http://coreysciuto.blogspot.com/2010/02/varnum-building-to-be-demolished.html

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Topography and Waterpower

I spent some time in the Tyngsboro Boy Scouts growing up, and one of the things they taught us was orienteering - figuring out where you are and how to get where you're going with a compass, and a topographical map - a carefully scaled map with detailed geographical features drawn on it, including elevation contour lines.  I'm a visual learner so I've always liked maps, and along with first aid and riflery, those were what I was best at.  I was probably the worst knot-tier and swimmer in our troop, because I have very little hand-eye coordination or athleticism, and I'm left-handed, but that's ok...I'm getting off topic again.

Well, thanks to the wonders of the modern high-capacity internet tubes and the fact that works of the United States Government are in the public domain, you are now able to download, for free, all sorts of USGS (United States Geological Survey) maps - and I can repost them.  They're in that crazy metric system, but many are one centimeter = 25 meters, or in real measurements, 4/10 of an inch is 82 feet.  So that's what, one inch = 200 feet?  The contour lines are on the three-meter scale, or 9.8 feet.  Every fifth line is darker than the rest, and certain elevations of potential interest are written outright.

You can get the maps here (use the Map Locator button on the left), or you can get the Lowell one directly here.

So, what is the highest point in Lowell?  The lowest?  If sea levels rise as predicted this century, do we stand to own oceanfront property?

Here is the Pawtucket Dam - above 27m (you can see it's one elevation line below the 30m mark) So, the water level is a little under 90 feet above sea level at this point.  Note the falls markers in underneath the University Ave bridge.  The dam itself is about 3m high, then the three markers bring us to the level of the lower river - less than 18m, or around 60 feet.  The 30+ foot drop in elevation here is why we have a city of Lowell at all.

Here we see the end of the Concord River, which is the end of the canal system.  At the end of the Hunt's Falls, the river is now below 15 meters, or 49 feet.

You will also see the reservoir on top of Christian hill is at 71.5m (235ft), and the water tower behind that is 94m(295ft).  This must be the highest point in Lowell.

Fort Hill and Belvidere Hill are 275 and 235 feet respectively.  This map is from the '80s - the old Locks and Canals reservoir is still there.

And Downtown, we see the single drop at Swamp Locks and the double drop at Lower Locks bringing us from 27 meters to 18.  The same as the river.  The third set of locks in Lowell, the Guard Locks up behind the Francis Gate, are just to keep the river, in the event the river level is above 27m, from raising the level of the canal system and flooding the city - hence the name.  The Francis Gate is more sturdy than the Guard Locks and serves to protect the Guard Locks from buckling and failing*.  You can see in the first image that the ground rises very quickly around Francis Gate, trapping floodwaters in a basin, as we saw in the 2006 flood.

*Fun fact:  Lowell locks (most locks anywhere?) are always chevron-shaped, with the point facing upstream.  This is so that the pressure on the high side doesn't force them open.  The Francis Gate is an immobile and extremely heavy piece of wood (or metal as they brace against the gatehouse today instead) so it can withstand the pressure of even higher water levels.

Math geekitude and flooding after the jump...


Lowell Photo Map 2009 ... and a digression into coffee

OK, so now I'm caught up on mapping all of these photos too.  I certainly didn't take too many pictures in 2009 compared to 2006-2008... but like I said in the interview in The Sun, Lowell is only so big.  And to be fair, I put up the second half of 2009 on this blog this week already.

In 2008 I put up some pages on Lawrence, Nashua, and Cohoes, NY which I didn't tag, but other than that, now I've geotagged every photo.  These maps prove that the guys at Mr. Mill City are correct - I have something against Pawtucketville.  I admit it.  And apparently the Highlands, and *gasp* Bel-vah-deyah!  Andover St is on my list for this year as it warms up, and I should really wander over to P-ville.  I dunno...when I think "historic places in Lowell" J.J. Boomers is pretty low on my list, sorry.

So...what to do next?  I get churches requests, but that's pretty hard to do.  I also get a lot of neighborhood streetscape requests, but aside from the locally-famous homes, I get a little iffy about photographing some random person's house...seems to personal?

Maybe I should do all 14 of Lowell's Dunkin' Donuts - the cornerstone of the city's economy.  I know it says there are only 13 but it's missing the one in the train station.  I have been to at least thirteen of them...can't remember if I've been to the one in Lowell General.  Like I said, I'm opposed to Pawtucketville or something.  Although - the one on University Ave might be the finest Dunks in the whole Lowell area.  There are 29 within five miles of Downtown Lowell, and 85 within 10.  Somebody needs to do a Starcraft mod that turns the Protoss into New Englanders, and those energy crystals you have to build near for power into Dunks.  I swear I couldn't live anywhere else just because I definitely can't be more than 15 mins from one at any time.

Anyhow, these are albums 25 and 26 at http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto/lowelltoc.htm

Lowell 2009

Lowell Photo Map 2008

Halfway there!

The originals with descriptions are albums 5-24 here:
http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto/lowelltoc.htm

Be patient, it takes a while to load!
Lowell 2008

2007 Lowell Photo Map

I did something I've been meaning to do for ages.  I don't think I am going to upload larger copies of these photos (ask and you shall receive), but I did use the geotagging feature in Picasa to create a pretty cool map of where I took all of these.

The originals with descriptions are albums 9-14 here:  http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto/lowelltoc.htm

Be patient, it takes a while to load!


Lowell 2007

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

2006 Photo Map

I did something I've been meaning to do for ages.  I don't think I am going to upload larger copies of these photos (ask and you shall receive), but I did use the geotagging feature in Picasa to create a pretty cool map of where I took all of these.

The originals with descriptions are albums 1-8 here:  http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto/lowelltoc.htm

Be patient, it takes a while to load!

Lowell 2006

Google Analytics

I am unquestionably a creature of habit.  For example, for a good decade or so I have been using site stats and a hit counter from www.cgispy.com.  Click the link - it still looks like the 90s in there!  Matches my page that looks like the 90s.  Worst yet, I hadn't bothered putting the counters on all the Lowell pages I did, just the table of contents - the reason being the tools were far too simple and would've over-counted hits if people clicked through pages.  So, instead - I've been grossly underestimating visitors.

However, as this blog is the first time in a very long time I seriously rethought how I put information up online, I did some research and realized that for the last five years, I could've been using Google Analytics.  In addition to visits by browser, location, etc that I've had all along, it tracks individual page hits in the domain, what search terms bring people to what pages, and it has far better visualizations.  And, being Google, it's 100% free for any realistic use I'd have.

It's disappointing that I missed this for this long, especially after the minor spike in traffic I got from the Sun article.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Digital data

I spent a large part of today categorizing, cleaning up, backing up, and duplicate backing up data.  I hate doing it because it's so time consuming and nobody likes doing work prepping for worst-case scenarios, but every year the amount of our lives that exists in digital form grows, and the risk of not proactively protecting data grows with it.

It's amazing how many Facebook requests I get along the lines of "I dropped my cell phone in the toilet and it shorted out, send me your contact info again!"  This stuff is scary.  I'm sure it happened when the world was on address books (honestly before my time as an adult) but a quick drop in water didn't ruin one of those.  You had to actually lose it.  Even fire doesn't always completely ruin paper books.  Today's world of digital media...if you're not careful (and more importantly proactive), a dropped, lost, or stolen laptop or spilled water, a power surge, or even a big magnet can ruin a drive and destroy years worth of photos and music.  Thumb drives holding huge amounts of data can be lost or stolen very easily.  As digital storage gets denser, we are putting more and more info onto smaller and smaller devices, which tend to be all-or-nothing when it comes to if they are functional or not.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Article in The Lowell Sun

I don't know how much longer this will be available for free, but I was in the Lowell Sun recently for my website.  Wasn't crazy about the article title, but me being the "Ambassador of Lowell" is a joke at my office, and I was warned whatever you tell the reporter can make its way into the paper, and without context! Really though, Jen Myers was a lot of fun to talk to and the article came out nicely.  A lot of people have told me they like the photo, too... it was really cold out that day and I had been outside for a good 15 mins already and my nose was running like crazy.  None of the closeup shots must've been very flattering, but the good news is none of the really far shots were chosen, either ;-)

'Ambassador of Lowell' touts Mill City online

New Album: Winter '09-'10

Nothing new here at all, just took some pictures around my house while we were in the middle of a deep freeze. Historically, the canals weren't allowed to freeze over, but as they are less mission critical today, they do. I still would never walk on them, even though you could get some unique perspectives that way. Not only must the ice be of uneven thickness from all the places where it moves quickly, I've seen them lower the water level in the canals underneath the ice, then the ice collapses into the empty canal bed a few feet below.

So...this gets me caught up. Exciting!

Winter '09-'10

New album: Low Water, November '09

I'm probably just still excited to have a new tool to send data through the internet's tubes, but after this album and another very small one, I'm up to date after many months!  Fun fact:  I'm a Chrome user, but Internet Explorer has an Active X control that allows you to upload far more than five pictures at once to Picasa Web.  Very nice.

Anyhow, there isn't much to say about these, but it's always bizarre to see the canals drained down.  They were down for over a week, and the best I was able to figure out is that the Guard Locks were closed.  No reason why...  This is going to be a fun album to Geotag.

A few of my favorites after the jump


New Album: Appleton warehouse demolition, Summer '09




I'm not entirely convinced that this is that fastest way to publish, but I am getting used to it and I do like a lot of the new features.  Spellcheck, for example, is nice.  Then again, maybe I should just get my own hosting and play around with the Google API stuff, because then I could do whatever I wanted.

But either way.  I've had these pictures up on Facebook since I took them and had resized them to 640x480 a long time ago...so they're not very large.  That's probably OK because the album I did last night, the photos were 4 times that size and took up 3% of my gigabyte of space, and took a very long time to upload.  Picasa Web pet peve #1: You can only upload five pictures at a time.  Pet Peve #2 is Picasa Web doesn't directly link back to my blog.

But, either way, I'll have the photos after the jump.

Friday, February 5, 2010

New album: Appleton Mill, November '09-January '10


I took these pictures from November of 2009 to January of 2010.  During this time, they were working on clearing out the old flooring from the Appleton Mill buildings on Jackson Street.


After the flooring was removed, the remainder of the load-bearing brick walls had to be braced up with steel supports while they begin re-building the interior


I'm new to both Blogger and Picasa, so I'm not sure how or if this is really going to work.  What I do like so far is that you can geotag entire albums, create thumbnails, and it also shows the image data from the camera.





Appleton Mill, November '09-January '10

Long overdue

When I started my Lowell site back in 2005, it was a carryover from a website I had developed in college at rpi.edu back in 2001. The Toronado page is a direct carryover from that. That space and the car stuff to an extent was a carryover from AOL space I had had since ... 1999 or earlier.

Well, that was over ten years ago, and the technology I was using, which was reasonable for a high school student at the time, is pretty obsolete by today's standards. And embarrassing for a technology professional. I had maintained my Lowell page where it is largely because I never expected it to get so large and difficult to write (in a fancy version of Notepad, by the way) and because of my understanding of Google PageRank and penalties for blogs. Those penalties may or may not have been real or continue to be real, but certainly, I was able to get crawled by search engines at first from the old RPI page. This blog is linked to from my current site, which won't go away.

As my Lowell stuff got less text-heavy and more photograph heavy, the technology I was using became totally wrong. I still maintain an image site is still wrong for me because most I've seen don't handle large volumes of text or narrative all that well, and Flash (which some are written in) doesn't always allow good linking to direct images - you'll notice this on many photographer's pages. Some go as far as to say Flash breaks the web. I also have never maintained I was a photographer by any means - I'm not. If the text and the images associated with it are not searchable, I feel the usefulness of my site falls dramatically.

So, with a blog, I can maintain a text-based, timestamped narrative. I also get free thumbnailing, a free comment section, and a much more friendly way of linking to other blogs.

So, as for the Lowell stuff, my goals here are:


  • Track the Hamilton Canal District progress. I've done a much better job of that on Facebook than on my website because it's just so much easier to upload images than the annoying batch-resize-and-code-html method I've been using for years.

  • Take advantage of how much space Picasa web gives you for image storage, and upload larger versions of some of my older photos.



As for anything else, I'm not really sure yet what I'm going to be doing, if anything. Like I said, we will see how this goes.

Hello, World!



I am entering the 21st century a little late here, but I think it's about time I have a blog. I'm not really promising much with it, but my manually-written website @ http://home.comcast.net/~corey.sciuto has outlasted its usefulness in a lot of ways.

So - we'll see what develops here.