BRASA) conference in New Orleans.
As part of this new-found free time, I took the scenic route.
They've been running the Crescent for nearly a century, daily trips from New York City down to New Orleans. I picked it up at Union Station in Washington, D.C., same as my grandmother used to.
The Crescent ran through some of the poorest parts of the country, still does I would imagine. In the pre-Amtrak days, it was painted a bright kelly green, a Gatsbyian green light at the end of the dock, designed to bring hope twice daily -- once northbound, once southbound -- to the communities it passed through. Better times were on the way, it supposedly declared, although I doubt if those too truly arrived.
As we went through Alabama, I had breakfast with an 80-year-old community organizer from D.C. who knew Dr. King from the days when he delivered sermons at local churches, before "I Have a Dream" (which she attended). She got off in Meridian, Mississippi.
26 hour later, I was here. Continuing service to Chicago on the City of New Orleans and Los Angeles on the Sunset Ltd, but not today, not this trip.
* * *
"Where is the corridor? To find it one must drive far from the interstate highway cloverlead, away from Main Street and Second Street; one drives downhill, for the corridor follows the gentle gradients of river valleys, or to the rundown part of town, for the corridor no longer enriches the structures struggled along it. In the city, one drives away from tall glass-skinned office towers to the grimy factories still watched by thrusting red-brick smoke stacks. In the suburb, one drives along the old parkway, along the former streetcar route leading to the commuter station. In the small town, one drives toward the grain elevator, the coal trestle, the creek bed. In the country one drives toward the line of telegraph poles. Always one drives toward the railroad right-of-way, the energizing spine of the corridor."
--John R. Stilgoe, Metropolitan Corridor