Sunday, March 28, 2010

Before Route 21

To get to Hornell from Alfred, one must venture onto Route 21, a road that has been in existence since the late 1930s and early 40s. In Hornell can be found a Walmart, Wegman's, Salvation Army, restaurants, a small movie theater, not to mention a Lowe's that was put in recently. Compared to Alfred, there is a lot going on there to lure students from their quaint dorms and monotonous school work, and all one must do to visit the exciting town of Hornell is travel a mere 18 minutes by car. On the way, one may notice several side roads that veer off from Route 21 for under a mile, then curve and rejoin the main road. From a first glance, one might assume that these roads were built after Route 21 so that residents could pull off into their driveways in slower moving traffic areas. However, these side roads connected at one point to form a main road, the "old Route 21," the original roadway to move from town to town. Route 21 was built around the same time as the Almond Dam, to provide a faster, straighter, more efficient means by which to travel. Starting in Alfred, there is Shaw Road, Whitford Road, Old Whitney Valley Road, and Old Almond Road that run adjacent to 21 on the way to Hornell.

With the exception of Almond Road, the names of these roads are connected to some of the earliest settlers of this area. And these three roads are not unique in this way. Most, if not all of the roads in the Alfred area, were named after families, or if not named after families were named after certain features. Chapel Road in Almond for example, connected to three churches in the 1800s, each with different denominations. Only one of these churches remains today.

It is interesting to look at a topographical map of Alfred to see how the roads are built dependent upon the geography. Most of the roads were placed when Alfred was first settled and haven't moved since. It's no wonder Route 21 was built. The main road was very windy because it conformed to the shape of the land. The roads were built out of necessity, not for the ease of travel. The side roads have a different look and feel than they did originally. Like on-ramps and off-ramps of the interstate highways, these side roads provide stopping points for a faster moving roadway.

In looking at ways to travel, it is interesting to also note the train station at Alfred Station. Similarly to these side roads, it was once a major means of travel, yet is no longer used for transit. Luckily, the continued use of cars for travel has kept the side roads in existence and in use.

1 comment:

  1. As a perspective from group 3 (alfred as a personal map) I am interested in the varying ways that students chose to venture out of Alfred. There are various ways to get to Hornell via Alfred, and although none are particularly complicated I have friends and roommates who can not remember the way to Wegman's no matter how many times they've made the trip in the last three years. By contrast my Father who lives in Western PA and has been to Wegmans all of 6 times in his life knows the road better than I do.
    I think it is interesting to examine the ways that we move through Alfred (and the surrounding area) based on our patterns and comfort zones, what do our experiences within different buildings and places on campus have to do with our academic pursuits and likewise, how do we interact with those spaces based upon the importance that they have to our college career?