The Power of Place

I thought of Lowell and the power of “place” to speak to us through sights that are beautiful, stirring, wondrous, or calming when I read NYTimes writer Frank Bruni’s essay this morning—about visiting past homes and the importance of seeing what’s in front of us. Read his Op-Ed piece here, and get the NYT if you want more.

In his column, he writes about a certain plaza in Rome where he sees a building that resembles a large chest-of-drawers. I had a similar experience yesterday morning, walking to an 8 a.m. meeting at City Hall. At the corner of Market and Worthen streets the low sun washed a renovated building across from the Southeast Asian Restaurant. It was as if  I was seeing the building for the first time, from my angle of approach.

3 Responses to The Power of Place

  1. DickH says:

    Thanks for pointing out the Bruni column, Paul. I concur that when you live in a certain place, the surroundings become so familiar that you take them for granted and miss so much. One of the things we try to do here on this site is direct the attention of readers to places around the city that deserve a closer look. No one does this better than Tony Sampas with his incredible photos that take seemingly commonplace chunks of city scenery and transform them into works of art.

  2. Kosta says:

    I’m reading a book by Cathy Davidson called ‘Now You See it” that gives many examples of your point – A better example, about Lowell, is Pat Mogan’s comments about the historic beauty of Lowell buildings above the often “modernized’ first floor. Yes, a random look upward, a change of sunlight can reveal realities that we tend to hurry past.

  3. Marie says:

    A few years ago on a quiet Columbus Day my brother Jim and I drove around the city to visit and photograph the homes where we, our parents and grandparents, etc. lived at one time or another. We had a sense of these places through the many stories, anecdotes and family lore we’d heard over the years. With list in hand – off we went! Some of the homes are gone now but most remain… the photos generated memories and images of the Burkes on Stevens Street, the Deignans on High Street and at one time on Bridge Street, the Kirwins on Lawrence Street, Agawam Street and Moore Street, my mother’s birthplace on St. James Street, Adams Street (my first home), the Meehan home on Worthen Street where our grandmother Agnes Meehan was born (now the Greek American Legion), the flat on Wilder Street where Jimmy and I lived for awhile with our Deignan grandparents,our mother and her assorted sibs during WWII, our own Seneca Street place (it was pre-tear down) and of course Burnham Road. It was a family project well-worth doing. Years earlier I did the same with family gravestones – it now needs updating! A sense of place with roots and connections – pride and history – has kept me tethered to Lowell and Greater Lowell. I’m happy.