Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Little boxes, all made out of ticky-tacky

Creeping ever closer
London, ON
July 2014
Thematic. Dirty. Here.
A few years ago, Walmart came to the empty northwest corner of the city and built one of its massive, cookie-cutter stores in the middle of a parking lot large enough for aliens to see from space. Walking there was not recommended, largely because of the distance, as well as the decidedly pedestrian-unfriendly nature of this suburban/exurban landscape.

It didn't take long for the wizards of Benton, AR to like the numbers they saw on their spreadsheets, and after a couple of years the store was expanded into a full-blown Supercenter. Because lord knows we can't live without our badly made home appliances and cheap pink plastic lawn flamingoes. Other big box stores sprouted up around the Borg-like retailer, and texting, frapuccino-drinking suburbanites happily drove here in their SUVs and wore their credit and debit cards down with reckless abandon.

That it was miles from nowhere didn't seem to deter them. Driving culture was and is alive and well in this burg. Yet a funny thing has started to happen in the once-ignored hinterlands that separated this retail megalopolis - officially known as a "power corner" - from the rest of the city. Essentially, the city has begun to fill in the gaps. That miles-from-nowhere thing is slowly starting to crumble as developers gradually chew through the bush and make their presence known.

Last week, after meeting a friend for tea at a certain American chain coffee shop within the border of this heathen-ish retail complex, I decided to walk home. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking, as the landscape was as pedestrian-hostile as it had always been - zero trees, adjacent high-speed traffic, and a long, unbroken streetscape that clearly didn't have much patience for bipeds - but it was a nice, sunny day, and I figured the exercise would be good for my body and soul.

And as I walked on that desolate stretch of Fanshawe Park Road West, I noticed the subdivision creeping up on the horizon, and the vast stretch of once-wild fields that had now been bulldozed into submission. The developers were clearly here, and it took a walk for me to realize it.

So I snapped a picture - with my iPad, of all things - because this land probably won't look like this for too much longer. Unless the dirt is bagged, mulched, sold by the pound and trucked home in the back of the aforementioned SUV from the box box store just to the right of this scene, there isn't much room for it in today's suburban environment.

Funny enough, I'll miss the place when it's all built over.

Your turn: What's being built near you?


sisterAE said...

Walmart helped kill what was left of the small Midwestern town I grew up in. For what it's worth, Arkansas is AR, not AK.

Carmi Levy said...

Thanks for catching that! I've fixed it.