My brother and I drove to downtown Saint Louis today to Americas Center to go to one of the roving band of trashsellers “Computer Shows” (if you’ve never been to one, it is a crowd of transients selling five-year-old software that nobody would buy five years ago and some leftover hardware at mediocre prices).
We parked in the underground Riverfront/Arch parking garage and prepared to walk the three blocks to the Center. On the way out of the garage, we were approached by a tourist who asked where the Gateway Arch was. We explained that if he walked up the hill and turned left on Memorial Drive, he would walk right past it.
He asked if we were from Saint Louis. Not from the city itself, we replied (I’m 20 miles south, my brother is about 35 miles west), but we were from not too far away, in the extended suburbs. We were told that we “were a little short on signs around there”.
Just so everyone is aware:
Neither my brother nor I are in charge of putting up signs to the Gateway Arch.
The Gateway Arch, part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, is 630 feet high. It’s the big silver thing. Right there by the river. You really can’t miss it. Unless you were born and lived your entire life in the parking garage, you had to drive right past it to get where you are.
The Arch is, however, not underground. It sticks up in the air. Outside. If you are below ground, the best way to see where it is, is to not be underground.
I don’t think a sign is going to help. If we did put up a sign, you would still have to find someone and ask them to read it to you.
Yeah, fucking tourists, I hate how they come into cities and put their money into our local economy, fuck them! I shouldn’t have to be helpful and give them simple directions just because they aren’t from the area. Since all tourists are alike I really get sick of their remarks about signage in the area.
I think I met that guy. I was standing on the corner of 51st street and 6th Ave in NYC waiting to cross the street at lunchtime when this dumbfuck tourist asked me if I could direct him to 5th ave…HELLO!!! THIS PART OF THE CITY IS A FUCKING GRID! so I promptly directed hime to walk north for a few blocks and he would see it. ok no i didn’t but I really wanted to.
Well, one of the worst tourism experiences of my life was a couple of years ago, when we spent a long time driving around New Orleans looking for the damn zoo. I mean, there it IS, on the map, “Audubon Zoo”, and we can’t find it. (And I am no slouch as a navigator, either, let me tell you. I’ve navigated the Better Half driving the bigass Chevy van towing a trailer through St. Louis on the one bridge across the river during rush hour, before they had the I-270 bridge, when all that mess of westbound I-44 was under construction, and I managed to find the correct route out of town, and I didn’t see no big helpful signs saying “THIS WAY TO KANSAS”, neither.)
We eventually stumbled across the zoo by (I kid you not) following the little red car in front of us because it looked like it knew where it was going. So we’re cruising around out in the boondocks, by the railroad tracks, on tiny little residential roads, and suddenly there’s this big park and POOF! it’s the zoo.
Well, I don’t know if this thread has been hijacked or whatever, but if you want to know the truth, I like tourists until they just simply FORGET that just because they’re on vacation, doesn’t mean we all are. I work on Michigan Avenue and I have no problem giving directions or the time, or a bus number or whatever…but MUST THEY ALL WALK IN THIS LAZY, SERPENTINE FASHION, wandering aimlessly from side to side, admiring the height of each and every building, giggling with glee while not allowing the “fast lane” walkers to get by? MUST THEY STOP RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of the sidewalk, causing me to run RIGHT into them and then laugh at how clumsy the whole thing is? MUST THEY try and cram a family of six into one cab while i’m waiting to get through the green light?
I think that natives CAN be a lot nicer to tourists, but I also think that tourists can also be a little more “aware” of their surroundings. That’s what I try to do when I travel because I hate to be seen “as a tourist”.
sorry if this sounds crabby…I’ve got a little…headache…today…ugh
When I worked at Wrigley Field, I was mostly in the Upperdeck.
I would stand at the top of the ramp under the sign for the washroom. People would walk up to me, sometimes from up the ramp where they had to walk PAST the line for the restroom and ask where it was.
For a while I had a pin with an arrow pointing up and I would just point at it.
Most people laughed at their own stupidity but some…
Awww, A city isn’t big until you have a commuter airline flying from one airport to another so you dont have to drive across town. (True! In Houston we can catch a flight from Ellinton Field in the south part of the city to Intercontinental in the north part!)
Well, hell, folks. Cut others a break, will you? Not everybody in the entire world is familiar with grid street systems. For that matter, the town where my parents live,is a grid…sort of…except where it’s not. 8th Ave crosses 9th Ave at one point. Your smart-ass directions would not help anybody navigate there.
I have come up from the subway in DC and found myself on F street - knowing that E street is only one block away, but which direction? Sure, I could walk down the block and find out - or I could ask somebody. Personally, I’ll save myself the time and energy of walking a block, potentially in the wrong direction, or I’ll disturb somebody by asking him a question that will take four seconds of his precious time to answer.
Or in the city where I used to live - (Salt Lake City) has two separate grid systems - where all the streets are neatly numbered, except for one part of town where the numbering starts over in the Avenues. So if you’re on 5th South, and you want to go to 4th Avenue…it is NOT one block over, it’s about two miles north-northeast. This is supposed to be perfectly intuitive to non-natives?
And in that same town, so perfectly laid out on the grid…4th St. South spontaneously turns into 5th St. South, just to confuse matters further.
And as for finding the Arch…well, in Seattle, you can see the Space Needle from ten miles away, but actually finding it is a whole different problem entirely. You can spend an whole day driving or walking around and getting close to it, but unless you have directions it can be pretty damned difficult to actually GET to it.
So just bear in mind that even though it may seem perfectly obvious to you, a native, sometimes things are not as clear to newcomers as we think they are.
Maybe you should volunteer your services to the city and get a cushy government job. And you could make extra dough selling bogus directions to the Washington Monument. All the tourists probably ask about that as well.
Well now, I recall having one bitch of a time trying to get back onto the damn interstate in St. Louis because of inadequate and unclear signage.
I was the “signage person” (among other things) for a summer at a campus where we hosted tons of conferences. Nearly everyone was a first-time visitor, and the permanent signage sucked. I got pretty attuned to the need for signs, their placement, visibility, etc. So trust me when I tell you that St. Louis sucked in the sign department. Okay, looking for something like an ARCH instead of an on-ramp ought to be a little more intuitive, but I get where the fella is coming from.
In recent experience, Cincinatti also sucks, at least it does while they’re doing all that construction. Signs pointing you straight into a line of orange barrels! Signs that send you off somewhere without any more signs to keep you going! Jeepers.