Thursday, November 17, 2016

Walking Around on My Break

Click any image to enlarge
What a surprise to see this paisley-painted signal box on Park Avenue as I walked downtown!

I had written about Union County's "Art Outside the Box" initiative and other public art in 2015 and thought this was  a continuation, but an online search turned up nothing new, Finally, I contacted a county spokesman who said there was no new art this year. The artwork is signed, so maybe the artist will come forward to collect compliments. I saw another signal box design by the same artist while I was taking a taxi home from the Stop & Shop, but I can't recall the exact location.

It was a bit of cheer in an otherwise gloomy week for me, so thanks, Pedro Baez!

After doing my errand downtown without any mishaps, I decided to walk further. A vacant lot on West Front Street reminded me of its unfinished story. First cleared for construction of 12 condos, it became a "pocket park" in 2008, cleaned up and beautified by Lucent volunteers (top photo). Later, it was supposed to become part of another project with office space and an adult day care center, but it's still a bit of green space sans benches (bottom photo).

October 2008

November 2016

The much-painted-over west wall featured a scary monster and a flamboyant tag. I recently bought a fountain pen and was trying not very enthusiastically to brush up on my cursive writing skills, but the tag made me realize that creative is better than cursive.

On West Second Street, I thought about the 148-unit development project proposed for the PNC parking lot area. It was approved in 2010, with preservation of the Titsworth-Sutphen building discussed as a goal. The building is (correction: one of very few) the only pre-Civil War structure in Plainfield.

The sign on the building was hanging down and rear windows were boarded up. I had heard about vagrants getting in recently. One hopes action on the building's relocation will happen sooner rather than later.
December 2013
November 2016

On East Second Street, I saw new black fencing installed at Municipal Parking Lot 6, with complementary fencing at the  corner of East Second and Gavett Place, where an entertainment center is planned.

Municipal Parking Lot 6

New venue on Gavett Place

Glancing up at a window, I recalled some of the many improvised window treatments I have seen around the city. This one looked like a sheet. I have also seen black contractors' bags, cardboard, contour sheets, newspapers, blankets and towels (scroll down here to see an example).

Across Gavett Place, the other part of the envisioned entertainment center is getting the final details. It has 20 apartments and commercial space along with grounds for gatherings across from the main train station.
Art Lofts I

I ran into two very interesting people on North Avenue, both with vital interest in Plainfield, and we dished for a while on city topics. It reminded me of what I used to call "journalism by walking around," because the conversations were revelatory and only needed a little more work to produce stories.

The colors on this building were brighter than I remembered. Turns out it was just re-painted. The aqua details really stood out. I was telling one person about a theater that had been on the block, in the spot that is now just a vacant lot. If you weren't here in 2010, check out these demolition images.

Back home to the six-family building that was once the home of Joseph Yates, a member of Plainfield's first council. The Oak tree out front might even date back to those days.
The current City Council will not meet again until Dec. 5, when an agenda-fixing session is scheduled. The regular meeting is Dec. 12 and on Dec. 19 there will be an agenda-fixing session for the council reorganization in January. By the way, official results of the Nov. 8 election show 11,224 votes for Rebecca Williams, currently representing Wards 2&3 at-large but starting a four-year term as the Citywide at-large representative in January. Charles McRae won the Third Ward seat with 2,544 votes to 995 for former Mayor Sharon Robinson-Briggs. The council will choose an appointee to serve in Wards 2&3 at-large until the next general election.

Hope you enjoyed coming along on my walk!


  1. Thanks for sharing Bernice! It is always great to see your posts!

  2. Nice walk, but now I'm tired! First, thank you for the "Vincent" bag -- I've already put it to good use! Second, that same signal box artist seems to have done the signal boxes at Berckman and East 2nd. Same colors, same concept except stripes/rectangles instead of paisley. I put some photos of it on my blog last Sunday. Third, I've seen those Miron Gavett and Second apartment interior photos. They look beautiful, but they're a bit pricey. Maybe they couldn't afford dollar store curtains after paying the rent!

  3. Bernice,

    You refered to the Titsworth-Sutphen building as the only pre-Civil War structure in Plainfield. Wouldn't the Drake House and the Friends Meeting House also qualify as a pre-Civil War structures as well?

    1. You are right. I have corrected it to "one of very few" pre-Civil War structures.
      see post

  4. The decorated signal boxes are a great improvement over the ones which have been plastered with, "We buy houses", advertisements. Graffiti on walls is a different matter. The town looks so much better with most of the tawdry advertising posters removed. Thanks to everyone who has contributed, and continues to contribute, to their demise. The outfit A & J is incorrigible. Take their signs down and a week later they are back up. The community will prevail, or A & J will eventually be bankrupted buying posters. In the continuing spirit of community beautification it is great to see new trees planted. It is hoped that if one is fortunate enough to receive one that the homeowner will water it. It was sad to have seen so many perish during the last 3 dry summers for lack of a daily gallon of water. Bill Kruse

  5. The Vermeule-Manning House and the Stockton House on West Front Street are also pre-Civil War houses.

  6. The old farm house on Pond Road off of Cedar Brook is pre-Revolutionary War.