In the morning I had rented a Turo car because I had multiple stops on my agenda on Friday, and all of them too far away to walk, and too many of them for multiple Uber rides, which would be inefficient and likely much more expensive. I had hiked William B. Umstead State Park in the morning, then explored the wonderful outdoor art park at the North Carolina Museum of Art. I found lunch at a place selling Venezuelan arepas. Next, I wanted to park in downtown Raleigh and walk around.
Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina and I expected there would be an impressive Capitol building to look at. I saw on the map that there were several houses marked near the Capitol, so I thought I would wander around and look at those too. Focused on my GPS and on not getting into a car accident, I did not pay attention to my surroundings beyond getting safely parked. I stepped out of the car and was surprised to see this, which I had not read about before visiting:
This is the second-largest globe on the planet, and designed to scale to match Earth. It is called Daily Planet. At its widest point it is 70 feet across (21 m). Inside the globe, a 40-foot screen wraps around with three stories of lights, speakers, and projectors that blend to create a single image on the screen. In addition to film presentations, the Daily Planet Theatre also presents science experiments and educational programs inside the globe. The outside is covered in high resolution satellite photos of Earth. I did not know this when I was there, or I would have gone for a look, but it does not rest on the ground, and if you get up close you can see Antarctica underneath.
I saw a few places where this was referred to as the biggest globe on the planet. That is not true. The biggest of all is the Unisphere in New York City, built in 1963 for the World’s Fair.
I began walking toward the Capitol Building and enjoying the scenery of a new city.
After a short walk past some pretty churches, I found the Capitol Building in the center of a park and surrounded by monuments.
When the old State House burned down in 1831, plans were made for a new seat of government. Work began in 1833 and the building was completed in 1840. Most of the architectural design is patterned after features of Greek temples. Much of the labor was accomplished by enslaved people who had been rented to the state by their owners. One of those people, Friday Jones, worked on construction of the building. After the Civil War, Jones worked here as a security guard. In his seventies, Jones left Raleigh and went to work at the U.S. Capitol.
After circling the building, I was ready to go find one of the houses that had been marked on the map. My assumption was that if a house was worth noting on a map, it must be worth a visit. It was a good assumption. I was fortunate in that Raleigh has a cluster of remarkable homes very close to Capital Square that have been nicely maintained. Their proximity to each other made it easy to walk to many of them.
From the Capitol I walked a few blocks to North Carolina’s largest intact 19th Century neighborhood. It’s called Oakwood. There were many more amazing homes than the ones I took the time to photograph, but the following images give you a sense. While researching for this blog post, I discovered a website that provides a free walking tour brochure of the neighborhood that I wish I had discovered before my trip.
While walking around Raleigh, I saw that they use the same signage convention used in Durham. These brief, easy-to-spot and easy-to-read signs alert tourists that something important is related to that spot. Here is a collection of them from both cities:
I was sweltering this day due to a combination of weather and lots of exercise. With my hike in the morning, then the art park at North Carolina Museum of Art, then exploring Raleigh, my FitBit told me I had racked up over 23,000 steps so far. Many of them were not shaded.
My favourite building of the day was probably the Executive Mansion, and I swung by for a final look before I returned to the Turo car.
The first occupants, the family of Governor Daniel G. Fowle, moved in the year of 1891. Samuel Sloan and his assistant, Aldophus Gustavus Bauer, were the architects of the Queen Anne style mansion, beginning in 1883. Sloan died before the mansion was complete, and Bauer took over as head architect and completed it. A plaque at the site explains that the construction used prison labor. Building materials were also made from prison labor when possible, including the clay bricks. Some of these bricks today bear the names of the prisoners who made them and carved in their names.
I was going to use the Turo car for one more thing: Lemurs! Pedro was about to get out of his conference for the day, so I needed to head back to Durham to pick him up and show up for our date with lemurs. Stay tuned to see what that was all about.