Anecdote: Those Tiny Details

Martin Street

Looking west down Martin Street

I was walking down Fayetteville Street recently on a gorgeous Spring afternoon. On this particular day, a Saturday with no major events taking place, people were wandering the sidewalks enjoying the same comfortable weather. I’ve done the walk thousands of times but it was when I noticed a small, new detail that refreshed my perspective and sense of where I was just a tiny, little bit more.

I was crossing Martin Street and to my right, way in the distance, I could see the newly placed dome of the large Catholic church being built to the west of downtown. For a quick second, I had a new perspective of where downtown was located in relation to other areas of my city.

This has nothing to do with the church itself, I’m not a very religious person. It’s the idea of being able to view, in the distance, other parts of our city that gave me a sense of place in relation to other places in Raleigh.

I want to think this feeling is an aspect of the term “sense of place.” (or at least that’s how I interpret it)

The same could be said of the towers in North Hills as you cross Dawson Street. When walking, I always look north up Dawson and can see where North Hills is located.

On Peace Street, you can see the apartments at Cameron Village.

There may be more examples of this but I thought it was cool to kind of reflect on what downtown is also a part of. We follow what is happening in downtown but while out walking, it is nice to see (literally) the city we’re a part of taking shape around us.

I feel like these are little details that make it special to be in downtown Raleigh.

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  1. Leo, great shot. There should be some very nice views (including the new catholic Church) from “The Dillon” project.

  2. Great observations. I love Raleigh, but one side-effect of living in a hilly city with so many trees (and buildings hidden by trees) is that I’ve always tended to judge spatial relationships between different parts of the city based on roads, and our winding roads make that very misleading.

  3. One of the guiding tenets of the Above the Oaks idea for 5 observation towers around the downtown periphery …

    “each tower and park has the potential to become a focal point for each neighborhood. In addition, I believe that the system as a whole has the potential to bridge gaps and perceived boundaries between neighborhoods. On some level, being able to get above the tree line and associate various parts of the city to your personal experiences would develop a more civic-mindedness and a greater sense of community and connection to the city as a whole. Something that is quite a bit harder to experience when driving by at 35 mph.” – See more at:

  4. “Above The Oaks” (5) towers are a great idea!! Whay would we wait for this, implement this today. Keep in mind, they need to be tasteful, blend in with the skyline (but one of the five, NEEDS to be our primary symbol, similar to “Space Needle”.
    Money should be raised today to fund all (5) towers (all (5) can be corporate sponsored)!!
    We wait much to long to implement great ideas

  5. Very interesting shot Leo. That said, I’d rather be looking at something other than a pre-fab dome.

  6. Great pic and thoughts on ‘sense of place’ or ‘sense of location’ . Being that Raleigh doesn’t have mountains or large bridges spanning rivers, our buildings are our landmarks. Driving from East Raleigh there are certain points that you can get glimpses of Downtown, but then disappear until you were much closer. I was always fascinated these views.

  7. Leo, very cool view of the dome. It’s rare to have a street level view of an iconic structure in the city. Thanks.

    The new cathedral is massive. Can’t wait to take peak inside when completed.

  8. Daniel , Sorry for such a long delay in posting concerning your post ! I have not heard anything concerning Shaw’s situation but the baseball talk is still going on with several
    city leaders ! Still , “fingers crossed” !

  9. This picture led to a string of thoughts that culminated in my lamenting the lack of much “proper” street grid in this city. It would be nice to be able to walk the less than two miles from say the Capitol to the cathedral, especially for visitors, but the walkable options are few and not obvious….its barely connected to downtown. The same problem, of course, exists for the future Dix Park so perhaps any reconfiguring that gets done for Dix access, puts this very beautiful structure within a stroll for residents and visitors alike.

  10. Thanks for sharing your view of the dome! The views around the city have been amazing. For the record, (commenter John) it isn’t a pre-fab dome. It was built on the ground and lifted as a whole.

  11. Hopefully Mr. Kane’s Tower will fill in the gap between The Wells Fargo Tower / PNC Tower from the Boylan Ave. Bridge view !

  12. I noticed this a few weeks ago, too! It stopped me in my tracks! My boyfriend had to ask if I was ok. I was like: LOOK! Its a vista! :-)

  13. @Arthur “You can LITERALLY…. cruuuuuise the vistas!” Sorry, your comment just made me think of 70s Show

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