Exploring with James
Road trip: Atlanta to Durham and back
Published 2014-03-14 · By James Bursa
In January, I decided to visit a friend in Durham in North Carolina for a few days. I drove there from Atlanta. Here are a few highlights from the journeys there and back.
On the way there, I took the most direct route along Interstate 85, but I made some stops on the way. First stop was Greenville in South Carolina. The town’s main landmark is a waterfall spanned by a new pedestrian suspension bridge.
There’s a busy pedestrian-friendly Main Street.
The town has a mix of architectures from various eras. Here’s a panorama showing the modern city hall with an old courthouse and hotel.
My next stop was Spartanburg. The centre is mostly low historic buildings like this:
But one end of Spartanburg is dominated by a brutalist skyscraper, headquarters of the Denny’s restaurant chain.
An odd sight on the way from Spartanburg to Charlotte is this peach shaped water tower right next to the highway.
I stopped in Charlotte too, although I didn’t have enough time to explore it properly. Here’s a glimpse of downtown:
I arrived in Durham in time for a delicious dinner.
Durham seems to be in the midst of a recovery from past economic problems. The younger population is growing, tech companies are moving in (it’s part of the “Research Triangle”), and historic buildings are being reused in various ways.
This is a former tobacco plant, now mixed-use.
The tallest building in the city centre is the Hill Building. It’s an art deco tower, and some of the architects also worked on the Empire State Building previously. It’s currently being converted into a hotel.
We wondered what this unusual tower was for, and thought it would make a cool house. Turns out that it was built for training firefighters.
U.S. Route 1
On the way back, I took U.S. Route 1 for most of the journey. U.S. Routes are the system that preceded Interstates. For much of the journey, the road was just one lane in each direction, and there wasn’t much traffic. Here’s a typical view:
The road passed through many small towns. It was sunny and warm for January. Here’s one called Cheraw, just after entering South Carolina.
I managed to snap this giraffe and collection of other animal statues alongside the road! It seems to be at a concrete and pottery item manufacturer.
I stopped for a break in Columbia, the capital of South Carolina. There’s an impressive capitol building:
Here’s the view from the capitol steps. Palmetto trees dot the city, giving it a much more temperate feel than Atlanta, just 200 miles away.
See more photos from this road trip on Flickr.