ArticleID: 85
Date: 6/3/2000
Written By: Captain Jackson

by Captain Jackson

Like most cities positioned along the 94 corridor, the large malls and fast food establishments almost always seem to be right off the expressway. Jackson is no different. Look at it from the outsider`s point of view.

Imagine for a moment you are a traveling salesman. You have a few customers in Jackson you call on each week. You know which exit to take and the shortest distance to their business. If you buy your customer lunch, you always take him to the closest greasy spoon. You may have been calling on them for years, yet when driving through town, 99% of the time you travel the Business-94 loop around the downtown district.

Kathleen Eriksen, Projects Manager of the Downtown Development Authority, once remarked to me, "If we could only get people down here..." Down here, indeed. But unless you enjoy paying your bills, taxes, etc., in person, you`re probably like 90% of Jackson residents who have lived here for years have avoided the downtown district like the plague. Too bad for them. And, for a long time, myself as well.

In the local newspaper we hear of the parking problems. On radio and television we learn about new construction. This scares people from wanting to travel to the Emerald City which lies within the loop. That`s right, THE LOOP. Most cities have at least one. Another term is BY-PASS. In Jackson, it`s what happens when you drive down Michigan Avenue from either direction. You enter a one way street and suddenly find yourself well past the Magic of Downtown Jackson.

In reality, there`s plenty of parking. If you don`t find it on the street, try the many city parking lots. And the construction is limited to Kuhls parking lot and Pearl Street (this year it has to be torn up to replace the last original water junction). Believe me, the inconvenience is less than that of finding a good parking spot at a "Corridor" mall on any Sunday.

But the last thing you need in Emerald City is a car. No matter what the weather, the best way to enjoy Downtown Jackson is on foot. And on foot there are so many things to do.

No matter where in Emerald City you may be, you are no more than a 10 minute walk from any destination. And anything you can find at the malls, you can find Downtown. And, guess what---usually at a lower price! Not to mention City Hall, The Library, The Post Office, Banks, Lawyers and many Doctors.

Oh, and no trip Downtown would be complete without lunch. You can`t walk a block without passing one of the many restaurants---with and without alcohol.

And, to top off your afternoon in Emerald City, there is The Michigan Theatre on Mechanic Street. This is one of the old movie houses---nothing like the ones you"d visit at the malls. Built 70 years ago, the building alone is worth the visit with its` many beautiful accouterments. And to see a show there, either a film or live performance, is worth the trip alone (for more information, call (517) 783-0811 or check out their website

Another wonderful hidden treasure is The Crouch Senior Center on Cortland Street. Even if you are not of the required 60 year age to participate in the activities, there are plenty of ways you can still joint in the fun! The center is always looking for new activities and volunteers. It`s the perfect way to contribute to a wonderful cause (for more information, call (517) 788-4364).

In The Emerald City there is no Dorothy, no Wizard, no scarecrow. But, if you`re lucky, you might just run across a little dog named Toto.

Copyright 2000, CFC

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