Recently, my son reminded me of something I’ve known for a long time – the city does look prettier at night.
I used to say that a lot more back when I was growing up – when there was a slight rain in the air, which caused all the lights to reflect on the streets, and the town was bathed in a neon glow in certain parts. When you went up Grand Avenue, you saw many lights flickering, moving, rotating, and calling attention to themselves, saying “Hey…….come in here. There’s something good here!”, which made you curious, so you would pull in to see what was being offered inside. If you walked about really late at night, after the bars closed, the streets were eerily quiet – to the point where you could pretty much walk down the road with no problem because no one else was around.
Now keep in mind……..this is the biggest city in Montana………which is small compared to some major metro areas. At least it’s something.
Downtown has its share of hidden treasures for those who choose to look. One of my favorites was always the skybridges – those marvelous wonders that allowed you to cross the street without actually touching the pavement. Of course, there are only like 3 or 4 of them downtown, but each one provided a perspective on the street below without the need for a plane, helicopter, or hot air balloon. Most of them were connected to parking garages for convenience of the stores they were next to. The first one I remember was the one connecting the Hart-Albin department store to the garage across the street. This store lasted for about 100 years, if memory serves, and was the grand lady of the downtown scene – this was the department store that exuded that old-world class and charm. Sadly, it’s gone now, replaced with offices or whatever else they could cram into the space.
We used to have movie theatres downtown too – mainly the Babcock, which back in the day, was one of the coolest places to watch a movie, because the place kept the old look, and cleaned it up for the modern audience – a nice touch to today’s cookie-cutter theatres. They still have the theater these days, although now it’s more for live events, like concerts and comedy acts. The memories remain though. We also had the Fox Theatre (now the Alberta Bair), and the World theatre (now some other store resides there), so the movie scene has pretty much fled downtown.
One of the places that you can really see the city in its prettiest at night is the Rimrocks – or the Rims. It’s not a long drive at all, and once you get up there on a clear night, the view is worth it. You can see all the way across the city and around back behind you as well since it’s grown over the years. We used to drive our cars out onto “Rimrock Beach”, which is now blocked off by boulders because people had this weird thought that driving themselves off the edge actually took care of their problems or made a point – neither one really helped them in the end, so sadly, that attraction is lost to us. At least you can still walk down to “the beach” to see the view.
I think once it warms up, I may go about and snap some nighttime pics to post online, so people can see what this place is like when the sun goes down. Perhaps that is a project for another day.