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Grand entries into metro areas view freeways.

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Discuss the most interesting grand freeway entries your metro areas via the freeway systems. Meaning when does it start to feel and look like you are entering a major metropolitan area. It doesn't matter even if the city you're talking about has a population of 200,000. There are points when you drive into a metro area you can really start to tell by the way the freeway greats the region.

Please keep in mind that this is tread is not meant to be a better than yours topic. It is simply a discussion topic to talk about grand entries into metro areas via freeways.

This topic came up in the North Carolina topics

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=30572

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Despite major growth over the past 15 years on the 94-west corridor in Maple Grove out towards Rogers, St. Michael, Albertville, and Monticello, you still don't feel as if you're "in the city" until the 94/494/694 split.

If you take the 494 exit, it still seems like lush, green suburb... but heading east on 94/694 you get the feeling that you're in the city.

Coming from the south, this lasts longer and tapers off more gradually. You still feel like you're in the city until about Lakeville/Burnsville although Lakeville is exploding in population.

The east you really don't end the metro feel until you get into Wisconsin over the St. Croix River... and this area is growing quite fast as well.

I'm not sure from the west. I've never come into the cities from this direction.

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You get the most amazing panoramic view of Richmond when coming up North 95 on the James River Bridge. Here's one of my moving night shots of part of the skyline from the bridge.

DSC01660.jpg

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Ok, it's hard to explain in words, so, I made a map. The green dots are where you can pretty much tell when you've entered the more developed parts of Metro Birmingham.

Bham.gif

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Another Richmonder here...

From the south via I-95, the entry into Richmond begins with the massive Chippenham (Rt 150)/Pocahontas Parkway (Rt 895) interchange. To the left is our DuPont plant and across from it on the left side of the highway is the Port of Richmond. Northward, you'll pass Philip Morris with its cigarette collage totum pole of sorts and in the distance you can see the Richmond skyline, particularly the Federal Reserve. You'll then pass by many industrial sites on both sides of the highway and a huge quarry (on the left), all the while snaking towards downtown. By the Maury St exit, there is a grand panorama of Richmond!

From the north via I-95, you'll pass through suburbia starting just before the I-95/I-295 interchange. However, the city skyline would not be in view from there, it would be after the I-95/I-195/I-64 interchange that you'll come up an incline and be able to look southward across the city. The skyline of the buildings just west of downtown can be seen after the bend where Richfood Dairy silos are located. There would be the dome of the Science Museum of Virginia, Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles headquaters, a neat ziggurat-looking apartment building, the beautiful tall steeple of St. James Episcipal Church, and towers from Virginia Commonwealth University. Come around another bend and downtown would come into view, with the new massive Philip Morris research center currently under construction, the Richmond Marriott, City Hall, and our first real skyscraper, Art Deco former Central National Bank building among the most noticable structures. However, I-95 would plunge through a path carved out below our historic Jackson Ward neighborhood with several overpasses including I-64's eastward branch (from which on ramp gives you a brief peek of our Biotechnology Park and the rest of "the back view" of downtown). Coming around another bend, Shockoe Valley comes into view along with Church Hill and other neighborhoods lining the valley, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Bridge would loom above and to the right would be downtown upon the hill.

The Downtown Expressway branches from I-95 just before crossing the James River. It flies over a part of downtown, then in a canyon through it. However, the view is best going eastbound, where just west of downtown, you'll see structures such as our Jefferson Hotel, the former John Marshall Hotel, an Art Deco masterpiece.

Coming through the city westward on I-64, the signs that you're close to Richmond would begin with the I-64/I-295 interchange. However, this route is more forested than the others, but eventually the tops of the towers can be seen in the distance. After entering the city limits, it's a short distance and downtown's north side can be seen with our new Philip Morris building dominating.

Travelling eastward by I-64 doesn't offer but one view of downtown upon crossing a railyard. Before that, it is completely suburban, as this is the most built out area of suburbia in Richmond. This begins about the I-64/Rt 288 interchange and then the gleaming strip malls of Short Pump can be seen.

By far, the best gateway into Richmond or noticing that you're coming upon Richmond is from the south. It doesn't even have to be a highway. US Route 1 has another impressive view of downtown before it runs just west of it, but a lot of people would say it goes right through. Route 1's view from north of the city is great too and one that I can never capture in a picture right. Another great entry is taking Rt 360 across the James into downtown on our oldest, and present incarnation of Richmond's first bridge across the river. I have pictures of most of these, but I'll have to dig them out.

Edit: I drove all but the eastbound I-64 route today and I want to add that it may feel as though you're coming into our metro area from I-95 northbound starting at Petersburg and the I-295 branch. Here I-95 goes from 4-lane to 6. Richmond and Petersburg's connection can be seen from this route. Also, from I-64 westbound east of the city, you can see glimpses of the skyline from about Airport Dr, but it is still more forested, this route.

Richmond in the distance from I95 northbound.

RichmondDistance.jpg

Ric95a.jpg

I-95 Southbound

RichmondSouthbound.jpg

RichmondDistance95S.jpg

Just a few.

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Coming into Charleston, it seems that it becomes apparent you're in town in a couple stages. First the highway widens and there are a couple rather busy exits to the burbs. There's a good stretch after that where there isn't much along the interstate. It then widens some more for our second-busiest exit/interchange (Ashley Phosphate Rd). You still can't really see any development, though, because they've done a good job of buffering the interstate with trees. I'd say it's when you get near the I-26/I-526 interchange that you get a more metropolitan feel. You can make out the airport the right and see some industrial buildings ahead and to the left.

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One of my favorite entries to a metro area was coming north on I-75 from Kentucky into Cincinnati. The city is a bit obscured until you come over the hill and the whole downtown area is revealed. This view is always 10 times better at night as well. I love Cincy at night.

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It has been said that Pittsburgh is "the only city that makes an entrance." It may not be the only one, but it probably does make the most sudden and impressive entrance. Anyone who has come through the Fort Pitt Tunnel will know what I mean. You are driving along the highway, then you enter the tunnel... at the other end BAM there is the skyline right in front of you.

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I think the best grand entry into the Atlanta metro area are:

I-85 southbound near the US 316 interchange in Gwinnett County. The freeway here suddenly gets really wide and the traffic congestion begins and the pace speeds up. There are these light poles that stand around this interchange that almost seems to define the beginning of the freeway zone with lighting.

I-75 southbound after the I-575 interchange in Cobb County.

I-20 on the east and west sides of Atlanta one can

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In Shreveport, when you enter the city on I-20 from the west (Texas) the freeway immediately widens to 6 lanes and it's wide and brand-new, with flyovers overhead and giant lights for the airport which is just south of the freeway. The coolest part is when the airplanes roar right over the freeway. Anyway, when the freeway widens to 6 lanes the service roads are lined with restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, etc and the heavily wooded areas just suddenly stop.

Driving in from the east it doesn't really feel BIG until you get to within 1-2 miles of downtown Shreveport and there's the skyline. The buildings stand tall and stately from that perspective, and the has a much larger feel. I will say, though, that you do start seeing the skyline about 10 miles east of downtown, and once you get within 5 miles if you look off to the west from the I-20/Airline Drive overpass you see an impressive jumble of buildings. From that angle you can see the VA Medical Center, the entire Shreveport CBD skyline, and the riverfront skyline which includes the Bossier City casino hotel towers. I drive this way every day and it always impresses me.

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Entering Hartford on I-91North you can sense you are approaching Hartford around exit 25 by the Wethersfield/Rocky Hill town line. Trees start to fill in the highway hiding some of the sprawl and soon you hit the city line and see two exit only lanes which make the highway smaller. You cant see the skyline until you have been in the city line for about a mile or two but once you see it is a great shot as there are nothing reallly ugly in front of it (like billboards and a dump when you come from the other side of I-91). Also when approaching from I-91North you travel by the former Colt Factory which is undergoing a major renovation which is present from the highway. The city's new Marriott Hotel and Convention Center can easily been seen from I-91 North

From I-91 South once you hit the Hartford city line the highway curves and brings you straight towards the downtown skyline. Great view of the skyline but if you look around you there is a local dump and the very industrialized north meadows which is full of car dealerships.

From I-84 West you can sense you are entering the city from around the East Hartford/Manchester town line. From this point you are on a hill and you can see a great view of the city skyline down below in the distance...you then travel down the hill and cant see the city for a bit but then cross over the CT River with the city right next to you

From I-84East once you hit the West Hartford Center/Park Road exit you can sense you are heading closer to the city. Soon you can see the city skyline in the distance and some factories many of which are being renovated alongside you. If you look close you can see the historic buildings of Trinity College.

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In Shreveport, when you enter the city on I-20 from the west (Texas) the freeway immediately widens to 6 lanes and it's wide and brand-new, with flyovers overhead and giant lights for the airport which is just south of the freeway. The coolest part is when the airplanes roar right over the freeway. Anyway, when the freeway widens to 6 lanes the service roads are lined with restaurants, hotels, shopping centers, etc and the heavily wooded areas just suddenly stop.

Driving in from the east it doesn't really feel BIG until you get to within 1-2 miles of downtown Shreveport and there's the skyline. The buildings stand tall and stately from that perspective, and the has a much larger feel. I will say, though, that you do start seeing the skyline about 10 miles east of downtown, and once you get within 5 miles if you look off to the west from the I-20/Airline Drive overpass you see an impressive jumble of buildings. From that angle you can see the VA Medical Center, the entire Shreveport CBD skyline, and the riverfront skyline which includes the Bossier City casino hotel towers. I drive this way every day and it always impresses me.

Great info. Would like to see that city some day.

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It has been said that Pittsburgh is "the only city that makes an entrance." It may not be the only one, but it probably does make the most sudden and impressive entrance. Anyone who has come through the Fort Pitt Tunnel will know what I mean. You are driving along the highway, then you enter the tunnel... at the other end BAM there is the skyline right in front of you.

BAM is right! I remember doing the Ft. Pitt tunnel on my first trip to Pitt and it was impressive as hell. It's been 10 years since I've seen that Grand Entrance, but I can still remember its impression like it was yesterday. That to me signals a true Grand Entrance.

The Cincy entrance coming from the south via 75 is also impressive as you turn the corner to get around that hill and wham there it is.

I've seen all the entrances you guys have been talking about here and these two are by far the best b/c of their "WOW" factor IMHO.

I'd like to add SF to the list coming down the 101 from the north (Marin County.) You get a few slight peeks of the GG bridge and the downtown from a far distance on the 101, but when you exit the tunnel around Sausalito WHAM there's the GG bridge, the downtown and many other parts of the city right there plus the bay. Another WOW factor IMHO.

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Boulder, CO has a vista that I've seen few times repeated. Driving on US 36 from Denver through the suburbs & finally through the city/county open space up a foothill. Finally, at the top of the hill you see Boulder for the first time & you see practically the entire city all at once. The view always impresses me.

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Boulder, CO has a vista that I've seen few times repeated. Driving on US 36 from Denver through the suburbs & finally through the city/county open space up a foothill. Finally, at the top of the hill you see Boulder for the first time & you see practically the entire city all at once. The view always impresses me.

The natural setting of Boulder is nice. What I hated about Boulder was driving past strip mall after strip mall after lifestyle center in order to get to it.

I liked Golden a bit better then Boulder. Although it didn't have a grand entry from a freeway.

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One of my favorite entries to a metro area was coming north on I-75 from Kentucky into Cincinnati. The city is a bit obscured until you come over the hill and the whole downtown area is revealed. This view is always 10 times better at night as well. I love Cincy at night.

I must agree; one of the most dramatic entrances into a city I've ever experienced. The skyline just hits you out of nowhere.

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This is an aerial view of I-394 at Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park/Gold Valley, just west of the Minneapolis city line.

i394tc.jpg

By this point, you know you're in the metro area as you've already been by Ridgedale mall, a few midrise buildings, and General Mills headquarters.

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The natural setting of Boulder is nice. What I hated about Boulder was driving past strip mall after strip mall after lifestyle center in order to get to it.

I liked Golden a bit better then Boulder. Although it didn't have a grand entry from a freeway.

Golden is a quaint town, I've been there once a few years ago (keep in mind I'm still exploring my new home state). Unfortunately though - Golden has the same problem, Lakewood & Wheat Ridge sprawl leading right into Golden, including a Mills mall. But I guess you're talking about US 36 & all the countless suburbs between Boulder & Denver - there is a lot of sprawl along the way to get to Boulder. Otherwise, 28th St is almost a typical suburban strip, except it is actually safe & popular to ride bikes on.

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The Ft Pitt Tunnel entrance is practically unbeatable in this regard. Why else would Bon Jovi show a glimpse of it in the video for Wanted Dead or Alive?

My town is alright on the entrance front I guess. Being riverside the downtown is set lower than the surrounding area so it gives the slight impression of being hidden.

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The Ft Pitt Tunnel entrance is practically unbeatable in this regard. Why else would Bon Jovi show a glimpse of it in the video for Wanted Dead or Alive?

Also Led Zeppelin in the song remains the same.

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I may be biased, but river cities seem to have distinct advantages at creating grand entrances, especially where the river has posed a block to development (like the Mississippi, Columbia, and Ohio Rivers).

The entry on I-40 into Memphis from Arkansas is hard to beat. Arkansas, immediately across from downtown Memphis, is vast acres of farmland. Suddenly, the "M" bridge appears, and beyond that the Memphis skyline, complete with the pyramid, Mud Island, and the iconic neon "Memphis" and guitar sign. It's striking and quite amazing to move from rural-appearing farmland to a dense urban core in a matter of seconds.

I know St. Louis and Baton Rouge also have similar entrances coming across the Mississippi River.

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^ You're right about that - crossing the Mississippi River into St Louis is incredible.

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There's a pretty impressive entrance into Asheville, NC (Yeah, I know, it's not exactly Pittsburgh) as you head west on I-240 through the Beaucatcher Cut. You're driving by strip malls, wal-marts, and 1960s motor lodges, then through the cut, and bam, you're in the middle of downtown.

The effect would have been even better if they had stuck with the idea to build the cut as a tunnel in the late 1970s. The cut plan won out not because it was cheaper (it was more expensive than the tunnel) but because it made future widening less expensive, and maintenence would be less costly.

I secretly harbor a hope that decades from now, people will realize how hideously ugly this cut is, and somehow rebuild the mountain (all 279 feet of it that were blasted away to make the highway.) Maybe they could build a structure of some sort in the cut and cover it with dirt to match the original contour. Talk about a "green" building! ha ha. I'm just waiting on the two billion dollars needed to make it happen.

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I think the best grand entry into the Atlanta metro area are:

I-85 southbound near the US 316 interchange in Gwinnett County. The freeway here suddenly gets really wide and the traffic congestion begins and the pace speeds up. There are these light poles that stand around this interchange that almost seems to define the beginning of the freeway zone with lighting.

I-75 southbound after the I-575 interchange in Cobb County.

I-20 on the east and west sides of Atlanta one can

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