K. Burke – Week One – Block Map

When I was presented the assignment of mapping a block my imagination immediately drew me to the idea of detailing an environment with urban decay. However, safety and time did not permit me to travel to those places so I settled with driving around up north around Traverse City to a random street called Northwest Torch Lake Dr., which ran down the western shore of Torch Lake. I parked my car in an inlet of the street, folded open and plopped down a lawn chair, and observed the following:

Northwest Torch Lake Dr. is a north-south, winding road with curves at least every 500 feet or so, guided by yellow signage, in order to maintain the outlining procedure the road was performing on the curvature of the lake. The lake, Torch Lake, requires close outlining because the geographic eastern side of the road—the way in which my chair is directed—is parsed by houses sitting in front of the lake with either gravel or cement pathways leading down into their driveways by the water. In contrast, the western side of the road is all forest and uninhabited grassland. In my line of sight from where I’m sitting there are two visible houses which are quite different from one another. Although the structures, features, and accessories of both houses are quite different they both have a sign/mailbox that denotes the residence’s address and presumably the last names of the owners. The house on my left is the smaller of the two homes, closer to the water with the longer driveway marked at the beginning with the last name Dimovski emblazoned across the address sign. It’s a one-story, red house that sticks out among the dominant greens and blues of nature and water. The house has a patio, garage, and a shed as well. There is a dock extended from the yard in front of the lake, but there is nothing docked to it. On the other hand, the house to my right has a dock with a covered up boat docked to it. This house’s dock along with its nearby shed is detached from the mainland of the property which sits higher up to the road, closer to where I’m sitting. The house is marked ‘Berger’ on the address sign and is a two-story, perfectly symmetrical, white house with roman columns at the front door and a water fountain in the center of a circular, paved driveway. In that driveway sits two relatively new cars (<5 years old), one white and one black SUV, which are flanked by a looming basketball net with a glass backboard and red-white-blue basketball net.

During my observation of this area not too much activity filled my horizons. In fact, most of the activity that occurred was from the wildlife of the area—specifically, every once and while a deer or a couple of deer would make their presence known in the woods behind me and all the while copious amounts of birds sang within the copious amounts of trees that surrounded me. Only once while I was sitting there for about an hour did I see people. They were a white coupe, probably above 60 years old, running with their German shepherd dog. They both wore some spandex athletic clothing to go along with their sunglasses, hats, and earbuds. Evidently, the couple was exercising together and probably lived or were visiting somewhere around the vicinity.

Drawing some conclusions from the experience, I think it was pretty clear that the area I was studying was a wealthy place of summer lake houses. Evidence in the form of boats, sheds, newer cars, the driveway fountain, the professional quality basketball hoop, and personalized address signs suggest to me the apparent wealth of the area.


Northwest Torch Lake Dr.

One thought on “K. Burke – Week One – Block Map

  1. Nice post! I’ve been to Torch Lake before, and I actually think I might have been here before. I was at Torch Lake last summer visiting a friend, and I probably drove past these houses more than a couple times. Your description of this area in particular matches a lot of what I saw throughout the Torch lake area; there were many summer houses and subtle but evident signs of families that hailed from the upper middle class if not entirely from the upper class. There isn’t a lot of ethnic diversity either, which I definitely noticed through both my experience and yours. This time of year, it probably was pretty quiet, since I remember it being that way last year when I went up in August. It reminds me of how calm and secluded the entire Torch Lake portion of the city was, and you did a great job of illustrating that. Wildlife was very active, as I recall a deer nearly jumping up on the hood of my parked car last summer. It’s not that out of place, but definitely different from the kind of domesticated “wildlife” you get accustomed to living in a more suburban or college-town area.

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