Friday, July 30, 2010

Leaving Palyra this morning it was 63 degrees. Perfect weather for cycling. The small town has a skyline with 3 historic church steeples in a 3 block area. Not far from the Erie Canal, the towpath starts just north of the downtown area. The canal system is over 500 miles long in upstate New York and because it brought commerce back and forth from the Great Lakes to the Atlantic, New York became known as the "Empire State". Leading the population of the country in the 19th century, it also had the largest city in the country,-New York. Over 25% of Lincoln's inaugural train ride was spent in New York and he had garnered key support from this state.

I can tell I am in the east as the old farm house architecture sometimes varies from Victorian to Italianate to Federalist in style. The buildings are older and each small town I pass through also have signposts with 18th century commemorations. I also occasionally run into historic houses that list them as key stops on the Underground Railroad. I must admit, I am jealous of the New York bikeways. If I am not on a 'towpath', I usually ride on a road that has a 'horse and buggy' lane as a shoulder. (even in a crowded areas)

Entering Syracuse was very easy on bicycle and the approach did not have the miles of suburban exchanges that usually plague midsize cities. The countryside comes very close to town and I kept checking my map to make sure I was going in the right direction. Nature seems close by when I moved into Syracuse and here Lincoln met a crowd of 10,000 people to greet him though snowstorms awaited him. Nothing to stop the people here. Lincoln's remarks at the time were openly directed at not wanting to ascend a constructed platform. Fearing all of this formality would require an hour or so speech(a common practice of the day), Lincoln declines the invitation. Instead, he is brief and focuses his words on the destiny of our country. Meanwhile, his wife is concerned that he needs to sharpen up his clothing style to get ready for a New York City visit. My stay at Armory Square in Syracuse also suggests smartening up my attire and I decide to switch out my bike jersey for a button down sleeve shirt for dinner. Syracuse taken neatly.

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