Certain Characteristics Here Distinguish City from Others [Durham Sun, date unknown. Late 1950s/Early 1960s most likely]
by Bill Strawn
Durham has certain characteristics which give the City individuality and distinguish it from most other major North Carolina cities.
What other Tarheel City can boast of anything approximating Duke University and Durham's tobacco plants? What other city can match the medical facilities of Duke, Watts, Lincoln, McPherson, and the Veterans Hospitals?
The pleasant aroma of tobacco is another noteworthy feature of Durham. Visitors often comment favorably on the odor, but many long-time Durham residents no longer notice it.
Durham is different from most other big North Carolina cities in another respect. Many of the City's civic and business leaders take two hours or longer for lunch.
Consciously or unconsciously, many community leaders adhere to the medical adage that a leisurely meal is a digestive aid and an ulcer preventive.
Another Durham feature which comes as an unexpected and pleasant surprise to out-of-town visitors is the absence of parking meters.
Speaking of meters suggests another way in which Durham isn't a typical Tarheel city. Pedestrians in large numbers will cross busy downtown streets at almost any point, with the number of vehicles and not traffic signals determining when they dash across.
Durham residents have been known to remark that it's safer to cross busy downtown streets outside pedestrian crossing lanes than it is to use the lanes. The fact that the traffic accident rate involving pedestrians in the central business area is lower than in some other cities seems to support this theory.
A City Councilman recently stated that Durham "has educated its people to be jaywalkers." He wasn't carping; not at all. In fact, his tone implied admirations for the fleetness of foot of Durham pedestrians.
IT'S A DURHAM CUSTOM - Pedestrian crossing of busy downtown streets without guidance from traffic lights as the group above is doing on Main Street is a common practice which makes Durham unique among big North Carolina cities. The agility of local pedestrians recently caused City Council members to pay informal tribute to their ability to traverse streets with few accidents. As a matter of fact, some contend Jaywalking in the middle of the block is safer than crossing with the light at a corner where automobile drivers customarily ignore pedestrian rights-of-way.