Feb. 25, 2009
We went downtown today to ride the new trolley and see 2 movies at the
Science Museum's IMAX Theater.

The trolley at it's stop in front of the Food Court - pic taken from the Science Museum window.

Close-up view. Ride is free and it is Valley Metro-operated weekdays only. The city matched government grants to help raise the $1 million required to buy the four trolleys from manufacturer Double K of Wisconsin. The city taxpayers no-choice portion was about $200,000

Driver's seat and controls on trolley.
Estimated annual operating costs will be about $260,000. The city and two partners, Carilion Clinic and Downtown Roanoke, Inc., will shoulder about $85,000 of those annual costs with grants covering the rest.

Sitting on the bench across the back looking forward. Interior is all wood.

Another forward view. It's very pretty inside!

We rode it round trip from the Food Court and back again.

>>At the Science Museum<<

Lesson 1: How NOT to pick up a horseshoe crab! - as I was informed by a museum worker after "mishandling" this poor guy.

Lesson 2: The CORRECT way to pick them up! We had these at one of our beaches when we were kids and picked them up the "wrong" way all the time!

It's mouth is in the middle. It cannot bite you. Pretty gruesome looking just the same. (Inside I was going "YUKKKK!!!" )

The Neon Man, a Roanoke business, display is set up on the upper floor once occupied by the art museum.

Neon is still popular in Roanoke. It's in the newly refurbished as well as old buildings and a favorite for signs. Here we saw a video on their making and operation. It was informative and interesting!

An old time neon sign.

Meanwhile - the City Counsel saw fit to remove all the neon lighting from the Food Court building which has taken away it's "character" and turned it into a "plain old food court" - blah!

*See my pics of the Food Court before and after!

**Special Addition**

Changes in 2009

While we are visiting Roanoke on my blog, here's a few changes that have taken place downtown which might be of interest to those familiar with our area.

View from the Science Museum window - straight ahead where you see the orange awnings is the former Books, Strings and Things building now housing 220 Market, a restaurant with outdoor seating currently shielded by plastic.

The new Social Security Administration Building is going up on the property of the former Jefferson Lodge next to the Main Library Downtown on Franklin Rd.

The old Jefferson Lodge Motel sign.

SOLD: Southern Pawn has been an icon downtown for 102 years prior to closing it's doors in May 2007 after the death of it's 58 yr old owner, Ira Katz. This pic was taken back in December 2006 when it was still open.

First building from the left is the former Southern Pawn shop as of Feb. 25, 2009. It was a surprise to find it's neon sign and the store name removed! Previously, Subway misinformed me they would be moving into this building. They're not.

A peek inside the former Southern Pawn

SOLD: The historic Agnew Seed store on Market Street changed hands for the first time in 100 years, going to the highest bidder in March 2009, Tina & Kirk Miller for $551.250. They plan to relocate their downtown store Walkabout Outfitter into the space. This picture was taken in Dec. 2006 - when the awnings were still yellow!

The store in February 2009. Owner Kent Agnew was found dead inside the store in July 2008. Unable to continue running the business, his wife sold it. The seed shop was founded in 1897 and it's Market Street building was erected in 1907.

When did the City replace the yellow awnings with blue ones??

SOLD: The Campbell Mart which for 90 years, was home to Woolworth's whose doors closed in 1993. I am sure my kids will remember visiting us at our new house in Roanoke back in 1992 and going downtown to have lunch at the Lunch Counter in Woolworth's - a kick back to MY childhood days!

It most recently operated as the Campbell Mart, but has been closed and boarded up for several years.
Roanoke businessman Bill Elliot has purchased the 36,000-square-foot building on Campbell Ave. His plans have not yet been finalized as to what he will operate at this location.

SOLD: this year also is the Boxley Building - straight ahead on the right. It was built and owned by W.W. Boxley in 1921, quarry owner, developer and Mayor of Roanoke.

SOLD: Last of all, a sad good-bye to "Chico" David Estrada, a former Brooklyn, New Yorker, who sold his City Market Bldg Food Court business to Tavern on the Market owner Roger Lamm. Chico's Big Lick Pizza operated for 20 years at this location.

However, food vendors were thrown into limbo after they learned their yearlong leases would expire the end of February and City officials have mandated month-to-month leases until they settle on future changes and renovation plans for the building.

Meanwhile, the pizza business will continue to operate under it's new owner with a slight name change to Big Lick Pizza Company.
But everyone says it won't be the same without Chico....

On a brighter note, above is Polly Branch's "Rainbow Children" art piece outside the newly renovated Jackson Library on 9th Street. This is one of several art works on display for 18 months around Roanoke and is one of my favorite.

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