Wednesday, 23 July 2008


I was chatting with other two people at the weekend who are not native to Newcastle. One of them was saying that he hasn't got to know Newcastle yet, to understand how the different areas fit together, because he doesn't drive here. He said he only knows the places served by the Metro. (If you click through, you can see that leaves large chunks of the area unknown; that's compounded by the fact that the map is stylised and that the gold loop goes north as well as east towards the coast, amongst many other things.) The girl we were talking to agreed, said she didn't understand places until she could drive around them.

I'm the opposite. Newcastle is so full of one way systems, of streets you can't turn down, that if you rely on driving then you will miss out on the obvious links. When I first moved here, I just understood the basics (Fenham to the west, Byker and Heaton to the east, Jesmond and Gosforth to the north, Gateshead on the other side of the river) but I quickly filled in the details over the time I was here. It's only a few months since we've had a car, so if I'd relied on that, it would have taken me a loooong time to learn the geography of Newcastle.

How do you learn these things? If you live in Newcastle, how did you work out its geography? (I suppose that question only works if you're not a native) If not, what's easiest where you live?


peaceableimperatrix said...

I'm nowhere near Newcastle ;-), but I usually get a sense of a place in a car -- I have a more focused sense of direction and attention when driving. But then I flesh out my knowledge by walking around. You won't be able to notice the small shop tucked between the big office buildings, or the tiny alley with the funky folk music place, when you drive around!

SpiralSkies said...

I quite agree with the previous comment - it's knowing the nooks and crannies that make a place feel like home. Those tiny treasures are the bits that are most changeable too...

Anonymous said...

Newcastle is a North-South City with an East - West one way system. (OK the traffic planners were drunk at the time).

Scotland to the North, Pennines to the West, North Sea to the East and Gateshead and London to the South.

You can walk from one side of the Town to the other in 30 minutes. Providing you do not stop and look at the views.

The Metro Map makes as much sense geographically as the London Underground system and the Clockwork Orange in Glasgow and the Metro in France and also the Moscow one. The answer is do not rely on metro maps.

mrs k

B said...

imperatrix and jenn, exactly! and they're the finds that make life worthwhile :)

mrs k, if the town planners were drunk, that explains A LOT! what do you mean about it being a north-south city though? and what's to the north south east and west depends on your scale i suppose. i was just talking about what's immediately next to the city centre :)

i can walk down to the quayside from haymarket in 30 minutes. i may have to walk slower if i'm walking back up. that is a STEEP slope :)

and yes, that's very true about how much geographical sense the map makes; metro/underground maps often have very little to do with overground geography! newcastle's probably is one of the best in many ways. hey, do you remember the red line? I'd forgotten about it til D reminded me!

Anonymous said...

North-South City

All river crossings are North-South
in the City Area. Its an old fashioned way of looking at Newcastle-Gateshead.

Where is the City Centre? I don't know where it is and have lived on t'other side of the river nearly all my life.

I don't recall the Red Line and I am over three score years and ten (slightly overdrawn me thinks).

Central Station to Shieldfield - 30 minutes also. And its more level.

mrs k

B said...

I don't see the river crossings as anything to do with the structure of Newcastle - once you are half way across you aren't in Ncl any more, you're in Gateshead (to my mind at least; I'm not sure where the official boundaries lie).

City centre, to me, lies from the Quayside to Haymarket and from St James to the Central Motorway.

The red line used to go from Benton to Pelaw when I was at uni here in the 90s. I'd forgotten it til D reminded me.

I found a geographical map of the metro here which I thought was fascinating.