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A little of Florence

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My wife and I recently made a brief getaway trip to visit some family in Lexington, Kentucky. From Columbus, Lexington is an easy distance: by car, it is a mere three hours and change over well-maintained stretches of interstate highway.

An oft-repeated criticism of the interstate highway system is that with all of its convenience and speed, it enables drivers to go from one end of the country to the other without seeing anything. While I appreciate the sentiment, I withhold criticism of the interstate highway system; the fact is, those drivers who want to see what's between their origin and destination are perfectly free to take whatever combination of U.S. and state routes that they like. In truth, drivers who simply look out the window along the interstate will find themselves exposed to plenty of diversions. (It's probably best if the drivers keep their eyes on the road and let their passengers handle the diversions.) I would like to share with you one such diversion from the aforementioned sojourn.

The city of Florence can be found in northern Kentucky, along I-75. Quite near an exit from the interstate highway sits Florence Mall and a water tower that always catches the attention of passers-by. An uncle of mine once explained to me how the water tower there came to be quite so distinctive. (I heard the story once, more than fifteen years ago, which might account for some minor deviation from the facts as they were presented to me. Update: The Cincinnati Enquirer ran a story about the water tower that is probably the correct version of the history.)

When the City of Florence first put the water tower in place, they painted it and wrote in large letters, FLORENCE MALL, which seems sensible enough, given its location. Not long afterward, some of the locals started to complain that their tax dollars had been used to paint an advertisement for the mall, which is, after all, a private enterprise.

City management decided that they probably should take care of it, but failed to persuade the management of the mall to pay for the paint job needed to turn FLORENCE MALL into FLORENCE. Indeed, why would a private enterprise pay to remove a free advertisement? Not wanting to spend still more tax money repainting the tower to remove the offending reference to the mall, city managers looked for economical solutions to their dilemma. Being creative folk, they hatched a plan that would stop advertising the mall and give the tower a clearly local flavor, all while using very little paint. I took a picture of this little gem on the way down so you can see the results.

Florence water tower

Created by cmcurtin
Last modified 2006-08-17 03:37 PM


Posted by donetrawk at 2004-10-13 11:33 AM
I always chuckle driving past that sign.

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