Since I can remember, my favorite time period in American history has always been the Industrial Revolution. Having always considered myself a “city girl,” I loved learning how the cities came to be. Even though I am from New England, I always found the Pilgrim-era to be dreadfully boring (colonies-shmolonies, yuck!).
I have a tendency to take things at face value so in my mind the Industrial Revolution existed as a neatly packaged inspirational anecdote summarizing the determination of the American will to grow. Of course, this was fanciful revisionist history and the more I learned (in Mr. Williams’ 10th grade IB World History class), I was able to remove the rose-colored glasses to see the hardships and poverty alongside the growth and prosperity.
Living in Mongolia, specifically, in Govi-Altai, I feel I am getting a sense of what it was like to live during a time of such growth. Just yesterday I heard that 24-hour electricity came as recently as 5 years ago to my aimag. The development here is fast and furious, in terms of construction, public works and infrastructure. There are the buildings, of course, too numerous to count. There have been improvements that make previous blog entries obsolete (manholes have been covered, streetlights are on). In a town with only two traffic lights, there were additions I didn’t know were feasible, including speed-bumps, lane dividers and signage. There is a public bus (for crying out loud!) that makes a two-mile loop, from the Education Department to the Hospital. And, it looks like my part of town is about to get a paved road and maybe even a sidewalk!
And, yet, as exciting as it all is, a part of me is mourning the loss of the blue sky that’s obscured with each new level.
Coming soon: Govi-Altai’s third 5-story building. I’m told these are apartments for sale, around 50 million tugs, or $30,000. That is considered pricey.
This one has a garage underneath.
A break from Soviet-era block-style housing, many of the newer projects have a corner chopped off. This is our new Performing Arts Center. This photo of one of our two intersections with traffic signals also shows a crew working on a streetlight and the swanky new signage (pedestrian crossing in the foreground, and the yellow square within a white square is a ‘through traffic’ symbol).
Another building that went up in the past year (start to finish). I’m told the bright colors and patterns are also a response to the Soviet-era plain, drab, uninteresting block buildings.
With a new bus, comes a new bus stop.
This project began six or seven months ago.
The “ruins” of Govi-Altai, juxtaposed with the contemporary, and indeed future, of building here.