There’s a lot I don’t like about Tyler. For a little town so full of Evangelical churches, the odd thing it seemed most to be missing was soul. Tyler may be the Rose Capital of the World, home to the Rose Festival and the Rose Gardens and the fancy dress-up Rose Festival, but it isn’t the roses, no matter how sweet the smell, that pretty-up the oh-so-conservative town where no out-of-state plaintiff ever wants to find itself (but that’s another story). No. What gives Tyler its character, what constitutes, in my mind, its saving grace, is one residential area near downtown where the streets are made of brick. Worn, deep red bricks, slick after the rain, bumpy to drive along, beautiful. Tyler named those 29 blocks of brick a historic district and is determined to protect them, which makes my heart smile. There’s an article about the almost 14 miles of brick streets, here.
The small, tree-shaded neighborhoods blessed with the brick streets give another gift to the town’s character. The homes in this neighborhood feature wide and deep lawns of St. Augustine grass that provide the perfect backdrop for explosions of pink and white and red azaleas that every March burst forth their blossoms in an effort to make their brick streets proud. Teenage girls dressed in pastel antebellum skirts carry parasols and pose for photos during the Azalea Trail each year, but the Southern Belles are outdone by the beauty that nature plus those brick streets provide.
A few blocks away the asphalt paving threatens to overtake, with its easier and cheaper maintenance beckoning tax-conscious Texans. If you don’t know where to look, you could easily thing the whole town is that same, conventional, asphalt paved, suburban subdivision, soulless place. But drive near downtown, feel the bumps of the bricks, and luxuriate in those few blocks where brick has created character that prove beauty can be found anywhere.