I’ve had a thing for alleys since I was little. Most of my friends lived along four blocks in the old North End of Colorado Springs that were all connected by an alley through which we had a great deal of freedom to roam. Without the speeding cars on Nevada Avenue and most adults, it was a like secret passageway lined with lilacs, weeds, car carcasses and barking dogs that allowed us to move swiftly and stealthily between our respective homes to play and, later, drink our parents’ liquor and make out. There’s still an other-worldliness and anonymity about alleys that’s… yes, magical.

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19 Responses to Planet Alley: The Strange and Distant World Behind Your House

  1. jessica rae says:

    thanks for the photographs and words
    and also for creating this in a format that allows my olderish computer to display
    i am a big fan of alleys but not because they make me feel like i am on a different planet, but like i am in a real city that is less facade or people trying to create perfect or clean and more human with flaws and grime…
    i am way too interested to see where mullet hulk lives though, i would love an article with interviews (i think someone did something similar at one point, possible it was yall at newspeak? or maybe that was my imagination of strange real lives lived to a different accord) with some of the local characters that make our town more honest…..

  2. Great piece! I love taking a bike ride through the alleys of OCC. There is so much to look at.

  3. marc Huebert says:


  4. Stephanie says:

    you know…I really love this thing you do. so great to pour my morning coffee and sit down to watch and listen! these narrated photo essays are my favorite– thank you 🙂

  5. stephen says:

    Awesome story. I always felt deprived as a child because our house wasn’t on an alley. So I was really happy when I bought my first house on the westside and got to enjoy the full benefits of alley frontage (actually part of an old railroad right-of-way).

  6. Hal says:

    Great story. I live in the old north end of COS, and I have the same experience. You see the most amazing things in the alleys — junk, artwork, plants, plus amazing things in the backyards of people’s homes that you just wouldn’t expect, like a full-size tennis court that occupies the entire backyard of a small ranch house.

  7. Jeremy Van Hoy says:

    I love the alleys too, Noel! I prefer the Old North End alleys to the west side, having experienced a lot of both. I look forward to that installment!

  8. Susan says:

    What a fantastic photo essay. The neighborhood I grew up in did not have alleys, and I always was jealous of the kids who did have an alley behind their home — so exotic and mysterious. Not surprising that alleys feature so prominently in many children’s books.

  9. Matt H says:

    I planted carrots next to my garbage cans because I had extra seeds. They are doing better than what I planted in the real garden which is shaded by huge Elm trees. Hooray for alleys. Thank you to the people that have worked this soil for over 100 years.

  10. Tim says:

    Very interesting, fascinating, and captivating! Not a collection of Everyman’s beauty, but the beauty of real life, and the glory of days past. I’ve invited others to share in this glimpse of our wonderful town’s West Side! Thank you for this great photo essay!

  11. Selvig says:

    Is that your old North End alley, your current West Side alley, or some other?

  12. Nancy Wilsted says:

    Noel, you are good for C.S., and I hope the converse is also true.

  13. Noel Black says:

    Hey, thanks everybody. It was a lot of fun to put together.

    Out of respect for “Hercules”‘s privacy I’ll let you search him out, jessica.

    I’ll definitely do a followup on the North End alleys, Jeremy.

    Chris: that’s the weird little side alley that goes from behind our house out to Uintah.

  14. Eve Tilley says:

    What a teriffic thing is “The Big Something”. I am enjoying the ecclectic look into my community -sometimes even answering questions I, a native, have always been curious about. Noel has even spurred me into visiting my alleys (I live on the westside). The photographs are good in their own right.Please keep up the good work.

  15. Yes! This site is my favorite daily stop. I’m glad to see my membership dollars being used in such a great way. These pieces should be archived and saved for posterity.

  16. suesun says:

    I just now saw this, and find it strange, because I have been thinking about our Westside alleys for the past few weeks! As the boys and I pedal our bikes to the community garden and around, I have been telling them that alleys are the best places to ride and explore. We have had such great experiences this summer in our alleys. Thanks for this!

  17. suesun says:

    And the garden at 1:20 is Rich and Mary’s- our lovely neighbors and Mary is the boys’ piano teacher! Rich is the one in the pic.

  18. […] Comments suesun on Faces of Pridesuesun on Planet Alley: The Strange and Distant World Behind Your Housesuesun on Planet Alley: The Strange and Distant World Behind Your HouseJeremy Van Hoy on Planet […]

  19. Finn says:

    Hi Noel. Great! The sled is most likely for ice fishing. Plan to build one myself one day……


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