Where the sidewalk (investment) ends.

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As remarkable as it is to witness the revitalization of historic downtowns in cities of varying sizes throughout the country, it’s hard not to remain cynical when looking at how these transformations fit within the life cycle of American cities in general. Sure, many of our city centers command more interest and generate greater economic …Read more…

An oasis and a bean-counter.

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The climate of the American high plains may not be completely desert-like, but the similarities are uncanny: relatively little rain or moisture in the air, a temperature that plunges at night throughout the year, considerable variation between summer and winter, but fiercely hot in the former. Many of these characteristics incidentally bespeak high altitudes more …Read more…

Still on the grid…just a little looser.

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My postings have been pretty sparse lately, though it’s not for a lack of new ideas. I’ve been traveling across the middle of the country, visiting friends and some of my favorite American landscapes: the vast prairies and buttes of the high plains. Driving along unpaved roads in some of the most sparsely populated countryside …Read more…

Potty protections.

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We’ve come to expect a certain iconography at our airports: restrooms, baggage claims, handicapped access, information centers, baby-changing stations, cabs. Less common: subways, light rail, prayer rooms, and, in this day and age, a smoker refuge. Perhaps I’m revealing my East Coast bias—or at least my tendency to orient myself in terms of where I …Read more…

Safety with a sneer.

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Instructional signage may seem like a pretty dry subject, but scattershot evidence across the country suggests that creativity and even whimsy isn’t completely verboten. Just check this roadside admonition along Lake Avenue in Manchester, New Hampshire: It’s not the only one. A bit further down, we get this: Another block or so to the west, …Read more…

A suburban hand in an urban glove. But does it fit?

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On the western edge of Boston’s Back Bay Fens, a stone’s throw from Fenway Park, the Landmark Center stands prominently; as both the tallest and broadest building in the area, particularly when viewed looking eastward from across the fens, it lives up to its name.Monumental as it may be today, the massive structure didn’t always …Read more…

If a tree grows in Brooklyn, then Queens can claim an entire garden.

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When a settlement grows suddenly and rapidly, it’s common for the new development to completely overwhelm everything that preceded it: not just for the older settlement to get engulfed in the new, but for it to disappear completely. It’s happening all over the fast-growing areas of the American southwest, particularly states like Texas, where formerly rural …Read more…

Facebook finally.

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My hesitation with social media is my own problem, but probably is to the detriment of my blog. So, at long last, American Dirt finally has a Facebook page–a process seven years in the making.  As has always been the case, this is my profile/icon: I have long promoted new articles on my personal FB page, …Read more…

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