Picking the nits when we’re stuck in a rut.

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The phrase “built environment” appears regularly in this blog, and for good reason. It’s general and all-encompassing enough that it typically summons large images, which is what it should do. The blog has an expansive scope, and only with individual articles—and the photographs that accompany them—does the real precision come into play. And through those …Read more…

A new spin in an old city.

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I snapped a bunch of photos of downtown Newark during my last visit earlier this spring, and while the experience will probably churn out several more substantive posts, I want to start with a small one that may soon exceed its shelf life. Back in April, a branch of the fast-casual restaurant chain Qdoba was …Read more…

T e d i u m: dead malls morph to artistic frontiers.

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I just learned something I wouldn’t have expected even a week ago: that someone has asked permission to feature an American Dirt photo in a vaporwave video. Not something I would have ever expected, but here it is. At first blush, it might not seem like much: nothing more than a lingering, static view of …Read more…

Taking luggage to a whole new level.

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It’s hard for me to believe that I can offer anything about the New York High Line that someone else with a better knowledge base, commitment to the city, or insider’s connections hasn’t already said. It may still rank as the country’s premier greening of formerly neglected space in the past decade—a worthy successor to …Read more…

The ugly, underutilized garage: soon a mere memory?

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Has urban America learned its last lesson on downtown parking? After forty years of declining fortunes, have we deduced that giving people cheap, abundant, convenient places to park their cars failed to save our city centers? Have we finally realized that demolishing 100-year-old buildings to form new garages and lots did not stem the vacancy …Read more…

Communion for Camrys.

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In a quiet residential area of a town that I will leave anonymous, I found this unusual marquee.I’ve certainly heard of “blessing of the animals” events, but cars? Apparently I’m not as well-traveled as I’d like to think I am. Since car-blessing seems even more quintessentially American than valet parking at a strip-mall nightclub, I …Read more…

For moribund malls, there’s redemption in restaurants.

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Amidst the prosperous expanses of suburban Philadelphia, we encounter a mall.Let’s get real here. This the eighth largest metro area in the country. Of course there’s a mall—quite a few, actually, and this blog has covered more than its fair share. This one, heretofore unexplored and located within Montgomery Township, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, is appropriately …Read more…

Still towing the line…150 years later.

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Driving southward on Pennsylvania State Route 134, one encounters a run-of-the-mill rural intersection, indicated by the streetlight in the distance of the photo below.Doesn’t look like much, does it? If you get a little closer, it turns out it’s one of the most candid indicators of what may be the country’s most culturally significant interior …Read more…

Among those ritzy restaurants…a Reading Room.

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In a nondescript nook within Summit, New Jersey’s generally thriving downtown, we encounter a main street standby from days past. Yes, it’s a Christian Science Reading Room. I imagine most of us—most Americans, at least—have seen one at some point, even if quite a few probably don’t know exactly what they are. In the past, …Read more…

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