Mall department stores: will the last one please turn the lights out?

img_6617

We’ve been hearing and witnessing for years the turbulent state of American retail. Conventional sellers of durable goods—of housewares, sporting goods, electronics, and clothes—have suffered in general, and malls have suffered in particular. But even more salient have been the struggles of the historic department stores to our malls. Scarcely a week goes by when …Read more…

Who needs Vegas for quirky chapels? The rest of the country is holding its own.

img_3405

I’d wager that the American religious landscape is currently undergoing a cataclysmic shift, but that would be disingenuous, since it suggests that the shift, with all these denominations, is something recent. It isn’t. Religious expression—or the demonstration of it among its adherents—has never really been static in this country. Throughout the twentieth century, the number …Read more…

Luring us back to the center, by whatever means necessary.

img_6622

After crossing the Thames River along Interstate 95, speeding westward past the compact, archetypically New England central business district to New London, Connecticut, a visitor will encounter an exit ramp leading directly to the city’s economically recovering downtown. Generally speaking, this should be the preferred trajectory for those of us obsessed with old town centers. …Read more…

Enhanced security and its bleak, inconvenient aftermath.

img_4736

These days, if you’re looking to fly out of Newark Liberty International (EWR) and you have no choice but to approach this widely transit-accessible airport by car, chances are strong that you’ll save big bucks by opting for one of the independent, off-site parking providers. And then, if you opt for one of those off-site …Read more…

Another defunct college campus, cleft in two.

img_6561

If I call this article my third installment in a trilogy on abandoned campuses, I guess that implies that I’m done with the subject for a while. And I am. But after exploring old campuses in small cities (or perhaps “big towns” is the better term) in Nebraska and South Dakota, it’s time to take a …Read more…

Along the road to Calvary, a bingo parlor.

img_1189

I’ve ruminated multiple times on this blog about how we spatialize ourselves through religion—a subject of great interest to me, but one of which I haven’t plumbed any great depths. And this is not the time. I’ll keep it superficial, while at least adding a little texture to the layer. And here’s that texture: a …Read more…

A new life for an old campus…where the students cannot leave.

img_5142

As I blogged about recently, the uncertainty following the closure of Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, has left a sizable portion of the town’s incorporated limits in a state of escalating neglect. While the downtown and residential districts of Blair remain tidy (if not exactly teeming with life), the small city’s most prominent institution is closed, most …Read more…

When a business hits the big time, it goes small.

img_6497-copy

Hot on the heels of my article on a mac ‘n cheese food truck that made it to the major leagues—that is, as a standalone restaurant–I have stumbled across a sign for an eatery that seems to be adopting a similar approach: Yes, macaroni and cheese is incredibly en vogue at the moment, so it should …Read more…

Back to top ↑