Monthly Archives: November 2009

Why pave over the past when you can just build around it?

Some places bury their development histories more discreetly than others. Demolition followed by new construction is the most effective way to relegate the built environment of the past to some weathered photographs stashed away in a vault at the state archives. At best, a historic marker may commemorate what once stood there. But it’s amazing …Read more…

Improved photos and contacts.

I have upgraded a recent post on a mural on the south side of Indianapolis with additional illustrative photos, hopefully giving a better sense of the character of the neighborhood. Comments are, as always, welcome. I want to offer my apologies for having been even more unreachable than I was aware. I am happy to …Read more…

Public art: importing both the craft and the credulousness.

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A few weeks ago I expressed my skepticism about public art’s ability to catalyze neighborhood regeneration, using the respected Mural Arts Program of Philadelphia as the case study. Known internationally as the City of Murals, both municipal and private sponsors have poured hundreds of thousands of dollars into a rich array of murals along the …Read more…

Ambiance can be bought through a few seeds.

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While I’ve borrowed other people’s pictures in the past as a basis for analysis, this may be the first time in which the revelation itself is not my own. I had been living in New Orleans for six months at the time a friend came down to visit. After spending the first night in the …Read more…

Does a sluggish economy encourage inferior design?

Say what you want about aesthetics; I’m not talking about exposed power lines today. The unfortunate development featured here has undoubtedly already faced the scorn of many urban advocates, but I don’t want to offer a critique as much as a narrative. I have obliquely featured the near-northside Indianapolis neighborhood, Fall Creek Place, multiple times …Read more…

Campuses have back yards too.

Though I had driven through the mid-southern boomtown of Nashville before in the past, this past weekend was the first time I had left the interstate to tour the city briefly. One of the first stops was the venerable, woodsy campus of VanderbiltUniversity, just a mile or so away from the city center. Much of …Read more…

Mystery kitchens.

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While few American locales outside of New Orleans are famous for their cuisine—a whole family of entrees and specialties derived from local foods—many cities boast a signature item or two. The Midwest, suffering an undeserved reputation as a culinary underperformer, has more than its share of regional specialties, some of which are more high-profile than …Read more…

Main Street camouflage.

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When visiting or even passing through small towns, it’s normal to gravitate toward the business district in order to determine what a town is “like” in the most generalizable sense.  In many cases, the preponderance of commercial activity in these towns, particularly those larger than 2,000 people, takes place at a bulwark of big box …Read more…