Monthly Archives: September 2012

A sign for the ages or a sign of the times?

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A few years ago, I surveyed storefronts across the downtown of Cambridge, Massachusetts, interpreting their various placard signs as a proxy for the evolution of a city whose demographics and character have changed significantly over the years.  As Cambridge has morphing from a tired, intermittently gritty bohemian college town into an upscale tourist destination, the …Read more…

Street slimming.

My latest post went up last night on UrbanIndy.com.  The issue it features is fairly parochial: a minor collector street on the east side of Indianapolis is far wider than it needs to be.  Ritter Avenue, barely four miles long in its entirety, offers a reasonable accommodation for a segment south of East 10th Street, …Read more…

One road—two bodies politic.

Inevitably, communities evolve to reflect the personalities of their inhabitants.  Such an assertion may come across as glib, and it probably is, but it’s far better than the opposite—when a character of its community seems at odds with its constituents’ goals.  A fundamental goal of an effective representative democracy is that local governments allow people …Read more…

MONTAGE: Connecting the dots with used car lots.

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Just last night my latest article posted on Urban Indy, and apparently it also earned a mention on Streetsblog.  I’m not going to double-post, so allow me to paraphrase here. An often-overlooked opportunity for infill development is a ubiquitous land use across disinvested inner cities: the mom-and-pop, unlicensed used car dealership.  We’ve all seen them …Read more…

Stripping the bark.

I hate to write on the same topic for two consecutive blog posts, and I have covered plenty of ground with retail in the past, including the often-maligned strip mall.  But this photo opportunity was too good to pass up, and it the construction in progress probably won’t look like this for much longer.  From …Read more…

Big boxes: keeping all the ducks in a row.

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I have chronicled the tireless migration of retail across metropolitan landscapes several times in the past; it formed the central topic of one of my earliest blog posts.  Unfortunately, most of my posts have focused on the blight left by outdated retail typologies: the dead malls, pockmarked parking lots, blighted strip malls, or (at the …Read more…

Photo upgrades.

I routinely snap photos of a landscape with the expectation that I will eventually transform it into a blog topic.  Many times these photographs are spontaneous and lack much foresight.  Because, until recently, I was in Afghanistan living under somewhat challenging conditions, I bought a reasonably cheap but durable camera.  Sometimes the photos I take …Read more…