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…

Boundary battles over sparklers and smokes?

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We always look for the better deal first. It goes without saying. When two neighboring jurisdictions apply different regulations to a specific good or service for which great demand exists, the industry that financially depends on that good/service will gravitate toward the less stringent side of the boundary line. I’ve pointed this out before when …Read more…

Why America deserves its retail blight.

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My latest was just published in full at Urban Indy.  It focuses on a new greenfield development proposed in Greenwood, the first suburb just south of Indianapolis.  The proposal, at a site just off of I-65 at County Line Road, includes 700,000 square feet of retail in what is anticipated to function as a lifestyle center arrangement, …Read more…

Perplexed in Pawtucket.

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My latest just made it to Huffington Post.  Fundamentally it’s about two cities and how they strategically toy with the boundary between them. The industrial city of Pawtucket has a prominent border with Providence, Rhode Island’s economically mixed state capital.  Both cities have their fare share of gritty neighborhoods, but, where the two abut one another, …Read more…

Provisions for our peccadilloes.

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Virtually every top-down policy yields a bottom-up response. And is there any policy out there that isn’t to some degree top-down, at least in the nature of its implementation? This isn’t rocket science, but if we learned from the undesirable consequences elicited by well-intentioned policies, we may be far charier to legislate. But then there …Read more…

Who’s YOUR state’s prime mascot?

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When a highly localized slang term pops up in an environment far removed from its natural home, it’s inevitable that it will cause some heads to turn. And that’s exactly what happened when I passed this sign along a fairly busy stretch of highway:People who follow college basketball—and particularly those who followed it in the …Read more…

Social deviation: when tables and maps say more than our eyes.

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My previous article, on the Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel, illustrated perfectly how demographic differences can play out spatially. Kiryas Joel is an uncharacteristically high-density settlement filled with individuals who share an orthodoxy, whose high birth rate and dependence on federal aid often incurs the anger of the upper-middle class suburbs that surround it, known …Read more…