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

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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…

Measuring malls through malleability.

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Hot on the heels of my podcast is another retail rumination. By now, it’s safe to assert that the conventional enclosed shopping mall—long the paragon of middlebrow American commerce—is an eviscerated zombie, trudging onward with no clear goal, and a huge contrast compared to the heydays of the 1970s and 80s. I’d wager that up …Read more…

A chip off the old bulb.

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Seven months after the announcement, it still seems like the largest municipal bankruptcy filing (at least up to this point) is the stuff of legend—the culminating event, after successive blunders.  The apex.  Or the nadir.  No doubt those of us living here are guilty of a degree of chauvinism as we experience how it plays …Read more…

Not all interstate highways are perpetuated equal.

While transportation infrastructure has long elicited a highly politicized debate in the US, particularly in regards to government funding of alternative methods (Amtrak and rail, supporting the persistently ailing airline industry), only in recent years have the discussions migrated more heavily toward inadequacies in road and highway infrastructure.  The collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge …Read more…

MONTAGE: The Main Street of America goes Kansas.

“Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.” ~Charles Kuralt The federal government might have decommissioned U.S. Route 66 twenty-five years ago, but you don’t have to be middle-aged to recognize the name, or even to appreciate it. In fact, the Mother Road seems …Read more…

These lumps are always benign.

This blog post may be the closest I ever get to a real-time narrative. It’s not purely real-time, of course, any more than this is an online journal. But everything that this blog features occurred within the past few days, and fortunately I was able to document it photographically as I was experiencing it, including …Read more…

Lifestyle main streets.

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In this widely suburbanizing nation, it is enough that our historic urban centers must continually seek assert their viability through new methods of socioeconomic or political re-branding in order not to implode. But what about the small towns, far removed from metro areas? In many cases they imploded long ago, devoid of a raison d’être, …Read more…

Judging the appropriateness of streetlights.

A couple weeks ago when I wrote about complete streets, I tried to scrutinize the most critical components for accommodating the full spectrum of users: bike lanes, signage, handicapped ramps, sidewalks/trails (and their respective nomenclature), signals, and so forth. One infrastructural element I neglected to recognize was lighting. I also failed to acknowledge traffic calming, …Read more…