Delaware Water Gap: a landmark border crossing or simply a pretty place to pay a toll?

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Within the lower 48, one the humblest of great border crossings is the Delaware Water Gap, separating Pennsylvania and New Jersey.My use of an oxymoron—“humblest” coupled with “great”—is deliberate. Because in most respects (certainly from a flatlander like me) it’s a geographic marvel, yet, outside of the surrounding region, little evidence suggests that it’s a …Read more…

Martin Guitar shows its pluck.

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The Borough of Nazareth may not register strongly to most people living outside of eastern Pennsylvania, but it does have one ace up its sleeve: it’s the headquarters for the C.F. Martin & Company, maker of the Martin Guitar since 1833. Widely distributed across the world for at least the last century, the guitars have …Read more…

In Mt. Adams, residential infill gets the old spit ‘n shine.

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Residential infill development can—and often does—fail to integrate architecturally with the neighborhood that surrounds it. And that’s okay. Far more important than adherence to a certain vernacular is the physical form of the house. When looking at the front of the home square-on, does the layout emphasize a front door, a porch, a garage, or …Read more…

GUEST POST: Monuments of the City – Part II.

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And now, in the second part of this two-part guest post, I will let the words–and the magnificent images–speak for themselves…with one exception.  I can’t help but point out the coincidence that guest writer/photographer Steve Polston chose to include a building that I, too, photographed several years ago.  The second photo that appears on this Part …Read more…

GUEST POST: Monuments of the City – Part I.

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And now a first (at least for me): a guest blog post. Two posts, actually. Steve Polston has followed my blog tirelessly over the years, and, though we have only occasionally lived in Indianapolis at the same time, he has long been generous enough to share with me his insights on landscapes, both in writing …Read more…

Time heals non-organic wounds too.  

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I’ve been hesitant to post this article, because it could easily appear like an indictment, especially considering I have not blogged about Manchester before. So, before I get too far I’ll continue with these two mitigating disclaimers: 1) what I’m observing could just as easily be on display in any other downtown, and 2) I …Read more…

Paris with parking.

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If there’s any question at this point whether the shopping conventions of the 1970s and 1980s are still viable, all you need is to type “dead” followed by the desired retail type into your preferred search engine, and let it do its thing. Suburban mall, downtown mall, strip mall, lifestyle center, factory outlet, plaza. You …Read more…

Hustling all the antiques under one roof.  

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Even metros with the most resilient of economies couldn’t salvage many of their historic buildings downtown during the 1970s, the virtually undisputed nadir of urban America. The imbroglio facing most cities wasn’t just a lack of investment—there simply wasn’t even any psychological interest. (Not surprisingly, “interest” and “investment” go hand in hand…in more ways than …Read more…

The state house makes the laws; the state takes it for granted.

I’ve observed in the pasthow, almost instinctively, we come to expect a certain degree of monumentality in major seats of government, usually the prominent display of a central building that hosts those administrative offices.  In the typical Midwestern county seat, the courthouse provides that landmark—an elaborate masonry building resting in the center of a park-like …Read more…