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Not a fork in the road as much as a spoon.

br subdivision 004

While it’s easy to derisively brand American suburbia as homogenous and essentially unchanging since it emerged as the preferred settlement pattern for the majority of Americans fifty years ago, we hardly need an intense study to see how much they’ve evolved since the postwar housing boom that began in the late 1940s.  In fact, this …Read more…

Brick roads don’t always lead to Oz.

While this blog post won’t win any awards for brevity (would my blog ever win such a prize?), it surely surpasses all others for the simplicity of the concept. The photo below details the sidewalk upgrade component of a traffic improvement initiative in the Southdowns neighborhood of Baton Rouge. The area represents a banner opportunity …Read more…

In an economic hell, a house is but a shell.

“Developers have to eat too.” We have tacitly organized to demonize land developers for their perceived role in wrecking metropolitan America. Their greed often supersedes concern for the environment, they cut corners in construction quality, they cater to a lowbrow design culture—and these are just the criticisms chimed by many on the left. While the …Read more…

Suburban heaven may await, but you can’t take it (all) with you.

The decentralization that has virtually turned our cities inside-out over the past 60 years continues, for the most part unabated. Throughout the country, it’s not difficult to spot the aftermath of this outward migration, in the moribund downtowns and impoverished urban neighborhoods that it left in its wake. That many central business districts are visibly …Read more…

There goes the neighborhood, Part I: Separating the Typologies.

Retreat Stalled Subdivsion Garden District 081

I have long wondered what forces were at work that spurred the transition from using the term “neighborhood” to the more contemporary “subdivision” when referring to residential communities in metropolitan environments. One could easily rattle off some widely held assumptions that more often than not distinguish the two, and I’m bold enough to assert that …Read more…

Mall rot: how they do it in Dixie.

Cortana decay 002

This blog is due for another photo montage, and while the subject this month is hardly original, it remains one of my favorite: the always fascinating dying mall. I’ve explored several examples in the past: two in Indianapolis and one outside of Detroit. But dying malls are hardly relegated to the Midwest—all across the country, …Read more…

The heart of a state, encased in stone.

Baton Rouge Street Wall 001

The average well-traveled person who looks at the remarkably uniform street walls below will likely draw a conclusion that the photo comes from Washington DC. After all, with the alabaster facades, the prosaic fenestration, and—most tellingly—the uniform height of all the structures, the photo could capture a typical avenue in the sprawling central business district …Read more…

E-flatulence.

I will likely be away from the blogosphere for a few days starting tomorrow, as I embark on a brief road trip across rural Appalachia. In anticipation of these travels (which will inevitably require me to visit a few gas stations), I offer this classic marquee in front of a station on the outskirts of …Read more…