Archives

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

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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…

Streetscapes get a much-unneeded boost.

In recent years, communities large and small have sought new approaches to restore the vitality of their historic business districts.  By this point, virtually everyone can think of a municipality with an old downtown that really does feel like it’s the center of it all: fully occupied buildings, people milling about.  The success stories exist.  …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  Unfortunately, most of my posts have focused on the blight left by outdated retail typologies: the dead malls, pockmarked parking lots, blighted strip malls, or (at the …Read more…

Nostalgic for the future.

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These days it’s hard not to ponder some of the decisions property owners were making to downtowns at the dawn of widespread suburbanization that took place in the 1950s.  The small southern Louisiana city of Thibodaux (population 14,500) has a solid regional university (Nicholls State) a mile to the west of a fairly well-preserved historic …Read more…

Modulars get modern.

Work commitments yet again prevent me from devoting time to lengthy blog posts the way I often would like, but maybe this is a godsend for my readers. My previous post on condo(m)s in Dayton managed to arouse more interest than I’ve achieved in some time. One topic from which I have shied for the …Read more…

Drivable main streets, Part II: Concentrating the poverty.

The previous post explored one of the most unusual examples of apparent grassroots historic preservation in an essentially rural setting that has succeeded in spite of itself. St. Francisville, Louisiana has no explicit town center, yet the low vacancy levels suggest that the few scattered commercial buildings command higher than average rents for a town …Read more…

The hood is well-paved with good intentions.

As I keep my blog on life support while I remain in the Afghan theater, I hope—more or less—to alternate posts with observations on life here behind the wire with more of my conventional posts, featuring photos taken from this past summer and earlier. Today’s post has been surprisingly difficult for which to gather information, …Read more…