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Safety with a sneer.

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Instructional signage may seem like a pretty dry subject, but scattershot evidence across the country suggests that creativity and even whimsy isn’t completely verboten. Just check this roadside admonition along Lake Avenue in Manchester, New Hampshire: It’s not the only one. A bit further down, we get this: Another block or so to the west, …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…

Getting back from the groove.

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Sometimes the most well-intentioned and carefully planned initiatives still yield unexpected and undesirable results. I deliberately didn’t put too much thought into the above sentence; I wanted it to emerge as spontaneously and organically as possible, then to judge it afterward. In hindsight, I would only change one word: sometimes. Replace it with “usually”. (But …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…

The essence of the cultural divide on both sides of the pond?

Several years ago I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of this sign outside a restaurant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Does this ironically (or at least unintentionally) reinforce snobbish European stereotypes of uncouth Americans? More planners than I can count always reference European cities when trying to find a model for the look and feel to …Read more…