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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…

Enhanced security and its bleak, inconvenient aftermath.

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These days, if you’re looking to fly out of Newark Liberty International (EWR) and you have no choice but to approach this widely transit-accessible airport by car, chances are strong that you’ll save big bucks by opting for one of the independent, off-site parking providers. And then, if you opt for one of those off-site …Read more…

Another defunct college campus, cleft in two.

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If I call this article my third installment in a trilogy on abandoned campuses, I guess that implies that I’m done with the subject for a while. And I am. But after exploring old campuses in small cities (or perhaps “big towns” is the better term) in Nebraska and South Dakota, it’s time to take a …Read more…

Sweeping the street, cleaning the corner.

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In an otherwise flourishing neighborhood in Jersey City, we encounter what might seem like a bit of a surprise.Boarded-up windows? Looks like blight. But notice that port-a-john in the lower right corner.Something’s getting fixed back up. As can be expected among any structure within a mile of this site, demand has only accelerated in recent …Read more…

A new spin in an old city.

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I snapped a bunch of photos of downtown Newark during my last visit earlier this spring, and while the experience will probably churn out several more substantive posts, I want to start with a small one that may soon exceed its shelf life. Back in April, a branch of the fast-casual restaurant chain Qdoba was …Read more…

Among those ritzy restaurants…a Reading Room.

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In a nondescript nook within Summit, New Jersey’s generally thriving downtown, we encounter a main street standby from days past. Yes, it’s a Christian Science Reading Room. I imagine most of us—most Americans, at least—have seen one at some point, even if quite a few probably don’t know exactly what they are. In the past, …Read more…

Kmart: Blue light specials have left them in the red.

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It’s happening again! Sears Holding Corporation (SHLD) has announced yet another wave of closures for its two flagship brands, Kmart and Sears.  This time it looks like ten Sears stores will be closing, including one in the Southland Mall in Houma, Louisiana—a mall that was already struggling when I blogged about it in 2012. I’d speculate …Read more…

Creature comforts, reinforced with concrete.

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Traveling along I-78 through northern New Jersey, about twelve miles west of Newark, drivers experience a reprieve from the endless array of New York suburbs as they speed through the Watchung Reservation.           On a map, it looks like this:But, despite the fact that it’s fundamentally a forest preserve, the infrastructure is a bit more sophisticated …Read more…