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Hollywood Gateway: a pocket park with a preconceived plan. Will people partake?

Far be it from me to turn into a crotchety old killjoy who lambastes every pocket park I find, but I already did it once a few years ago, for a tidy but neglected little mini-playground in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since a bigger, higher-profile, and splashier (literally) play area stands just a few blocks away, my

North Fillmore in Arlington: a street whose traffic flow changes mid-block.

The expansive, oddly shaped downtown district of Arlington, Virginia (it’s a county, even though it feels like a city) features some unusual intersections, which no doubt confuse motorists and pedestrians who are unfamiliar with the area.  These intersections were nowhere near as precarious back in the day, when most of the area consisted of low-slung

Lock box: the security safeguard in a low-trust era.

The photo below captures an item so banal that I don’t think it has yet entered popular conversation, and I’m not sure it ever will.  It isn’t controversial to my knowledge, and it’s hardly conspicuous enough to arouse ire for visual blight.  Yet.  Virtually everyone understands why they exist, or if they don’t understand, it

Green-shingled roof: a DC institution lives on…in the shadow of a shiny megaplex. 

The immediate area surrounding DC’s Union Market has witnessed a remarkable surge in population, activity, and energy over the last five years.  I deliberately use the word “surge” instead of “resurgence”, because the “re-“ prefix is a misnomer; it implies that the action to which it appends (the “surge”) has happened a second time.  But

Demo cluster in Alexandria: why tear down respectable homes in a prosperous city?

Alexandria, Virginia, a place I cover frequently in this blog, is a medium sized city of considerable affluence.  Sitting directly across the river from the District of Columbia, it predates the founding of our nation’s capital by a good forty years, meaning it never intended to function as a suburb.  Neither a national capital nor

Excess parking in strip malls: is it necessary to build out enough space for Black Friday?

Urban planning, like most disciplines, endures its fair share of fads and passing fancies, many of which the advocates manage to elevate to temporary orthodoxy.  And if “temporary orthodoxy” seems like an oxymoron, it shouldn’t require a great deal of introspection to realize that many orthodoxies remain doctrinaire for about a decade.  And then they

Elmira after the flood: sewing together the tatters of a downtown.

A city the size of Elmira, New York isn’t necessarily going to have much in the way of a robust old downtown.  Its population according to the 2020 Decennial Census is a mere 26,523—nothing huge.  Virtually any major metro has at least a few surrounding suburbs of similar size that lack any true organized, historic

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