German Street in Shepherdstown, WV: where, instead of a curb at the sidewalk, there’s a fence.  And shrubs.

The prosperous little municipality of Shepherdstown, fortuitously situated along the Potomac River in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, boasts a charming three-block main street, German Street, with nothing but locally owned establishments, achieving almost perfect occupancy amidst its variegated, well-maintained 19th century buildings.  It’s an enviable arrangement, no doubt enhanced by its location in

A non-defense of the back alley, from the mean streets of suburban Dallas.

A trip to the Dallas Metroplex last fall helped acquaint me with a characteristic to Texas street subdivision design that I had never noticed before: the unusual prevalence of the back alley, even in housing built within the last 25 years.  While it’s possible this never struck me in the past because it’s a Dallas

Carryout and COVID: should the Maine Avenue Fish Market continue normal operations?

There can be no question that, at this point in the effort to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve reached a stage where national unity—if any such thing ever existed—is under strain.  Through much of March and at least the first week of April, the overwhelming majority of the country agreed that a lockdown was critical

Pedestrian fencing in the median: jerry-rigged to stop jaywalking?

Sure, despite considerable improvements in the last two decades, the American urban environment is still much more pedestrian unfriendly than that in most other developed countries. But urban advocates all too often assert this with a certitude that, if we plumb beyond the generalizations, reveals that it isn’t always fair. Or even accurate. First of

Colorful commemorations: what do painted bikes mean to the unschooled?

Nearly four months had passed—a long time for me—since my last visit to Pentagon City in Arlington County, Virginia, home to a big, well-situated, and (as malls go) prosperous mall, a booming multifamily housing sector, numerous key big-box retailers, and a variety of office complexes—all within walking distance of the none-too-pedestrian-friendly Pentagon. The area is

Steering with stanchions: keeping the corners safe in the Christmas City.

For those of us who care about this sort of thing (the precious few), it’s become increasingly obvious that bollards have become a significant element of the average streetscape. We owe some of this, no doubt, to the unfortunate reality of an escalating collective fear of terrorist attacks in the form of vehicle ramming, either

Worcester Plaza: a green oasis surrounding by “No Trespassing” signs.

We often judge a city’s economic health or malaise by the condition of the built environment—the visual evidence of concentrated investment in real property. Are the buildings new? If not, have the owners renovated recently? Do the buildings get larger and more closely packed together when approaching the city center? There’s certainly nothing wrong with