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95 articles

Wisconsin Avenue, a tony street, has a row of trashy homes. What gives?

By and large, what people refer to as Northwest DC—especially the area west of Rock Creek Park—has never faced the problems of disinvestment and depopulation that plagued much of the capital city in the 1970s and 80s.  Even at that point when Washington DC was “the murder capital of America” (as it was for a

Street sweeping: the cumulative effects of neglect aren’t easily swept away.

In 2024, it’s a rare moment when Washington DC is competently providing a municipal service we should all expect…and yet somehow, in this case, it’s disappointing.  I recognize that this is really my problem: my intent with this article was to say, “Here what a road looks like without street sweeping for an entire year”. 

Hopscotching: supermarkets locate and re-locate. Why can’t gyms?

My latest article is on Urban Indy. It represents a sort of sequel to an article I wrote about 18 months earlier, where I followed a single Kroger supermarket on the south side of Indianapolis as it kept changing locations–four separate places in about twenty years, all new construction. And none of those locations were

Westwood Kmart: the company closes another. And then there were two.

All too frequently, what I expect to be a “small” subject ends up blowing out of proportion.  For example, the last two articles took significantly more time and effort than I expected.  The research bore fruit, and I struggled to constrain my analysis to a mere 1,500 words.  Now I’ve finally found a subject that

Bel Air and phantom storefronts: hiding the vacancy with little gems.

First-time visitors to the town of Bel Air, Maryland aren’t likely to be surprised by what they see—at this point, a well-kept small-town main street isn’t exactly a rarity—but chances are it’ll still charm them.  After all, Bel Air is a distant suburb of Baltimore – Charm City.  It’s the seat of government for Harford

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

Towamencin Shopping Village: a strip mall, all dressed up for a date, but not a single suitor. (MONTAGE)

I’ve featured more derelict malls and shopping centers than the average reader can shake a selfie stick at.  (An apt reference, since the oldest chroniclers of struggling retail—the sites and—haven’t received updates since the popularization of the selfie stick.  But they were great sites when I first started blogging!)  As far as depressed

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