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37 articles

Rax Roast Beef: a peek inside one of the last locations of a once-mighty 80s chain.

“Fast food with style.”  That’s the motto that I, coming of age in the late 80s and early 90s, associate the most with Rax Roast Beef.  But let’s face it: when this formerly thriving restaurant began floundering, the slogans shifted with the seasons.  Thirty years later, it’s hard to say which marketing campaign is the

Castle on a cul-de-sac: homes like this will always exist. But that doesn’t mean they’ll survive.

It’s rare that I feature two back-to-back articles on the same subject, and even rarer that the subject includes massive, opulent houses.  But these houses—each one a castle, or what we would contemporaneously (and pejoratively) call “McMansions”—are the backdrop for what ultimately is an entirely different focal point.  Over on Geist Reservoir, in the northeastern

Closed bank building, but with a twist: can it thrive with robo-tellers?

I promise—cross my heart and hope to die—that I didn’t plan this blog article in light of recent events.  A single closed bank branch is hardly cause for alarm, especially compared to what’s been happening to the entire operations of some fairly large banks these last few weeks.  And we may still be fully in

Footbridge folly: a century-old pedestrian amenity faces a decade of reckoning.

The US earns its reputation for encouraging urban auto dependency, largely by eschewing any good provisions for pedestrians and reducing far too many of its streetscapes to vehicular sewers.  Nonetheless, now and then we can come across some remarkable little pedestrian provision that surprises us.  And it doesn’t have to be in a historically pedestrian

Food trucks as an ethnic pastiche: are they the new emblem of the American dream?

For the last decade or so, it’s been not too difficult to spot a specific type of vehicle parked on the street or driveway in residential neighborhoods.  Here’s an example in a quiet lower-middle class part of Alexandria, Virginia: Yes, it’s the formerly ubiquitous (but hardly obsolete) food truck.  Before its explosion in popularity about

Summit, New Jersey: does a promenade between two buildings represent an opportunity gap?

For much of the twentieth century, it was an all-too-common occurrence: an old commercial structure in a declining downtown struggles to compete with the strip malls cropping up everywhere on the outskirts.  Over time, the old building—retail on the first floor, office or warehousing on the next two/three/four levels—becomes functionally obsolete.  It’s drafty, the plumbing

Empty airport: the consequences of a corona-driven collapse in air travel (MONTAGE).

Less than a month ago, I availed myself of a long-planned opportunity to travel from the mid-Atlantic to the Midwest, using a flight a purchased several weeks before the world’s reaction to the coronavirus pandemic had set the turbulent economic and social course for 2020.  Obviously there are others before me—people who took this risk

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