In what is a first for American Dirt—and what I hope not to become a regular occurrence—I offer a tribute to a fellow urbanist and friend. Longtime employee of Philadelphia City Planning Commission and then Philadelphia Streets Department, Anthony Santaniello passed away on October 21st. Anthony wasn’t just a casual follower of the work on
It’s hard to imagine any American town of a certain size—small enough that most would still consider it just a town, but big enough that it probably fits the political classification of a city—that doesn’t have, or at least had, an old storefront movie theater as part of its main street. Everyone knows the type:
Among transportation planners, it is almost universally acknowledged that two-way streets are healthier for downtown vitality than one-way streets. Storefronts on two-way streets tend to command higher lease rates, indicating that demand among prospective tenants is greater than a similar storefront that fronts a one-way street. It’s not because one-way streets get less traffic; in
My home city of Indianapolis is not, in most respects, a city of great topographic variation. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has either spent time in Indiana or who forms conclusions about the Hoosier State from its representation in popular culture. It’s a state of primarily fertile land. Corn. Soybeans.
It’s been a few years since I’ve conceived a blog article on a subject that’s genuinely spooky, but it’s more due to lack of expertise than lack of interest. I’m interested in folk history of the paranormal as well as efforts to instill semi-scientific legitimacy to the practice (which is also, much of the time,
Where I grew up in the Midwest, most county seats enjoy an almost overbearingly consistent urban form at their historic core. With few exceptions, they feature the archetypal courthouse square. The four blocks fronting this courthouse—the four sides of the square—serve as the commercial core, with a variety of different sizes of 19th century buildings:
The subject of this article should win some sort of award for the longest one in the making, but, twelve years later, it has culminated in a major accomplishment: a certain landmark building now has an article permanently inscribed in the Digital Encyclopedia of Indianapolis, courtesy of yours truly. The structure is the former First
After seventy years of steady and often astronomical growth—from 1940 to 2010—suburban Fairfax County Virginia finally slowed in the 2010s to a more modest pace. It had no choice. This county opposite the Potomac River from Washington DC is developed across about 75% of its 390-square-mile land area. Even more impressive is that isn’t even
Party walls in college towns: campus culture can shift building form, punching holes or tearing them down.
I haven’t contemplated on party walls in quite some time, but it used to be a subject that vexed me. It’s a tricky one, because there’s no universally understood term for what I’m describing here, which makes it harder to pin down. Is there a better label than “party wall”? Simply put, the old commercial
As the year winds down, I intend to avoid any aphorisms or wisdom accrued over the past year—far too cliché. New Years Day is, after all, a capricious imposition of significance to a 24-hour period that otherwise if fundamentally like any other. Just an arbitrarily agreed-upon point on the elliptical orbit. Why impart words of