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
Calloway Cemetery: the once customary (but now quaint) partnering of a church with its burial grounds.
I rarely begin an article with a question—my goal is to end each rumination with more questions than I offer at the beginning—but this time I’m not going to hesitate. Why did the churches of yesteryear place cemeteries in the yards right next door? And what made them stop? Perhaps I feel more confident in
It’s hard to assess the exact time measurement of a single generation. How long is it? Fifteen years? Twenty? Usually not more than that. However, it’s intended typically to convey the time necessary for a person to “come of age”—that is, the duration from birth to the point when he/she is making adult decisions, including
Those of us who came of age in the 1990s probably have vague memories of a world before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), even if we weren’t cognizant of its passage under the Bush (Senior) administration almost exactly thirty-one years ago. I can vaguely remember starting to see the handicapped symbol appear far more
In these economically fraught times, it’s not always easy to find an urbanized restaurant/retail district where one can comfortably kick back a burger and a brew and feel safe, either from crime, civil unrest, or inconsistent enforcement of COVID precautions (depending on what you perceive is the greatest threat). In 2021, the suburbs of large
Mothballed marvel in Northwest DC: how does Chesapeake House stay neglected in such a wealthy part of town?
On a nondescript corner sits perched a mothballed little building, seemingly vacant for years. With plywood on all the windows and doors, it fits the standard characterization of blight. It’s hard to imagine any city with a population over 100,000 in this country that doesn’t have at least one structure sharing this forlorn appearance. Okay,