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65 articles

Cumberland MD: where ancient Americana rolls out a welcome mat to trendy townhomes.

There was probably a point in history when virtually every American had heard of Cumberland, Maryland.  Not only that, it’s reasonable to surmise that a significant proportion of Americans had passed through it.  Aside from the fact that, for most of Maryland’s history, it was the state’s second largest city (its “Queen City” behind Lord/King

Reserved parking: staking claim on the public ROW from a private flower bed.

It’s uncommon that I feature an article where I strive to keep the location mostly or completely anonymous.  After all, that “sense of place” is often a critical feature, and it’s one of the primary ways I organize/classify them: by major city, by state, and (in rare instances) by country.  Only one example comes to

Dolphin Mansion: the country’s ugliest house hits a fascinating planning snag.

The Dolphin Mansion is up for sale again!  Indianapolis’s most notorious home has struggled to find an occupant for the last seventeen years, but it’s not for lack of trying.  Actually more of a campus with six structures on a mega-lot, surrounded by mid-century middle-class housing that’s a lot humbler (and I mean that in

High tension wires in Pickwick Commons: maximizing utility out of utility line ROWs.

For the small handful of people who are this blog’s devotees, the image below may be a tiny bit familiar.  I’ve covered this small subdivision in New Albany, Indiana once before.  The name is Pickwick Commons, an age-restricted townhome development in which the retirement-age residents retain (at most) a small garden plot to cultivate, but

Hoboken NJ: gentrification in a time-lapse overdrive, but without all the improvements.

Hoboken, New Jersey isn’t a particularly obscure suburb.  Peering right across the Hudson River toward Greenwich Village, it’s a fortuitously located municipality that basically everyone in metro New York knows.  Odds are good that most adults living in the tri-state area have passed through it at one point in time.   Tiny though it may

Are balconies an intrinsic value?

Even as a child, I can recall the family trips down to Florida or South Carolina, witnessing all those high-rise apartment and condo buildings, each one of which had its own balcony.  Sometimes two.  And I remember noticing how there never seemed to be anyone out using them.  Needless to say, I didn’t understand real

Front yards in the Federal City: even the close-knit rowhomes feature green plots for garden gnomes. Or (since it’s Capitol Hill) political signs.

In these polarizing and emotionally fraught times, it has ostensibly become far more common for people to announce their political loyalties from the front yards of their homes—not just by promoting the campaigns of preferred candidates, but (at least in recent years) to overtly declare one’s stance on a certain issue, or even to declare

Habitat 67: did Montreal’s mega-manifestation manage to make modular marvelous to the masses?

In April of 1967, the City of Montreal unveiled an unprecedented architectural showpiece, attendant to hosting the International and Universal Exposition, an event that most people referred by its catchier abbreviation “Expo 67”.   This spectacular feat in construction owes a great deal to tradition.  Starting with the the World’s Columbian Exposition (the Chicago World’s

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

Are balconies an intrinsic value?

Even as a child, I can recall the family trips down to Florida or South Carolina, witnessing all those high-rise apartment and condo buildings, each one of which had its own balcony.  Sometimes