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117 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

Classical music and crime prevention: 7-Eleven is just the start.

Several weeks ago I noted what I believe is a misbegotten campaign loosely branded “hostile design”, which seeks to galvanize criticism toward the now-ubiquitous effort of preventing people from getting too comfortable in shared public spaces—so comfortable it constitutes (in some people’s option) outright abuse of that shared civic trust.  We’ve all seen examples: carefully

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

Cor blimey!  Manhattan’s Irish pubs continue to languish in purgatory. 

Surely I’m not the only one who remembers learning about the tragic story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius onto the ill-fated Roman city of Pompeii in 79 AD.  I think it’s something many of us in the Midwest learned even in elementary school.  Our teachers described to us, in vivid detail, how it all

Analog Memes, Part II: a memorable trip down Christmas Card Lane.

As a successor to my post on a bumper sticker bedecked guardrail in Wilmington, I offer a second example of what I must at least partly attribute to meme culture, for which the World Wide Web exerted little to no influence.  This second example of memetic behavior that is anti-digital is probably a bit more

When catastrophe wipes out a family of small businesses, the second generation must rise from the ashes.

Every industry has its own mini-lexicon.  Why shouldn’t it?  These neologisms might originate from journalism, where they achieve enough prevalence to become mainstream: e.g., the press’s notably unecological use of the word “ecosystem”, the cringe-inducing phrase that begins “help me unpack…”, or the use of “ask” as a noun.  The US Department of Defense has

Arlington Temple United Methodist: the gas station church gets its own catechism.

The primary photo in this article features a landmark that is widely known to people in the greater Washington DC area, particularly those on the Virginia side of the river.  But it isn’t significant or important enough to have any clout nationally or even outside the region.  It’s a visual landmark in the sense that