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111 articles

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

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

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