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136 articles

Wisconsin Avenue, a tony street has a row of trashy homes. What gives?

By and large, what people refer to as Northwest DC—especially the area west of Rock Creek Park—has never faced the problems of disinvestment and depopulation that plagued much of the capital city in the 1970s and 80s.  Even at that point when Washington DC was “the murder capital of America” (as it was for a

Hollywood Gateway: a pocket park with a preconceived plan. Will people partake?

Far be it from me to turn into a crotchety old killjoy who lambastes every pocket park I find, but I already did it once a few years ago, for a tidy but neglected little mini-playground in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since a bigger, higher-profile, and splashier (literally) play area stands just a few blocks away, my

Street sweeping: the cumulative effects of neglect aren’t easily swept away.

In 2024, it’s a rare moment when Washington DC is competently providing a municipal service we should all expect…and yet somehow, in this case, it’s disappointing.  I recognize that this is really my problem: my intent with this article was to say, “Here what a road looks like without street sweeping for an entire year”. 

Heritage infrastructure in Homecroft: when evoking the past, size matters.

Many, many years ago I featured some heritage infrastructure in the quasi-autonomous Indianapolis enclave of Homecroft.  If the most appropriate descriptor for a place like Homecroft is “quasi-autonomous enclave”, it goes without saying that it’s an unusual place.  The community (which functions largely as a neighborhood) sits about seven miles south of downtown Indianapolis as

Gourmet grocer with a vague name. There’s more to it than just “gourmet”.

Slaters Lane is a disproportionately important street in Alexandria, Virginia, considering its brief length.  From end to end, it measures only a half of mile, and an additional 500 feet of that length is a stub that dead-ends into an office/residential complex near the Potomac River a bit further eastward.  But the other ~2100 feet

Custom racks: a stylish place to park your Cannondale. Or canine.

Bicycles may never become a primary means of getting around in the United States, at least not to the degree that they are in, say, Denmark or Netherlands.  Our cities are too spread out, cars have (at least until recently) been comparatively cheap and easy to own, and—perhaps most important of all—a majority of Americans

DC food desert: South Anacostia has a single holdout supermarket.  Will it survive?

The term itself doesn’t usually require much explanation, even if most people have never used the it in everyday conversation.  They automatically know what a food desert is.  For those who don’t, it takes very little to conceptualize: if a person lives in an urbanized area—and most Americans do—odds are good that he or she

Al fresco platforms: expanding café dining to…former parking spaces? Permanently?

It’s been a mere two weeks since I explored the sacrifice of on-street parking spaces for transportation enhancements in a Washington DC neighborhood.  And here I go at it again.  Why should I delve into the subject so soon?  Well, this time around, it’s not quite identical: instead of bike lanes, the enhancement is more

Chestnut Hill switching station: a subtle shield for an ugly use, or a waste of space?

Public utilities are a tough nut to crack, especially in urban settings, where the population density is greater—and so, consequently, is the demand for electricity, gas, water, wastewater, fiber optics, and so forth.  With higher density comes greater intricacy of the conduit; there’s more of it, and it must be more economical with its use

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