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85 articles

As roadside travel plazas get plush, why not make every old rest area a more welcome center?

The fate of interstate highway rest areas in the 21st century has been checkered, to say the least.  As privately owned service stations become larger and posher, state-operated rest areas have found it increasingly difficult to justify their existence.  In the eastern US, familiar names like Wawa, Sheetz, Pilot, and Love’s have expanded their convenience

A view from the bridge: not Brooklyn but Woodrow Wilson.

There’s not a whole lot of substance to this article, but it’s hard for me to resist a photo with an evening sky this vivid. There’s obviously a lot going on here: a fiery sunset vying with menacing nimbostratus clouds; the reflection of it all on an expansive river; the evenly spaced lighting that enhances

Chambersburg courthouse: when prosperity helps to bridge the old and new. Literally.

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

Crested Butte main street: a shopper’s oasis amidst the lingering retail drought.

More times than I can count, I’ve explored the country’s mismatch between the supply of retail-oriented real estate and the broader public’s demand.  We just have too many shopping centers.  And it’s always been that way.  Even in the best of times—the peak of the suburban mall during the 1970s and 80s—our historic downtown storefronts

Eagleridge Shopping Center: rockstar parking…in strip mall suburbia?

Salvaging the subject of strip mall soulfulness for a second study, I present a regional shopping center of no great distinction.  Much like the suburban structures of the previous article, Eagleridge Shopping Center is unusually coy about its name; the massive sign facing Interstate 25 forces the title to the absolute bottom.  Most people probably

Fort Worth Water Gardens: when a splashy downtown feature rests on a slippery slope (literally).

Let’s face it: it doesn’t matter how big or vibrant your city’s downtown is.  Generally speaking, the civic plazas immediately outside the major municipal buildings are dead on weekends.  There just isn’t any magnetism, given that these buildings host city government functions, which typically operate during regular business hours, Monday through Friday.  (Emergency and corrections

bark park at The Blairs apartments, Silver Spring MD

Pint sized bark parks: when an undefined patch of land is going to the dogs.

I’m not sure what it is, but something about the downtown to the unincorporated Washington DC suburb of Sliver Spring, Maryland seems have spawned a number of unusual urban forms: acute angles, bizarre protrusions, and neglected little corners.  I’ve written about this once before: how a building’s orientation and street frontage created a little storefront