As someone who enjoys long road trips (perfectly fine if they’re solitary), I can never get enough of the small, often amusing telltale indicators of the cultural composition that distinguishes a place. The visual shibboleths, if you will. Venturing across Interstate 70, one of the oldest, longest, and most heavily traveled segments of the original
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
It’s been a tough decade or so for the American retail scene, a condition I’ve explored numerous times in the past. Social turbulence, exacerbated by a pandemic and the erratic response to it, only further maimed an already hobbled industry, facing persistent pressure from online commerce. The fact remains that people just don’t go out
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
By this point, we’ve all encountered the legions of business closures induced by COVID-prompted shutdowns of commerce and travel over the last year. I’ve tried to avoid too much of the cynical coverage of vacancies, instead focusing on clever strategies that various storefront retailers have deployed to generate sales from a carryout vantage point, when
So it’s not quite the great Evelyn Waugh novel—in fact, sociologically it’s about as far as can be—but it’s the closest I can come up with on this side of the pond that offers a proximal pun. It’s rare that I revisit an old post so shortly after the first time around, but I found
For much of the twentieth century, it was an all-too-common occurrence: an old commercial structure in a declining downtown struggles to compete with the strip malls cropping up everywhere on the outskirts. Over time, the old building—retail on the first floor, office or warehousing on the next two/three/four levels—becomes functionally obsolete. It’s drafty, the plumbing
Mixed-use town center as the new “organic” downtown: how distinct can they be if they become as commonplace as malls?
The mixed-use town center is a novelty across much of the county. A metropolitan area of one million people is unlikely to have more than one or two of these newfangled nodes, which typically combine housing, retail, offices, hotels, garage parking, and maybe even an institutional use like a school, a library, or a municipal
Breezewood. It sounds like it could be the name of a stereotypical suburb to a major Midwest city (Chicago definitely comes to mind); it also sounds sufficiently generic that one might expect a dozen towns scattered across the country with the name. Negative on both counts. There’s only one Breezewood, and it’s not a suburb
Catering to canines: Love’s Travel Stop shows its love for man’s best friend through complimentary dog parks.
The lumpy landscape of eastern Ohio, near the small city of Zanesville, doesn’t offer much in the way of urbanization, certainly not compared to the far more industrialized, flat, western half of the state. So motorists traveling along Interstate 70 must be strategic about where they go to tank up, both their car and their