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174 articles

Corporate bookstores morph and recede: are they keeping up with the 1990s?

For the book-lovers among us, it’s hard to believe that Borders Books and Music has been defunct now for over ten years.  It was one of the first and most obvious high-profile casualties of Amazon, the latter of which nipped away at the revenue stream of what had previously been the nation’s largest bookstore, peaking

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

Squat toilets in National Parks: America’s number two best idea.

Over the years I’ve shown enough preoccupation with toilets that it should probably become a separate keyword, right up there with “historic preservation” and “adaptive reuse”.  But it’s kind of embarrassing to elevate loos to the same level as genuine urban revitalization strategies.  Still, it’s hard to deny the cultural importance that restrooms have; they

Corner commercial lots: are they worth more? You can bank on it.

As recently as my last blog article, I alluded to an unusual dichotomy in the value of corner parcels: for the most part, residences on street corners are less valuable than homes on the rest of the block.  People don’t the reduced privacy one expects when a property fronts two streets, when they can easily

Flagging the falls, geotagging the jokes: another meme for the First State.

It’s not nice.  But it probably was inevitable.  Earlier this summer, during a photo shoot on a weekend getaway to his beachside vacation home, a certain head of state stopped his bike but was unable to disengage his feet from the toe clamps in time.  Having nothing to stabilize himself, he fell over.  No serious

Dolphin Mansion: the country’s ugliest house hits a fascinating planning snag.

The Dolphin Mansion is up for sale again!  Indianapolis’s most notorious home has struggled to find an occupant for the last seventeen years, but it’s not for lack of trying.  Actually more of a campus with six structures on a mega-lot, surrounded by mid-century middle-class housing that’s a lot humbler (and I mean that in

The endangered news rack: no longer a source of headlines, now more of a museum piece.

Hot on the heels of those Manhattan Irish pubs, several of which sit frozen in time after St. Patrick’s Day, we encounter another example of Mt. Vesuvius erupting and coating everything in ash.  But this time the Pompeii is a much more suburban setting.  The Interstate 270 corridor bisects Montgomery County, the most populous county

Vandalism as a marketing campaign?  Apparently it’s just the City Way.

I caught wind of these competing, brightly contrasting layers of graffiti on a side street during my last visit to Indianapolis.  A rainbow of vandalism, so it seems. Sure, it sort of looks like tagging, but is it really fooling anybody?  The barely discernible reflection should indicate that these tags are behind a pane of

How can we tell if a restaurant is an ascendent chain? It calls itself “local”.

It’s been over a decade since I wrote about the fish, chop, and steakhouse known as Kincaid’s, a chain with a location in Carmel, Indiana (an Indianapolis suburb) that, based on my fleeting observations, was doing everything it could to downplay its very chainy-ness.   And that was the point.  The interior of Kincaid’s included

Are balconies an intrinsic value?

Even as a child, I can recall the family trips down to Florida or South Carolina, witnessing all those high-rise apartment and condo buildings, each one of which had its own balcony.  Sometimes two.  And I remember noticing how there never seemed to be anyone out using them.  Needless to say, I didn’t understand real

Are balconies an intrinsic value?

Even as a child, I can recall the family trips down to Florida or South Carolina, witnessing all those high-rise apartment and condo buildings, each one of which had its own balcony.  Sometimes