It’s rare that an article assumes an urban activist position that gets my dander up at all, let alone one that prompts me to comment directly on the article. But that’s what I had to do a few weeks ago when Planetizen used the neologism (at least to me) “defensive urbanism” to impugn the modern
Café Dolci on Market Street: will defensive downscaling (and social distancing) pave the way for more microretail?
In the approximately eighteen months since I walked along the underachieving arterial of Market Street in downtown San Francisco, its character has changed far more than anyone might expect. For such a prime thoroughfare in such a densely populated city, it’s surprisingly mediocre in terms of the density of foot-traffic, which, not surprisingly, leads to
As cites grow and urbanization spreads outward, the most common practice is to build new roads or to expand the capacity of the existing ones. I don’t think this merits much of an explanation. Of course, as the population increases, an elaborate network of roads becomes more essential, to accommodate both people and (inevitably) their
Strategically located in the middle of sun-baked somewhere, the military city of Ridgecrest, California offers the accidental visitor a surprisingly populous alternative to the preceding and subsequent miles of Mojave desolation. By contrast, the deliberate visitor’s most likely destination is Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, a munitions and explosives testing range and research facility,
More than a few times, I’ve captured the clever ways that the free market intersects with government regulations at key political boundaries, usually those with powerful differences (something more than just a township or municipality) but not so carefully monitored that it stops the flow of traffic, as would be the case through customs at
On Powell Street, the partly pedestrianized commercial spine connecting Market Street to Union Square, the heart of San Francisco’s shopping district, one encounters a distinctly aged, elaborately colored neon sign. Those of you who might have read my old article on aged commercial signage in urban areas might already know what’s coming. For the rest,
It is this month, way back in 2009, that I inaugurated this blog, with a post on wildlife tunnels in a suburb of Boston. I wanted breadth. At that point in time, I thought it would just be an amusement—a hobby that would help me hone in on my photography skills, while giving me a
In this era of widespread downtown redevelopment, it’s easy to find before/after scenarios that effectively demonstrate how Floor Area Ratio (FAR) works to capitalize on an increasingly valuable piece of urban land. Typically, all one has to do is compare a photo of a forlorn part of a big city’s downtown in 1995 and compare
It’s hard not to wonder if there are unspoken rules that explain why well-moving vehicular traffic operates in much the same configuration as human crowds in a congested, spatially constrained setting. Which came first? Well, humans/pedestrians obviously. But vehicular motion remains subject to numerous regulations in the interest of safety for pedestrians and other vehicles.
The ubiquity of Starbucks locations in America’s dense urban centers is a running joke, and it’s not even a new one. The insufferable yuppie couple of the 2000 movie Best in Show famously joked about it: “We met at a Starbucks…not the same Starbucks. But we saw each other at different Starbucks across the street.”