German Street in Shepherdstown, WV: where, instead of a curb at the sidewalk, there’s a fence.  And shrubs.

The prosperous little municipality of Shepherdstown, fortuitously situated along the Potomac River in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, boasts a charming three-block main street, German Street, with nothing but locally owned establishments, achieving almost perfect occupancy amidst its variegated, well-maintained 19th century buildings.  It’s an enviable arrangement, no doubt enhanced by its location in

Elevating our transportation options: the Personal Rapid Transit of Morgantown.

In the affable college town of Morgantown, West Virginia—home of the WVU Mountaineers—the unsuspecting visitor encounters a very strange viaduct-like structure presiding over some of the most prominent downtown streets. What is it?  It’s certainly not on the same scale as the Chicago Transit Authority’s rail system—the “el” (short for “elevated rail), but then, does

H-Mart Building of Shepherdstown: an architectural and economic outlier in a perfectly preserved community.

The winsome town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, though in most respects a free-standing municipality, has essentially morphed over the last thirty years into an exurban bedroom community to Washington DC, which lies approximately 70 miles to the southeast. No doubt bolstered by the presence of the well-regarded Shepherd University, the town has an urban, activist

Drive-thru Subway: a contradiction in transit…and in sandwiches.

The remote and rapidly depopulating town of Welch, West Virginia offers a handful of surprises: a remarkably intact and densely-built downtown with a fair share of four, five and even six-story buildings; a functioning Episcopal church; and a three-screen movie theater.But since I’m far more intrigued by the banal, the one image that really struck

When steeples compete with summits.

The river-to-rail city of Cumberland, nestled between the prodigious hills that dominate western Maryland, may not be thriving, but it sure offers some charming, timeless vistas.   As is too often the case, this photo only partially captures its objective: the Cumberland skyline—a city of churches. It isn’t a big city at all, so the

A power center turns over a new leaf, only to find more grubs.

About a year ago I explored one of the few retail typologies that seems to be growing in prevalence during this turbulent era: the power center. It’s essentially the only physical construction that suburban retail developers are building these days. And they usually look like little more than a strip mall on steroids—which, apparently, is

Boundary battles over sparklers and smokes?

We always look for the better deal first. It goes without saying. When two neighboring jurisdictions apply different regulations to a specific good or service for which great demand exists, the industry that financially depends on that good/service will gravitate toward the less stringent side of the boundary line. I’ve pointed this out before when

Power centers: where beauty is in the eye of the consumer.

Particularly in the last few months, this blog has honed in on retail trends that usually point to the slow demise of the conventional, enclosed, middle-class shopping mall. I just can’t get enough of the topic. And most evidence suggests that, with the possible exception of the high-end ones, the mall is typically failing to

Getting from A to B via Z(ig-zags).

I’m in the midst of a particularly intense period at work right now, and I have had literally no time to post. A computer slow-down at the moment is all that’s giving me a breather to squeeze a quick observation in. The second part of my dissection of the neighborhoods/subdivisions in Baton Rouge will have

When steeples compete with summits.

The river-to-rail city of Cumberland, nestled between the prodigious hills that dominate western Maryland, may not be thriving, but it sure offers some charming, timeless vistas.   As is too often the case,

Boundary battles over sparklers and smokes?

We always look for the better deal first. It goes without saying. When two neighboring jurisdictions apply different regulations to a specific good or service for which great demand exists, the industry that

Getting from A to B via Z(ig-zags).

I’m in the midst of a particularly intense period at work right now, and I have had literally no time to post. A computer slow-down at the moment is all that’s giving me