The streetscape of downtown Martinsburg, the largest municipality (population 17,500) in West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, doesn’t exactly boast an occupancy level one would rate as thriving. But it’s hardly plagued by persistent plywood in the windows of the commercial buildings, and the majority of them look like they benefit from regular maintenance and upkeep. I
When green means stop: the impact of classic neon lighting in the wireless era, from West Virginia with love.
If a good sign is worth more than its weight in canvas, plastic, fiberglass, cardboard, or whatever material helped birth it, a good old sign earns even more accolades, as multiplied by the number of years it has done its job. (Weight of the material multiplied by its age?) The perseverance of a good sign
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
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
Rural hardship: a coalfield in McDowell County, West Virginia buries its pulse. It’s time to find it again.
I generally hesitate before I dive into an article that focuses primarily on blight and disinvestment, in no small part because it carries with it a tenor of exploitation. And there’s evidence to back my claim: an early article I did on the now-demolished, life-after-people hellscape of Camden, New Jersey became not just one of
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
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
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
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
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