Confessions of an Urban Pioneer

Looking for signs that cities are making a comeback has been my hobby since I was a teenager. Like the proverbial blind squirrel and broken clock, every once in a while the tea leaves do give reason to hope for an urban renaissance. It’s hard to recall every twist and turn along the way but

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Empty Promises

By taxing the improvements made to land and not just the land itself our municipalities encourage the destruction of value at the same time they discourage putting land to its highest and best use. This is never made more clear than when supposed investors purchase improved land and immediately tear down anything of value on

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Vacation is Changing the Places You Drive to

Jim Kunstler writes in his seminal work “The Geography of Nowhere” about the people who vacation at Disney, fall in love with its “Main Street U.S.A.”, and then go “home and tear down half the old buildings downtown and pave them over for parking lots”. When I read that analysis for the first time I

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Is There Room for Success?

(This aerial photo is PRE tornado) Again, leaving aside the issue of gambling itself and its social impacts, there are people who see a Palmer casino as a better economic choice for western Massachusetts because it is being built on a greenfield and is surrounded by undeveloped land which could be utilized for expansion if

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25 or 5 to 4(.45)?

25 and 5 are the numbers you often hear when people express the percent of the world’s energy consumed by the United States compared to its share of world population. Those numbers pop up again when discussing the related percentages of total resources used and, coincidentally(?)the percentage of the world’s prison population. Delving into the

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Double Double Stupid

A quick hit inspired by yesterday’s review of post war development in the South End. Let’s say you’ve got a retail outlet of some kind, perhaps a fast food chain, and you’re lucky enough, lucky enough(!) to have a parcel that runs from a traditional Main Street to a stroad; how do you orient your

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If They Don’t Build It, What Will Come?

I chose the townhouse I live in, which lies more or less on the border between the monumental center of the downtown and the traditionally designed residential South End, because between the two of those neighborhoods I could maximize the opportunities to have a walkable lifestyle in my hometown. The proximity to downtown puts the

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If They Don't Build It, What Will Come?

I chose the townhouse I live in, which lies more or less on the border between the monumental center of the downtown and the traditionally designed residential South End, because between the two of those neighborhoods I could maximize the opportunities to have a walkable lifestyle in my hometown. The proximity to downtown puts the

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The ‘tweener City

This is all about the ‘tweener city; too large for that comfy, cozy small town America feel, too small for a major league sports franchise, important enough to be the focus of constant negative media attention, but still not revered for its renowned cultural institutions. Boston, San Francisco, and Indianapolis are not ‘tweener cities, Bridgeport,

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The 'tweener City

This is all about the ‘tweener city; too large for that comfy, cozy small town America feel, too small for a major league sports franchise, important enough to be the focus of constant negative media attention, but still not revered for its renowned cultural institutions. Boston, San Francisco, and Indianapolis are not ‘tweener cities, Bridgeport,

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