After the Berlin Wall fell in 1989 I really wanted to see history unfold for myself. I was young and adventurous so the next summer I wandered around the failing Soviet Union. I had a duffle bag full of Levi’s which I exchanged for accommodations with families from Leningrad to Moscow. A little hard currency … Continue reading Authoritarian Planning Regimes
What would our neighborhoods look like if we voluntarily reduced the amount of infrastructure? This isn’t a purely academic question. As municipal, state, and federal budgets get squeezed there’s going to be a point at which we have no choice but to stop building new roads and even reduce the amount of maintenance on the … Continue reading The Argument for Less Infrastructure
www.veterantributes.org I was researching material for a blog post about the town I grew up in (Toms River, New Jersey) and accidentally stumbled on something completely unrelated that I find deeply disturbing on multiple levels. It was a roadside memorial dedicated to a fallen soldier. I looked up his name and realized that he had … Continue reading Is This Really the Best We Can Do?
I have an on-going correspondence with a particular city planner who recently asked, “What pushes a neighborhood down vs. what lifts it up?” In the end I suspect this is going to be like the old joke. Ask three rabbis a question and you’ll get five answers. Perhaps I should provide a few examples of popular … Continue reading The Urban Planner’s Dilemma
I’m a longtime advocate of walkable, mixed-use, mixed-income, transit-served neighborhoods. But lately I’ve been having impure thoughts about suburbia. Let me explain. What often passes for a neighborhood in America is a low grade assemblage of chain convenience stores, big box outlets, franchise muffler shops, multi-lane highways, and isolated cul-de-sacs. Even when it’s physically … Continue reading Dr. Strangelove: Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Sprawl (Sort of)
Phase Change is a common principle in science. A simple example is water at various temperatures. Water is water at 50°F. Water is water at 100°F. Water is water at 200°F. But at exactly 212°F water stops being water and it becomes steam. In the same way water stops being water at precisely 32°F when … Continue reading Phase Change: Portland’s Alberta Arts District