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Charles R. Wolfe's Posts

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In praise of the humble pothole

Photo: Topsy Qur'etThis may be the "most wonderful time of the year" for holiday music fans, but it's a terrible time to drive: Constant freezing and thawing and the pounding of holiday traffic create craters in the asphalt large enough to swallow a Cooper Mini, leaving us to pick our way through a minefield of potholes.  But who says that's such a bad thing? Potholes are a perennial topic of griping in cities worldwide, given their tendency to damage unsuspecting vehicles, threaten bicyclists, and impede all modes of traffic. We debate their origin ("Did they really start in ancient Rome?"), allow them a …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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The end of Borders and the importance of 'third places' in the city

Borders in downtown Seattle.Photo: Chuck Wolfe Cross-posted from myurbanist. Last week, while the Seattle City Council gave final approval to more street food vendors in public places, Borders Group Inc. began its liquidation of most remaining Borders bookstores, including locations in destination American downtowns. What's the relationship? Both stories are about how public and private uses and spaces mix in urbanized areas. Both raise questions of "no net loss" of urban and downtown "third places," and of how to make a more livable city. In my view, despite today's international focus on urban street food vending, the paradigm left behind …

Read more: Cities, Urbanism

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Remembrance of cities past: spectacular photos of the way we lived

Cross-posted from myurbanist. Melbourne, Flinders Street Station, 1917Photo: (c) 2006 BHHC "100 years from now I wonder if those in the future who view these images will appreciate the value of ... pictures as a means of recording life as is lived in this century ... photography is in the truest sense biography -- is it not the writing of life in a truly universal language?" -- photographer Burton Holmes, Seoul, Korea, 1899 The Great Recession, climate change, and the quest for carbon neutrality have changed the way we look at cities, at the distance between home and work, and …

Read more: Cities