Author Archive

April 30 2014

Farewell to The Grid, from Rosabella Alvarez-Calderon

April 30th, 2014Posted by 

I was standing precariously on the edge of the sidewalk trying to get some good images of the buses in Lima, Peru, when I noticed that most of them were lopsided, tilting slightly to one side, a detail I had never noticed before. While taking pictures of an old cinema that had been turned into […]

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April 16 2014

What Makes a Great Street for Shopping? A View from Boston, MA

April 16th, 2014Posted by 

On this sunny Friday I found myself riding my bicycle from Cambridge to Boston, to the Back Bay neighborhood that is home to two of the most prominent commercial streets in the area: Boylston and Newbury. I was on my way to a sleek, posh hair salon, where I spent my morning being a hair […]

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April 16 2014

Active Placemaking and a Marshmallow Fluff Festival in Somerville, MA

April 16th, 2014Posted by 

“Yes, I will be happy to be a volunteer for the 2013 Fluff Festival. Will I get a fluffernutter sandwich as a snack? So, my task will be to operate the Fluffatron 3000 with two other neighborhood volunteers? This will be fun.” The Fluff Festival, which has been held in the main plaza in Union […]

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April 02 2014

The Multi-Layered City from Harvard Square’s Subway Station in Cambridge, MA

April 2nd, 2014Posted by 

As the crowded subway train approached Harvard Square station, coming from Boston, I felt the sharp turn and heard the squealing and screeching sound of the wheels against the track of the train slowing down. Look out of the window now, my friend said, and you will see remnants of the original 1912 station. Since we were still underground, the […]

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March 05 2014

The Great Local vs. Chain Store Debate, as seen from Somerville, MA

March 5th, 2014Posted by 

It’s Sunday morning in Union Square, Somerville, located some twenty minutes by bus from downtown Boston. Should I get breakfast at Dunkin’ Donuts, or at Union Square Donuts, which has hazelnut donuts? Should I get groceries at Target, or at Capone, a local deli? Should I get my prescription filled at Rite Aid or at….then […]

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February 19 2014

Navigating Boston on a Folding Bike

February 19th, 2014Posted by 

What makes a city bike-friendly? What makes a city a place where bicycles are used by people young and old, for transportation, exercising, leisure riding, and even for transporting two weeks’ worth of groceries plus a lucky curbside find? Are flat, even streets lined with trees and year-round mild weather a requirement? Not really, since […]

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February 05 2014

Horrible Historic Preservation in 3 Easy Steps

February 5th, 2014Posted by 

Historic preservation has come a long way from the protesters in front of the old Penn Station in New York, and today it also focuses on issues such as placemaking and the revitalization of neglected buildings and neighborhoods. However, when it is done badly, historic preservation can hinder development and even unintentionally destroy what it […]

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January 22 2014

Where Old Buses Go To Retire: Lima’s Vintage Public Transportation

January 22nd, 2014Posted by 

Learning how to successfully navigate Lima’s public transportation system involves developing a good sense of navigation and knowledge of the city, a sense of balance, an open mind to deal with unexpected events, a watchful pair of eyes to ward off pickpockets, and a good ear to appreciate the informal entertainment; usually provided by a singer […]

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January 08 2014

Transforming Movie Palaces into Religious Temples in Lima, Peru

January 8th, 2014Posted by 

The crowd slowly gathering outside the former grand movie theater on a Sunday afternoon is not so different from the crowd that used to gather in this same spot a few decades ago. These people, however, are not here for a show, but to attend a religious service. In Lima, these vintage cinemas no longer […]

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December 25 2013

Events, Follies, Brick and Glass: A Visit to Philip Johnson’s Glass House

December 25th, 2013Posted by 

When your home is a glass house, how can you have privacy? In her 1998 book “Women and the Making of the Modern House,” Alice Friedman offered the following perspective on the way this particular glass house was used. Rather than actually enabling outsiders to satisfy their curiosity about what went on inside (…) the Glass House […]

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December 11 2013

Lima, Where Your Neighbor is Often a Monumental Archaeological Site

December 11th, 2013Posted by 

Lima is a city of over eight million people that sprawls over an area just under 3,000 square kilometers encompassing valleys, desert, wetlands and forests, among other geographical features. A bird’s eye view reveals that, with the exception of the mountains and rivers, many of these geographic features have been flattened to create a level […]

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November 27 2013

Boston: The Importance of Not Being Just a “Fair-Weather” City

November 27th, 2013Posted by 

People who live in and visit the Boston area are spoiled for public spaces, for places to enjoy nature, to play, relax, read, picnic, and engage with others. The city’s streets abound with quirky street festivals, public libraries, and dogs and children playing with Frisbees along the esplanade of the Charles River. Yet how many […]

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November 13 2013

Lima’s Central Market: Noisy Chaos or Colorful Streetscape?

November 13th, 2013Posted by 

Where is it possible to find a genuine milliner, a hat-maker capable of producing a newsboy cap, a straw fedora, a bowler hat, and a felt cloche hat? In the same place where thousands of people in Lima, Peru, visit every day to get household necessities, silver balloons, food, crocheted doilies, clothes, folk medicine, and […]

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