• The Trick or Treat Test

    October 31, 2011, Washington, DC: Maybe it’s actually quite simple. Maybe you can size up a neighborhood with a high degree of accuracy just by observing what happens there on Halloween. Good neighborhoods, after all, make for great Halloweens. We value these places tonight for the same reasons we value them every other day of the

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  • A Map & A Marathon

    October 30, 2011, Washington, DC: I love maps, as you can probably imagine. This morning, we discovered an incredible one that allowed us to track our friend as he ran throughout the city on this cold October morning of the Marine Corps Marathon. By looking up his name and entering his bib number, we saw

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  • Good Morning, Doorman

    October 30, 2011, Washington, DC: Woodley Park and Adams Morgan are next door neighbors separated only by the Duke Ellington bridge that stretches over Rock Creek Park below. The neighborhoods have different personalities, for sure, but in some ways they’re cut from the same cloth of northwest Washington. Still, in January 2008, a move from one

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  • Baltimore’s Federal Hill: Views at Dusk

    October 28, 2011, Washington, DC: Earlier this week, I climbed Federal Hill to watch dusk fall over Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. My return to Baltimore that day had been lackluster at best, but as night fell downtown and the city started to sparkle, I recalled the many good things about living here from 1984-1991. Only in retrospect

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  • Hometowns For Athletes

    October 25, 2011, Washington, DC: Our hometowns can act as our coaches and our training partners, our biggest competitors and our loudest cheerleaders. Before the daylight fades, before the water gets too cold, before we sink deeper into the couch for a reality show, great places egg us on. We hear them speak to us, inspire

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  • Map of Mornings: Dupont Circle

    October 24, 2011, Washington, DC: Saturday morning was a gray morning in Dupont Circle, one of those times everything looks a bit worse for the wear. But if you want color and character in Dupont, there are a few places to begin. My list of bright spots begins with my friend’s old apartment here, the one I

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  • A Washington Reflection

    October 22, 2011, Washington, DC: I set out early this morning on a big red beach cruiser ready to document one of my former Washington neighborhoods. It was the first morning in months my bike brakes were cold to the touch, and a stark line of clouds dramatically divided our city, slicing it precisely down

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  • Those Hotels Down The Street

    October 21, 2011, Washington, DC: It was Thanksgiving 1990 when my parents first took us to New York City. It was shortly after they announced we’d be moving from Baltimore to the Northeast. At my sister’s request, we visited the Plaza Hotel that weekend, searching its hallways for Eloise, the fictitious character just her age who

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  • Listen to This City

    October 19, 2011, Washington, DC: A trumpet played last night outside an open window. Rain pounded the city street in this morning’s darkness. Tonight we hear the patter of high heels on a wet brick sidewalk, and sirens, and crunching leaves, and a plane bound for Reagan, and car doors closing as people arrive back home.

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  • Spinning the Globe

    October 16, 2011, Washington, DC: This globe belonged to my grandparents. I remember gathering around it with my siblings and cousins one Christmas Eve in St. Charles, Illinois, each of us lightly placing a finger on one spot, then spinning it to see where we’d land. The globe and I were the same height back

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  • The Ultimate Commitment to Place

    October 15, 2011, Washington, DC: It’s totally trendy, I know. But I’m among many city dwellers who are captivated by life on the farm, ranch, orchard and vineyard. We go to farmer’s markets. We select wines because they come from vineyards close to home. Over dinners out, we daydream about getting callouses working with our hands. We

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  • On Places, Puddles & Plans

    October 12, 2011, Washington, DC: I went for a soggy walk through my neighborhood this evening. I had no plan. Forty minutes later, I was the honored owner of a well-worn book with the inscription below, as well as another book I’d been searching for for quite some time. I’d also been invited to a

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  • A Train Home From Philly

    October 10, 2011, Washington, DC:  What a luxury it is to travel by train on a Sunday afternoon down the northeast corridor. On yesterday’s ride, the sun was sinking and the air was warm enough that boats still sprinkled the Susquehanna River. The towns and waterways between Wilmington and Baltimore zoomed by in a golden

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  • Oh, Won’t You Stay?

    October 4, 2011, Washington, DC: We could stay there in Chicago, I think. We could help the grandparents unpack. Attend the Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago the weekend after next. We could stay to witness the growth of the city’s bike sharing program, to spend time with our cousin as her schedule lightens up.

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  • Map of Mornings: Lincoln Park

    October 2, 2011, Chicago, IL: I slipped out early this morning into my old neighborhood. From the Lincoln Park Zoo by Lake Michigan, I walked west on Armitage, with occasional detours down its side streets, including one that was once my own. A friendly row of bikes lined the sidewalk as I rounded the corner

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  • The Enormity of a City

    October 1, 2011, Chicago, IL: The enormity of this town is striking if you’ve been gone for awhile, from every perspective and from every angle. From above, you’re a monster looking down upon miniature cars, on people the size of ants. From below, sleek buildings loom large on narrow lots, rising seemingly higher than in any

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