28.12.12

The 19 Best Twin City Sidewalks Posts of 2012

Well the time has come once to dawdle on the sidewalk of life, to loiter in the nook under the awning of the holidays, and glance quickly behind us to look the footprints trailing behind in the newfallen snow. It's time to think about where we've been, where we're going, and why in hell we found ourselves in a North Loop alley at one in the morning carrying a half-eaten bag full of pretzels. What have I been doing with my time? Why I am I still writing this blog about sidewalks? Why don't I start writing a blog about something people actually care about, like European dog leashes or Ricky Rubio's neck hair? How long can I continue this meaningless charade?

Well, it turns out that there's still plenty to say about the state of sidewalks in the Twin Cities. In many respects, 2012 was a banner year. Traffic is growing at a glacial pace, and I put up more posts than ever before this year: 227 (including this one). What's not to celebrate?

Looking back, there was a lot of great stuff on the Twin City Sidewalks radar during the 2012 calendar. Here are my favorites, in roughly chronological order...


#1 The Top 19 Vikings Stadium Renderings of All Time

About a year ago, when the Vikings stadium still seemed like a really stupid idea that would never actually happen, I stayed up late into the night compiling the definitive partial history of factually incorrect and aesthetically misleading stadium renderings. I'm still quite proud of the fact that when you search for "vikings stadium rendering", this blog is #5 search result. I did it for science.

#2 Climate as Proxy for Capital in the Minneapolis Skyway System & Happy 50th Birthday to the Minneapolis Skyways

I suppose that, for this blog, 2012 was the year of the skyways. My January post of an old research paper I wrote for a graduate class in landscape architecture was re-blogged by Kottke, and became the most read post in the history of this blog. (I suppose that means that careful research and analysis is a good idea. Note to self.) Later that year, I noticed that the Minneapolis Skyways were about to celebrate their 50th anniversary, and wrote up a semi-snarky birthday message. Both of these proved to be very well-read posts, and show that skyways are still one of the most unique (and terrible) parts of the Twin Cities' urban fabric.

#3 "The Village" in Highland Park receives coveted Sidewalk of the Week honors

My favorite part of this blog is the Sidewalk of the Week feature, a concept with which (alas) I rarely follow through. The SOTW feature is supposed to be a celebration of the city's great sidewalk spaces, but occasionally (as with Edina) I will become a bit too snarky. That happened in Highland Park back in February, sort of. I feel like I was pretty even-keeled and generous with a part of my city that often annoys me, but which still boasts some of the more walkable and well people'd sidewalks you'll find in St Paul. Highland Park is one of the better attempts at suburban urbanism. There's a lot to like, and a lot that can still be improved. Plus, in this writeup, I got to come up with the best metaphors (I'm particularly fond of "Highland Park: paddleball of my soul").

#4 Como Avenue "anarchist burma-shave" street art

Often this blog will trace my actual footsteps through the city, and in this case, my daily commute to the U of MN campus from St Paul's North End took me along an interesting path. Gradually, I began to notice an odd pattern of signage along telephone poles on Como Avenue. It turned out to be one of the better attempts at street art that I've seen in the Twin Cities, and I was lucky to have captured it...

#5 The World Weary Tour of St Paul's Union Depot

As part of my role as a new planning commissioner, I was taken on a "behind the scenes" tour of the Union Depot (then still under construction). It not only provided me with a chance to explore my existential side, but my writeup got subsequently picked up by the Pioneer Press and got my name in the paper. Now, the Union Depot is open and its gorgeous. The only thing this wonderful train station needs now is actual trains.

#6 The dreaded Jefferson Avenue City Council liveblog

There's no issue that has been more of a festering sore in my sidewalk skin than the Jefferson Avenue bike boulevard, which pretty much summarized everything frustrating about St Paul parochial politics. The issue, which I won't go into here but which (needless to say) has a long and tortured history, was finally resolved at a City Council meeting in April. After years of fruitless debate, the (shoulda been noncontroversial) project was passed in a watered-down form. During the meeting, I took copious (and I'd say not overly snarky) notes. (They got me into a bit of hot water with a nameless local news reporter.) I'll probably not be liveblogging any more city council meetings. I can think about 10005+ better things to do.

#7 An ode to my barber, Pete

I love my barber Pete, and he was really struggling during the Central Corridor construction period. He was unlucky enough to be right on a 'seam' between two construction 'phases', which meant that the street in front of his shop was torn up for twice as long as for most people. Thankfully, he seems to have made it through the hassle, and is still going strong. I wrote some thoughts about him, and the trade-offs that come with any large capital project for small businesses. This one was close to my heart.

#8 The Forgotten Beauty of Forlorn Windows

Also in May, I was lucky enough to participate my friend Joan's wonderful "Artists in Storefronts" project along Nicollet Avenue in Whittier (one of my favorite places in either city). Doing the prep work for this project made me start thinking about the role of empty shop windows, and whether or not these empty windows are longing for the eyes that used to look through them. If the eyes are the windows of the soul, perhaps eyes are also the souls of windows.


#9 A snarky narrative of what its like to walk around the greater West Palm Beach area

This year, I was lucky to get some money to go to the CNU conference in West Palm Beach, Florida. As with most trips I take, I did my best to walk around the city situationist / flaneur style and I found out the reason why Florida was named the least pedestrian friendly state in the USA. Also, I eventually found the ocean after walking past the large gates and parked yachts of many wealthy people.

#10 Electronic Pulltabs!

With few exceptions, whether or not a bar has pulltabs is a litmus test for whether or not I'm going to like it. Believe me, electronic pulltabs will ruin everything. This post generated perhaps the comment about which I am proudest this year:





Prescott said...


In the most positive sense of the word, this is maybe the most inane piece I've read regarding urban planning possibly ever, but I totally enjoyed it.




 
I think history will prove me very very right on this one.

#11 Defenses for Challenging a Red Light Ticket

This year also marked my first encounter with "the man" in quite sometime (ever since I stopped driving a car). I was dumb enough to (carefully) run a red light right in front of a Minneapolis police officer on SE Como Avenue. He gave me an expensive ticket, and I spent much of the next month or so brainstorming possible defenses for my behavior. I shared them in this post, and later ended up winning in court (using the "red light law" defense). Still, I like to imagine what it might have been like had I opted for one of my other legal strategies.

#12 Help! It's the War on Cars!!!!!!

Sometimes, I'll just read something in the media that's so stupid that I need to write something right away. (Right something write away?) That happened in July with an NPR story dealing with bicycles and the so-called "war on cars." These kinds of posts are very thereapeutic, and I often remember them very fondly. That said, I'm not sure how useful they are for anyone besides myself...

#13 Another bike tragedy in Dinkytown by the U of MN

School started in September, and like clockwork, a student on a bicycle was hit by a bus (professionally trained driver!) in the substandard bike lanes around the U of MN. This has long been one of my #1 issues, and this kind of thing won't stop until the city and the University develop different priorities that make life safer for vulnerable students.

#14 The most snarky post of 2012: naming Edina's neighborhoods

Sometimes things just fall into your laps. That's what happened when I picked up the Star Tribune back in September and found a story there about the struggle to come up with official names for Edina's "neighborhoods." Sometimes it's just too easy, and nothing was more fun than writing this post. (Later, someone made a similar attempt and crafted an actual map, something which I shoulda done if I wanted this to go viral.)

#15 Meta-post making fun of City Rankings

After architecture slideshows, probably the laziest bit of urban linkbait are City Ranking lists. I decided to try my hand at one of my own, and it worked.

#16 Linking up urban politics with the Voter ID amendment

Since I was a page in the State Legislature (for the Republican party, no less), I've been very passionate about voting equality. (Those committee hearings about disenfranchising people really stuck with me, especially with Tom Emmer leading the charge.) Our core cities are home to a disproportionate number of people of color and poor people, and lots of state politics can be explained by this simple urban / suburban / rural dynamic. Well, probably the most heartwarming story of 2012 was the election, and particularly the defeat of this harmful amendment that would have thrown up roadblocks for democracy for poor people, people of color, and students. Thank god this didn't pass! It really makes me feel good about living in Minnesota.

#17 Halloween post

I love Halloween, and so can you. This was my attempt to explain why. Among other things, it's the only time EVER when parents actually encourage their children to take candy from strangers...

#18 Interview with the Hiking Club

This was a long time coming, but if I ever have more time to devote to this fruitless and unpaid blogging thing, I'm going to do more interviews like this one. I really enjoy this kind of writing, and am glad to share the stories of people like George and Maryann with the two or three people that read this site.

#19 This post... this post is awesome!

That's it! Thanks for the great year, everybody. I'm looking forward to 2013...

27.12.12

Reading the Highland Villager #74

[A Villager impersonates a doormat.]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]


Headline: HDC supports master plan to level Ford plant; Backing subject to resolving concerns raised by residents
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The neighborhood group met recently and decided that the demolishment plan for the Ford factory is OK. Some people are concerned about truck traffic, noise and dust. Ford is keeping the facade from the original 1924 building, though nobody knows why. [You'd think that if there was one thing US auto companies were good at, it would be demolishing their old factories.]

Headline: Say goodbye to light-rail detours and lane closures
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: University Avenue is back to four lanes each way, for driving.

Headline: Council approves $564 million budget for St. Paul in 2013; 11th-hour changes restore rec center programs, food inspectors, library hours
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city passed a budget. It won't close the downtown library on Mondays, nor the rec centers on the North and and East side. Article includes lots of numbers.

Headline: St. Paul holds off on leasing out two more recreation centers; Conway, McDonough receive six-month reprieve as council studies how its picks tenants
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: More on the rec centers [mentioned above]. The city is closing many of its rec centers. They want to "evaluate" the changes. Article includes quotes from CMs Lantry, Tolbert, Bostrom, and Stark.

Headline: MnDOT endorses design for new Hamline Avenue bridge 
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A 50-year old bridge over Ayd Mill Road will be replaced. There is some debate about a 4-3 conversion of Hamline Avenue [which really ought to have been considered earlier, one would think]. Article includes amusing quote: "Transit for Liveable Communities also announced at the meeting that it is studying the possibility of converting Hamline from four lanes to three, which suprised St. Paul Department of Public Works staff and the project's consultants." [Pretty easy to surprise them, actually. They're very jumpy.]

Headline: Lower speed sought in Victoria Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The speed limit on Otto Avenue is 35 miles per hour. Getting this lowered seems complicated. [Why? Oh the humanity. I've heard that one urban goal for the coming legislative session will be a law that allows cities to lower the speed limit below 30, which is currently the state minimum. Of course, speed limits don't do much if the street design speed is too high, but that's another story...]

Headline: City grants Love Doctor sign variance, prepares for appeal
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: [See last fortnight's story] A man who runs a shop that sells quasi-sexy things will get to keep his larger than allowed sign.

Headline: Commission OKs expansion of William Mitchell campus
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The law school on Summit Avenue will expand to include two houses.

Headline: Effort to extend I-94 sound wall falls short in Merriam Park
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: MNDOT does not think that a sound wall along the freeway near Merriam Park is cost effective, much to the disappointment of ten people who live there.

Headline: Statera switches gears, now plans move to larger space on Selby; Fitness center drops request to rezone former plumbing shop
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A fitness center will move to a larger building on Selby Avenue [the "Jet Construction" building].

Headline: Revision of Shepard-Davern plan seeks to spur local development
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: The small area plan for the part of West 7th Street that's over by the airport will be revised. The original plan for the area was "spurred" by the proliferation of airport park and ride lots. [A true scourge.] There are some debates over having minimum lot sizes for residential developments, traditional neighborhood zoning, and whether or not to plan for a new park.

Headline: Short-handed zoning board is split over variance for front-yard garage
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A man wants to build a garage in his front yard on Victoria Street but there weren't enough people at the meeting to decide whether or not to let him.

Headline: Grand gets new bakery and cafe
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: French Meadow is opening a location on Grand Avenue where Coffee News used to be.

21.12.12

*** Sidewalk Holiday! ***

Sidewalk Rating: Cheer laden

A writer, at least this writer – and I am hardly alone – sees entropic beauty, roads to nowhere whose gravel aggregate is that of ad hoc second world war fighter runways, decrepit Victorian oriental pumping stations, rats, supermarket trolleys in toxic canals, rotting foxes, used condoms, pitta bread with green mould, polythene bags caught on branches and billowing like windsocks, greasy carpet tiles, countless gauges of wire, flaking private/keep-out signs that have been ignored since the day they were erected, goose grass, shacks built out of doors and car panels, skeins of torn tights in milky puddles, burnt-out cars, burnt-out houses, abandoned chemical drums, abandoned cooking oil drums, abandoned washing machine drums, squashed feathers, tidal mud, an embanked former railway line, a shoe, vestigial lanes lined with may bushes, a hawser, soggy burlap sacks, ground elder, a wheelless buggy, perished underlay, buddleia, a pavement blocked by a container, cracked plastic pipes, a ceramic rheostat, a car battery warehouse constellated with CCTV cameras, a couple of scraggy horses on a patch of mud, the Germolene-pink premises of a salmon smoker, bricked-up windows, travellers' caravans and washing lines, a ravine filled with worn car tyres, jackdaws, herons, jays, a petrol pump pitted and crisp as an overcooked biscuit, a bridge made of railway sleepers across duckweed, an oasis of scrupulously tended allotments.

[from Jonathan Meades, in this.]

[Christmas tree on top of a construction site, lowertown St Paul.]
 

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19.12.12

The #10 Worst Urban Planning Move in Twin Cities History

I was delightfully surprised yesterday to read Marlys Harris' Cityscape column in Minnpost, entitled "The 9 Worst Urban Planning Moves in Twin Cities History." Not only was Harris' list spot on (except for her Trader Joe's fixation), but the list completed some unfinished business that's been on my agenda for going on fifteen months now.

What seems like forever ago, teaming up with my good friend at Getting Around Minneapolis, we'd launched a Top 10 TC Planning Blunders of All Time series, calculated a definitive list, and started to catalog them. We got through 4 of the 10, before getting waylaid by circumstance and inertia...

Regardless, Harris nicely filled the void left by our sloth and ineptitude. Her list hits on all my favorite gripes: the skyways, Hiawatha "Avenue", Block E, and neighborhood NIMBYism... 

The discussion that follows on the comment thread is enough to leave any urbanist blogger (sustainably) green with envy, a variously pleasant and bitter debate over freeways and skyways and 'my ways or the highways.'

But one comment in particular made start thinking more about Harris' list:

Twin Cities Urban Planning Fiascos

So is "Twin Cities" limited to Minneapolis and St. Paul, or is that merely where the fiascos occurr?


It's a good question. Why are all the disasters located in Minneapolis and St Paul proper? Aren't there any planning blunders in the suburbs?

It got me thinking about how to include the suburbs in Harris' list. What would happen to this catalog if you tried to include things like 494 office parks, endless Woodbury culs-de-sac, or the Vadnais Heights (albatross) sports facility?

Well, let's consider the criteria that Harris is using in her list. She's critical of anything that's car-dependent. She's critical of places with disproportionate public subsidies. She's critical of designs that disrupt walkability. She's critical of anyplace that lacks transit and equitable street design. She's critical of using property values and density regulations to institutionalize segregation...

And how do the suburbs rate on those criteria?


#10 Worst Planning Move in Twin Cities History: All of the Twin Cities' Suburbs

[The culprit.]
Yes, you read that correctly. No list of the Twin Cities' planning disasters would be complete without including on that list all of the Twin Cities' suburban development that occurred after about 1952. And that describes pretty much everywhere that most people live, outside of Minneapolis, St Paul, a few of the inner-ring suburbs and some scattered dollops of our older built environment. (Granted, there might be a tiny tiny fraction of that suburbia that has some decent urban qualities, but its safe to say that 99.5% of this development is worse than anything you could find in the Minneapolis or St Paul proper.)

By every measure of good and bad urbanism, every suburb in the Twin Cities lacks walkability, decent transit access, density, and financial sustainability. When you throw in the subsidies like the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction, Federal freeway investment, accelerated depreciation, subsidized sewer and road investments, and the occasional TIF district, most every suburb in the Twin Cities would make Block E look financially sound. 

I was talking with a urban planning colleague last night about Harris' list, and he was upset about the fact that criticism of projects like Block E threw a bad light on Minneapolis development deals. Calling Block E a disaster, he argued, made it easy for people who supported suburban development patterns to stereotype the central cities as development quagmires, corrupt places where good money goes to die. This, he argued, was not helpful...

He makes a good point. Any discussion of Twin Cities urban planning blunders needs to be considered in the larger context of American suburban sprawl. Any discussion of Block E or the Hiawatha Avenue design should keep in mind that, as bad as they are, they're still better than the vast majority of suburban land use. As bad as the Gateway or downtown St Paul urban renewal were for the city, those places are still vastly more walkable and sustainable than anywhere in Apple Valley or Elk River.  As bad as the Minneapolis skyways are, they're still much more "urban" and "public" than the Eden Prairie Mall or Richfield's Best Buy HQ. As bad as University Avenue's big box district might be, next to Plymouth or Eagan it looks like pedestrian paradise. And let's be clear, South Minneapolis NIMBYism has nothing on Edina.

So. With that in mind, I suggest an addendum to yesterday's Minnpost list. I submit that no list of Twin Cities "urban planning disasters" would be complete without including the vast ring of unwalkable autocentric sprawl that surrounds our cities like a sick yoke. Congratulations, almost all of Twin Cities suburbia. You just made the cut!

18.12.12

Sidewalk Poetry #30

Back Porch

Golden lights flicker
And I see the water
As trees fall in the neighbor's yard
And walls fade into the city
Crickets don't take a breath
There is a story to tell
Tho I don't speak their language
Earth hums below us
And I have no feet
Black light horizon
O' the tears in your eyes
My heart skips a beat
And the seasons have ceased
Three candles flicker
Over beer can landscape
A lighter makes fire
Florescent opulence
Dogs speak in tongues
Before scattered raindrops
The lawn grows thick
It's too dark for stars
And the sun has hours to rise

[From "unarmed," a zine I found on the sidewalk in lowertown, St Paul.]


[St Paul at dusk, fm Teresa Boardman.]

17.12.12

BURP #8 (Winter Edition) Tomorrow at 5:00 at Northbound

[The sidewalk-friendly windows of Northbound.]
I am happy to announce a joint meeting of the Buffs of Urban and Regional Planning (BURP) / Urban MSP happy hour crew tomorrow at Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub (on 38th by the LRT stop).

These are the days of the depths of darkness, when urbanists retreat to their hearths to celebrate the city with camaraderie and beer. On this night, we will make plans for the coming springtime and the flowering of urban form. The seeds of the city are sitting dormant all around us, waiting for a helping hand.  Come, raise your wrists. Make new friends and old friends and steel yourself for the helter skelter holidaze in the only way I know how.

BURP with me tomorrow afternoon!

Reading the Highland Villager #73

[Holiday themed sidewalks in "The Village."]
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]



Headline: New journey begins for refurbished Union Depot
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on the opening of St Paul's Union Depot, plugging its [last weekend's] grand opening event. Article includes interview with Regional Rail Authority chair, description of future transit and rail systems planned for the station. [It should be noted that currently, there will be one train in and out of the station each day. One. Solo. Uno. Nada mucho. ... Everything else is but a dream. -Ed.] Also includes extended description of architecture and restoration details, discussion of some public art.

Headline: Public to weigh in on plan for razing Ford Plant
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Article on the demolition plan for the Highland Park Ford plant. [I'm not sure how difficult this is, knocking stuff down. Doesn't seem like rocket science to me.] Demolition will be "environmentally sensitive."

Headline: MAC approves partial adoption of new flight patterns
Reporter: Kevin Driscoll

Short short version: The Metropolitan Airports Commission is altering flight paths, because of some technological changes. The new paths will affect multiple cities. Some of these cities have not complained (Richfield, Mendota Heights) and some have complained (South Minneapolis, Edina). Includes quote from Mpls CM Colvin Roy about the situation being too complicated to understand.  

Headline: Love Doctor remains passionate about need for more visible sign
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The man who owns the sex-positive retail establishment on University Avenue [by the Turf Club] is trying to get a variance for the sign on his store. Current regulations limit his sign to 16 square feet. he received a variance for a 20.5 square foot sign (with 1 foot projection), but he would like a 25 feet sign (with 4 foot projection). [Look, it's not the size the counts; it's how you use it. -Ed.] The local neighborhood group is not pleased.

Headline: Work scheduled to begin on $3M Pelham Blvd. building
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The controversial [law-suited, St Paul Port Authority (SPPA)] industrial building right by 94 and 280 is going ahead, and has begun  construction. Article includes quote from SPPA pres: "a perfect structure in a perfect location for early-stage technology companies." [Industrial land near Highway 280 is in very high demand, due to central location and transportation access. -Ed.]

Headline: Zoning board tables decision on new Victoria Street garage
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: A man wants to build a detached garage in his front yard, but neighbors are upset. The recent meeting for the Board of Zoning Appeals didn't have enough of a quorum to pass the variance.

Headline: HRA approves $11.5M bond issue for Ordway concert hall
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: St Paul is helping to funding a new concert hall expansion for the Ordway. They're fundraising right now.

Headline: Site work unearths Visitation remnants
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Construction of an old Children's Home near Crocus Hill is finding parts of an old convent buried in the earth.

Headline: Judge gives Met Council more time to finish light-rail study
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The Met Council is still working on figuring out how construction will affect local businesses, and that's OK. [The study will done by the time it isn't useful anymore. J/K, it's already done. Business was down 30%. -Ed.]

Headline: Local groups benefit from new round of Cultural STAR funds
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city has given out money for arts and culture to the public library, the children's museum, and a bunch of smaller awards (mostly to the downtown area).

Headline: Study proposes more walkable, bikable [sic] Snelling Ave.
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Report on MNDOT (and open house) study about how to make Snelling more pedestrian and bike friendly. [That's like asking "how can we make Twinkies more nutritious?"] Ideas include "reconfiguring traffic lanes, bumpouts, medians, bike corrals in the parking lane. [Good thing they're completing this study AFTER they just re-constructed the street without making significant changes.] Most of the study focuses on the Snelling and Selby intersection. [See below.]

Headline: Cahoots Coffee earns coveted Charlie Award
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: My favorite coffee shop is awesome. Their Moroccan coffee rocks.

Headline: Brewery, museum also on tap for Schmidt site
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The long-awaited mega re-development of the old historic Schmidt brewery will include a brewery and a museum of history. [The only way I could be happier is if it also included a bookstore, bike shop, and affordable sushi.]


14.12.12

*** Sidewalk Weekend ***

Sidewalk Rating: Existential

-->
Take, for instance, a walk down Kilburn High Road, my local shopping centre. It is a pretty ordinary place, north-west of the centre of London. Under the railway bridge the newspaper stand sells papers from every county of what my neighbours, many of whom come from there, still often call the Irish Free State. The postboxes down the High Road, and many an empty space on a wall, are adorned with the letters IRA. Other available spaces are plastered this week with posters for a special meeting in remembrance: Ten Years after the Hunger Strike. At the local theatre Eamon Morrissey has a one-man show; the National Club has the Wolfe Tones on, and at the Black Lion there's Finnegan's Wake. In two shops I notice this week's lottery ticket winners: in one the name is Teresa Gleeson, in the other, Chouman Hassan.

Thread your way through the often almost stationary traffic diagonally across the road from the newsstand and there's a shop which as long as I can remember has displayed saris in the window. Four life-sized models of Indian women, and reams of cloth. On the door a notice announces a forthcoming concert at Wembley Arena: Anand Miland presents Rekha, live, with Aamir Khan, Salman Khan, Jahi Chawla and Raveena Tandon. On another ad, for the end of the month, is written, 'All Hindus are cordially invited'. In another newsagents I chat with the man who keeps it, a Muslim unutterably depressed by events in the Gulf, silently chafing at having to sell the Sun. Overhead there is always at least one aeroplane - we seem to be on a flight-path to Heathrow and by the time they're over Kilburn you can see them clearly enough to tell the airline and wonder as you struggle with your shopping where they're coming from. Below, the reason the traffic is snarled up (another odd effect of time-space com- pression!) is in part because this is one of the main entrances to and escape routes from London, the road to Staples Corner and the beginning of the Ml to 'the North'.

This is just the beginnings of a sketch from immediate impressions but a proper analysis could be done of the links between Kilburn and the world. And so it could for almost any place.

[Doreen Massey, from A Global Sense of Place.]


[A snowy sidewalk in St Paul's West Side.]


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