Helping You Be Contemporary in a Traditional Way

One of the great success stories of the last few years has been the High Line, the re-vitilization of an old train line running through the west side of Manhattan. Once an abandoned rusting track bed covered with weeds, the High Line offers lessons of vision and persistence. It is a remarkable story that has […]

The “House of Tomorrow,” designed for the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair’s Century of Progress Exhibition, was named a National Treasure this week by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. When it was built it was one of the most innovative and influential buildings in modern architecture, filled with the latest technology and appliances. But it’s […]

From Ted Talks: ” Brands help us assign value to almost everything we buy. But is there a way to know the difference between real and created value? In this episode, TED speakers explore the seductive power of brands”. Here is the entire episode. We especially liked: Paul Bloom: Why Do We Like What We […]

Contrary to what I wrote in a prior entry, the departure of Garrison Keillor is hitting me harder than I thought and hoped it would. As mentioned, we have been through this whole thing before back in 1987 when Keillor announced to the world that he was closing up shop to move to Denmark. I […]

It was more than 25 years ago I had occasion to have my path cross with Arnold Greenberg, who died at 83 on January 22. I was trying to promote a book, and Mr. Greenberg’s store seemed a logical place. He was, with his wife, founder and co-owner of the Complete Traveller, a travel bookstore […]

I did not know of Harry Gallatin – he was a bit before my time. Nonetheless, his passsing is being noted here. He reminds of another place and time. Basketball was, back then, just a game and the pro game was still relatively new and yet to be discovered. There were teams in places like […]

  The story was a legendary one from the War. It became a legendary movie, at least to me. The Dumbusters were the Royal Air Force Squadron 617, during World War II. The squadron became known as the “Dam Busters” because of  Operation Chastise, a mission using highly specialised bombs to destroy Ruhr dams in Germany. The legendary […]

The Park Avenue House was a high rise residential building located at 2305 Park Avenue in the Park Avenue Historic District in Downtown Detroit, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996. But today the Park Avenue is now more. The once proud hotel that spanned back to the mid-1920’s, […]

It’s a different type of move – counter to decades of changes. But an amusement is being taken apart and being moved into a nearby city. Two local businessmen in Albany, New York, Jeffrey and Reid Sperber, who are brothers, have taken the unusual step of buying a long-standing area amusement park and moving it […]

In a recent posting on this site, we wrote of being informed, entertained and inspired by Miles Orvell’s, The Death and Life of Main Street: Small Towns in American Memory, Space, and Community (2012, The University of North Carolina Press). These inspiration triggered a number of follow-up postings based on themes raised by Orvell. This […]

Notions of Main Street, the American Road, and hometown neighborhoods have long had a powerful hold on our notions of self. It was still only recently that Main Street became a powerful symbol to us all – a counterpoint to the excesses on Wall Street. Unlike the symbol of capitalism in New York’s financial district, […]

It’s a headline that I could not thinking about, “A Rebooted “Oklahoma” Brings 1943 Into 2015″. The article was about a Summer Stock production of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic. The director, Daniel Fish (age 48) had an interesting take on this favorite from a time long before he was born. His “Oklahoma!” — which […]

Never much liked the song “Everything Old is New Again”. It just never really moved me. Seemed more than a bit too self-congratulatry. But here I now find myself invoking it for this entry. It is more than a little comforting to see “progress” humbled on occasion. Remember the “new Coke” ? These days, it […]

As we journey together, the journeys are multi-faceted. There is a physical journey – such as a Journey into Hidden America or Canada. But there is an emotional aspect at well. We not only go to places beyond the interstate (whether Main Street or “off the beaten path”) to chronicle interesting activities, places and individuals […]

I’d like to think of myself as pretty consistent and steady in outlook. Not one for whims or the “trend of the minute”, I like to take a wide-angle, long view of things. But it’s interesting that as soon as completed the entry entitled “Old-School, Not Old-Fashioned” new thoughts came to mind making adjustments to […]

Lou Gerhig was born on June 19, 1903. It’s been almost 75 years since Gerhig’s death but he is still associated as a man of dignity. He hit 493 homers, knocked in 1,990 runs, and sported a .340 batting average. His 184 RBI’s in one season is an American League record. His 23 grand slams […]

Savannah, Georgia is on of th prettiest places you’ll ever find. The oldest city in Georgia, it was established in 1733. It boasts a charming downtown area that includes the Savannah Historic District, the Savannah Victorian Historic District, and 22 park like squares, making it one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the […]

“Helping You Be Contemporary in Traditional Way” is a tagline we have developed to describe what we do. It took some thought to get there. I had found that some had thought of our “Journeys Into” explorations of the offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked and forgotten” as just another look at nostalgia (A sentimental […]

…It’s the Superman Celebration, the 37th annual edition, taking place this weekend in Metropolis, Illinois. This weekend a town of fewer than 7000 people becomes more of a metropolis as some 30,000 visitors from around the nation, and around the world come to visit. Of course, Superman will be there to visit with those fans […]

Perhaps it’s inevitable, a sign of “progress and change”, but we read this morning with disappointment of a report that Canadian towns could see a number of bank branch closures as customers shift away from entering local branches for everyday banking. “As all the banks look at their retail banking footprint in small town Canada, […]

In our last beer posting, we shared the story of Fitger Beer, long a mainstay in Northern Minnesota, and the story of the historic Fitger brewery. We stopped with Fitger’s Brewery closing its doors on September 30, 1972, ending 115 years of brewing on the shores of Lake Superior. It was a sad time. fortunately, […]

“After a struggle of a season, filled with slumps, spurts and injuries, the Cavaliers enter the finals with a city’s hopes on their shoulders”.An interesting New York Times essay, about basketball, about Cleveland, and about a local’s sense of his hometown.The essayis, John Hyduk, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in 2012, and […]

We were looking for someone to help us communicate this notion of a sense of place that distinguishes one place from another – what makes every place special in its own way (Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood). We came across these explanations from a website for a consulting company. We know nothing about the company and do […]

At first glance, they are both admirable goals and non-exclusive of one another. But the Côte-des-Neiges Rd. business section in Montreal finds itself in debate. At the calling of some store owners and residents who have complained for years about a proliferation of signs they describe as either cheap, rundown or distasteful, Côte-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grâce is proposing […]

The old Yankee Stadium and the Montreal Forum were called “Cathedrals” for their respective sports. But a former house of worship in South Bend, Indiana puts the whole relationship between religion and sport in a different context. The New York Times reports on the community’s oldest synagogue building that not too long ago underwent a […]

Seeking to put a local development focus on the next federal election, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is conducting a Hometown Proud Campaign to get citizens talking about their respective cities, villages, townships and otherwise incorporated municipal entities. First prize in the contest at is a pair of tickets to, your hometown for you, […]

The study is no longer new (2013) but the principle is still an important that either guides or should.A survey at the time by the Tourism Marketing Council (TMC) showed that about 60 percent of U.S. travelers say they are likely to take a cultural/heritage trip – up from 51 percent in 2009.The survey confirms […]

The Preakness Stakes was an exciting one as American Pharaoh won the horse race notwithstanding a muddy track in the midst of a thunderstorm, setting up a real possibility of a Triple Crown win. There was news off the track as well. The head of the Maryland Jockey Club revealed that the Preakness could leave […]

Many of Montreal’s downtown landmarks can boast of historical or architectural significance. But while thousands of people pass these buildings every day — or even work in them — few are aware of their role in the city’s development. Heritage Montreal is hoping to change that with At the Heart of the City, a series […]

When Saranac Lake found itself in need of a place to shop, it decided to create one for itself. After the local Ames Department Store closed due to bankruptcy, residents were forced to travel 50 miles to Plattsburgh for many consumer goods. Soon thereafter, Saranac Lake was approached by Walmart, which offered to build a […]

When David Letterman signs off later this month he will also be leaving a neighborhood that he helped sustain. Now the neighborhood is a very different one than the one that existed when Letterman moved into the Ed Sullivan Theater. The show brought a new buzz and vitality to the neighborhood, improving the business environment, […]

“Companies are highlighting …heritage to attract buyers who value ritual and tradition…….Authenticity is a fuzzy concept, but Julie Napoli, a marketing professor at Curtin University, and colleagues recently reported in the Journal of Business Research that consumers see three dimensions to brand authenticity: heritage, sincerity and committment to quality”. This article was first published on […]

Dana Jennings does (so do I). She also recalls snowscreens, static, Tv top antennas, broadcast sign-offs and other imperfections of early television in this essay.Says the author, “This eccentric pining for the primitive electric hiss and sputter of my 1960’s childhood is an honest reaction to our modern culture’s unhealthy addiction to (apparent) perfection. We […]

We’ve been cleaning – both online and at home. We have launched new websites (We hope you find them entertaining and useful). We have also been cleaning out boxes of notes, legal pads of ideas and old newspaper clippings interest. Among the old newspaper clippings was a New York Times travel section from December, 2001 […]

To some Walmart has long represented a challenge to Main Streets and downtowns. Many have thought that Walmart has been one of those who have drawn shoppers away from the traditional core to sprawl outside. These days Walmart is being connected with and being congratulated for its role in a successful downtown story. That story […]

Just what normal will be means different things to different folks because in Baltimore, like many places, there are actually many Baltimores within the greater Baltimore. What is clear is that almost no one wants to see a return to what happened last week – the death, the fires, the looting, the curfews. Mistrust and […]

This weekend they are holding a “Cotton Pickin’ Fair” in Gay, Georgia. It’s a twice a year event in this small community 53 miles south of Atlanta. It’s quite a popular event, drawing some 3,000 to town, and it is quite good, having been designated as a “Top 20 Event” by Southeast Tourism. But it […]

Tens of thousands of people are gathering in Springfield, Ill., this weekend to watch a recreated hearse commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s funeral procession, which took place 150 years ago. Many will visit the Lincoln Monument at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Ill., houses the tomb of the late president and was erected to preserve his legacy. […]

Here’s another story about a once factory-driven community trying to hold on until it can re-invent itself. In this case it is the local hospital that is providing stability – as an employer and as provider of social fabric to a place that otherwise could easily have lost its bearings. Once home to vibrant downtowns, […]

Wake Forest Innovation Quarter, rising on a 145-acre parcel on the developing east side of Winston-Salem, is a partnership between the city and state, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wake Forest University and Wexford Science and Technology, the Baltimore-based primary developer. The development, initially named the Piedmont Triad Research Park, was once the site of […]

  Jim Fanning, a longtime Montreal Expos general manager who spent over 60 years in a variety of roles in professional baseball, has died. He was 87. Fanning was named the Expos’ first GM in August 1968 and spent 25 years with the club. He served as vice-president, scout and had two stints as manager […]

In trying to figure out just what we as people are about in the 21st century many of us have been guided by Robert Putnam. His book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community in 2000 was developed from his 1995 essay entitled Bowling Alone: America’s Declining Social Capital. In it he surveyed […]

Tisdale is a business centre for the rich agricultural area of northeastern  Saskatchewan. Located at the junction of Highways 35 and 3, and serviced  by both the the Canadian National and Canadian Pacific Railways, Tisdale is the grain handling centre of the region with five inland grain terminals, and is the centre of local industry. That […]

Zip Ode: Poetry Defining Where You Live Here is a variation on a Smart Community Narrative. The Public Radio program “The Takeaway” is teaming up with the O, Miami Poetry Festival and WLRN-Miami Herald to ask folks you to pay tribute through the use of their zip codes. Specifically, they are asking us to memorialize our […]

So said Thomas Mann, the James Earl Jones character, in Field of Dreams. He was speaking of the baseball field in the cornfields of Iowa. But he could just as easily have been referring to those gems of Americana (Canadiana) that lie off the beaten path and beyond the interstate (Trans-Canada). Try it on for […]

Heywood Hale Broun (March 10, 1918 – September 5, 2001) was an author, sportswriter, commentator and actor. He was born and reared in New York City, the son of writer and activist Ruth Hale and newspaper columnist Heywood Broun. In 1940, Broun joined the staff at the New York tabloid PM as a sportswriter. His […]

There is a change in the air and on the streets of Havana. It is slow and cautious but the difference is discernible. One example of the change can be seen as some in Cuba have noticed that the US flag is showing up on the streets of Havana — not flying from a flag […]

(First Published on March 31, 2015) It’s opening day for baseball. It’s one of those days when we all feel like the great late Ernie Banks. Most everyone is upbeat and is looking forward to the new season. Ball parks will be full as the first ball is thrown out. Optimism prevails. For us, we […]

Organ music was once a fixture at sporting events. So were the organists. Today the entertainment experience at a sports venue is quite different. Musical tastes are different as well. And clearly, so our the decibel levels, something that keeps some of us away. Here is a great posting that takes us back in time. […]

While putting together the posting about Beer and Baseball (see below), we stumbled upon this great video. We did not know that John Forsythe (Bachelor Father, Charlie’s Angles, Dynasty) got his start, at age 18, as the P.A. announcer at Ebetts Field in Brooklyn. This video follows Forsythe as he returned to Brooklyn after 40 […]

The other day was baseball’s opening day. It was also National Beer Day.  So, we spoke beer and baseball. We found a great article on the subject. What especially caught our fancy was a section about the history of beer in New York baseball history. We had always known the Colonel Jacob Rupert owned the […]

Ever heard of Tommy Watkins ? Bet not. But how about Glenn Miller ? Chances are you probably know who he is. There’s a wonderful story about a small town in Nebraska where Glenn Miller served as an apprentice in the Tommy Watkins Orchestra before he became, well, Glenn Miller. Folks in this small town […]

One of our favorite community narratives involves the upstate New York community of Mt. Morris, located in Livingston County at the northeastern entrance to Letchworth State Park, which contains a scenic gorge and triple waterfall on the Genesee River. The community was first called “Allen Hill” and “Richmond Hill” by early settler Ebenezer Allen. The […]

  Originally Posted at the Wise Economy Workshop, Sometimes the universe just seems to be on the same page for once.  This post from the Michigan Main Street Center has been circulating the Twittersphere the last couple of days, an indication of how much this post resonated with people in community economic development.  Here’s […]