parking

Posted by Ellen

Last spring, when we first came across this scene on a block of Hicks Street in deep South Philly, we just naturally assumed that the white car was a Cadillac. Took us till now to realize that no, maybe it should be a Cadillac, but in real life it's a Lincoln Continental. Some of us are just not as observant as we need to be.

What we can say, however, based on observations of our own lyin eyes as well as gossip, is that this Lincoln is regularly washed but never driven. 

Posted by Ellen

As part of a recent downtown revitalization project, the city of Skopje, capital of the Balkan Republic of Macedonia sponsored an international design competition for a new multi-story parking garage. The call for submissions specified that the garage should hold 315 parking spaces and must be designed in a "baroque, classic, neo-classic, romantic, and neo-romantic style."

Clearly, the Skopje city fathers were looking for something fancy, but apparently there was also a political agenda. That long list of architectural styles they were interested in all point to a Western, Christian, bourgeois European history for Skopje–which never really existed. Also, the list is notable for its omissions: no hint of the oriental and Islamic traditions with which Macedonia was associated for many centuries, and of course also no hint of the country's recent Communist past. In other words, the government wanted a politically correct parking garage.

Winning architect Milan Mijalkovic, of the Viennese firm PPAG,  went neo-baroque in his design. He started with a snapshot taken by a young girl, Andrea Popelka, showing a bit of the baroque architecture typical of streetscapes in Vienna. The image was repeated, distorted, and abstracted to wrap around the garage in a multi-layered facade. Where there were windows in the streetscape, there are openings in the facade to allow light into the parking levels.

Parking garages have a history of their own in Skopje. After a devastating earthquake in 1965, Japanese architect s were invited in to help plan for recovery. They noticed that the city had few cars and little infrastructure for dealing with automotive traffic, and they suggested that this might be the city's opportunity to plan for the traffic that surely would someday fill the streets. They built numerous garages around Skopje's apartment towers. But it took several more decades for the cars to come to Skopje, and in the meantime, the garages were repurposed to store vegetables for the city's markets.

Posted by Ellen

It's not hard to remember the excitement of those days fifty or so years ago when the teacher would tell us to pick up our chairs and form a line at the classroom door. We would all carry our chairs down the hall from the classroom to the school's "all-purpose room," where we could sit facing a big black-and-white TV set at the front of the room to watch those guys at NASA choreograph a countdown and a liftoff and all the other amazements that were part of America's new space program.

Today, it's hard to figure out exactly what NASA is up to in outer space. There seem to still be astronauts, but it appears that we now rely on the Russians to do that whole countdown-liftoff thing. Americans mostly look at pictures from faraway cameras.

From Ted in Washington, D.C., comes this photo of a sign of the times for NASA and perhaps the grand American dream: a NASA message held in place by a bicycle chain and a couple of sacks of Quikrete. The NASA folks may not be zipping around in space these days as much as they used to, but their public website is freshly launched, or rather relaunched on a freshened, open-source, space-age sort of platform, saving us taxpayers millions in licensing and maintenance costs. For this, we can thank our Ted and his Inner File, the little company that could.

Do people still have hot dogs and watermelon for the Fourth? Hope so.

Posted by Ellen

Odd thing about Broad Street in South Philadelphia: people park in the middle of the street.

Between the northbound and southbound lanes, there is pavement marked with diagonal yellow stripes, the kind of striping that, in all other parts of the world, says to drivers: "Keep your car out of this area." But on Broad Street, at least on the part of Broad Street that runs through South Philly, the empty space between lanes calls out, "Hey, right over here–park your car! Right here in the middle of the street."

Facing north, facing south, doesn't matter. Free parking is free parking.