Miles From Monday: Old Montreal

May 28, 2012, Washington, DC: It’s on these hot summer nights that arrive unseasonably early in Washington that we romanticize Vieux Montreal. We let our minds wander back down the narrow streets and alleyways in the oldest part of the city and we recall — sweating — what it was like to feel cold there. Downing lemonade with extra ice, we remember fondly our dinner by a fireplace on Rue Saint-Paul back in December when the cobblestones were slick from an icy rain turning to snow. We remember feeling oh-so-Parisian during that lunch of butternut squash soup and red wine at the luxurious Hotel Nelligan, and we consider how quickly time passes — that it feels like just yesterday we ducked into Bon Secours Market for hot chocolate and now we’re darting into DC’s museums desperate for a blast of cold air.

Continue reading

Holiday Weekends in the City

May 26, 2012, Washington, DC: The Friday night and Saturday morning of a holiday weekend is always a good time to enjoy the city. If you’re staying put, you watch the evening traffic head out, bound for the beach or a weekend with family. You watch the roads clear and things grow a bit quiet, then hear the volume crank up a notch as the neighbors head out for the night and reclaim their local spaces. It is on city nights at the start of a holiday weekend that you realize how small this place really is, nights like this when you feel like it’s entirely your own.

Continue reading

Neighborhood Nomad: David of Navy Yard

This is one in a series of reader interviews about the places and spaces people call home. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomad.

March 5, 2012, Washington, DC: There are neighbors who love where they live and then there are neighbors who love it enough to roll up their sleeves and get things done. David Garber is among the latter. In his fast-growing Washington neighborhood known as Navy Yard, Garber can be found installing signs reminding neighbors to clean up after their dogs, advocating for a new school, or encouraging members of his community to frequent local businesses during construction.

What does Garber love about Navy Yard? What drives him to participate? Read on for an interview with David Garber of Navy Yard.

Continue reading

Hidden Beauty & Unnoticed Oddities

February 28, 2012, Washington, DC: We tend to see it when we travel, but not so much when we return back home. Hidden beauty just around the corner. Unnoticed oddities right under our noses. Rarities we tend to forget are not the norm as they gradually become a steady part of our everyday scene. We notice these things away from home. We’re less observant back on familiar ground.

Continue reading

Historic Hubs: San Francisco’s Ferry Building and DC’s Eastern Market

February 24, 2012, Washington, DC: Location, Location, Location. Cities sprung up where they did in the first place due entirely to their geographical assets. New York City: A trading post in a sheltered harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River that would later take shape as a critical terminus linking the Atlantic to the Hudson and the Erie Canal. Chicago: A short portage that would eventually connect the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes via the 1848 opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. San Francisco: A fort called the Presidio at the mouth of the Golden Gate marking an entry to a Pacific trade route.

Geography has long played a pivotal role in the identities and growth of our cities, not only for the promise of protection, but for the promise of access. As natural terminals, first by water, later by rail, public transit and air, our cities have always served as hubs that facilitate the transport of both people and goods.

But how many of the historic hubs of your city remain relevant to your life today?

A weekend visit to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, followed by a return to my own neighborhood at Eastern Market, has me thinking about the ways in which some longstanding urban cores still have the ability to anchor our cities and our neighborhoods.

Finding Balance in San Francisco

“The sea and pine scented air fills me with hope and the belief that all men and women are made better by a visit to this place. The dream of San Francisco is that humanity might live in harmony with nature but at the same time enjoy the benefits of civilization.

Call yourself down through the centuries and see if it is not here that you will return. San Francisco isn’t just a city, it is a jumping off point to eternity. In an ocean of light, this is the place.

-Sean O’Reilly, “Lady of the Avenues” 

February 22, 2012, Washington, DC: I’ve held onto this passage by Sean O’Reilly for awhile now, ever since moving from San Francisco to Chicago. O’Reilly’s confidence in the belief that we all come back made me feel better about leaving, and I admired the way he succinctly explained the balance afforded to those who experience life here. “In harmony with nature,” we retain a quite physical, active and tangible relationship with the environment while “the benefits of civilization” provide us with opportunities for cerebral, intellectual and artistic expression.

Continue reading

Coastal Grays: Pacific Edition

February 21, 2012, San Francisco: I wake up early this morning in a land of grayscale. Cold fog lingers here on the hill on this south slope of Broderick. The severity of San Francisco’s colors have all but disappeared. This place can change on a dime.

It won’t last, I know that by now. But I recall too that this place is not only neon greens and bursts of yellow and radiant whites and blinding sunlight. There are grays here, too. They come with the marine layer. They come with the city. They come with the coast.

Continue reading