Explorer cities of North America

Below is a list of cities across North America known to be named for famous land and sea explorers.  Frankly, I’m rather surprised there are not more. Please feel free to pass along any corrections or additions.  Peace!

Vasco Núñez de Balboa
  • Balboa, California
  • Balboa section of Panama City, Panama
Juan Bautista de Anza
  • Anza, California
Daniel Boone
  • Boone, North Carolina
  • Boonesboro, Kentucky
  • Booneville, Arkansas
Jim Bridger
  • Bridger, Montana
  • Fort Bridger, Wyoming
Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac
  • Cadillac, Michigan
Kit Carson
  • Carson City, Nevada
Jacques Cartier
  • Port-Cartier, Quebec
Samuel de Champlain
  • Champlain, New York
  • Champlain, Quebec
William Clark
  • Clarkston, Washington

Christopher Columbus

  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Columbus, Georgia
  • Columbus, Indiana
  • Columbus, Mississippi
  • Colon, Panama
  • Columbia, South Carolina
  • Columbia, Missouri
James Cook
  • Captain Cook, Hawaii
Simon Fraser
  • Fort Fraser, British Columbia
John C. Fremont
  • Fremont, California
  • Fremont, Nebraska
  • Fremont, Ohio
  • Fremont, Indiana
  • Fremont, Michigan
  • Fremont, Minnesota
  • Fremont, New Hampshire
  • Fremont, New York
  • Fremont, Utah
  • Fremont, Wisconsin
Martin Frobisher
  • Frobisher, Saskatchewan
Ferdinand Hayden
  • Hayden, Colorado
Father Louis Hennepin
  • Hennepin, Illinois
Henry Hudson
  • Hudson New York
  • Hudson, New Hampshire
Louis Jolliet
  • Joliet, Illinois
René-Robert Cavelier de LaSalle
  • LaSalle, Illinois
  • LaSalle, Ontario
  • Lasalle, Quebec (now part of Montreal)
Juan Ponce de Leon
  • Ponce De Leon, Florida
Meriwether Lewis
  • Lewiston, Idaho
  • Lewisburg, Tennessee
  • Lewistown, Montana
Father Jacques Marquette
  • Marquette, Michigan
  • Marquette, Iowa
Jean Nicolet
  • Nicolet, Quebec
Joseph Nicollet
  • Nicollet, Minnesota
Peter Skene Ogden
  • Ogden, Utah
William Edward Parry
  • Parry Sound, Ontario
Zebulon Pike
  • Pike, New York
  • Piketon, Ohio
  • Pikeville, Indiana
  • Pikesville, Kentucky
  • Pikesville, Maryland
 Gaspar de Portola
  • Portola, California
  • Portola Valley, California
John Wesley Powell
  • Powell, Wyoming
Nathaniel Hale Pryor
  • Pryor, Oklahoma
  • Pryor, Montana
Sir Walter Raleigh
  • Raleigh, North Carolina
Pierre-Jean De Smet
  • De Smet, Idaho
  • DeSmet, Montana
  • De Smet, South Dakota

Hernando de Soto

  • DeSoto, Missouri
  • De Soto, Kansas
  • Hernando, Florida
 David Thompson
  • Thompson Falls, Montana
George Vancouver
  • Vancouver, British Columbia
  • Vancouver, Washington
  • North Vancouver, British Columbia
  • West Vancouver, British Columbia
SOURCES: en.wikipedia.org and personal knowledge
Posted in cities, geography, hiking, history, North America, place names, sailing, topography, transportation, Travel, walking | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“A Handmaid’s Tale” – Is fiction becoming reality?

Source: amazon.com

Though written 32 years ago, the dystopian theocratic society described in Margaret Atwood’s striking novel bears an uncanny likeness to what is (and has been for some time) being preached and advocated by far-right political and religious zealots in our country. That is what makes her book so damn scary ~ some aspects of the story have already come true just as she foreshadowed more than three decades ago!

Each week it seems more of our nation’s civil liberties are being subverted in some manner by those who wish to impose their predetermined set of ultra-conservative Christian theocratic beliefs on the rest of us.  That is not anywhere close what our founders intended. But more importantly, it is dangerous to the health and well-being of a pluralistic society.

A Handmaid’s Tale is more than a novel, it is a cautionary tale of a dismal future which could be unfolding before our very eyes, especially if we don’t stand up to injustice and intolerance. Some may scoff at this notion, but they apparently miss the point. For one, we must never doubt how intoxicating power can be to humans, whether they are religious or not. Furthermore, one can point to George Orwell’s classic 1984 as an example of a novel that accurately predicted many future events. Lastly, those are discriminated against in our society in the name of religion, such as the LGBTQ community and women, can certainly point to many disturbing actions and trends that not so subtly echo occurrences in A Handmaid’s Tale.

Ms. Atwood’s book should be required reading in all high schools across America. If for no other reason, to alert young people of the dangers of indifference and lack of civic participation.  Peace.

Source: comingsoon.net

Posted in art, book reviews, books, Canada, censorship, civics, civility, Communications, culture, feminism, futurism, human rights, humanity, Labor, literature, Love, Religion, Women, writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Two downtown pedestrian malls that work and work very well

St. George Street – Source: staugustine.com

I have now had the pleasure of recently visiting two American cities with hugely successful pedestrian malls in their downtown core – St. Augustine, Florida and Boulder, Colorado. During the 1960s and 70s, pedestrian malls were seen as a possible solution to suburban shopping malls. Cities around the country converted their primary downtown shopping street to pedestrian malls in the hopes of stemming the loss of retailers. While some cities have removed their pedestrian malls, a number of others, including the two referenced in this post have been very successful.

Pearl Street – Source: bouldercoloradousa.com

There are interesting similarities between St. Augustine’s St. George Street and Boulder’s Pearl Street that are important to consider. Here is my list of why they are both successful. Suggested additions are welcome.

  • Both cities have significant nighttime populations in or near their core, but from varied sources. In St. Augustine it is primarily tourists/vacationers staying at area hotels, inns, rentals, and other accommodations, as well as students and staff from Flagler College. In Boulder’s case, students and staff from the University of Colorado make up a very large proportion of the core population.
  • Both cities are very walkable and bikeable.
  • Both cities have a strong and long history of historic preservation and cultural enrichment. St. Augustine may have more historic markers per capita than any place I’ve been except for Gettysburg. While Boulder is considerably younger than St. Augustine, it too has found exemplary ways to preserve important buildings and sites of historical and cultural importance.
  • Both cities have a cohesive downtown that have not been ripped apart by highway construction, by overtly-wide commercial arteries, by poor land use decision-making, or by urban renewal projects.
  • In both cases, their downtown areas have transformed from the principal shopping district to more of an entertainment, dining, and cultural district. Smaller-scale retailers and restaurants thrive where there used to be department stores or five and dime merchandisers like Woolworth or McCrory. Cultural resources include museums, art galleries, music venues, street entertainers, and similar uses/activities.
  • Both cities have readily available transit services, though their hours of operation may vary.
  • In both instances most cross streets through the mall allow vehicular traffic. Crossing signals help facilitate safe flow in Boulder. In St. Augustine, the narrowness of the streets helps limit speeds, but drivers and pedestrians still must be watchful at these intersections, as there is limited visibility in Old City due to the age of the structures, which often abut the alleys/streets. A number of the streets are also brick, which helps reduce speeds.
  • In both instances, buildings fronting St. George and Pearl Streets have been constructed and maintained at a human-scale.
  • Landscaping, gardens, and outdoor art all play important roles in making these two pedestrian malls more people friendly, entertaining, and welcoming.
  • Public facilities like restrooms, bike parking, and wayfinding signage/maps are abundant and accessible.
  • Both public and private investments along these streets and adjoining areas are well-maintained.
  • A strong sense of community/civic pride is readily apparent in both downtown cores.

St. George Street – Source: pinterest.com

Posted in adaptive reuse, Advocacy, architecture, art, bicycling, Biking, branding, cities, civics, coffee shops/cafes, colleges, commerce, Cuisine, culture, density, downtown, economic development, entertainment, Food, fun, geography, historic preservation, history, Housing, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, Maps, pictures, placemaking, planning, shopping, spatial design, third places, tourism, traffic, transit, transportation, Travel, urban planning, walking, zoning | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

America’s most beautiful downtown – my vote is St. Augustine

Source: pinterest.com

I have had the great pleasure of visiting many communities across America ranging in size from hamlet to town to major city. This includes visits to parts of 49 states. Until this past week’s visit to St. Augustine, Florida I never really contemplated the notion of “the most beautiful downtown.” But I must say, my vote would be awarded to this historic and stately city along Florida’s First Coast.

St. Augustine includes a very cool mix of Spanish and English architectural styles, along with a planned layout that captures one’s imagination and fancy. I particularly love:

  • the narrow brick streets and alleys (many are carless);
  • the second-story overhanging balconies;
  • the ceiling fans on porches;
  • the hidden courtyards and gardens;
  • captivating doorways;
  • the architectural handiwork;
  • glimpses of the harbor, the lighthouse, or the Bridge of Lions; and
  • the love and care put into each and every historic building.

Being America’s oldest continuously inhabited European settled city (since 1565), helps St. Augustine exude history and lore from every single crack and crevice.

If one were to measure importance just based on the number of historic markers, St. Augustine would rank right up there with Boston and Philadelphia. Throw in a gorgeously scenic harbor location astride the Atlantic Ocean and its rich, varied cultures (Spanish, Native-American, English, African-American, Caribbean, Southern, and a touch of French) and you have a recipe for one of America’s most unique and dynamic cities, particularly for its size relative to the aforementioned cities.

The singular disappointment with how beautiful St. Augustine was the fact that my photographs couldn’t possible do it justice. No matter how hard I tried, my photographs simply do not reveal the city’s essence as well as visualizing and personally experiencing it does. I hope the photos I include with this post at least reveal the inspiring and stunning beauty of this city.

There are many lovely places in the United States that have withstood the tests of time and of occasional bad decision-making, but to this urban planner none quite matches the first city of our nation – St. Augustine or San Augustin. May it always remain so, as it will in my heart. Peace!

Posted in adaptive reuse, Advocacy, architecture, art, bridges, cities, civics, civility, Cuisine, culture, diversity, downtown, geography, government, historic preservation, history, humanity, infrastructure, land use, landscape architecture, Maps, North America, pictures, placemaking, planning, skylines, spatial design, tourism, Travel, urban planning, walking, zoning | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Michigan’s ‘skyscraper’ coastal sand dunes

Arcadia Dunes as seen from Greenpoint Dune

Michigan is blessed with some of the most beautiful and tallest coastal sand dunes on the planet. Below is a list of the tallest dunes as measured about the level of the adjoining lake elevation, many of these freshwater dunes top out at skyscraper heights.

View from Empire Bluff Dune overlook to the north – more enormous dunes are visible in the distance.

Please note that this is not meant to be a complete list of all the dunes exceeding 100 feet in height in Michigan, but is intended to represent the tallest ones where the elevation is known through the sources listed at the end of the post. Those dunes which are unnamed are identified by approximate location. A 100 foot minimum was used for the list. As always, additions and corrections are welcome.

Atop Old Baldy in the Arcadia Dunes Preserve with Elberta Dunes in the distance


  • Marked trails do not necessarily extend to the peak of some of these towering  bluffs.
  • Several overlooks were also included in the list as are their corresponding elevation – usually somewhat below the summit.
  • When resources varied on the height of specific dunes, topography maps were used to determine the most correct elevation.
  • For sizable dunes without published data, online topography maps from topozone.com and other similar resources were used to determine the dune’s height.
  • Thankfully, a number of additional dunes have become accessible to the public since the publication of Mr. Dufrense’s book in 2005 (see sources) due to successful preservation campaigns by land conservancies across the state. These include Arcadia, Greenpoint, and Elberta South. Hopefully, such efforts will continue to be successful in the future, as we protect our precious sand dunes across Michigan.

Dusk at one of the smaller Sleeping Bear Dunes near Glen Haven – note the microscopic person standing atop the dune.

  1. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Main Dune) in Leelanau County = 526 feet
  2. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff, second peak) in Leelanau County = 492 feet
  3. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Dune, third peak) in Leelanau County = 479 feet
  4. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 473 feet
  5. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Old Baldy Dune) in Leelanau County = 469 feet
  6. Arcadia Dunes (highest dune) in Benzie County = 460 feet
  7. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 460 feet
  8. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pierce Stocking/Overlook 9) in Leelanau County = 450 feet
  9. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune NE of N Bar Lake) in Leelanau County = 447 feet
  10. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune NW of Aral Hills) in Leelannau County = 430 feet
  11. Sleeping Bear Dunes (South Manitou Island – five highest dunes) in Leelannau County measure at 424 feet 338 feet, 329 feet, 325 feet, and 319 feet respectively
  12. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune SE of Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 417 feet
  13. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Radar Station Dune) in Leelananu County = 407 feet
  14. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Empire Bluff Overlook) in Leelanau County = 400 feet
  15. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune E of N. Bar Lake) in Leelanau County = 397 feet
  16. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune east of Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 388 feet
  17. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune east of Momma Bear Dune) in Leelanau County = 384 feet
  18. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune north of Shauger Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 381 feet
  19. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune S of Old Baldy Dune) in Leelanau County = 381 feet
  20. Lookout Point Dune in Manistee County = 379 feet
  21. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point Dune) in Leelanau County = 377 feet
  22. Arcadia Dunes (Old Baldy/North Bluff Dune) in Benzie County = 360 feet
  23. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, second peak) in Leelanau County = 357 feet
  24. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune north of Momma Bear) in Leelanau County = 355 feet
  25. Sleeping Bear Dunes (dune SE of Shauger) in Leelanau County = 352 feet
  26. Prospect Hill Dune in Leelanau County = 314 feet
  27. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Cottonwood Trail Dune Overlook) in Leelanau County = 311 feet
  28. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, third peak) in Leelanau County = 311 feet
  29. Green Point Dune (highest dune) is Benzie County = 311 feet
  30. Dune apprx. one mile north of Onominese Cemetery in Leelanau County = 302 feet
  31. Whaleback Dune at Carp River Pount in Leelananu County = 301 feet
  32. Grand Sable Dunes in Alger County = 300 feet
  33. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Pyramid Point, fourth peak) in Leelanau County = 298 feet
  34. Green Point Dunes Overlook in Benzie County = 288 feet
  35. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Prospect Hill Dune) in Leelanau County = 263 feet
  36. Elberta Dune South in Benzie County = 265 feet
  37. Arcadia Overlook/Inspiration Point in Manistee County = 252 feet
  38. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (highest dune) in Muskegon County = 249 feet
  39. Laketown Park Dune in Allegan County = 240 feet
  40. Warren Dunes State Park (Tower Hill Dune) in Berrien County = 236 feet
  41. Elberta Bluff Dunes (highest dune) in Benzie County = 228 feet
  42. Saugatuck Dunes (highest dune) in Allegan County = 233 feet
  43. High Island Dunes in Charlevoix County = 220 feet
  44. Phillips Cemetery Dune in Mason County = 217 feet
  45. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Edward Dune) in Berrien County = 217 feet
  46. Mount Baldhead Dune in Allegan County = 214 feet
  47. Petoskey State Park (Old Baldy Dune) in Emmet County = 212 feet
  48. Bass Lake Dunes in Oceana County = 207 feet
  49. Cathead Dune in Leelanau County = 207 feet
  50. Baldy Dune at Castle Park in Allegan County = 204 feet
  51. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Old Baldy Hill Dune/N. Manitou Island) in Leelanau County = 204 feet
  52. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Randall Dune) in Berrien County = 203 feet
  53. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (unnamed dune) in Muskegon County = 200 feet
  54. Rosy Mound Dune in Ottawa County = 200 feet
  55. Thunder Mountain Dune in Van Buren County = 200 feet
  56. Muskegon State Park (highest dune) in Muskegon County = 200 feet
  57. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Sleeping Bear Point Dune) = 199 feet
  58. P.F. Hoffmaster State Park (Dune Climb) in Muskegon County = 190 feet
  59. Clay Cliffs Dune in Leelanau County = 179 feet
  60. Dune north of Leland in Leelanau County = 174 feet
  61. Warren Dunes State Park (Pikes Peak Dune) in Berrien County = 171 feet
  62. Baldtop in Grand Mere State Park in Berrien County = 170 feet
  63. Tank Hill Dune in Benzie County = 168 feet
  64. Mt. McSauba Dune in Charlevoix County = 163 feet
  65. Silver Lake State Park (highest dune) in = 163 feet
  66. Kirk Park Dune in Ottawa County = 160 feet
  67. Green Mountain Beach Dune in Allegan County = 158 feet
  68. Warren Dunes State Park (Great Warren Dune) in Berrien County= 158 feet
  69. Mt. Pisgah Dune in Ottawa County = 157 feet
  70. Warren Dunes State Park (Mt. Fuller Dune) in Berrien County = 152 feet
  71. Mt. Pisgah Dune on Beaver Island in Charlevoix County = 150 feet
  72. North Beach Park Dune in Ottawa County = 148 feet
  73. McCort Hill Dune in Emmet County = 145 feet
  74. Pelican Peak Dune in Allegan County = 142 feet
  75. Kitchel-Lindquist Dunes (highest dune) is Ottawa County = 140 feet
  76. Nordhouse Dunes (highest dune) in Mason County = 140 feet
  77. Porter Creek Dune (lookout) in Mason County = 140 feet
  78. Tunnel Park Dune in Ottawa County = 140 feet
  79. Big Knob Dune in Mackinac County = 130 feet
  80. Holland State Park (highest dune) in Ottawa County = 130 feet
  81. Kruse Park Dune in Muskegon County = 130 feet
  82. Kitchel Dune in Ottawa County = 130 feet
  83. Sleeping Bear Dunes (Dune Climb) in Leelanau County = 110 feet
  84. Sturgeon Bay Point Dune in Emmet County = 109 feet
  85. Frenchtown Dune in Oceana County = 109 feet
  86. Duck Lake Dune in Muskegon County = 102 feet
  87. Week Beach Dune in Berrien County = 100 feet

Portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore from space – Source: earthobservtory.nasa.gov


Posted in environment, geography, Geology, hiking, historic preservation, history, Maps, nature, place names, planning, Statistics, topography, tourism, trails, Travel, walking, weather, Wildlife | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

America’s oddest air terminal

First opened in 1935, Woolsey Memorial Airport is located near Northport, Michigan, close to the northernmost point of the Leelanau Peninsula.  As is evident from the following photos, this charming 200 acre airport facility is home to one of the most unusual terminal buildings you will find in the United States.

The terminal building appears to be constructed out of or at least adorned on the exterior with native Lake Michigan stones. Furthermore, includes an elevated control tower/observation deck and a black and yellow paint-striped roof to alert pilots of its location. The freestanding his and her privies are a particular delight.

While the two grass strip runways remain intact for general aviation, the quaint air terminal building is in need of some tender love and care to assure its long-term survival. Several windows are boarded up, which detracts from its overall appearance.  Nevertheless, the terminal is a handsome and well-preserved icon from the pioneering days of American aviation.

Due to its close proximity to both entrances to both units of Leelanau State Park, a park visitor’s center would seem to be the most logical and viable option. The building should definitely be added to Leelanau County’s growing list of sites on the National Register of Historic Places, as well.

Below are a few additional photos of this wonderful piece of aviation history and nostalgia. If you are even visiting Leelanau County, the airport is directly adjacent to M-201, north of Northport. Peace!

Posted in aerospace, air travel, airport planning, airports, architecture, aviation, commerce, economic development, fun, geography, placemaking, planning, revitalization, tourism, transportation, Travel | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

From protective to active – repurposing historic city walls

Lucca, Italy – Source: www.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/city-walls-of-lucca/

When we think of city walls, some of the first images that come to mind are imposing structures erected as a protective or defensive barrier. More often than not, city walls were constructed from stone, masonry, brick, and/or concrete. Unfortunately, the best known example is probably the Berlin Wall, which was employed as a way to keep the populace of East Berlin imprisoned more than as a defensive or a protective barrier.

Thankfully, the vast majority of old city walls were not used for imprisoning their residents. Many cities, particularly those dating prior to or during the Middle Ages built defensive walls around them for protection from invading armies or bandits. Hundreds of examples remain preserved today, most often in Europe and Asia. Thankfully, a number of them have been thoughtfully preserved, along with their related gates and towers. These impressive structures provide interesting insights into those dangerous times. Another common and more recent purpose for urban walls is to protect coastal cities from damage associated with storms, storm surges, or high tides. As sea levels continue to rise, more cities around the globe are (and will be) exploring the idea of building new seawalls or heightening their existing seawalls to fend off the salty seas.

In this post, I identify two cities that have decided to transform and repurpose their protective walls into something much more than just a defense perimeter. These cities; Lucca, Italy and Vancouver, Canada, have modified their walls into impressive linear parks which enhance active and healthy lifestyles of their residents.

In Lucca, Italy, the city’s historic wall (actually the fourth such rampart) dates back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Actual construction took 105 years (1545-1650). During the early 1800s, the Duchess of Lucca, Maria Luisa of Bourbon commissioned the Royal Architect, Lorenzo Nottolini, to add vegetation, trees, walkways, and related amenities along the top of its four (4) kilometer long rampart.

Lucca wall at night – Source: Simone Garland viawww.turismo.intoscana.it/allthingstuscany/tuscanyarts/city-walls-of-lucca/

Now, instead of just being an impressive fixture of the city’s past, Lucca’s historic wall is also a lovely linear park with amazing views of the city. Lucia basically established an urban greenbelt well before anyone knew what one was. So impressive is Lucca’s linear greenbelt, that Australian author Peter Moore raved about it in his charming vintage Vespa riding travelogue of Italy entitled, Vroom With a View.

Along Vancouver’s Seawall Trail in 2014

Meanwhile, in Vancouver, Canada, the city developed a bicycling and walking trail along the top of its historic 1917 seawall. Since then, the project has extended beyond Stanley Park. This inspired idea gave the city yet another brilliant jewel in its crown of visual gems. I can personally attest to the sanguine beauty of this bike ride and the immense popularity of it among locals and visitors alike. The vistas alone are worth the ride/walk around Stanley Park.

Obviously, not all cities, particularly those in the Western Hemisphere, have old city walls just sitting around unused. However, seawalls are much more common. Even those cities with levees, essentially an earthen seawall, could consider the potential active and passive recreational opportunities afforded by utilizing such a physical structure. Fort Wayne, Indiana has done just that with portions of its Rivergreenway trail network along the St. Mary’s, St. Joseph, and Maumee Rivers.

Combining a historic city wall with the many environmental, societal, recreational, and health benefits of a linear park should be a no-brainer for many cities. It is a unique and proven method for providing a serene and scenic linear park with limited disruption to the existing fabric of the community.


Posted in adaptive reuse, architecture, bicycling, Canada, cities, culture, economic development, entertainment, environment, Europe, fitness, geography, health, hiking, historic preservation, history, infrastructure, land use, placemaking, planning, recreation, revitalization, spatial design, topography, tourism, transportation, Travel, walking | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment