The Smart Set Always Heads for the Beach

I’m thinking (as I browse travel sites from ThirstyInSuburbia’s cold-gripped Midwest HQ) how people naturally seek out bodies of water. We are hopelessly drawn to it. Look at any map and note how the population clusters along oceans, rivers, coastlines or lakes. Is it part of our human nature to seek out bodies of water?

Nature or nurture? Theorized by neuroscientist Michael Crawford, our attraction to water represents another element of human evolution.

The University of North London researcher has proposed that our ancient ancestors were devotees of the sea, and that their diets were a factor in the evolution of the human’s large and complex brain. Form a 2007 article that I missed on,

Crawford claims that when humans separated from apes and emerged from the forests of Africa, they stuck close to rivers and beaches and started feasting on fish, clams and crabs. That marine diet was packed with omega-3 fatty acids, essential fatty acids that promote brain cell growth.

It’s no coincidence, Crawford claims, that human brain growth began to increase exponentially once we left the woods and headed for the beach.

Maybe that’s our cue/excuse to pack up our big brains and small bathing suits and head for the water.  Mare proluit omnia mortalium mala!

Vintage postcard “Bathing in Lagoon, Long Beach, CA from riptheskull on Flickr, thanks!

Fact-o-Pic: The Green Green Grass of Home

It’s hard to believe that just a few years ago,  many desert dwelling suburbanites viewed lush green lawns as de rigueur–a defining symbol of the American dream. Not any more, but still we cling to the entrenched vision of the “green, green grass of home.”

Today’s Fact-o-Pic* is drawn from a great article on Wall Street Journal online that covers the struggle of developers and homeowners from Colorado westward trying to wean themselves from the blades.
(*Fact-o-Pic FAQ: “Can I use this in my blog/newsletter/report/etc.? Why yes!)

Article: In Arid West, Thirsty Lawns Get Cut From Plans: Developers in Drought-Prone Regions Rethink the Dream Home to Conserve Water and Reduce Costs; Grass as a ‘Throw Rug’

This Real Estate Development is Tanking

The Water Tower House, Montgomery Hills, Maryland

The Water Tower House, Montgomery Hills, Maryland

Dan Reed from Just Up the Pike, an excellent Montgomery County, Maryland blog, profiles this available-now dream home. (Perhaps this what is meant by the phrase “wet dream?” No, don’t think so!)

3 BR 3.5 BA Colonial, near schools, shopping and 495. Potential for waterfront access (comes with two of every animal just in case). $699k.

Keep your eye on the kids! Water Tower House, back yard view

Water Tower House, back yard view

How did such a house come to be built with such horrible siting? Reed explains how infill development can be an appealing concept on paper, but a failure on the ground:

It’s a truly attractive house, solidly built and well laid-out, not to mention in a fairly decent location. Schools, shopping and the Forest Glen metro are all more or less within walking distance. But the siting of these six houses, in the shadow of a hulking water tower and hard up against the back of a strip mall, is less than ideal. This project illustrates many of the challenges of infill development, namely what to do with inflexible site conditions. You can’t move the water tower. The shopping center is likely decades away from being redeveloped. And the property is zoned for single-family homes. You have to make the three work together. I can’t say that happened here, though I’m not sure if it’s even possible.

Here’s hoping that the family who buys this house has a sense of humor, and furthermore that the water tower is well-sealed.

Convenient to shopping: view from upstairs bedroom

Convenient to shopping: view from upstairs bedroom

Dam That Nuisance Hudson River!

The Bronx is up and the Battery’s… um, where? From the March 1934 issue of Modern Mechanix, a billion-dollar proposal (in 1934 dollars!) that should have even modern-day developers and speculators indulging in insane profiteering daydreams.

If this plan seems a bit over the top, the article notes, “Engineers uniformly agree that there are very few problems which can successfully defy the determination of civilization to conquer.” Dam right! (At the, you can read the original 5-page article here.)

PLUG up the Hudson river at both ends of Manhattan . . . divert that body of water into the Harlem river so that it might flow out into the East river and down to the Atlantic ocean . . . pump out the water from the area of the Hudson which has been dammed off … fill in that space . . . ultimately connecting the Island of Manhattan with the mainland of New Jersey . . . and you have the world’s eighth wonder ”the reconstruction of Manhattan!

That is the essence of the plan proposed by Norman Sper, noted publicist and engineering scholar. It is calculated to solve New York City’s traffic and housing problems, which are threatening to devour the city’s civilization like a Frankenstein monster.

Bleak to Chic

This July in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Pfister and Vogel water tower, from an old tannery building near the city’s park east corridor, was moved and placed it in its new location as a symbolic landmark of the ritzy new North End development–all 42,000 lbs. of it. The $175 million development will include new condos, apartments, stores, and river walks on a formerly blighted urban property.

Photo #1, from davereid2 on Flickr. Photos 2 and 3 from by Dawes Rigging and Crane.