Monday, May 23, 2011

Tony the Oncologist

Back To The Future: A City Planner's Perspective (Part Four.)

This is the fourth in a series on the Back To The Future franchise as seen by a city planning nerd. Frame grabs are copyright Universal Pictures and are used here on the basis of fair use, for commentary purposes.

Downtown Hill Valley and Courthouse Square

As I noted before, it's Hill Valley itself that is as much a co-star as any actor in the Back To The Future franchise. We see various parts of town in one or more time periods. However, it's only the Courthouse Square and its surrounding city blocks that appear in all five eras.

Before we get into particulars, here are the town square's five incarnations, in no particular order.

Courthouse Square, 1955:




Courthouse Square Parking Lot, 1985:





Courthouse Square Mall, 2015:





Biff's Pleasure Palace Parking, 1985A:




Hill County Courthouse, 1885 (under construction):


There's so much going on here that I'm not even going to try to get into it in this post. I'll be going into detail in the next few weeks.

For now, suffice it to say that these images speak volumes about what has happened to North American towns in the past century, and our wishes, feelings and hopes in this regard.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Weird Internet hijacking

Just for fun, I just googled myself. Always nice to know what a disembodied information cloud is saying about you.

There's a lot of software out there that intercepts Google searches and returns a site that appears to be just what you're looking for. Then, when you go there, it's just a bunch of ads for nothing remotely related to what you wanted, and indeed if you search that page for your search terms they're nowhere to be found.

But I just found a surreal little upgrade to that algorithm. One of the hits that came up was remarkably similar in wording to my own blog. (What are the odds?)

The text of the hit read:

Tim J. Moerman. city-limits artisan * activity beatnik * artisan * smartest guy in the room, depending on the allowance .... Tim J. Moerman: I'm an burghal ...

Sort of took existing hits and replaced a few words with synonyms (or not quite.)

But I rather like it. City-limits artisan? Activity beatnik? Why, that's the nicest thing anyone's said to me all week!