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Ho ho ho! It’s that time of year again. Here’s JHK’s holiday classic: A Christmas Orphan.

11-year-old Jeff Greenaway hears his mom and dad argue one night after an office Christmas party. He infers from their garbled squabble that he is an orphan, found in a willow basket on the welcome mat outside their New York apartment. Thinking now that his parents are imposters, he steals away to Grand Central Station and buys a train ticket to Drakesville, Vermont, where he intends to start life all over again.
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JHK’s lost classic now reprinted as an e-book
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Behold the new Easton, Pennsylvania, city hall, yet another dismal composition of blank masonry walls and tinted glass curtain claddings for that perfect despotic government effect. Note how its demeanor resembles the attitude of a prison chain gang guard. See below the old Easton city hall, a 1920s beaux arts beauty (and the tallest building in town) connoting beauty, virtue, and aspiration. It still stands a block away, though sold and repurposed for general office space.

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The new city hall comes complete with an adjoining massive parking deck (below) — a guaranteed killer of street life. Local Easton urban design activist Dennis Lieb says: “There is uniform contempt among the general public here for both these structures, but as usual the emperor’s new clothes syndrome persists in polite circles.”

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About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

7 Responses to “August 2016” Subscribe

  1. MDG August 2, 2016 at 10:11 am #

    It looks like the Ministry of Truth.

  2. San Jose August 2, 2016 at 2:30 pm #

    Dreadful city hall!

    On another note, one of your past eyesore winners–San Francisco’s transit hub–is causing trouble in the neighborhood. The multi-billion dollar project has interfered with a neighboring building, the Millennial Tower, home to the ultra-posh, uber-rich city elite. Finished 8 years ago, the tower has sunk 16 inches, and is leaning two inches.

    San Francisco will have its own Pisa tower! The homeowners association met yesterday and are gearing up for a huge lawsuit. It’s going to be hard to sell over-priced condos when unsecured balls and marbles roll toward Oakland.

    Jen in San Jose

    • routersurfer September 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm #

      Thanks for the update.

  3. flyover country August 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    The 1929’s city hall building pictured looks similar to Albert Kahn’s General Motor’s headquarters building in Detroit, minus two towers. It has been re purposed also. The so called, New Center north of downtown Detroit, became the Old Center after the freeways allowed everyone to move into suburbia..

  4. jayrome August 7, 2016 at 6:34 pm #

    How very sad. This is the best the architects could create? Swapping a multi-level concrete parking lot for the fine civic structure? Pathetic indeed!

  5. Walter B August 25, 2016 at 11:36 pm #

    Hey, don’t be so hard on the architect. After all Albert Speer and his children have to make a living somehow!

  6. WoozyCanary September 29, 2016 at 8:43 pm #

    Darth Vader meets bombing shelter.

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