History: Fort Madison, Iowa: The Battle of Downtown

If your town hasn't been done in by sprawl, two in Iowa show how to keep a sense of place

"More and more people are seeing that every place in America looks like every place else, and that means every place looks like no place." --Richard Moe, president, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Mr. Moe, I can personally assure you, is onto something. I have been to no place. In 3 1/2 years, my job has taken me to 40 states. Throw out the obvious exceptions--the San Franciscos and Ann Arbors, the Chicagos and Charlestons--and I can count on one hand the places I have any distinct recollection of. The rest is a low-slung, conglomerized blur of obliterated history--of forgotten downtowns...

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