The Northeast corridor should be a model for inter-city rail; instead the maddening trip on the Acela, originally meant to take three hours from Boston to New York, typically takes close to four. Inexplicably, the most successful Amtrak route isn't part of recovery or stimulus investment ... Remember when boarded-up windows in derelict buildings were painted to look like all was well? This town is trying something similar, but for storefronts ... Housing has long been at the center of the U.S. economy, but this Wall Street Journal writer says those days are over ... More on the shrinking city: Cleveland rejiggers zoning and permitting to allow raising chickens and bees as the city grapples with foreclosures and vacant lots lin... Informal settlement as virtuously green and, given earthquakes and other disasters, rubble in waiting ... This month's highlighted working paper looks at a fascinating (and slightly disturbing) trend -- the effects of the economic slowdown on formerly fast-growing exurban areas, where construction has ground to a halt, leaving half-completed houses and time-at-a-standstill landscapes of entirely empty or "premature" subdivisions. Premature Subdivisions and What to Do About Them, authored by Donald Elliott, is part of work being done in the joint venture with the Sonoran Institute, Western Lands and Communities ... Related: will suburban environments become the next 'slum'? Analysis from The Atlantic and the New York Times.