Park

Parks provide urban denizens an escape from the sprawl of asphalt and concrete that binds them, whether it is a quick walk in the local city park or a camping trip to a state or national park. They are places dedicated to preserving one bit of nature for the enjoyment of the citizens. In a typical adventure, this happy, shiny fun is bound to be shattered by the intrusion of villains bent on crashing the party. Read the Full Article

Office

The office building remains one of the enduring symbols of white-collar workers, commerce, and business. The typical building contains multiple offices, ranging from the cubicle farms of low-level clerical workers to the scenic windowed offices of managers and company presidents. Offices contain all the elements for efficient conduction of business: desks, telephones, word-processing devices, and the like. The typical building also has all manner of office supplies, ranging from mundane paper, pens, and correction fluid, to more esoteric devices such as binding machines, paper cutters, and high- capacity shredders. Read the Full Article

Museum

The word “museum” comes from the Greek word “mouseion” – a place dedicated to the Muses, who were themselves the divine spirits of the arts. This ancient definition holds true today, as museums remain buildings devoted to exhibiting objects and displays of importance. What is on display depends on the museum. The art museum – filled with paintings, drawings, and sculptures of famous artists – remains the most popular conception, but museums exist devoted to all kinds of topics: science, history, sports and hobbies, and so on. The focus and scope of a museum determines most of its characteristics. For example, a regional museum dedicated to the history of coal mining in the area would probably be a modest building, possibly with a coal car in the center, and other artifacts or pictorials hanging loose on walls. A national art museum, on the other hand, might be a huge, impressive structure with towering statues, housing the country’s most valuable objects in phenomenal security. Museums can take the form of refurbished warehouses, rededicated palaces, or planned architectural marvels. Read the Full Article

Mall

The first indoor mall began operation in 1954. Prior to that, shopping locales primarily remained in downtown areas; stores opened to people off the street, encouraging them to see product, come in, and shop. The mall reversed this idea. Rather than exposing its stores and product outward, hoping to entice would-be shoppers to stumble into them, it turned its stores inward, creating a shopping experience free of distractions like road traffic and weather. It didn’t matter that people couldn’t see the smaller shops from the outside; people would be drawn to the mall simply for the promise of pleasurable shopping. Read the Full Article

Library

“Libraries,” in the sense of “places of knowledge and information hoarding,” have existed since the Sumerians of the third millennium, B.C.E. In fact, explorers sometimes stumble across these ancient troves of lore, their dusty pages kept as secreted away as they were back then. However, the concept of “library” as “site of publicly available information” is a much more recent development: In the United States, Andrew Carnegie’s library construction project from 1883 to 1929 was revolutionary. Before then, libraries had closed stacks; you needed to ask a librarian for a specific book, who would go get it for you. The Carnegie libraries had open stacks; patrons could peruse the collection and picked ones based on what seemed interesting. Read the Full Article

Laboratory

The word “laboratory” often conjures up images of strange chemicals bubbling through mazes of glass and tubes, or tests conducted on machinery of such complexity that even its creators cannot fully understand what they have designed. Many labs actually possess few chemicals and do not contain any equipment more complicated than a personal computer. They can focus on a variety of fields, including avionics, biochemistry, chemicals, electronics, the environment, genetics, medicine, nuclear and alternate forms of energy, physics, sewage treatment, and others. Which field and whether it focuses on research or development dictates how the laboratory will be stocked. (Thus, the “Things to See” list may not be appropriate for many circumstances, as it focuses on chemical- or physics- related fields. Read the Full Article

Island Stronghold

The island stronghold is a mainstay of action stories and pulp adventures. Villains often own an entire island, its exact location unknown to any but the villain’s closest associates, and there he plots on how to take over the world. On the other hand, heroes sometimes have such locations as well, and use them as retreats, safehouses, and training grounds. The best thing about an island stronghold is its dominance. Often the island is so small or so uninhabited that it has no other structures beyond the stronghold. This is particularly true of inhospitable rocks chosen for their defensibility and perhaps their natural resources. Even on inhabited islands, the stronghold is the largest and most well- constructed building. This means that the stronghold’s owner dominates the island in general and can control the activities of its other occupants. It is difficult to sneak up on someone who owns an island stronghold, knows every islander by name and face, and has them trained to report intruders immediately. Read the Full Article

House

Houses, much like apartments, vary mostly in number of bedrooms and overall size. Unlike apartments, which normally stick to a “kitchen, bath, dining room, living room” motif, houses may have an assorted number of other rooms, many connected by hallways. These could include den, family room, great room, sitting room, solarium, nursery, utility room, laundry room, pantry, foyer, closets, storage rooms, attic, and washrooms, among others. Read the Full Article

Hotel and Motel

Throughout history, travelers often had to rely upon the kindness of strangers, but sometimes they found temporary shelter from the elements in inns, establishments designed especially for pilgrims and similarly transient visitors. Some inns offered little more than a dry piece of dirt to lie down upon (modern-day “fare-saver” motels seem to have embraced this lamentable tradition). A few inns provided for every comfort, but they charged increased fees for doing so. Thanks to Hollywood, many people think that inns were a fixture of ancient and medieval life, but the truth is that, throughout history, relatively few people have ever been permitted to travel very far from the place of their births, and inns weren’t as ubiquitous as mass-market fiction would lead people to believe. For example, the inns of the Roman cursus publicus, the famous system of imperial roads, could only be used by military personnel and government couriers with special permits. Conditions were not much different in medieval Europe, as travelers other than merchants (and sometimes even them) were looked upon with suspicion. Only when the world grew much safer did anything resembling the modern concept of inns, motels, and hotels come into being. Read the Full Article

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