If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

Toni Morrison

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“Crossing the Continent” book

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Norm has completed the manuscript for a new book titled, Crossing the Continent: Pioneers of Transcontinental Travel. Transportation’s impact historically on the growth of American towns and cities has been more than significant—it has been incredible. America’s rise as a great nation was in no small part due to individuals who developed its transportation systems. The book presents a narrative history of the development of our nation’s transportation systems through the perspectives and activities of personages significant in each historical era. Some of the protaganists are familiar—George Washington as a young surveyor trekking to the new western territories. Some were ruthless in their quest—Thomas Durant, master schemer of the Union Pacific Railroad. Others were larger-than-life figures now largely forgotten—Carl G. Fisher, eccentric entrepreneur who oversaw construction of the country’s first coast-to-coast highway as a way to promote sales of his automobile headlamps. Other biographical sketches illustrate unbelievable feats—Annie Kopchovsky, who in 1894 left her husband and two children for fifteen months to successfully ride a bicycle around the world. The individual stories are intriguing, enlightening, and sometimes unbelievable. A reflection on these individuals and their roles in ‘Crossing the Continent’ provides the focus for this history of American daring and determination.

Norm is now in the stage of final editing, and he is looking for an agent or publishing house for the 85,000 word manuscript.

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Tyler Family History

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Norm has begun work on a new book covering the 380-year the history of the Tyler family in America. His new book will not include the family genealogy; that is already well documented with almost 10,000 names in three volumes. Instead, it will be a narrative of interesting stories about the family history from 1638 to the current time.

A sample of stories includes: derivation of the Tyler surname, saving the 300-year-old Tyler homestead, Salem witch trials of Tyler ancestors, the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb (Mary was a relative),” the Tyler who was involved in the Aaron Burr Conspiracy, a copy of the “official” Tyler Family hymn, a review of the family’s many national reunions, the creation of the Job Tyler Family Association, among many other topics.
As he works on the manuscript, Norm is looking for stories and information from other Tylers for possible inclusion. You can contact him for info or to see a copy of the book chapter outline at: ntyler@tylertopics.com.

New Cover

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The new 3rd edition of our Historic Preservation book is being printed, coming out in the fall. For the cover, the photographer blended four photos of the St. Louis Courthouse and Gateway Arch to create this dramatic shot, representing new and old preservation projects. Ilene was very involved with the Courthouse project, less involved with the Arch.

University of Michigan Alumni Tour of Japan

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In October, Ilene and Norm joined with 22 other University of Michigan alums and friends on a 12-day tour of the highlights of Japan. One highlight of a tour filled with many highlights was viewing the Golden Temple, with exterior walls covered with gold leaf. The tour group traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto, seeing incredible temples, shrines, and gardens. However, Ilene felt the best part of the trip was the food, and now that we are home we are now adding Japanese cooking to our everyday menu.

3rd Edition Draft Working Session

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Four of us (Norm, Ilene, Ted Ligibel, and Sarah Marsom) are working diligently on  the 3rd Edition of our book, Historic Preservation: An Introduction to Its History, Principles, and Practice. We spent an entire afternoon together looking at the text on a big screen and discussing final edits. Each edition is more work than expected, but the revisions provide relevant updates. The final version will be going to publisher W.W. Norton & Company in just a few weeks. Stay tuned for the unveiling of a surprising new cover.

American Planning Association Presentation

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American Planning Association Presentation

Norm was a member of a group of the College of Fellows presenting at the annual APA Conference in New York City. The topic was “The Role of the 21st Century Planner.” A packed room listened to discussion of how city planners could better adopt new ideas and technologies into practice. Other speakers were moderator Andrea Brown (APA Michigan Executive Director), Mitchell Silver (former APA president), Bruce Race (University of Houston), and Janet Ruggiero (California planner).

Included in the audience was Ilene with her Jane Jacobs doll. (Ask her about it.)

Chaloner Building tour and consultation

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A visit to the Chaloner Building in Adrian, Michigan gave Norm and I a chance to engage professionally with Mayor Jim Berryman, local historian ScottWestfall, and other local development team members about the potential and opportunities for rehabilitation of this building. Adrian’s streetscape is incredibly intact and holds great architectural interest for its diversity of styles. Flanking buildings from the same time period add to the challenges of isolating an initial project with room to grow.

Tour of the Chaloner Building

University of Michigan Power Plant Tour

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One of many buildings opened for tours this week, I chose this one, because I’m always up for a behind-the-scenes tour of raw power. We wore earplugs and safety glasses, and were told not to take photos. In a small group of seven, we were guided through the plant observing the noisy turbines and firing chambers and the eerily quiet command center. Three people monitor all of the controls for the entire system around the clock, and react quickly to power surges and outages. In the next couple of years, major upgrades are planned to simplify this process and allow a smoother response to interruptions of power.

The University is finding many ways to celebrate its Bicentennial and it seems only natural to enjoy as many of these as I can. While I’ve been fortunate to have explored many campus buildings in the course of my career, the Power Plant is one I’d never been inside, even though I’ve walked by many times. Asking if the central-campus location has proved to be an asset or a liability, our guide explained that the site was chosen in 1914 for its low elevation – steam rises, and condensate falls back to the plant. This is still true, of course, so the answer is a resounding “yes.”

Library Lot Proposal

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For many years the city of Ann Arbor has been discussing proposals for a new development on a key site in the downtown next to the city’s library. The current proposal is for a massive mixed-use structure with a plaza in front. Ilene and I wrote a letter to City Council expressing our concerns with the current design. We have attached the letter here as a pdf.

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