This wide- and large- screen layout
I live in downtown Ipswich Massachusetts in the upper story of this house on the corner of Central Street and Hammatt Street (which the postman knows as #44 Central Street). This old house has been subdivided into four parts. Three are apartments (one a studio), and one is a barber shop. Like many older buildings in Ipswich this follows the pattern of combined commercial/residential use, which is once again popular.
I really like the central location. From where I live I can walk to the post office, the bank, the shrink, the coffee bar, the auto repair place, some live music, the library, town hall, the pub, a couple convenience marts, several restaurants, and our riverwalk. I only get in my car to drive just a bit further to the grocery store or drug store or the town's combined middle/high school. Downtown Ipswich is quite small. Most of the commercial establishments are around the single deeply shaded block. And the larger lightly shaded rectangle around which I used to walk most every day to get some exercise encompasses more than half of greater downtown.
I'm less enamored of the heat, although to date the location has more than balanced it. My apartment is on the top floor of this old house, and gets very hot on sunny summer days. The sun beats on the roof and heats the attic all day, then that heat radiates down through the ceiling into my apartment at night. (The temperature in my apartment is typically highest in the evening after dark!)
Whenever I've mentioned the heat problem to various people over the years, their response has always been the same: "just get a bigger air conditioner". I've been rather appalled that the universal response to doing something stupid is to just use more energy. Over these many years, not a single person has ever even mentioned thinking about whether such a use of air conditioning would be environmentally responsible (or even whether there might be other alternatives). Nor has anybody ever considered the idea that I might not be physically capable of sticking an air conditioner out the window without dropping it (I'm not). Nor has anybody ever considered that the electrical wiring in this old apartment might not be up to the load (given that everything except the kitchen is on just one circuit, it's probably not).
When the house isn't sited right or built right or insulated right -as this one isn't- attempting to use air conditioning to compensate would just result in expensive electricity bills yet without lowering the temperature a whole lot. When there's a contest between the monster full sun and a brave little air conditioner, the sun will win hands down. Homes that use air conditioners prudently put them in rooms that are already a bit cooler, not in the hottest room in the house; the same rule of thumb applies here. Air conditioning may be a reasonable option for some other units in this building, but not for my apartment, since it was the hottest part of the old house before it was subdivided (i.e. the unshaded part of the top floor).
A few years ago I hit on the idea of in summertime having a window fan blow hot air out of one of the attic windows. Even though it's not really a proper "exhaust" fan, it's made more difference in my heat problem than everything else put together.
If you want to come visit me either take the MBTA commuter line to Newburyport (not the one to Rockport which starts on the same tracks) and get off at Ipswich, or drive a car into Ipswich (you may need to manually reselect the right browser tab, as these directions predate tabbed browsing).
From the Central Street sidewalk looking at the front of the house, on the right hand side, go through the gate at the lower end of the wheelchair ramp and up the three or four wooden stairs into the small (and likely dark) porch. Pull open the cream-colored screen door to face the solid red door with the 44 numerals tacked on it. (There's a third door into the building, and it does not connect to my apartment and is of no use whatsoever in finding me. If the door is any color other than red, or it says anything other than 44, or the steps are brick, walk around the building to the Central Street side.) The barbers usually remember to unlock that red door whenever the barbershop is open (if they forgot, you can also go through the barbershop into that same small hallway). If the door was open, leave it similarly open; if it was closed, re-close it. The barbers sometimes use it for ventilation and for A/C isolation. There's no doorbell, and most likely I won't hear pounding on the door, so if the barber shop isn't open use your cellphone to telephone me (never mind if telephoning seems like overkill for just a doorbell:-). Inside you'll find yourself in a small hallway with access to the barbershop, the barbershop's restroom, a couple blank doors, and a carpeted flight of stairs. Go up those stairs. At the top the righthand door of the two is my apartment.
Back Door (Plan B only)
If the front entrance is locked and you don't have a cellphone, an alternative is to use the back stairs instead. (The stairs themselves were rebuilt recently and are now quite sturdy, but the door is funky and the light doesn't work.) To get to the back of the house, walk on the sidewalk to the corner, then turn right down Hammatt Street just a little bit. Very soon you'll come to a paved open place between my building and the next building (which is off-white), with parking places for the residents. While walking (don't try to park or drive back there), turn right again off the sidewalk into this open space to view the back side of my house. On the left of the back of the house you'll see a very tall set of mostly cream-colored (with some unpainted surfaces) stairs that were obviously added on many decades after the building was built. Walk all the way up both flights. The only door at the top leads to my apartment. Open the screen door, knock on the wooden door, wait, then step over (not on:-) the fragile threshold.