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Best Porches 

Edwardsville, Illinois

Edwardsville has its share of mansions with balconies and verandas, but mostly the town is dominated by modest, tree-shrouded bungalows and crackerbox houses. When the cicadas reach mid-July fever pitch, nearly loud enough to drown out the whir of fans and air conditioning, the homes seem like excuses for their porches rather than the other way around. Walk around the historic Brick Street District or just about any side street off Main: Cats sleep next to dogs on the steps; collegiate furnishings -- a plaid sofa, a stolen park bench, a vinyl La-Z-Boy -- sit next to unlocked bicycles and pedestal ashtrays. For those porches that won't support a legitimate swing, a freestanding canopied model more than suffices. The columns may be cracking and the roofs may sag a little, but the porches of Edwardsville are the best place to enjoy all the wonderful nothing that passes before them.

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