February 08, 2010 - 10:21 pm

Going for a Record

U Street unders Snow

The record snow that accumulated this weekend brought us out to snowball fights and sledding in Meridian Hill Park.  With few stores open and few roads passable, Saturday was a true holiday in the old-fashioned sense.

Howard University Hospital’s groundskeeper was out in heartbeat clearing the hospital’s sidewalks while contractors cleared the hospital’s parking lot. Pretty impressive!

Neighbors dug their cars out of snow and the usually busy Florida Avenue carried more pedestrians then automobiles. The District government sent numerous plows along U Street and Florida Avenue, largely neglecting (understandably) the quiet streets of LeDroit Park.

Plowing U Street

You didn’t need a 4×4 to get around this weather. These two girls found that a daddy-powered sled was the most convenient form of transportation.

Sibling Transit

In Dupont Circle, hundreds of people gathered for a snowball fight. We caught the end of it:

Mêlée du Pont

Is a white Hummer camouflaged when it’s in the snow? These snowballers were able to spot and pelt it.


This Suburban sped away as soon as the light turned green.

Run, SUV, Run

For cars in LeDroit Park, Fourth and Fifth Streets are passable, but the east-west streets are better left to the four-wheel-drives.

More snow is expected Tuesday night and during the day on Wednesday. Were Pres. William McKinley still alive today, he would not only argue the merits of a gold standard with Rep. Ron Paul, but would also scoff at this relative “dusting”.  Though we’ve recorded 45 inches so far this winter, the winter of 1898-99, during McKinley’s administration, set the city’s record, dumping a total of 54.4 inches on the capital!

If you’re tired of the snow, be glad you don’t live in Québec City, which suffers 124 inches of snow each winter… on average!

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February 06, 2010 - 12:02 pm

Snowpocalypse 2: Electric Boogaloo


Exactly nine months from now the maternity wards will be full, but if you’re looking for other fun today without consequences later, you might consider sledding and lobbing snowballs at your fellow citizens.

The steps at Meridian Hill Park make for excellent sledding (pictured above). The park will also host a snowball fight at 2 pm. Alternatively, there is a snowball fight scheduled for 2 pm at Dupont Circle.  Please leave your city-issued guns at home.

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January 31, 2010 - 7:16 am

Putting A Lid On It

Opening day for the Dupont Circle underpass

In 1950 the District opened a vehicular underpass allowing Connecticut Avenue to dive under Dupont Circle.  The underpass, which still exists today, is flanked by two abandoned (and hidden) streetcar tunnels that sit behind each rusticated retaining wall.  In March 2007, DDOT finished refurbishing the automobile underpass, but the city missed an excellent opportunity to restore the gashed avenue above.

Between Dupont Circle and Q Street, the underpass is “daylighted”— exposed to the sky— needlessly monopolizing space from the block’s active street scene.

Our solution for street reclamation is simple: cap the underpass for that one block.


Connecticut Avenue, for that one block, would become much like P Street or Nineteenth Street (on the north side) as they approach the circle.  Each provides a travel lane and a parking lane in each direction— far different from the cramped and highway-like atmosphere on Connecticut Avenue.

The businesses along the block would benefit from sidewalks that will double in width as well as from easier access from the roadway, parking spaces and sidewalk on the opposite side of the avenue.  The increased sidewalk space will relieve the pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks (particularly on the east side) and provide space for outdoor seating and for stores’ promotional placards.  Pairs of facing street benches perpendicular to the avenue will provide more seating for shop patrons and passersby.

Furthermore, the ample, seamless space would provide another truck-accessible venue for weekend farmers’ markets or art sales and other events that a stodgy National Park Service may not permit in the circle itself.

Plans are already in motion to build over I-395 and the National Capital Planning Commission dreams of covering the E Street Expressway in Foggy Bottom east of the Kennedy Center.  Compared to those proposals, this one is simpler, easier, and cheaper and would benefit more residents.

Update: We considered the idea of a medial park, but worried that it would suffer from desolation due to its separation from the active sidewalks. Though certainly better than the status quo, we suspect fewer people would want to sit in what is essentially a grassy street median. That said, it would certainly be cheaper to build— and money is no small matter in this case!

The advantage of our proposal above is that it enhances existing spaces (the sidewalks) whose heavy use warrants improvement.