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Posts from September 2011

Public Spaces

Street musicians continue to bring their beat to 7th Street

Washington's 7th Street NW is often a mix of various melodies and cadences from an assortment of entertainers. This phenomenon is nothing new. In fact, even Langston Hughes took note of the sound of 7th Street.

From H Street to E Street, the corridor is often animated by a variety of street musicians. The performers give sidewalk traffic a sampling of the city's indigenous rhythms and native beats. From the repetitious slow jazz chord of a novice saxophonist to the staccato thumps and wamps of a veteran bucket drummer, their sounds enliven a lively street.

Video from dreamcity4life on YouTube.

The swing of Seventh Street has long served as the creative inspiration for scores of known and unknown artists throughout the city's history. One of the more famous to acknowledge the influence of the street's concord is the writer Langston Hughes. In his autobiography, The Big Sea, under the section on "Washington Society," Hughes writes:

"I tried to write poems like the songs they sang on Seventh Street - gay songs, because you had to be gay or die; sad songs, because you couldn't help being sad sometimes. But gay or sad, you kept on living and you kept on going. Their songs—those of Seventh Street—had the pulse beat of the people who keep on going."
From Southwest DC, "JR," a long-time bucket drummer occupying prime 7th Street real estate (the alcove next to the metro's Verizon Center exit), told me, "If you want to go back in history, there was people that done this before me." Being a DC street musician, he said, is "just an original thing."

Optimal times to play, according to JR, coincide with Capitals, Mystics, Wizards games, and concerts. It's best to catch the flow coming to the event then rest to conserve your energy so you can hit the crowd when they start leaving. He's pulled in as much as $400 before, but advises, "When you hustlin', it's all about patience."

To deter would-be-thieves, street musicians often bring someone with them or pay someone they know on the street to keep a watchful eye on their earnings. "Snatch and runs are part of the game," said one musician who didn't want to give his name. "But we're out here regularly. Some are old faces, some of these boys are new faces."

Everyone I spoke with repeated the known axiom that "practice makes perfect" and your sound is what sets you apart. "When we rock like we do, we get respect, because people understand what we're doing. This is a part of the city that ain't goin' nowhere."

Video from dreamcity4life on YouTube.


Capital One's Tysons redevelopment needs more housing

Capital One Bank plans to expand its Tysons Corner campus from two to 14 buildings within the next two decades. Bringing taller buildings with more residential apartments into the mix would make the new center a positive contributor to Tyson's transformation into a walkable urban center.

Photo by La Citta Vita on Flickr.

Mitre and LCOR's Tysons development plans, which I covered previously, pale in comparison to the proposals submitted by Capital One and Cityline. Sitting across Route 123 from each other, both plans are very large and very ambitious.

Immediately adjacent to the new Tysons East Metro station on the under-construction Silver Line, the Capital One site sits in one of the most prime areas of Tysons Corner for redevelopment. Capital One's proposal certainly conforms to the new Tysons Corner master plan, which allows sites within a quarter mile of Metro stops to be built in a high-density fashion. Nevertheless, the plan put forth by Capital One has a major shortcoming in its lack of a significant residential component, which will be crucial for transforming Tysons Corner into a true urban center.

As proposed, Capital One's 12 additional buildings would comprise roughly five million square feet of new development. The plan breaks construction down into five phases, with the first phase including two buildings. The eventual build-out of the plan would see Capital One's site host a variety of buildings, ranging from mid-rise residential to a (relatively) iconic commercial structure rising to 427 ft.

Capital One Campus, 2011: Photo from Fairfax County.

Capital One Campus, 2025? Photo from Fairfax County.

Urbanists should be happy with the overall scope of Capital One's plan. While there is an extensive amount of new parking included (3,953 spaces), Capital One has made a great effort to opt for both underground and discreet parking, ensuring street-front retail takes precedence. Garages in the plan are concealed behind buildings or under them, making the plan very walkable. Nevertheless, the traffic Capital One's expansion would generate would add to Route 123's already significant burden, though the site's proximity to both the Beltway and Interstate 66 helps.

While Capital One's ambitious plan should be applauded for conforming to the proposed guidelines for Tysons Corner as an urban center, the proposal's lack of a strong residential component is a key factor mitigating the project's potential to be a major positive influence. In its statement of justification, Capital One notes that its "proposed mix of uses mirrors [the Tysons Corner Comprehensive Plan's] recommendations of office uses up to 65% with a minimum residential component of 20%," stating that its own plan contains 25% residential and 65% office.

There's no way around the fact that more office space is coming to Tysons, but only the significant addition of residential space there will make a dent in the traffic that cripples the area. Instead of being forced to give up office space for residential, Capital One should be allowed and encouraged to develop as much residential as possible on top of its existing plans, as long as the new housing units come with very limited additional parking space.

Height restrictions on Tysons residential towers should be lifted, and buildings above a certain height should be required to include a certain percentage of residential. This would encourage buildings with bases of office or hotel with the upper levels containing residential, as this kind of mix of uses is one of the most effective ways to make an area walkable.

Encouraging higher residential buildings in Tysons would also satiate the demand for views. Tysons Corner's location at a relatively high elevation for the region means that adding just 200 or 300 feet to residential buildings could offer residents prime views of DC. Even from the top of the five-story parking garages in Tysons Corner Center, one can make out the National Cathedral.

The proposed Capital One Center is commendable for the extremely efficient use it makes of the land the bank has to work with. Just add some more housing space to allow more of Tysons' growing workforce to live near their jobs, and the project should do wonders in remaking Tysons Corner into a true city.


Novel rooftop house is attractive. Is it practical?

An unconventional entry in this year's Solar Decathlon brings low-footprint home design to city rooftops. It has pleased the crowds, but not the judges because it has two significant drawbacks: comfort and up-front cost.

Photo by Stephen*Iliffe on Flickr.

This year's Solar Decathlon is being held in West Potomac Park, near the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. The event will wrap up this Sunday, and you can see this home and others if you head down to the event.

Team New York, comprised of students from City College of New York, brings to this year's Decathlon (sponsored by the US Department of Energy) an innovative attempt to embrace an oft-neglected urban surface. Their "Solar Roofpod" is a 746-square-foot home specifically intended to be built on top of the existing flat roofs of the four- to ten-story buildings that cover much of the Big Apple.

"Solar Roofpod" may not be winning in the Solar Decathlon's ratings, but the inventive design has sparked plenty of talk about the feasibility of its premise. At less than 800 square feet, the home resembles in size many Manhattan apartments, but claims to reduce utility expenses by $2,500 annually by generating 11.6 megawatt hours of electricity per year through its solar panel system.

Situated on a rooftop, the home has direct access to light, wind, and water, which the team claims will help reduce overall energy costs in conjunction with the energy-conserving design. The module doesn't neglect to take its "host building" into account either: a steel beam Dunnage Garden built around the home helps protect the building below from absorbing the pod's radiation, and provides space for a rooftop garden.

Photo by Team New York
Despite Team New York's obvious ingenuity, its current standing at number 18 out of 19 participating teams doesn't bode well for the potential feasibility of the project on a larger scale.

Although not all of the ten judging metrics have been scored yet, TNY did not fare well on Affordability, coming in second to last with a rating of 61.4 out of 100 possible points. Affordability is an extremely significant metric in this contest, as the Decathlon touts "cost-effective, energy-efficient, and attractive" home design ideas. Though, perhaps unsurprisingly, the judges' dismal score hasn't hurt the public's impression of the Solar Roofpod. Team New York is currently in second place in the People's Choice Awards, in which the public votes on their favorite house.

From an urban planning perspective, the Solar Roofpod offers a space-conscious solution for building new single-family units in an already fully-developed neighborhood and promotes greater use of solar photovoltaic panels and rooftop gardens. There may not be much room in New York's densely packed streets to build new detached townhouses, but there's certainly open space available on top of its existing buildings to give an individual, or perhaps a couple, room to stretch out.

Solar Roofpod's popularity seems to indicate willingness on the part of Americans to suspend their disbelief and imagine what a city like New York might look like if, on top of large office and apartment buildings, one might be able to look up and see a diminutive home. But because of its shortcomings in practicality and livability—Team New York came in dead last in the Comfort category earlier this week—the idea may fade into the sunset once the Decathlon ends.


Capital Bikeshare's first year results exceed expectations

Just over a year ago, Capital Bikeshare launched with great fanfare. Looking back to the program's start last September, most people agree that it has been far more successful than anticipated. How much more successful? Membership, the number of riders, and revenue have all exceeded expectations in CaBi's inaugural year.

Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr.

According to a Capital Bikeshare press release, CaBi managers were "aiming to attract 8,000 members in the first year and hoped they would take 500,000 rides." With approximately 18,000 (other sources report fewer) members and 1,000,000 rides to date, the reality appears to be far more impressive.

Incidentally, CaBi manager Chris Holben wins the prognosticator award. Back in late May he called the exact day that CaBi would hit 1,000,000 trips. "How long before a million?" he was asked. "An exciting date would be September 20, 2011. And we think we can make that," he projected. They did.

During the same time, CaBi riders racked up around 1.79 miles per trip, higher than the predicted 1.5 miles. Although August and September numbers have yet to be released, we can deduce that riders pedaled approximately 1,790,000 miles in the first 365 days of use.

In addition to higher than expected ridership, revenue is significantly stronger as well.

With 18,000 annual subscribers and an additional 66,534 short-term users, (approximately 2,000 of whom held monthly memberships), CaBi more than exceeded projected earnings from member dues. According to revenue numbers provided by DDOT they made about $1,500,000 in membership revenue for the first year, which is well above what they expected.

Overage fees add up, too. About 1% of trips by annual users and about 8% of trips by casual users run long (down from 15% of trips that were longer than 30 minutes under SmartBike), and these trips garner additional fees. As a result, according to DDOT, they made an additional $770,000 in overage fees.

This results in a total of $2,270,000 in revenue. In their TIGER II application the organization estimated $942,000 in revenue, assuming an $80 per year annual fee.

Not only did they vastly exceed revenue, they report that when they compare DC's monthly O and M cost to revenue (membership/usage fees) generated, they have a surplus of $300,000. A statement they've echoed elsewhere, according to Josh Moskowitz of DDOT and Scott Kubly (formerly of DDOT) "the operations and management for Capital Bikeshare is entirely self-sustaining—even profitable for the department."

It's not unreasonable to think that Arlington has had similar success.

If we consider the positive external benefits, CaBi looks even better. As DCist noted, the system has proven itself to be "a vital component of moving around the city during an emergency."

A study of the Barcelona system showed that their bike-sharing network saves lives, reduces CO2 emissions and provides health benefits that are 77 times greater than the risks. And by getting more people on bikes, it's making biking into a more normative behavior, leading to more bicycle sales.

To try to quantify the benefits of CaBi within the DC metro area, I tweaked the worksheet CaBi submitted with the TIGER II application by replacing projections with the actual ridership and membership numbers that the system experienced this year. According to those calculations, CaBi created around an additional $1,500,000 in environmental, health, safety, access, travel time and travel cost benefits. This means that with both external and internal benefits considered, the system made approximately a $1,800,000 return.

And while the gains were higher than expected, the downside was not nearly as bad as some feared. Vandalism has not been the problem that some projected it would be. Nor has safety.

One specific criticism prior to the system's launch was that the stations weren't placed densely enough. Transportation blogger Yonah Freemark expressed this concern:

This could potentially cause significant problems for the users of the new U.S. capital system.

There are two main reasons for this: One, light station density makes short neighborhood commutes via public bicycle more difficult, reducing the chance to attract occasional riders; Two, insufficient density can cause logistical problems in situations where stations either run out of bicycles or, inversely, run out of dock spaces—not infrequent issues, at least considering my own experience using the Parisian system extensively.

Based on the massive number of day members, even without access to the National Mall, it's hard to back up the claim that CaBi has had trouble attracting occasional riders.

And the problem of empty docks or full docks is not unique to CaBi. In fact, both Montreal and Paris have serious problems with that issue, as well.

Catherine Maurency of Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique has analyzed bike-sharing data and notes that almost every city that's tried bike share has experienced some version of the problem. As Maurency points out, "if there's a subway breakdown you will have issues because there will be no more bikes and all these regular patterns will disappear. If it rains in the morning and it's sunny in the afternoon, then all the patterns change."

It's possible that a tighter placement of stations would have worked better. It's also possible that a looser placement would have been more successful. It's hard to say. But, at this point, it's even harder to say the numbers that CaBi is posting are indicative of a poorly functioning system. There is no definitive consensus on the appropriate dock density, and more likely than not, it differs from city to city anyway. However, this does not change the fact that DC's Capital Bikeshare is getting a lot right.

Another early concern, and one that led to a small controversy, was about the potential for a bike-sharing station to make a neighborhood more dangerous. Specifically, this was an issue with the Lincoln Park station, where neighbors were concerned about traffic, safety, trash, and so forth. But looking back, the whole issue seems rather silly. No one has asked that a station be moved further from his or her doorstep. Lincoln Park seems to have embraced the idea. And, indeed, most docks enjoy a warm reception.

It's exciting to see that Capital Bikeshare has exceeded expectations. The model has been more popular than expected, and it has cost less than projected. At the same time, it has been safer and more manageable than many anticipated. These are nothing if not solid indicators of a thriving, new system.

But perhaps the greatest testimony to its success is that not only is CaBi expanding within DC and Arlington, and to Rockville, Alexandria, and possibly Bethesda, but that other cities such as Chicago and New York are also following suit.

Crossposted at the Washcycle.


Breakfast links: Money trouble

Photo by lalunablanca on Flickr.
More theft at DC tax office: Federal prosecutors charged another employee at the DC Office of Tax and Revenue with stealing $400,000 over the last four years. Apparently oversight hasn't improved much. (Post)

DC cuts, then restores, seniors program: DC eliminated funding for a program that provides free groceries to senior citizens living in poverty but then found money for a new provider to run the program. (City Paper, Poverty and Policy)

Metro suing insurance provider: Metro is suing an insurance provider because of decreased ridership after the 2009 Red line crash. Metro's policy was supposed to cover partial or total loss of business. (Examiner)

Taxi commission is a mess: Councilmembers want to improve taxi service in DC, including accurately counting licensed cabs and modernizing payment. Commission chairman Ron Linton said the commission lacks the resources and the competency for many changes. (DCist)

Tysons could be your new home: Fairfax County is considering a proposal for residential towers in Tysons Corner, the first development near the future Silver Line. Developers also have to build athletic fields as a condition of new homes. (Post)

Norfolk embraces light rail: A new light rail line in Norfolk has exceeded ridership projections. The train has proven popular among commuters and students and the city wants to expand the service. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

Sun shines on transit police: The Metro Transit Police Department is trying to improve communication and transparency about crimes within the system. A heavier focus on Twitter has helped but crime reporting is virtually nonexistent. (TBD)

And...: Clarendon is getting a new park (ARLnow) ... Fairfax and Loundon counties still the wealthiest counties in the US (Post) ... Circulator service changes will go into effect on October 3 (DDOT) ... USDOT is helping to fund a dedicated busway along Route 1. (Alexandria Times)

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Tysons commuter tries transit, becomes a convert

At least one Washington commuter is making Take Transit Week permanent. My cousin decided to hop on the bus after a collision this summer, and she hasn't looked back.

Here's how it went that first day in mid-August (the other voice you hear is mine):

My cousin loves her car—a 2009 Infiniti G37 coupe. But her enthusiasm to drive was significantly curbed in June when she accidentally rear-ended someone in heavy rush-hour traffic for the second time in two months. Not only did it give her jitters behind the wheel—her insurance payment doubled.

Knowing that taking transit saves money, burns calories, and frees up time, I decided to make The Ask. Since I was commuting downtown for the summer, I suggested we take the bus to the Metro from the stop right outside her development in central Tysons Corner. Before the accidents, she would have laughed it off, but instead she said yes.

Now that my cousin's been riding a while, I asked her a few questions.

Has switching to Metro saved you money?

The cost of using Metro per month is $196 (bus + train). Parking at the office is $270/month plus $284/month in gas. So my total monthly savings is $358. Additional pluses are less mileage on the car as well as wear and tear on the tires. Also there is less chance of getting in an accident (my personal favorite).
Are there other pros or cons to switching to transit?
Cons: I don't love being stuck at the mercy of bus and train schedules. Also, driving can take less time. The 11-mile commute by car ranges from 30 minutes on the best day to 90+ on bad days. My transit commute takes about 50 minutes, door-to-door. Plus, I like to have the option to stop on my way home which you cannot do as easily on public transportation.

Pros: On the other hand, it's less stressful than driving. I used to arrive at work all stressed out from the traffic delays, constant construction and really poor driving going on around me. I can work on my way in as I get service for the BlackBerry on the bus and train.

I've found the buses clean and air conditioned. The timetables seem to be pretty accurate. And having two different bus routes within 1 block of my home is convenient.

The bus drop-off at West Falls Church is covered so I don't get wet when it's raining. A dedicated, separate entrance to the train platform is provided from the bus area as well. The vast majority of the time I even manage to get a seat both ways.

To top things off, I can get a pre-tax benefit through my firm's WMATA SmartBenefits program.

Was it easier or harder than driving on the earthquake, hurricane and flood days?
In general, it was easier. While there were delays on transit, the traffic seemed way worse.

The day of the earthquake, it took almost twice as long due to the lower speed limit on tracks during the structural inspections. On the Thursday that Tropical Storm Lee blew through, I waited an hour for the bus—which I expected. But I equated traffic around Tysons to what one would see on Christmas Eve: gridlock. I was very glad to be on the bus.

What are your words of wisdom to anyone considering a bus/Metro commute?
My advice would be to try it for a week, take the time to do the math and calculate the savings. And keep an open mind.

I begrudgingly (still) have to admit I am a public transportation convert. Check back with me in November when the cold and snow has settled in.

If you haven't tried transit, give it a whirl. You might just become a convert, too.

Crossposted at The Durable Human.


Improved access to Cafritz development is a step forward

The Cafritz development along Route 1 in Riverdale Park is slated to bring the first Whole Foods to Prince George's County. While one neighboring community is trying to cut off access, another sees opportunity in increasing connectivity.

Photo by *Brujita* on Flickr.

The Riverdale Town council, at first inclined to restrict access to the project only from Route 1, may now see access to the development from the south, along Maryland Avenue, as a chance to open its own town center to additional traffic. This commercial area adjacent to the MARC station, and home to a popular farmers market, has struggled to find tenants. It could become a successful complement to the Cafritz project.

By contrast, University Park wants any new traffic signal on Baltimore Avenue at Van Buren Street to prevent traffic from crossing into its residential streets. Yet access works both ways.

Without such a light, town residents will have to use some part of Route 1 to shop at Whole Foods. And that feeling of being trapped by traffic, which residents have commented on at council meetings, would only grow worse.

Good news on access was heard at Cafritz's presentation last Thursday to the Riverdale Park council. The cost of building a bridge or ramp over the CSX line at the rear of the property is possibly much lower than the $15 million first expected. This would provide access to River Road on the the other side of the tracks, with its significant office developments.

Vehicular access into College Park to the north, along Rhode Island Avenue, may remain a dream. This means that College Park residents from adjoining neighborhoods will have to make a left onto Baltimore Avenue, and another left into the site, to get to the development.

Yes, they can use buses and shuttles, which should be integrated into the design from the outset. Or perhaps they can walk or bike along the trail that the Cafritz development will now complete. But many people who go grocery shopping choose to take their cars. Forcing them all onto arteries won't repeal this preference, but it may make traveling on those arteries more difficult for everyone.


It's time to rethink Rockville Pike

Montgomery County residents have a love-hate relationship with Rockville Pike. It's the place everybody goes, but nobody likes. How did it get this way, and can it get better?

Rockville Pike. Photo by Dan Reed.

Simply mentioning "Rockville Pike" triggers a mental image of honking horns, last-minute weaves, ribbons of heat lofting across large parking lots, and seemingly endless shopping centers with hundreds of businesses. Most people's opinion of the corridor is two-fold: they hate it, but it's a necessary part of life in Montgomery County.

Like a lot of other places in America that came into their own in the 1950s and '60s, Montgomery County planned its new suburbia to be comfortable and convenient for the automobile. Roads would be built wide to accommodate the newest land boats, whose unimpeded movement would take precedence above all else.

After all, what could be better than making everything automobile-accessible, with business strips easy to get in and out of, loads of free parking out front, and convenient drive-through windows aplenty?

That vision might have worked in 1950, but times changed. Population increased. Families bought two, three, or even four cars for multiple drivers. Business success attracted more businesses, as well as office development. "The Pike" changed from a sleepy local shopping street to the most important commercial center for a huge community numbering nearly a million people.

Something else happened too. Roads in general, and the Pike in particular, began to clog like a hardened artery. As more and more people spread out across Montgomery County to live, they all converged on Rockville Pike to shop or work, and almost all of them did so using individual cars.

How has it all turned out? You can get anything you want on the Pike, but the gettin' is slowwww. No matter how exquisitely timed the signals are and no matter how many extra turn lanes and interchanges planners provide, Rockville Pike cannot move the thousands upon thousands of cars that use it every day. Even on the weekends congestion rules.

Bypassing the congestion is nearly impossible. The few brave pedestrians find narrow sidewalks, long street crossings, and short signals. They're often stranded on wind-swept, skinny medians, and then face broad expanses of parking between themselves and every destination. The Metro helps, but stops are too few and too far apart to access the entire corridor. Bus service exists, but is woefully insufficient.

Did we really invent this mess? Can we escape it?

I believe we can attain a different future, and I think Montgomery County officials agree. We can tame the traffic beast and knit the Pike's disparate, spread-out shopping areas into a series of urban neighborhoods, with increased housing opportunities complementing existing and future employment centers.

If we improve transit access to and along the Pike, traffic would become more tolerable, walking and biking more comfortable, and unrelated land uses would come together as functioning neighborhoods.

A high quality Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system along the Pike could whisk residents to many more stops than the Metro system currently allows, and make a visit to the Pike without a car efficient and enjoyable. Such a system could not only improve movement along the Pike, it could also bring people to and from surrounding areas.

At the same time, the Pike could be physically redesigned and made into more of a tree-lined urban boulevard, with benches and attractive streetside landscaping that provide environmental benefits as well, like managing polluted rainwater runoff. This reconfiguration, including the BRT system, would serve new, more urban land uses.

This sort of transformation will be necessary if Montgomery County is to continue to grow and prosper. Without such transformation, the county and the Pike specifically risk stagnation.

Simply put, Montgomery County must accommodate more people, and the best way to do that is to enhance and re-energize its already developed places, rather than bringing development to its precious few open ones.

A few projects are already under construction or in planning that will begin to bring about this change. The Metro station areas are redeveloping, BRT is being seriously considered, and corridor plans are under study.

Change is hard, but in this case not changing would be harder. This important part of Montgomery County must necessarily become more urban, more livable, and economically and more ecologically sustainable.

This post is part of an occasional series on local transportation solutions that will make our region greater.


Breakfast links: Under pressure

Photo by Noel Feans on Flickr.
Pressure mounts on DC middle schools: Elementary enrollment is up but DC middle schools are either overcrowded or underperforming. A lack of quality middle school options could hurt long-term education reform in DC. (Post)

Bowser has her own ethics challenge: Ward 4 councilmember Muriel Bowser is under pressure to create an ethics bill by the end of the year. The council's ethics problems and 9 proposed bills aren't making it easy. (Huffington Post)

Tenants sue over living conditions: A group of tenants in Langley Park are suing the property management for "wretched" living conditions. A judge ruled that Prince Georges County must investigate the property before the tenants pay rent. (NBC Washington)

Earthquake caused more damage than thought: NPS is closing the Washington Monument indefinitely to inspect damage caused by last month's earthquake. A new video shows tourists evacuating when the quake hit. (Post)

No fault in Jefferson Memorial arrests: A Park Police investigation found officers followed procedures when they arrested dancing protesters at the Jefferson Memorial. The protesters allege police used excessive force in the arrests. (WTOP)

Don't call it a bribe: Ward 1 councilmember Jim Graham says a taxi lobbyist didn't try to bribe him when he offered Graham cash. Graham oversaw the taxicab commission at the time but says the money was not related to that. (City Paper)

Everyone doesn't love a party: Some Mount Pleasant neighbors are unhappy with Fiesta DC, the annual Latino cultural festival. One ANC commissioner says the organizers didn't communicate or organize well and weren't prepared to clean up afterward. (DCist)

And...: Crystal City is getting a new gateway (ARLnow) ... Howard University won't kick students out for unpaid bills (City Paper) ... Metro is postponing track work to accommodate the MLK Memorial dedication (WMATA).

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Barracks Row Fall Festival: Fun for everyone

Saturday's annual Barracks Row Fall Festival brought the community together for art, fitness, food, and music.

Belga Cafe and The Ugly Mug drew revelers with their beer and food offerings, while dozens of military chefs participated in a cook-off. New York Trapeze School aerialists performed in front of large crowds all afternoon, and the Marine Corps recruited volunteers to perform in the pull-up challenge.

All photos by the author.

Many children played with bunnies, goats, and other animals at the petting zoo; other kids took to the rowing machines provided by the Anacostia Community Boathouse Association. DC Rollergirls skated through the crowds, trying to wrangle up some arm wrestling challengers. Art representing multiple disciplines was on display, including metal working, photography, sketches, paintings, and sculptures.

There were a few standout moments: Signing my life away to the Marines when completing the pull-up challenge; gulping a Yeungling Oktoberfest from The Ugly Mug; and pigging out on a slider, mini hotdog, salad, and cookie plate from Matchbox.

All together, it was a fun way to spend the afternoon.

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