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"Navy Yard-W" is worst of new station name proposals

Southwest and Near Southeast's ANC 6D voted Monday night to support changing the Navy Yard Metro station to "Navy Yard-." Yes, with a logo in the name. This is just one of the craziest of the many proposals to add nearby attractions to Metro station names.

Photo by Scott Ableman on Flickr.

The ANC's action actually just amends their previous resolution, which supported the too-long "Navy Yard-Capitol Riverfront-." If Metro doesn't allow a logo to be part of a name, they now support "Navy Yard-Ballpark"; the previous backup was "Navy Yard-Capitol Riverfront-Nationals Park."

When WMATA was discussing guidelines for station names, it didn't even occur to me (or, probably, to most people) to even consider requiring names to actually use regular letters. This idea resembles the 1990s antics from the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince.

A strange symbol in a station name would cause untold confusion. How will people talk about the station in text messages? There isn't a key for "Curly W logo" on any smartphones. Many apps contain lists of stations. What would they do? Does the GTFS data feed specification include a mode for a name to contain an image? Should it be vector graphics or raster?

In reality, what would really happen is that the station will be called "Navy Yard-W" in many places. And inevitably, some will assume that it was named for our 43rd President. This comes just 10 years after this region fought against Congressional meddling that forced the name of a locally unpopular President on a station.

A lot of organizations and jurisdictions are jumping on this opportunity to ask for name changes. Alexandria just voted to recommend changing King Street to King Street-Old Town. Holy Cross Hospital has officially asked Montgomery County to support adding it to the Forest Glen station.

The Golden Triangle BID wants one or both of the Farragut stations to bear the name Golden Triangle. The Capitol Riverfront BID also wanted some recognition, but it's pretty clear its name is way too long to be a part of a station, even if such a change were desirable.

ANC 6D also unanimously supported changing Waterfront to "Waterfront-Arena Stage," or alternatively "SW Waterfront." A proposal to add "Banneker Park" to L'Enfant Plaza didn't even come to a vote, though.

Most riders have consistently argued that shorter names are better. As Kurt Raschke pointed out, in most cities the station names don't name the neighborhoods but rather the station locations. That's why New York has five 23rd Street stations and doesn't call them Chelsea, Murray Hill, and so on. They do, however, have their major stadiums in station names, and a few major centers like Times Square.

In the Washington region, though, station names have generally come to reflect neighborhoods. In fact, some areas like North Cleveland Park have actually taken on the names of surrounding Metro stations to identify the area in common parlance. Therefore, as long as names stay short, adding a commonly-used neighborhood name to a station might have some merit.

"Navy Yard" doesn't represent the way people talk about the neighborhood today. They do call it the ballpark area, so "Navy Yard-Ballpark" seems acceptable, as does "King Street-Old Town." "SW Waterfront" would only add 2 characters (and the "SEU" has to come off anyway), though I wonder if that's necessary. Have people been confused about whether Waterfront station was the one in the Southwest Waterfront neighborhood?

The one change that makes the most sense is changing New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Gallaudet U to NoMA-Gallaudet U. That's the only one which will shorten a name, and one of the more unwieldy at that. Plus, the station actually has no entrance on New York Avenue.

This change actually polled poorly with the WMATA focus group, perhaps because NoMA is also something of a contrived name, but there really isn't an alternative. The neighborhood has no other commonly-used name. It's just not going to be "Swampoodle-Gallaudet U."

I understand the BIDs' desires, but just having a BID isn't a good enough reason to add to or change the name. Heck, the Downtown BID doesn't even have its name on any of the 6 Metro stations in its area, and that name is unequivocally the name of the neighborhood. People don't really call the areas north west of the White House "Golden Triangle" in everyday conversation. Changing the station name would likely lead to them starting to do that, but why is this a public policy goal? If it's so important, why not just rename the BID to the "Farragut North BID"? Then—presto—it has a station named for it.

Jurisdictions should avoid adding the names of adjacent arts and hospital venues. They shouldn't have done it for Strathmore, either. We don't have Archives-Navy Mem'l-Penn Quarter-Woolly Mammoth, or Foggy Bottom-Kennedy Center. Previous WMATA boards made a mistake in allowing so many things to be tacked on to station names years ago, and with subtitles we've finally found a way to move in the opposite direction.

Local jurisdictions and the WMATA Board will need to stand up against bad ideas. They should reject the repetitive and confusing Silver Line names where 8 stations all start with only 3 words. They should reject adding hospitals, theaters, and BID names to stations. And certainly they should speedily reject any logos.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He now lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. 


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Come on David. After the rezoning game, we should have a massive renaming game.

by Jasper on Sep 14, 2011 10:25 am • linkreport

Even if Jasper was kidding, I'm totally down. I wish my coding skills were up to creating it myself...

by David F-H on Sep 14, 2011 10:31 am • linkreport

For the record, I was and am completely against adding the curly W to the Navy Yard name. Unfortunately, due to a supporting commissioner being out sick, my motion to add the much more simple "Ballpark" to the name was defeated in a tie vote.

I think that adding the W logo is a dangerous precedent and that it is disingenuous for the Nationals organization to use their support of alternate transportation as their reason for adding the logo, when they have been very vocally against the construction of complete streets surrounding the ballpark.

The majority of residents in the area around the Navy Yard station would rather see "Ballpark" than the W, but also like the historic connection with the Navy Yard and don't all think that the name even needs changing.

by David Garber on Sep 14, 2011 10:32 am • linkreport

"In reality, what would really happen is that the station will be called "Navy Yard-W" in many places. And inevitably, that will lead many people to assume that it was named for our 43rd President."

This is absolutely absurd. There is no way anyone would ever come to the conclusion that it was named for George W. Bush.

by Mark on Sep 14, 2011 10:36 am • linkreport

I think that most people refer to the area where the ballpark is as "Navy Yard". In fact, I haven't heard it referred to as anything else.

by fl on Sep 14, 2011 10:40 am • linkreport

Well said, David A.

The curly W logo has no place on station signs or on the map. There will invariably be issues with how it's read and understood.

People have misunderstood the station naming issue. Shortening the names should not be merely an exercise in using fewer characters. It should be an exercise in creating a clear, concise name (written and spoken).

After all, shouldn't we transform "Federal Triangle" into "Federal Δ"? That would cut down on the characters, but it wouldn't make the name any shorter.

by Matt Johnson on Sep 14, 2011 10:43 am • linkreport

Instead of putting the logo in the title, what about placing it beside the logos for parking & transfer options?

by Bossi on Sep 14, 2011 10:45 am • linkreport

I think that adding the W logo is a dangerous precedent

@David Garber - I think you need to chill for a couple. I hope the majority of the GGW commentors/writers don't feel that putting a curly W on a logo is "dangerous."

I actually like the idea of putting a W on it. I've seen a few posts asking why organizations like WMATA don't get more creative with their signage. Then they do it and... BAM! CURLY W IS THE DEVIL!

by Cassidy on Sep 14, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

The reason those rules work in NY is that once you get above 14th St., NYC is super-easy to navigate. You're not a true Washingtonian if you haven't been flummoxed at least once by the quadrant / state system.

by movement on Sep 14, 2011 10:54 am • linkreport

I'm mostly in support of everything written above; but I think it's a huge stretch to say that people will think 'W' in the name is in reference to George Bush.

by Rob P on Sep 14, 2011 10:55 am • linkreport

@Rob P:
I agree. But are you willing to take the chance?

by Matt Johnson on Sep 14, 2011 10:56 am • linkreport

Adding "Ballpark" would be immensely helpful, if only because it would, hopefully, drastically reduce the number of times I have to play tour guide and explain that to go to the ballpark, one needs to get off at Navy Yard. (it won't reduce the number of people who don't read the signage and use the New Jersey Ave SE exit and exclaim "This isn't the ballpark!" but there's not much that can be done about them) But I have no desire to see a Curly W on my metro stop.

by Birdie on Sep 14, 2011 10:57 am • linkreport

"We don't have Archives-Navy Mem'l-Penn Quarter-Woolly Mammoth, or Foggy Bottom-Kennedy Center. Previous WMATA boards made a mistake in allowing so many things to be tacked on to station names years ago, and with subtitles we've finally found a way to move in the opposite direction."

Really, I think you're likely to see the opposite effect. By accepting subtitles, WMATA has created a framework that can be used to further lengthen station names. So when the Foggy Bottom-Kennedy Center-State Department-GWU Hospital station name is proposed, and neighborhood interests support the change, but institutional simplicity advocates oppose it, the default compromise will be to add a subtitle.

by taylor.nmt on Sep 14, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

David, you break my heart. It will always be Swampoodle to me.

by tom veil on Sep 14, 2011 11:00 am • linkreport

If it has to get the Curly W I would prefer [W] Navy Yard over Navy Yard [W]. But that's just me.

In general, I prefer minimalist names. Call the station Florida Avenue or Gallaudet and be done with it. King Street _or_ Old Town, but not both. Navy Yard or Ballpark or Nationals Park.

Metro's love affair with long station names is ridiculous, and far more annoying than a curly W.

by yatesc on Sep 14, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

taylor.nmt hits it. This situation is getting/going to get worse not better.

by spookiness on Sep 14, 2011 11:05 am • linkreport

Oh come now, the Silver Line station names are far worse than adding the Curly W to a station and much more likely to cause confusion. Adding "Ballpark" as David Garber suggests is probably a much better idea, but I don't think the Curly W will lead to the end of civilization as we know it.

by Steven Yates on Sep 14, 2011 11:08 am • linkreport

I can only support shortening names. I can't support even relatively benign name changes like "King Street-Old Town" on principle.

by Eric H. on Sep 14, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

At Monday's meeting, Steve Strauss of DDOT said that secondary names will only be allowed for stations that are already currently more than 19 characters (or 13 for transfer stations). It didn't sound like requests can be made to lengthen an already short-enough station name and have the excess be a secondary name.

by JD on Sep 14, 2011 11:18 am • linkreport

NoMA is also something of a contrived name, but there really isn't an alternative. The neighborhood has no other commonly-used name. It's just not going to be "Swampoodle-Gallaudet U."

Eckington-Swampoodle would be an awesome station name.

by andrew on Sep 14, 2011 11:30 am • linkreport

+1 to tom veil

Stand up for Swampoodle! NoMa, no way.

by cabi addict on Sep 14, 2011 11:32 am • linkreport

On a similar vein (and Eric H already hinted at this), the Alexandria City Council yesterday approved pursuing a name change at King St to "King Street-Old Town". There was also discussion about possibly adding on to Braddock Rd and Van Dorn St as well.

by Froggie on Sep 14, 2011 11:33 am • linkreport

I'd prefer to see all the long-named stations renamed to at most a three-word name, with three words used only used where two words are really one word, like "Rhode Island Avenue." (Which probably should be Brentwood instead.)

But if the system map will also be a guidemap, then any organization--hospital, ballpark, a BID, whatever--that requests to be included ought to be required to post a bond that would cover the costs of altering the maps again should they eventually cease to exist or change their names.

by thm on Sep 14, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

My continued 2 cents...

Station names should have a maximum of two words (or possibly a syllable-based cap) and may be changed only once ever X yrs (perhaps 5 or 10 yrs).

Subtitles are OK, but shouldn't prompt sign replacements (except if signs being replaced as part of regular maintenance regimen) and should still have some cap; albeit w/ more flexibility.

Logos for transportation & any major tourist destinations w/ surge ridership all grouped together.

And then let each jurisdiction decide what they want within those rules.

by Bossi on Sep 14, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

I didn't think of the President, but I did think:

Where's the Navy Yard-E station?

Perhaps we can save some sign space with Falls Church-E and Falls Church-W while we're at it.

by ah on Sep 14, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

People will think it was named after Bush?!?! Haha. Come on.

I think the logo is a great idea but I think they should put the curly W only on the signs at the Navy Yard stop itself. Call the station Navy Yard-Ballpark everywhere else.

It's unique and shows a little creativity and team spirit for the Nats' home station.

by Greg on Sep 14, 2011 11:39 am • linkreport

1. +1 million. (Yes, ballpark should be added. No to the logo only.)

2. Bossi's point about adding the W as a logo, comparable to that used for parking, is very good. (I've been meaning to do a blog entry on the WMATA map and I may pick that up and repeat it.)

3. WMATA and mapping is very very very very very very very very "weird" about "promoting commercial enterprise." Technically the sports stadiums and arenas are for profit businesses, and if they were consistent across their maps, they wouldn't "promote" them. (This is an issue with the DC wayfinding signage too. They wouldn't list the "Greyhound" bus terminal, but they would list the International Spy Museum, even though technically it is for profit too.)

On the station maps and bus maps, they do not denote commercial districts and other key destinations such as supermarkets, because by their definition, it promotes individual businesses.

SInce one of the key reasons that people use transit is to get to shopping destinations and specifically supermarkets, this is distinctly unhelpful.

Other transit systems, such as the Port Authority in PGH do put supermarkets on their transit maps.

Initial publications by WMATA when the subway system was first opened do list businesses.

by Richard Layman on Sep 14, 2011 11:41 am • linkreport

I'm totally lost as to how someone could assume that the "W" stands for GW Bush? At a minimum, wouldn't you have to know what Bush's middle initial is in the first place? Sure, we make the delineation when discussing the dad and son but it's quite a stretch to assume that people will "really" think W = Bush.

I think most people wouldn't have that big an issue associating the logo to the team/station. If Fedex field were the station's name in DC and there was a "redskins helmet" after the FedEx Field, would people be that confused? Personally, I'm not a fan of anything other than saying what it's always been Navy Yard and will be ok with adding "ballpark" but the W isn't the end of the world as it's assumed here.

I'll admit to not understanding the whole BID/naming stuff and totally get that people don't call the area nw of the WH as "golden triangle" but how much different is that from those who prefer to use the Near SE, Farwhatever and NOMA delineations? Most people don't use those terms either but was there no public policy goal in renaming them as such?

Also, is NYAve-GallU any less confusing that NOMA/GallU? At least the former denotes actual landmarks.

by HogWash on Sep 14, 2011 11:41 am • linkreport

Adding curly W: Horrible. If anything, Navy Yard-Ballpark is sufficient.

As for NoMa, I understand that it may sound made-up or contrived, but that's not uncommon. Many neighborhood names have less-than-impressive etymologies. Crystal City, Court House, Penn Quarter... all names that didn't exist a few decades ago but have now become commonplace, likely due in large part to the Metro. Whether NoMa is an appropriate term for the area is not for me to decide, but it shouldn't be ditched simply because it somehow lacks some unspecified authenticity.

by Adam L on Sep 14, 2011 11:44 am • linkreport

Adding the curly W is dangerous. Once that happens, Ted Leonsis will want the Caps, Wizards, and Mystics logos next to the Gallery Place station name, and Georgetown will probably want a little Hoya head too. If them, why shouldn't DC United be able to add their logo to the Stadium - Armory station?

And if you're thinking we could skip all the team logos that play at the Verizon Center and just add the Verizon logo, then you've opened up a-whole-nother door and companies will want their logo added to the station nearest their building. And if not that, you still need to address the fact that buildings named after corporate sponsors consistently change and the sign changing that will accompany any such change.

by 7r3y3r on Sep 14, 2011 11:46 am • linkreport


I think that's a very valid concern. "E, W, N, S" are commonly directional coordinates. In areas where the logo cannot be displayed the name, unfamiliar passengers will most likely read that station name as "Navy Yard-West." Definitely problematic.

by Adam L on Sep 14, 2011 11:50 am • linkreport

I'm not a fan of adding the logo to the title either, but would be fine with it on the map.

I would say that "Navy Yard" is a perfectly recognizable shorthand for the area. While the neighborhood is welcome thousands of new residents, the traditional title of Navy Yard is still commonly used. Navy Yard-Ballpark is fine too.

by Tim Krepp on Sep 14, 2011 11:54 am • linkreport

Waiting for the day when we get automated announcements. I'd have no problem with "This is Navy Yard. Exit here for Nationals Ballpark." or something to that extent, but NOT in the name. If anything, that's what WMATA should be doing for nearly every station with an overly-long name.

by Phil on Sep 14, 2011 12:04 pm • linkreport

Adding the logo to the map is one thing - but as noted, that also opens the door to Caps, Wizards, Mystics, and Georgetown logos at Gallery Place-Chinatown, as well as a DC United logo at Stadium-Armory.

Amending the name with the logo is a bad idea. If it gets denoted in plain text as 'W', I won't think of any Presidents, but that does add in a false directionality (North, South, East, West) that would be confusing. Navy Yard West? Uh, no.

Ultimately, this is on Metro. They need to be strong and tell people, groups, etc, what will and will not be acceptable. They need to start rejecting some of these proposals outright. Asking local jurisdictions to do so is one thing, but Metro is the one that controls the gates here. They can end this silliness.

by Alex B. on Sep 14, 2011 12:25 pm • linkreport

I think that fear of confusion with George W. Bush is not a serious reason to avoid the curly W (although I think it's a terrible idea to give a station a name you can't type on a standard keyboard or pronounce.) However, the first time I saw the Nats Logo (when it was first released) was on a friend's hat. Given that she is a rabid democrat I couldn't figure out why she was wearing a George W. Bush hat. I don't think it's *that* far fetched.

by Kate W on Sep 14, 2011 12:32 pm • linkreport

I could believe them looking for Walgreens; not trying to figure out the connection with a former Pres. I'd just tell them Walgreens is actually over at the Mall. The east/west issue is certainly a valid concern, though, in cases where the logo isn't used.

by Bossi on Sep 14, 2011 12:35 pm • linkreport

You guys all sound like a bunch of cranky little ol' old ladies who Committee of 100 application has not come through.

There is nothing wrong with putting the W logo next to the station stop. It makes perfect sense.

by beatbox on Sep 14, 2011 1:13 pm • linkreport

@beatbox - Thank you. I truly think that this is a very sensible option. It basically is a giant, curly announcement that says "BASEBALL IS HERE." I don't think it would hurt to put a Redskins logo near the metro they are closest to and maybe a United logo near Stadium-Armory. Whatever gets occansional riders to say, "Oh, I can take the Metro there" is a help.

Now, the Verizon Center is a valid concern, as there are a lot of sports there, but I'm sure there can be a neutral symbol, like a picture of an area, perhaps.

by Cassidy on Sep 14, 2011 1:22 pm • linkreport

@beatbox: Well, the point of station names is to serve as identification for the station. And even from a practical standpoint, there are a lot of logistical problems:

- What happens if you can't reproduce the logo exactly as drawn? Things like teams and institutions tend to be very picky about copyright/trademarks, and if you don't get it exactly right they tend to get all huffy. Should it really be WMATA's job to enforce copyright law and police how the Nationals logo gets drawn?

- And what happens if you can't even reproduce it at all, such as in this very text box? "Navy Yard-W" just looks silly, since the "W" doesn't stand for anything at all.

People other than WMATA talk about and write Metro station names. It's just silly and unpractical to have a graphic logo as park of it. "Navy Yard-Ballpark" would be better if you have to have the change.

(For my two cents, I didn't even think of Bush when I read this.)

by Andrew ACG on Sep 14, 2011 1:27 pm • linkreport

@Cassidy: I think there's a difference between the station *name* and the station *map*. After all, we don't do this to stations with parking lots even though they have a great big [P] logo. (We don't have "Cumberland-P" here in Chicago, for example, which is a station with a park-and-ride.)

It's pretty reasonable to reproduce a sports logo on a station map, as it's a major travel destination, and tourists who don't know where it is will have to in 99% of the time look at a station map anyway to figure out how to get there. I have no problem with placing the Nationals logo next to the Navy Yard Metro stop -- it helps with wayfinding.

But actually putting it into the station name is another thing. As I mentioned above, there are a number of logistical/trademark issues, and the most basic thing is how do you even say this? "Navy Park-W," which doesn't even make sense? "Navy Park-Nationals," in which case why not just call it "Navy Park-Nationals" instead of "Navy-Park [Nationals logo]"?

by Andrew ACG on Sep 14, 2011 1:30 pm • linkreport


There's also the implementation cost, as it costs big $$$ to change signs, reprint maps, etc. This applies to longer station names as much as it does to sports teams, where we often find that communities want their station names changed frequently; and even sports teams often change their logos. Unless those 3rd parties are willing to pay, do we really want WMATA spending ever-limited funding on these instead of other capital or operating issues that affect the rest of us on a more day-to-day basis? It's not like *not* having the logo is likely to turn away tourists... I'm pretty sure that once they've bought their tickets: they're not going to choose not to attend the game just because they need to consult some directions on how to get there.

However, all-in-all I do think logos are a great way to get across a large amount of information in one single character, hence why I'm personally receptive toward having logos on the Metro *maps* for the major surge-producing tourist venues; just not on the signs across the entire system. Though I do think the logo on signs specifically within the Navy Yard station would be very handy.

by Bossi on Sep 14, 2011 1:33 pm • linkreport

@Kate W. - me too. The first time I saw people wearing the MLB hat with the "W" logo I thought I was seeing a bunch of political hats. Look you guys, not everyone cares so much about pro-sports that they automatically know the logos, especially when the logos can be confused for the nickname of a US president. (His nick name IS "W" afterall)

by Tina on Sep 14, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

Former President Bush and the cardinal direction confusion for "Navy Yard-West" is not the only reason "W" is likely to be a confusing name -- has everyone forgotten that one of the most prominent hotels in town is the "W Washington DC"? It's ridiculous to put something that can be confused with another major destination / business as a station name.

by Arl Anon on Sep 14, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport

Oh, and I'm astonished that so many people think there's no way anyone will associate a "W" with the former President. It may be true that DC-area residents will recognize the Nationals logo, but for tourists and other out-of-towners? It's simply not that familiar -- and won't serve to explain that "baseball is here" to someone that doesn't know what they're looking for. In a town with all kinds of memorials, parks, buildings, and airports named for former politicians -- and that people are often visiting with politics and history in their minds -- connecting W with President Bush is going to happen. Not with everyone, but a lot. It's not as if his middle name went largely unused, as with the current President -- he was nicknamed "Dubya" based on that initial and people usually referred to him using that initial to distinguish him from his father. To wit: when I Google "W", the second hit I get is "W.", the Josh Brolin movie. The next hit I get is to Wikipedia's "disambiguation" page for "W," which includes: "'W', nickname for George W. Bush 43rd President of the United States".

by Arl Anon on Sep 14, 2011 1:37 pm • linkreport

As Cassidy (and others) have suggested, I would be all in favor of having the Curly W next to Navy Yard station; the Weagle, Basketball Shooty Hands DC, and Whatever the Mystics Use next to Chinatown station, and the DCU crest next to Stadium-Armory station on the map.

Sadly, killjoys insist on having ridiculous names and not having useful maps. Hmph.

by yatesc on Sep 14, 2011 1:40 pm • linkreport

@Arl Anon

I think the mention of Bush is irrelevant because it doesn't make any sense. Will people see a 'W' and think of Bush? Maybe. But that would just be a coincidence. It's not like they'd think of Bush and then expect George W. Bush to be at the Metro station, greeting them as they get off a train or something.

Point being, people take context into account. The context would be looking at a Metro map. There's absolutely no reason for a Metro station to be named after an individual, yet alone named after an individual by using their nickname. No one would suggest that we direct people to National Airport by simply naming the station "Reagan."

The far more common usage is for cardinal directions. We have several of those kinds of stations in our system (Farragut North, Farragut West, Federal Center SW, East Falls Church, West Falls Church, Capitol South, etc.)

by Alex B. on Sep 14, 2011 1:43 pm • linkreport

It is not going to be confuse with George Bush or the W hotel.

The problem is that you are saying it will be "Navy Yard-W"

It will not be that. I will be "Navy Yard-[LOGO]."

Please, it is a logo. Where you can't use the logo, say Ballpark. Just stick it on all the maps and signage. It will be fine.

by on Sep 14, 2011 2:38 pm • linkreport

@ArlAnon, why do you think that "visitors" would be more inclined to associate the W with Bush? I don't think tourists from Florida, totally unfamiliar with the city/metro would think W=Bush. They may be confused about it totally but it remains a stretch to think they'll think Bush.

I don't think anyone is suggesting that it won't happen AT ALL but that the odds are so unlikely that it's not worthy of much focus. We're talking about a logo on a city's transit map that has no direct or indirect association with the president of the US.

by HogWash on Sep 14, 2011 2:44 pm • linkreport

t's ridiculous to put something that can be confused with another major destination / business as a station name.

Quite easy to tell this:

apart from this:

by ah on Sep 14, 2011 2:51 pm • linkreport

lol@Ah. Seems rather distinguishable to me.

by HogWash on Sep 14, 2011 3:05 pm • linkreport

There's clearly no reason to add a W or even "Ballpark" to the station name. People manage to get to the Verizon Center and Fedex Field just fine without their associated stops being named ballpark or hockey/ball stadium. No one in Chicago forgets to get off at Addison because it's not called "Ballpark" or "C". Leave it alone; the place is Navy Yard, that's more than sufficient. Anyone who can't figure out where they're going doesn't deserve to be let out anyway.

by Joe on Sep 14, 2011 3:11 pm • linkreport

Stupid to allow the logo. Leave it short as Navy Yard. Stadium Armory works because it's short.

"No one would suggest that we direct people to National Airport by simply naming the station "Reagan.""
Oh but I bet the repubs would hav loved that. Too late, hpoefully.

Remember when the Nats 1st moved here, and there was a a fun little marketing idea that the red hats were for elephants and the blue hats for the donkeys? yeah, good times.

by greent on Sep 14, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

@Hogwash - When dealing with keeping the city tourist-friendly, my experience is that for a great many of them, their baseline assumption is that if they can name something in American politics or history, there's a place in DC to go for it. And so when they see a sign or hear about a place, that's the model they try to fit it into. Thus, I've had difficulty dissuading visitors from going to RFK Stadium who expected there to be a monument or museum there, been asked for directions to the War of 1812 Memorial, and have repeatedly run into people expecting to find the Navy Memorial or the Navy Museum at Farragut Square -- even though "Navy Yard" and "Navy Memorial" are actually Metro stops. But these pale in comparison to people's expectations that there must be a statue or a monument to any president they can name. In just the last year, beyond the obvious presidents who have marble temples, airports, or islands named for them, I've been asked about statues or memorials to William McKinley, John Adams, Harry Truman, and Martin Van Buren (!). And lots of people come to DC expecting to find a statue of President Obama somewhere. So I think it's entirely predictable that a lot of the same people are going to see the unexplained "W" on a Metro stop and -- particularly if they are Republicans -- think there's some kind of monument to the 43rd president there.

@Ah - Heh. But people who know enough about what they're looking for to recognize the logos are only a part of the audience that Metro station labels must reach.

by Arl Anon on Sep 14, 2011 3:57 pm • linkreport


It's true, Chicago did not rename Addison to add in the Cubs - but they do use the logo at the station itself:

I wouldn't object to that at Navy Yard, either - but actually changing the name of the station itself to insert a logo is not a good idea.

by Alex B. on Sep 14, 2011 3:58 pm • linkreport

Why not a Metro station honoring "dub-yah"? What a great precedent!

by Fred on Sep 14, 2011 4:10 pm • linkreport

re Alex B's point, I just looked at a photo I have of Citi field and while they don't use the logo (obviously, you can see the stadium from the station), the station is called Mets-Willets Point so of course it's on the signage.

by Richard Layman on Sep 14, 2011 4:28 pm • linkreport

There is a middle ground to this debate that hasn't been discussed.

Although it hasn't been done in a consistent fashion, New York's MTA has employed an interesting (and instructive) approach to this problem. Often they retain the simplified station name on the maps and the primary station signage... but then they add a subtitle/additional signage in a secondary color to highlight a nearby neighborhood attraction or cultural institution.

For example "77th Street" station on the 6 train appears as "77th Street - (Lenox Hill Hospital)" when you're at the actual station. See photos of the "subtitle" on the station wall here:

While Nationals Park might be deserving of a station name addition, I think the above treatment would be the way to go for "African American Civil War Memorial" and "GMU" and "Arena Stage" etc. etc.

by nativedc on Sep 14, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport


Exactly. No need to change the official station name.

by nativedc on Sep 14, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

From the article:ANC 6D also unanimously supported changing Waterfront to "Waterfront-Arena Stage," or alternatively "SW Waterfront." A proposal to add "Banneker Park" to L'Enfant Plaza didn't even come to a vote, though.

Arena Stage will pay to have its name added. It generates nearly 100,000 people into our neighborhood who need to find their way to the venue by Metro.

As far as Banneker Park goes, it didn't come to a vote because any metro *hub* with fewer than 13 letters could not have anything added to it per the renaming rules which was explained by the representative at the meeting.

We did ask WMATA to add Bannecker Park to its interior and exterior signs so that people can find their way to it.

And I hate the idea of a corporate logo at Navy Yards, too.

by Cara Shockley, ANC6D02 on Sep 14, 2011 5:01 pm • linkreport

I don't care if Arena Stage will pay to add their name to the Station - that's not the point. The point is that their name on the station makes the station's name less useful as a wayfinding element. It makes the system more confusing to navigate, even if it makes finding Arena Stage a bit easier.

This entire problem is a tragedy of the commons - each individual group, attraction, community organization, sports team, neighborhood, etc can make themselves better off by adding their name onto that of their local Metro station, at the cost of degrading the system as a whole - despite the fact that it's in no one's interest to do so.

by Alex B. on Sep 14, 2011 5:07 pm • linkreport

My takeaway from all of this is that no one got (or read) the memo that we need to shorten station names.

by Mike B on Sep 14, 2011 5:26 pm • linkreport

With smart phones and the internet its baffling to me that we can't expect people to prepare and figure out what station they need to use on their own. Not to mention the fact that if you're going to a Caps/Nats/Skins game there will be a couple dozen people in your metro car wearing team merchandise - just ask or follow them if you're unsure where you are going...

by Paul S on Sep 14, 2011 5:50 pm • linkreport

Bannecker Park? wtf? There should be a requirement of X numbers using a destination to make it worthy of high levels of distinction.

I don't have a photo, but the "northbound" and "southbound" exit at the Columbia Heights station on the platform leading to the exit escalators has signs that say "Mt. Pleasant" and "Pleasant Plains."

Who in the h*** calls this southbound side of 14th St. "Pleasant Plains." I was nonplussed.

by Richard Layman on Sep 14, 2011 7:21 pm • linkreport

sorry that should have read

"There should be a requirement of X numbers of people using a destination to make it worthy of high levels of distinction on Metro signage at various levels, with the listing as part of the station name being the absolute highest."

E.g., Af-Am Civil War Memorial shouldn't have made the cut for the U Street stop.

by Richard Layman on Sep 14, 2011 7:23 pm • linkreport

Results of my totally unscientific poll among non-DC friends... I shared the logo and asked, verbatim "What do you think this is? There are no right or wrong answers; just tell me what you think it is without looking it up." I attached only the logo; I did not typing the letter "W" or give any other hints. Among 17 people in or from Florida:
- 47% Walgreens
- 29% Nationals
- 18% "What is it?"
- 6% Woodrow Wilson
- 0% West
- 0% George W. Bush
- 0% W Hotel
- 0% W Magazine. Well technically W Magazine got 1 joke-vote before the person correctly answered Nationals.

Expanding to a larger population unconstrained to just Florida- 85 responses thus far:
- 52% Walgreens
- 21% "What is it?"
- 20% Nationals
- 4% Woodrow Wilson
- 2% Woolworth
- 1% West
- 0% George W. Bush
- 0% W Hotel

There was a direct correlation between people who at least pay any attention to baseball whatsoever and those who got the right answers... 100% of the people I know follow sports got it right; even those who I don't know as specifically being baseball fans.

So it's worth considering that people searching for the baseball stadium will at least recognise it; leaving only the potential of confusing those who aren't headed there. In that case: most people would probably not expect a pharmacy with several thousand locations to be labelled on a subway map. Either that or Walgreens needs to open up a spot near the metro station to take advantage.

The only other response that tested with any significance is that people had absolutely no idea what it was... a legend could fix that up easily, just as we denote the parking symbol & logos of other transportation services. I was quite amused that Woodrow Wilson beat out Bush, but I suppose most of them are at least familiar with the bridge, know I work in transportation, and figured it was part of why I was asking.

Of course, I also have to wonder about folk who buy tickets for a baseball game, leave for a city which they don't know their way around, and do it all without actually looking up how to get to the stadium before-hand, no less most folk having access to the answers on-the-fly via their phone, anyway. So I'm a bit curious why the logo would have to be on every map and sign in the metro system.

Another option... how about WMATA asks the Nationals to rename their stadium Navy Yard? :)

by Bossi on Sep 14, 2011 7:35 pm • linkreport

I can't believe we're even debating this. The "W" logo proposal is prima faci moronic. In any case, it looks too much like the icon for TextWrangler:

by Michael on Sep 14, 2011 7:57 pm • linkreport

I like the idea of making one of the Farragut stations Golden Triangle! This is exactly the type of reason for making any changes at all... 1) 2 Farragut stations is confusing and Golden Triangle has done a good job branding the area - you pop out of the Farragut stations and you see the yellow and black all over, their ambassador guys standing there... it's an impressive area of town (financial district, white house) - should be acknowledged.

by Mary on Sep 14, 2011 9:33 pm • linkreport

"This change actually polled poorly with the WMATA focus group, perhaps because NoMA is also something of a contrived name, but there really isn't an alternative. The neighborhood has no other commonly-used name. It's just not going to be "Swampoodle-Gallaudet U." "

Here's a solution:

Make up a new name. Neighborhood names weren't handed down from God, someone invented it.

Declare the intersection "Jamesington Square" (put up a tiny sign) and call the station "Jamesington".

Done and done.

This goes for all the long ones. Navy Yard, W, blah blah blah.

Ballpark Square. Conveniently close to the stadium. Station name is now Ballpark.

The U-street clusterfudge?

Rename the intersection nearest the station Garfield Square.

Garfield Station.

by JJJJJ on Sep 15, 2011 3:06 am • linkreport

@Hogwash, I was at first also thrown by the connection to Bush with the W. But I think that in some parts of the country (where he had support) he was known affectionately by W. Obviously that wasn't the case here in DC ....

by Lance on Sep 15, 2011 8:48 am • linkreport

I'm 50-50 on the Curly W idea but all for Curly R at Morgan Blvd Station!


by David Gaines on Sep 15, 2011 10:44 am • linkreport

JJJJJ is right that it doesn't really matter as long as it's unique -- within a year everyone will adjust to it anyway. Ballston was contrived (Balls Crossing and Parkington), Virginia Square was the name of a strip mall two blocks from the station. Courthouse was a building, not a neighborhood. Now they're all well-established transit-centered neighborhoods.

NY-Fl-Gallaudet: How about Trinoma (triangle north of mass)? Yeah, it's just as contrived as NoMa, but it sounds more like a real place name, better than the once-contrived Shirlington and Arlandria.

Curly W: it sets a bad (I won't say dangerous) precedent. It doesn't translate into other media (speech, smartphones, data feeds, etc). And how many other private entities will want their logos on there? Even it's the five sports teams, that will confuse the map. Navy Yard-Ballpark works great.

Side note: back when the Nats first arrived a lot of people associated the curly W with Bush 43. My partisan dem friends and family all refused to wear curly W hats and got the DC hats instead (which started to mean DemoCrat, of course). My wife and I even argued about which hat to get for our pre-school son. That's history now -- not a lot of DC hats for sale anymore, and our dem president wears a W hat with his White Sox jacket and mom jeans.

by Novanglus on Sep 15, 2011 4:37 pm • linkreport

Who are these people that refer to NOMA as NOMA I have never heard anyone say that except for when reading a sign around there. I mostly hear people using the street names around there as a place markers or the names of actual buildings in the area never NOMA. I have people saying there are by insert ( Fur, Walker Jones Clinic, Harris Tetter, Hilton, Au Bon Pain, ATF, Car Wash, Old Kassier Building, the train tracks, Fedex, McDonalds, Wendys, XM Radio, Greyhound, XX Parking Lot, Peoples Buildings, Sibley Plaza, Tyler House, up the street/road from Union Station, down the street from McKinley Tech, east/west of XX etc)

I also hear people calling the area around the Nationals Stadium Navy Yard and have never heard anything else.

Another thing why is there a need to dumb stuff down for morons who don't know how to get anywhere they should either learn their way around as many people do when going to new areas or take a cab/taxi, hired driver. The first thing should be is for people to help themselves.

by kk on Sep 16, 2011 8:28 pm • linkreport

People might think there's a Wegmans near the station, too.

Amazing how much discussion this rather cosmetic issue generates.

Gallery-Place should have "MLK Library" denoted somewhere. That's my rallying cry on this issue.

Will be interesting to see how much it costs Metro to print new in-train maps and map hand-outs once these changes and Silver Line is added. I am sure the costs have risen significantly since they last replaced the maps (with NY Ave. and Blue Line ext.?) a couple 5 years ago.

by John Muller on Sep 18, 2011 6:56 am • linkreport

Correction: Walgreens, not Wegmans.

by John Muller on Sep 18, 2011 6:57 am • linkreport

Suggestions for simplified names:
1. U Street-African American Civil War Memorial-Cardozo:
Change to "Black Broadway" (historic neighborhood name)

2. New York Avenue-Florida Avenue-Galludet University: Change to "Eckington" (the neaarest neighborhood)

2. Rhode Island Avenue-Brentwood: Change to "Edgewood-Brentwood"

by Stuart Denyer on Sep 18, 2011 11:46 pm • linkreport

"You're not a true Washingtonian if you haven't been flummoxed at least once by the quadrant / state system."

Gotta disagree with you there. I've lived here my entire life and never once had a problem. I sometimes end up in the wrong lane going around circles, but I understand my mistake.

Also, as a 2011 graduate of Gallaudet, let me just say: feel free take the school off the station name. Nobody uses it anyway. We all just ride the Gallaudet shuttle to Union Station. And the school isn't even in sight of the station so it doesn't help people who aren't familiar with the area to find us.

by Meredith on Sep 24, 2011 2:24 am • linkreport

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