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Breakfast links: New uses for old buildings

Photo by The Great Photographicon on Flickr.
Another Mall museum?: A bipartisan Congressional coalition wants to turn the Smithsonian's Arts & Industries Building into a new National Museum of the American Latino. (DCist)

Lincoln Theatre gets new management: Mayor Gray has a plan to rescue the Lincoln Theatre. The DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities will appoint a creative director to forge a new vision for the District-owned venue. (City Paper)

Abortion provision kills nascent bill: District leaders have rejected a bill from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) that would permit the city to skip Congressional assent to spend its own money. Issa had inserted an anti-abortion provision. (Post)

BRAC increases traffic in Bethesda: The Pentagon's relocation of Walter Reed to the Bethesda Naval Hospital has noticeably worsened congestion along Rockville Pike. $165 million of road projects are on the way, but will they fix anything? (Gazette)

Montgomery wants inside-the-Beltway CaBi: Montgomery County plans to apply for a state grant to put bike sharing from Friendship Heights to Medical Center and Takoma Park to Wheaton. There's a public meeting on Tuesday, November 29.

Tregoning shows NYC how it's done: Harriet Tregoning schools New York on why it should follow DC's lead and reduce parking minimums. Minimums still remain in most of the city, even where huge majorities of people ride transit. (Streetsblog)

Speedier bus increases ridership: While ridership in Manhattan has declined, one route, the M15, has enjoyed an increase. The difference is that the M15 uses exclusive lanes and requires payment before boarding, thus speeding up service. (Atlantic)

Metro goes after bike thieves: Metro Transit Police are using a bait bike to catch bicycle thieves. Bike thefts at stations increased sharply last year. (Examiner)

CBS to jump into windshield perspective radio market: As news outlets nationwide struggle to remain profitable, CBS announced that it will open a local news radio station, competing with WTOP. The station will focus mainly on the suburbs. (Post)

And...: DC for the Dupont Underground within a yearmay finalize a lease for Dupont Underground within a year. (DCist) ... Falls Church tops the commonwealth in recycling. (Post) ... A 1974 bus strike caused parking havoc in downtown DC, when what's now the Reagan Building was a huge parking lot. (Atlantic)

Have a tip or new Mall museum for the links? Submit it here.
Eric Fidler has lived in DC and suburban Maryland his entire life. He likes long walks along the Potomac and considers the L'Enfant Plan an elegant work of art. He also blogs at Left for LeDroit, LeDroit Park's (only) blog of record. 


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"The station will focus mainly on the suburbs."

Well that is where most of the people are. You go where your customers are, in their cars.

by RJ on Nov 17, 2011 9:08 am • linkreport

Regarding NYC, I'm of the belief that New York should institute a congestion tax for non-commercial vehicles in addition to limiting parking spots. Why are there SO MANY cars in New York that aren't taxis, busses or delivery trucks?!? Who's driving these cars? Take them out and the traffic will be much better.

by jinushaun on Nov 17, 2011 9:08 am • linkreport

jinushaun: Agreed. NYC tried to do a congestion charge but was rejected by the New York state legislature. Beyond some of the upstate legislators who don't understand the city, there were several legislators who represent poor parts of the city where few people drive and which would benefit from the transit investment that would have come from the charge.

Despite their primarily transit-riding constituency, they get most of their campaign donations from people who drive, and see driving as a sign of affluence. They're the equivalent of DC's Kwame Brown or Harry Thomas, Jr.; those 2 bought large vehicles with public money (in Thomas's case, public money meant for youth baseball) because they see them as a status symbol and feel they're entitled due to their position.

by David Alpert on Nov 17, 2011 9:22 am • linkreport

This is wrong in the press release, too, but Forest Glen and Wheaton stations are both outside the Beltway.

Regardless, I think bike sharing will be successful there, and I hope it comes soon!

by Matt Johnson on Nov 17, 2011 9:28 am • linkreport

Given that the A&I building is already there, using it for a museum rather than using it for something else, meaning a possible need for an additional building, seems sensible.

by ah on Nov 17, 2011 9:32 am • linkreport

@ RJ:"The station will focus mainly on the suburbs."

Well that is where most of the people are. You go where your customers are, in their cars.

I think there's more to it. WTOP also owns WFED, which is very much focussed on the government and DC. There's no way a new station can beat WTOP in that area. So, they have to find another angle to market themselves.

They can hurt WTOP pretty bad if they pick up Lisa Baden and put her on exactly between the 8s. And the exclusive CBS news contract that WTOP has will also end at the next opportunity, which will push WTOP to someone else.

by Jasper on Nov 17, 2011 9:56 am • linkreport

You can throw a rock from Forest Glen Metro and hit the Beltway. I'm a little dubious about demand at that particular location.

by Crickey7 on Nov 17, 2011 9:59 am • linkreport

@ah I certainly agree. The question of keeping it as museum shouldn't even be up for debate. Also, it's a gorgeous building, and fairly unique among DC architecture.

However, I cringe that the Smithsonian is getting into the business of providing a museum to every single minority group who asks for one.

I much more prefer the occasionally-touted idea of a "Museum of the American People" that could incorporate these topics under one roof. After all, 100 years ago, we could have had a legitimate discussion (and museum) about the struggles of Irish-American immigrants. Today, that topic almost seems silly (although, again, you could certainly provide an exhibit about it in a larger museum). I think this solution would be much more equitable, and sustainable in the long run. (Unfortunately, it's hard to oppose a Latino/African American/Women's museum without being labeled a racist or xenophobe).

I'd also like to see the Museum of Health & Medicine return to the Mall, as well as a Science museum that actually pays service to some of the "hard" sciences (ie. a bit more serious than most of the kid-themed science museums). Boston's Museum of Science has a really fantastic exhibit on Pure Mathematics. Given that STEM education should be a national priority, I've always been a bit surprised that it's such a hard sell to convince the Smithsonian to devote a museum to those topics.

Both of these museums could also take some exhibits from the currently overburdened Museum of American History.

by andrew on Nov 17, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport

Regarding A&I:

Call me crazy (because I am!), but I've always thought that A&I would look best as a nineteenth-century catchall museum, similar to what it used to be. There's one room in the Castle that serves a similar purpose, but I always thought it would be fun to do up a whole museum in that style, with artifacts from the other Smithsonians all jumbled together.

I'm not against a National Museum of the American Latino per se (though sometimes I think it might be better to split out some of Natural History's ethnographic collection into a separate anthropological museum - not that they can't eventually do both), but I don't know if A&I is large enough to contain it. I suppose there's a lot of backspace area that could be opened up, and perhaps some underground galleries could be added. But space considerations are always going to be a concern with A&I, I think, no?

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Nov 17, 2011 10:00 am • linkreport


Many, many years ago, NMAI had an exhibit titled "A Nation of Nations", about the various immigrant groups that had begun to reshape the United States. Something similar (like the Museum of Immigration that has been bandied about from time to time) would be wonderful.

by Ser Amantio di Nicolao on Nov 17, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

While removing parking mins should be something everyone can agree on (conservatives like the business-friendly deregulation, liberals like the increased urbanism) the reality is that there's push back from NIMBYs worried about their residential parking being overwhelmed by commercial patrons. The solution is residential parking permits that only allow residents to park on neighborhood streets.

The widespread adoption of RPP programs in DC is probably the reason that removing parking mins has become politically palatable.

by Falls Church on Nov 17, 2011 10:50 am • linkreport

Where on the National Mall will be the Museum of the Scots in America? Where do you draw the line? I think a Museum of American Culture, which could encompass all the cultures immigrants brought to this country, and demonstrate how they all work together to form the American culture, would be a much better idea.

by ksu499 on Nov 17, 2011 10:59 am • linkreport

I draw the line at Cajuns. We are one of the few uniquely American ethnic groups, and the museum's cafe will simply kick ass.

Nobody after us.

by Crickey7 on Nov 17, 2011 11:16 am • linkreport

I might just skip the museum part and just have the cafe.

Laissez les bons temps rouler.

by Crickey7 on Nov 17, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

Sadly shortsighted, but predictable and irrational stand by the Mayor and the ever under-performing Eleanor Holmes Norton regarding the proposal from Congress for more local autonomy.

Sadly, picking one issue long decided by American voters to be in the mainstream (no taxpayer supported abortions) the alleged 'leaders' of Washington eschew honest progress.

Let them be reminded DC's budget comes from the taxpayers of the nation...perhaps they should learn to respect them. Or even better...let's find someone less behind the times than Ms. Norton who actually will take their 'job' seriously.

by Pelham1861 on Nov 17, 2011 11:27 am • linkreport

@ Pelham1861:Sadly, picking one issue long decided by American voters to be in the mainstream

You can't back that up, because it's not true.

Let them be reminded DC's budget comes from the taxpayers of the nation

That is not true either.

by Jasper on Nov 17, 2011 11:55 am • linkreport

@Pelham, I'm confused. What do you consider those of (DC residents) who have boatloads of both state and federal taxes taken out of our checks. We're not "taxpayers" of the nation.

The mayor decided not to approve the rider disallowing the use local DC money to fund abortions. Whether they eventually move forward, I'm happy to see the mayor stand up for DC autonomy and not allow congress to dictate what we spend on our local dollars on. Acknowledging DCs special placement, why continue to be OK with every state in the country have control over their local dollars but DC keeps paying its Nanny?

by HogWash on Nov 17, 2011 12:12 pm • linkreport

Regarding the abortion issue, DC can claim all day that it is using its own money rather than federally appropriated funds for killing unborn children, but it is deceptive to do so. If DC or any state wants autonomy in their budget, than don't accept federal money for other things. Federal money may not directly fund abortions, but it would certainly indirectly do so by contributing to DC's overall budget. That's not fair to the broad base of American taxpayers that oppose being forced to pay for something that they believe is very wrong.

by Pat on Nov 17, 2011 1:36 pm • linkreport

Hm. Once you add the food aspect, The Museum of the American People starts to sound more and more like Epcot.

I'm pretty okay with this.

by andrew on Nov 17, 2011 1:46 pm • linkreport

I'm glad Vince Gray sorted out all those problems at the Lincoln Theatre - rather than just let a bunch of cronies run the place into the ground, now we'll have some real solid government oversight of the cronies as they run the place into the ground! Double bureaurcracy always works best!!!!

As far as the NYC M15 bus - let me just say it's a really great experience. It's frequent and fast. The biggest problem seems to be cars parking in the specialized lane. But, as a bonus you get a healthy dose of schadenfreude when the MTA cops show up and haul unticked passengers off the bus to give them citations!

by Anonny on Nov 17, 2011 1:59 pm • linkreport

@ RJ

The station will focus mostly on the suburbs because that's where a lot of the radio audience lives. If there were a DC-centric talk radio station, I'm sure I'd ever have a chance to listen to it, since I rarely drive to work. When I do, my commute is much shorter than someone who comes in from Prince William or Loudoun Counties, so the amount of value I would derive from the station would be pretty minimal.

by Park Viewer on Nov 17, 2011 2:01 pm • linkreport

That's not fair to the broad base of American taxpayers that oppose being forced to pay for something that they believe is very wrong.

Well then, I think a lot of people are going to want a refund on the Iraq War. It's not fair to make them pay for it since so many believed it was very wrong. And I guess some people should get a pass on sales tax in DC, since they shouldn't have to pay for something that they believe is very wrong.

That isn't how it works. We live in a democracy. You make your case, you go to the polls and some times the majority will disagree with you. And the government will decide to spend money on something you believe is very wrong. And sometimes you'll want the government to spend money on something others think is very wrong. But if everyone has a veto than we don't even really have a government. It sucks when it is your Ox being gored, but that's the risk we run and the price we pay.

But this isn't even really the issue. Plenty of states get federal funding AND pay for abortions (or educate illegal immigrants, or pay for executions or any other thing that a lot of people think is very wrong) but Congress doesn't come in and mess with their internal decisions. The issue her is whether or not people in DC will be allowed to govern themselves. [Unfortunately, it's clear that people in DC don't have a legal RIGHT to govern themselves, because of the way the Constitution was written; but some would argue that we have a moral RIGHT to do so and that America kind of looks like a hypocrite when our leaders disagree with the idea that everyone should be free to govern themselves.]

by David C on Nov 17, 2011 3:45 pm • linkreport

@David C
Let's not compare apples to oranges. Funding education for illegals and disagreements over national security policies pale in comparison to murdering millions of unborn children. Obviously I understand that some people will always be opposed to some way the government spends our money. But abortion is very simple. While it is legal, it is not and never has been a right in the sense that the government entitles you to it. National security is entitled to the people provided by the government. If you don't like how it's run, take it up in the elections. Abortion is not an entitlement to people paid for by other taxpayers. Public education is and we can fight over how that money is spent. Abortion is not. I would say the same thing over any other state based upon the fact that they receive federal money.

by Pat on Nov 17, 2011 4:59 pm • linkreport

Let's not compare apples to oranges. Funding education for illegals and disagreements over national security policies pale in comparison to murdering millions of unborn children.

I'm less concerned about the plight of unborn children than I am about the threat of undead adults. And that's saying something.

"Unborn children" is a nonsense phrase. If they're not born, they're not children. It's common sense. I thought we all agreed on this.

by oboe on Nov 17, 2011 5:18 pm • linkreport


Also, I might add that the genocide of millions upon millions of innocent animals so that you'll have something to throw on your BBQ is the real Holocaust. Meat eating may be legal, but it's still murder. That's not just my opinion, but a simple fact.

(And yes, I'm making a not-so-subtle point about the impossibility of making objective moral claims.)

by oboe on Nov 17, 2011 5:22 pm • linkreport

Pat, I'm going to try to stay on facts that I can prove here.

1. Many people would disagree about what pales in comparison to what and what doesn't. That's your opinion and you're entitled to it, but it's hardly fact.
2. Currently the law of the land is that abortion is a right under the presumed right of privacy.
3. Actually abortion is an entitlement to people paid for by other taxpayers. You wish that it were not, but currently in DC it is. And in the entire united states it is under certain circumstances.
4. 17 other states currently pay for abortions that exceed the minimum requirements of the Hyde Act (thought the document linked to above is from 2011, clearly it is out of date in reference to DC, which it doesn't include). Surely you would agree that all of them should have their federal funding pulled if they don't cease, even if many people in those states believe that forcing a woman to give birth when she doesn't want to is very wrong.
5. Once again, this isn't about abortion really. It is about DC's right to do with their money as they please, just like everyone else in the country is allowed to do. It's about not being lesser citizens.

by David C on Nov 17, 2011 5:24 pm • linkreport

The American Latino? Isn't that redundant?

Next up...the Museum of Caucasian Europeans

by wr on Nov 17, 2011 5:25 pm • linkreport

Yeah. Putting a CaBi *AT* Forest Glen seems silly if it's all by itself.

However, there are a whole bunch of residential neighborhoods nearby, and it could be beneficial to connect those up to CaBi. Also, I have a suspicion that CaBi could be a catalyst for making the entire area more bicycle-friendly.

(I've also long been in favor of having Bixi develop a cheaper "residential" station that doesn't necessarily include the map or kiosk, which might make it easier/cheaper to expand the system out into the suburbs)

by andrew on Nov 17, 2011 5:45 pm • linkreport

@David C: The US is not a democracy; it is a constitutional republic. Congress has constitutional authority over all local spending and laws in DC. It can do what it likes in DC -- regardless of what is "right".

The deal would have ceded budget decisions to the DC government, while codifying no DC government spending on abortion. The former is new, while the latter has been in place, with no prospect of change in sight. Such a change may occur if and when Congress changes its collective mind about abortion -- somewhat less likely, imo, than granting DC statehood.

They should have taken the deal -- DC would have gotten out of the problems caused by the end-of-year budget wrangling in Congress, for nothing, basically.

EHN has lost my vote.

by goldfish on Nov 18, 2011 10:02 am • linkreport

goldfish, it is both a democracy and a constitutional republic. The two are not mutually exclusive. In fact I think every republic is a democracy. It is not a direct democracy, but it is a democracy.

DC got the right to pay for abortions in 2009, but lost it again in 2011. So I think it is not unreasonable that it might change again.

But I agree that they should have taken the deal, as unfortunate as it was. The $90,000 a year that would be "saved" could be redirected toward sex education or birth control programs. The DC council could have then solicited donations to fund the program, via the DC abortion fund. They could have even covered the cost out of their own salaries. We could have been particularly sneaky and given 9 CM's a pay raise specifically to have them donate the raise to the DC Abortion Fund.

Regardless, I think, we could have wound up with the same basic result.

Congress has constitutional authority over all local spending and laws in DC. It can do what it likes in DC -- regardless of what is "right".

Unfortunately that is true. But it still means Republicans are hypocrites when they exert that power. And it still means they're un-American when they do so. And it still means that it's political theater. And it is still wrong.

by David C on Nov 18, 2011 10:16 am • linkreport

@David C: Whatever you may think of Republicans, the DC Delegate to Congress must work with them. Ms. Norton has twice proved that she does not know when to accept a good deal. Her principles are correct, but she does not know when to lay them aside. She has lost all effectiveness; at this rate, we will all be dead before the local injustices we are all trying to correct come to pass.

by goldfish on Nov 18, 2011 10:28 am • linkreport

@Fall Church

DC's present residential permit parking (RPP) system doesn't really solve the problem of residents worrying that eliminating off-street commercial parking minimums will impact residential streets. First of all, RPP restrictions (which limit non-resident use to 2 hours) expire as early as 6.30, some at 8.30. As a practical matter, it means that peak commercial use for restaurants and bars occurs when the RPP restrictions effectively expire yet residents are often returning home. The second problem is that the ward-based zones are way too large, so that someone can drive from Spring Valley, let's say, and park for free all day in Woodley Park next to the Metro. The solution is what Bethesda does: residents only parking on residential streets nearby commercial hubs (e.g., Edgemoor) and micro-zones.

by Bob on Nov 18, 2011 4:31 pm • linkreport

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