The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


No bloody slashes, dashes or unnecessary acronyms

According to Zachary Schrag's famous book about Metro history, The Great Society Subway, the planners originally in charge of naming stations were told to keep it simple. In fact, says Schrag, the rule of thumb at the time was for no stations to be longer than two words.

Obviously with names like U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo WMATA has moved away from that principle in recent years. These days many of the stations in the system are appended with some sort of slash-this or dash-something.

Sometimes the change has made sense. The federal government mandated that Reagan be added to National Airport, after all. A great many of the new names aren't all that useful though.

Do we really need to know, for example, that students attending George Mason University sometimes use the Vienna station? GMU's campus is over 5 miles from Vienna. The station does not directly serve the university. The name doesn't have to be there.

At the same time, some stops could use a re-branding. When Dunn Loring opened, it was envisioned as a park and ride serving commuters living in the Dunn Loring residential area north of the stop. The way things worked out, most of the riders using the station are actually going or coming from the Merrifield commercial/industrial area south of the stop. The station originally called Dunn Loring would now be better named Merrifield.

It seems a good time to look at the whole system. The map below illustrates a possible station renaming scheme. In some cases I renamed stations that are too long, or have too many acronyms attached at the end. In other cases I renamed to focus on a specific neighborhood or landmark. Where possible I've tried to stick to the two word maximum, but in a case or two have gone to three.

On the map gray station names are unchanged while black ones are those that have been modified.

Click to enlarge.

Have your own ideas? Share them in the comments.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


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God bless you for giving U Street Metro its name back. Jim Graham must be stopped before he names again!

by monkeyrotica on Mar 10, 2009 10:14 am • linkreport

Call me old-fashioned, but I like the names the way they are. Some could be truncated, but I understand the reason for some of the elongated names. The best feature of the Metro system is its ease of use for the millions of visitors to DC each year. Business travelers coming into National Airport can quickly determine that the convention center is located at Mt. Vernon Square. Same thing with tourists getting to the National Zoo, or the Smithsonian. There's no guessing required, and that's probably the reason why "Ballpark" was added to Navy Yard station on your version.

Additionally, some of the revised names don't really make sense. While I've never been a fan of naming stations after streets (e.g. Georgia Ave station could theoretically be located anywhere along Georgia Ave), names like "Upper Northwest" and "Beltway North" are equally confusing.

As for attaching the university names, it's my understanding that the names indicate which station you should use to catch the shuttles direct to each university. Since higher education institutions are some of the largest employers in the region, and attract tens of thousands each day to their campuses, it makes sense to indicate them on the Metro map.

by Adam L on Mar 10, 2009 10:20 am • linkreport

I'm glad you mentioned Upper Northwest and Beltway North. Another rule I tried to follow was to use neighborhood names, but in those cases I obviously went against the grain. I'm not sure I like those changes myself, but wanted to see what other people think. Anybody else have an opinion on them?

As for the universities - I'm solidly in the camp of folks who think university students ought to be smart enough to figure it out on their own. And although GMU and UMD are big employers, Marymount and the satellite campuses of VT/UVA aren't.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 10:26 am • linkreport

Woodley Park was originally called Zoological Park, adding the neighborhood in. Frankly, I think it makes sense to designate both the WP and CP stations as serving the Zoo.

Also, American University has several buildings around Tenley and runs a regular bus to the station, so I have no problem with the current name.

Finally, like Adam L , I agree that while Van Ness/UDC isn't the best name, neither is "Upper Northwest". If we stick with neighborhood names, I would go with "Forest Hills" or "North Cleveland Park".

by William on Mar 10, 2009 10:30 am • linkreport

I have lots of issues with your naming scheme

Stadium armory should probably be changed to RFK stadium, but Independance Ave is a bad name for it as it doesn't tell you what's there. The stadium or the armory are why the majority of the people are using that stop. Plus the Smithsonian stop has an exit on Independence Ave as well.

I agree with the lack of hyphonated names, but I do think you should keep them with the universities.

Archives I think is the best name for that stop. I don't think most people even know Indian Ave is there.

Beltway North is ridiculous for Forest Glen. The only thing around there is the Forest Glen area, Beltway North could be anywhere along the beltway, and why does a freeway matter in relationship to a subway?

the main reason most people are gtting off at Mt vernon is for the Convention Center, so the Convention Center to me is the proper name.

That part of DC is referred to as Van Ness, Upper Northwest is somewhere else (Picture further up Conneticut). I say keep the current name.

Changing Potomac Ave to Potomac Circle just seems like a change for the sake of change. It might make sense if there was another stop located near Potomac Ave, but since there is not, I don't see the need.

by nathaniel on Mar 10, 2009 10:35 am • linkreport

GMU is served by 5 different buses from campus to the station now, 4 of which are available to non students.

by AJ on Mar 10, 2009 10:35 am • linkreport

I'm all for removing the names of individual memorials and schools from station names, but "Upper Northwest" and "Beltway North" are completely useless.

My question is why change "Virgnia Square" (which is at least becoming a neighborhood name even if it wasn't originally) to "Quincy Park" (the name of a specific place/attraction)?

by Chris S on Mar 10, 2009 10:35 am • linkreport

"Kenilworth Ave" is nearly as ambiguous as "Beltway North." And you spelled "Takoma" wrong.

Maybe you could explain your reasoning for some of the other changes? For example, what's wrong with "West Hyattsville"?

by Johanna on Mar 10, 2009 10:35 am • linkreport

I, too, am all in favor of shortening names to improve usability and ease of understanding/communication, but I don't get some of the choices here.

For one, why "Indiana Plaza?" Why not just revert to the original name, Archives? That's a recognizable landmark. I've never even heard of Indiana Plaza before.

A few others stick out as well. Potomac Circle would be better than just Potomac Ave, but they would have to actually build the circle first. I don't see what's wrong with Capitol South - Capitol Hill is a neighborhood that encompasses several metro stations, in my mind.

by Alex B. on Mar 10, 2009 10:37 am • linkreport

I agree 100% and have commented about this in the past. Its as if WMATA is trying to cram an entire description of destinations near the station into the station name itself. You don't see New York giving their stations names like "Flatiron-Gramercy-Madision Sq-23rd St".

by Chris Loos on Mar 10, 2009 10:39 am • linkreport

I don't like the East-West couples. Falls Church, Eisenhower, and Farragut. It's confusing to novel users. Better to find alternate names through cross streets.

Van Dorn is fine as is. What would we name the infill? Eisenhower Connector? Then you have three Eisenhowers. Eisenhower Ave could be renamed Carlyle.

Perhaps East Falls Church can be renamed Sycamore St, while West Falls Church would become Falls Church.

And if they would finally build the d@rn tunnel under Farragut Square, both stations could become one.

Chinatown is not a good name. It's a touristic wannabe name for an area that doesn't cover reality. Verizon Center would be apt, but we don't want to keep changing the name as Verizon goes bust after eating MCI. Just Gallary Place then?

Last, I don't mind the university additions very much. They are just acronyms of a few letters. On the other hand, you could argue that if GW gets its name on the Foggy Bottom Station, why doesn't the State Dept. And then we get back to the infinite names.

The problem is that everybody who's name will be dropped will have a hurt ego.

by Jasper on Mar 10, 2009 10:39 am • linkreport

Sure, I understand the point with the satellite campuses and that students should know where they're university is. However, that's assuming that the only people who are going to universities are people affiliated with them. The number of conferences, public events, etc. that are held on university campuses make them prime destinations. For somebody not familiar with the area, you may be able to guess that UMD would be somewhere near the College Park station, but would you guess that GWU is located at Foggy Bottom or that CUA (not to mention the National Shrine) is located in a place called Brookland?

by Adam L on Mar 10, 2009 10:40 am • linkreport

The official WMATA map has some discreet little white-on-green icons on it, mainly around the mall area. Another white-on-green icon could be added for the Zoo (which as we know isn't really at Woodley anyway; it's halfway between Cleveland and Woodley). And in exchange for removing the bold black text with all the university names, I think it would be sensible to have some similarly discreet gray icons marking the major universities.

by tom veil on Mar 10, 2009 10:40 am • linkreport

can't wait to see the PoP crowd's response to wiping their neighborhood name off the map! ;)

seriously though, the station sits right on the edge of neighborhoods (you can argue that the east entrance is in petworth, while the west entrance is just past the limits of columbia heights and petworth, kind of in a no-man's land).

i would stick with petworth for the name, and just get rid of the georgia avenue moniker, since the road is so long, and really, there are arguably three other stations you could slap a georgia avenue moniker on (glenmont, wheaton, forest glen...and maybe even silver spring)!

by IMGoph on Mar 10, 2009 10:41 am • linkreport

I feel that there should be a distinction with university names. If it's the main campus, like UMD, GMU, GWU, AU, Howard, UDC, it should get in the station name. If it's a small satellite like VT, UVA, Marymount, it should not get on the station name.

Perhaps Upper Northwest (Van Ness UDC) could be Chevy Chase South-UDC or something. Isn't Petworth ok? Isn't the station in the Petwood section of DC? I agree about dropping the "Georgia Ave" and the "Rhode Island Ave" though.

The Strathmore Music Hall paid money to WMATA to get on the name at Grosvenor. That's a hard station to name because it's in the sprawl between Bethesda and Rockville. Kind of like Forest Glen. I would leave Forest Glen as is since it's really a comparable name to Beltway North. Plus, MDOT doesn't direct beltway traffic to the Forest Glen station since it has so little parking. All signs on the beltway for the eastern Red Line are directed towards Silver Spring because of all the municipal parking lots there. Forest Glen is really small with a really small parking lot. It is pretty much only used by commuters in the immediate surrounding area. The only WMATA buses that serve it are the Q2 and Y's and they stop on Georgia Avenue, not at the Metro station.

National Mall is somewhat equal to Smithsonian in the eyes of the tourist. Perhaps it would be a better name, though. I would leave Anacostia and Congress Heights as is. They're named after places.

Great fun. Good post.

by Cavan on Mar 10, 2009 10:43 am • linkreport

Yeah, I don't like names like "Beltway North" or "Upper Northwest" either. I don't like Quincy Park either. It sounds cooler but the neighborhood is already called Virginia Square. And GMU has a campus right there, they probably deserve a hyphen given that it's basically across the street. Ballston and Marymount is iffy IMO.

Also, Benning should be Benning Road. Sounds kind of weird leaving off the Rd. Also Independence East sound weird too. Keep it Stadium-Armory. While I don't mind the Anacostia station name, I kinda like MLK Ave. as a station name too.

Eisenhower West and Van Dorn St. both make sense to me, so I'm indifferent about that. Parker Grey is cool in the sense of bringing awareness about the neighborhood but wouldn't Parker Grey be east of the Braddock Rd. station. Braddock Rd. is very ambiguous.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 10:45 am • linkreport

Takoma - oops

West Hyattsville - I'm not very familiar w/ that part of PG County, but looking at Google Maps the station seems to serve Chillum as much as or even more than Hyattsville. I didn't want to name it "Chillum" though, because it is technically inside Hyattsville city limits. So "Chillum Road" works in the alternate name without getting the geography wrong.

Virginia Square - The square the station was named after isn't there anymore, and the neighborhood is by far the least well-defined of the five in the Wilson Blvd corridor. Meanwhile, Quincy Park is the largest park in the corridor and is home to Arlington's central library.

Potomac Circle - Just to get away from the problem folks have cited with regards to Independence Ave and Kenilworth Ave, that the street extends elsewhere. Circle instead of Avenue is more geographically tight. Not a big deal change, but if we're going to be redoing the whole system, why not?

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 10:47 am • linkreport

Johanna, the West Hyattsville station is actually just off Chillum Road. The original planned name was Chillum. Chillum is also sort of the name for that area. I don't know why they changed the name before the Green Line was built.

by Cavan on Mar 10, 2009 10:48 am • linkreport

If we are going to rename the Anacostia station (and since it isn't even on MLK), I'd change it to Poplar Point / Anacostia (one entrance is on poplar point, one (barely) in Anacostia.

Or if we could even go with Barry Farm, since that is the closest neighborhood of density to the stop and will hopefully soon be redeveloped.

Also, since there are discussions about adding a metro between Congress Heights and Anacostia that would probably bear the name St. Elizabeths / DHS, the Congress Heights name should not be changed.

by DG-rad on Mar 10, 2009 10:50 am • linkreport

Rather than go back to Archives, I think I would prefer the name Penn Quarter. I don't live there, but I do spend a good deal of time in that area, and while it doesn't have the strongest branding or neighborhood feel, I definitely think that there have been changes on the commercial side to bring it together.

by X-Himy on Mar 10, 2009 10:54 am • linkreport

I was going to say something about Petworth as well. Seems like a short, fairly descriptive name for the station. I don't like Indian Plaza either. Add Plaza to L'Enfant as well. Potomac Circle sounds better but it's not one of the ones I want to change.

I think the universities in VA that could argue for a hyphen are GMU and possibly Marymount. In DC, I think GW definitely deserves a hyphen.

Make it Chinatown - Verizon Center. I don't think we should abandon calling the area Chinatown.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 10:54 am • linkreport

I can't easily find the stories now, but my memory is that it's not entirely WMATA's "fault" for the longer names. The way the rules are written gives the localities a fair amount of power in deciding to change names. I think if the locality is willing to pay for the costs of the name change, WMATA more or less has to change the name.

Which is why you have the uneven name changes. DC has a added a lot, while the surrounding counties haven't bothered to as much.

That said, changing to Franconia-Springfield to just Springfield is a little silly, because even though it's next to Springfield Mall, both are actually in Franconia.

by Byron on Mar 10, 2009 10:54 am • linkreport

Also, thank you for this, even though I don't agree with all the changes (really, what's wrong with Forest Glen?). Insanely long metro titles such as New York Ave (I like your new name) is a personal bugbear, and I've been making my own personal map with new names.

by X-Himy on Mar 10, 2009 10:56 am • linkreport

Franconia-Springfield is appropriate.

But with Virginia Square, it's already established that that is the neighborhood name although it's sort of ambiguous. I don't think it makes sense to abandon that, especially considering that the other established neighborhoods have metro stations w/ their name. This is regardless of whether the actual square is there anymore.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 10:57 am • linkreport

Established neighborhoods in the Wilson Blvd. corridor.*

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 10:58 am • linkreport

I like "Farragut Square" as a single name once the pedestrian tunnel is built.

East Falls Church is closer to downtown Falls Church than West FC, so if we were to split them I'd think we'd want to keep the FC moniker at East. But then what to name West? Anything associated with route 7 is undesirable, since that could be mistaken for a station in Tysons. "Haycock Road" maybe, but that's not a major street. How about "Pimmit Hills"?

Anacostia is one I do think should change, because the station isn't in the central part of the Anacostia neighborhood, while the streetcar will have a stop there.

Light rail was another consideration. College Park is a good example. If the Purple Line is built it will have a stop right on the UMD campus. Keeping "UMD" on College Park at that point would be confusing.

Archives - It's Indiana Plaza, not Indian Plaza. Just a point of clarification.

Springfield - Even if they're in Franconia, Springfield is far more recognizable regionally. Everybody knows where Springfield is.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:00 am • linkreport

Park View - Change for the sake of change. Throwing it out there to see what people think.

Anybody have an opinion on Parker Gray? What about Auth?

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:02 am • linkreport

I guess it's just extremely subjective b/c with some places we go by what is more recognized and with others we go by w/ what's geographically accurate. There's a balance I guess.

I'd keep Franconia-Springfield as it is and I would keep it West Falls Church and East Falls Church. But I don't like West Tysons and East Tysons or whatever it could be for the Silver Line. Indiana Plaza needs to go IMO.

I agree with you on the Farragut Stations when the pedestrian tunnel is built. It could be confusing already given that they're on different lines.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 11:07 am • linkreport

Virginia Square and Ballston stations are so close together (7 blocks by my count and it seems like less living pretty much halfway between them) that I and many of the people I know in the area consider everything between the stations part of the Ballston neighborhood. Quincy Park isn't a great name (I live across the street from the park and I consider myself in the Ballston neighborhood), but Virginia Square is effectively meaningless now except for the neighborhood that is there that doesn't really exist. If anything GMU Arlington and the FDIC would seem to be the biggest draws for that station. That and all of us who would rather get off at a less crowded station (than Ballston) and walk a couple minutes longer.

by Chris Seay on Mar 10, 2009 11:07 am • linkreport

Congress Heights - When I was living in the suburbs I used to get confused with Congress Heights, Capitol Heights and Columbia Heights. I wanted to get rid of at least one of them, and Congress seemed like the most ripe for change. "Alabama Ave" might also be good for that stop.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:07 am • linkreport

Why "Auth" in place of Branch Avenue?

by Cavan on Mar 10, 2009 11:08 am • linkreport

Keep Congress Heights. That's a very old established neighborhood. That station is in Congress Heights. It doesn't really have parking so it's not a commuter-heavy station. It mostly serves that section of the city.

by Cavan on Mar 10, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

There is something undignified about a station name that reads like the chapter headings from a verbose travel guide. "U St./Cardozo/African-American Civil War Memorial"? Is this for real?

I'd quibble with some of the specific suggestions for names, but please, please, the names need to get shorter. It's not just convenience. Names count. They create our first impressions of a new place. The punctuation-heavy names create the impression of bureaucracy and an excessively pedantic mind.

I understand what Metro's been trying to do. They want to make it easier for travelers to find their destinations.

The core failure here is in Metro's map design. The map doesn't provide a place for geographic, contextual, or supporting information. Right now, the only way to indicate that George Mason University is near a station is to cram "GMU" into the name of the station. Rather than fix the blasted map, Metro changes the names of stations.

It's a bloated, clumsy map with miserable use of line weight and lousy typography. It provides two layers of information: the subway lines and gross geographic features like the flipping river. More compact rendering of lines and more economical type would provide room for other information.

The map adheres slavishly to the principles behind Beck's London Tube map, and for no good reason. This is not London. London has no orthogonal street grid; North American cities do. New York's subway maps, while not geographically correct, at least try to maintain spatial relationships and distances, because those factors matter in New York. Chicago just provides a blow-up of downtown. DC's map is unique in the degree of distortion.

There is no reason to use precisely the same map in brochure form, online, and plastered on the walls of stations and subway cars. People read each of these applications in a different way.

One of the most tragic aspects of Metro's information design is the old braille map. There used to be one sitting on the top floor of the MLK Library. It's drawn to scale and it reads fine, and yet we have this train-wreck of a system map everywhere else.

by David Ramos on Mar 10, 2009 11:10 am • linkreport

Some asked about a tunnel connecting West and North Farragut stations and it reminded me of my question: has anyone given thought to fast-tracking such construction and taking advantage of the big vacant lot across the street from Farragut N (at K). Would that be a way to cause less interruption to traffic during the work?

Just curious.


by rdhd on Mar 10, 2009 11:11 am • linkreport

Virginia Square is overlapped by people calling it Clarendon and more frequently Ballston but I'd still keep it Virginia Square. We should just get rid of the name Virginia Square altogether if we all say it doesn't mean anything anymore. The neighborhood is already recognized as Ballston-Virginia Square by some as it is. And why mess up the continuity with the Ballston-Rosslyn metro station names.

Park View, I'd keep as Petworth. People know Petworth and it's right there basically. Parker Grey would take getting used to but it's better than Braddock Rd. There are so many Braddock Rds. and the main Braddock Road is pretty long and covers a lot of area. Parker Grey is technically east of the station but it's a good name to bring visibility to the neighborhood, which is sort of like North Old Town. Del Ray is another candidate but a bit further away.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 11:13 am • linkreport

Auth seems to be a geographic name for that area. Looking at Google Maps, it pops up all around the station. There's an Auth Road, an Auth Way, an Auth Place, an Auth Village Park... No idea where it comes from, but it's all over.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:13 am • linkreport

There are a lot of Heights, but we should keep them all IMO.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 11:16 am • linkreport

The Silver Line has some pretty bad names like Route 28, and Route 772. Same with Tysons 7 and Tysons 123. Route 28 should be renamed Dulles East, Herndon-Monroe should be renamed Woodland Park, Route 606 should be called Monroe Drive, and Route 772 should be called Ryan Road. Numbers are confusing, and no one really cares about the road numbers because most likely they will be walking less than half a mile.

I'd also like for Reston Parkway to be called Reston Center, because most people will be going to the Reston Town Center. And use the neighborhood names in the Tysons Corner draft plan for the names of the Tysons 7 and 123 stations.

by Joshua on Mar 10, 2009 11:17 am • linkreport

I'd keep it Branch Ave. or change it to Morningside, but Auth is just weird.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 11:19 am • linkreport

Chillum-far more appropriate then West Hyattsville. I work in west Hyattsville (1 block north of Eastern Ave on the east side of New Hampshire Ave). The two closest metro stops to the real west Hyattsville are Takoma and Ft. Totten. Irks me. Wish there really was a west Hyvil stop.

Van Ness-I agree. This neighborhood already has a name and the metro exit is at the doorstep to UDC. Like Tom Veils suggetion for univ's names in gray. Same thing could be done for Conv. Center at Mt. V. Sq.

Petworth-agree again. this neighborhood already has a name. What's Park View? Never heard of it.

by Bianchi on Mar 10, 2009 11:27 am • linkreport

I think the stations named after streets should change. Except maybe "U Street" since that's actually what people call the neighborhood. But come on, "King Street" should be "Old Town", etc. Renaming MORE stations after streets won't win any points with me.

Is your beef with "Vienna" that it's actually south of Vienna? It's still pretty close, and that's no different from the Falls Church stations. You could call it "Fairfax" since it's about equally close to the City of Fairfax's boundaries. Hey, maybe "Vienna/Fairfax" would work?

"Virginia Square" is a well-established neighborhood name, so that shouldn't be axed, whether or not the original namesake remains.

I'm equally skeptical of the renames after streets in Maryland, though not familiar enough with those neighborhoods to comment in depth.

I'm surprised you would want to name stations after streets since that seems to me a very car-centric, park-and-ride way of thinking. Name them after the neighborhoods served.

by Scott on Mar 10, 2009 11:28 am • linkreport

If I remember my Schrag, the push was for neighborhood or area names not limited to streets where possible. I like West Alexandria to replace Van Dorn Street, Potomac Yard for the new infill.

Also, is the post's title a nod to Scotty's comment in his TNG episode? "No bloody A, B, C or D."

Traffic and Star Trek geek. Yes, I'm quite pale. Why do you ask?

by Joe on Mar 10, 2009 11:33 am • linkreport

I'd rather name places after neighborhoods but I don't like naming them after neighborhoods when they're just too far from them that it's basically deceptive. Old Town could be an example. In that case, street names apply better. But street names are fine even when they're in a neighborhood in many cases IMO. Lots of cities do it that way. There's no right or wrong a lot of the time.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 11:34 am • linkreport

David Ramos, very good critique.

by Bianchi on Mar 10, 2009 11:36 am • linkreport

the other problem with changing the names of stations in underdeveloped neighborhoods is that it would sort of take away a perceived amenity.

if we took out the Anacostia and Petworth names, it would be harder to convince people that the area is served by Metro. If we really want to get technical, we could change the Anacostia name to "ugly parking lots and intersections" since that is really all that surrounds it at the mo.

by DG-rad on Mar 10, 2009 11:36 am • linkreport

what's wrong with "Van Ness - UDC" anyway? unlike the other street-named stations (including the renames suggested) it actually tells you where on the street the station is. names like "nutley" "beltway north" and the two eisenhowers aren't terribly intuitive, IMO.

by AJ on Mar 10, 2009 11:38 am • linkreport

I like where you're going with this, but I think there are relatively few if any stations that need their names changed completely (rather than just shortened). For example, "Upper Northwest" is a much bigger area than just the vicinity of the Van Ness - UDC stop, so how about just "Van Ness St"? That gets rid of the dash and the unnecessary reference to UDC. Similarly, "Virginia Sq - GMU" could be returned to "Virginia Sq", "New York Avenue/Florida Avenue/Gallaudet U" could just be called "New York Ave", "Georgia Ave - Petworth" could be "Petworth", et cetera.

And yes, to echo the commenter above, thank you for correcting the abomination that is "U St/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo". No disrespect to African-American Civil War veterans or students at Cardozo Senior High School, but neither is noteworthy enough to justify the inconvenience. (Plus, Cardozo High is nearly as close to the Columbia Heights stop.)

by Noah on Mar 10, 2009 11:40 am • linkreport

FWIW people, the Petworth station is technically in Park View. That said, I could see the argument for keeping the name Petworth, too. I do agree with removing UMD from the College Park station, since it's a shuttle ride or solid 15-20 minute walk from campus, and not a particularly safe walk at night either.

by Nate on Mar 10, 2009 11:45 am • linkreport

Van Ness is ripe for a change. As Schrag noted, Van Ness isn't even the name of a neighborhood -- that is North Cleveland Park.

'Van Ness' was used as an identifier for drivers looking to park and ride; it's the main east-west cross street up here. The parking never got built at the station, so commuters didn't need an easy identifier, and the silly name stuck. Go with NCP or Forest Hills, rather than the cross street (or, as many misread it, a neighborhood that doesn't exist by that name).

by CP on Mar 10, 2009 11:47 am • linkreport

I like a few of the shortened station names -- U St, Reagan National Airport, Brentwood, NoMa but I agree with others that University names should be kept on (abbreviated, why is Howard spelled out?) for the purposes of guiding out-of-town visitors. I don't like Indiana Plaza (call it Archives or Penn Quarter), Beltway North (keep it Forest Glen), Upper NW (how about Upper Connecticut Ave? or something to reflect all the embassies clustered near there?), and Auth (seriously, all of Southern Maryland will be scratching their heads trying to figure out that one).

@ Bianchi -- the residents of Park View will be disappointed to read your comment. The Petworth metro is right in between Petworth and Park View, and within a few blocks of parts of Columbia Heights and 16th St Heights, I believe. I think the metro is technically in Park View, hence the proposed change.

by DC_Chica on Mar 10, 2009 11:54 am • linkreport

"U St./African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo" is a curious case. It's a place, a high school, and a note of appreciation to black veterans. Station names (like streets, buildings, and parks) aren't just functional. Sometimes they serve as vehicles for culture.

If we wish to honor the service of black soldiers in the Civil War, the solution is to rename the station. Take a nod from the French and call the station "African-American Civil War Memorial," or "Memorial" for short. And ditch the geographic signifiers.

by David Ramos on Mar 10, 2009 11:55 am • linkreport

>is the post's title a nod to Scotty's comment in his TNG episode? "No bloody A, B, C or D."


by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:57 am • linkreport

>If we wish to honor the service of black soldiers in the Civil War, the solution is to rename the station. Take a nod from the French and call the station "African-American Civil War Memorial," or "Memorial" for short.

I think the problem w/ that is that DC is a city with a lot of very large memorials, and the one is question is pretty small.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 11:59 am • linkreport

Re: David Ramos -- I must respectfully disagree with your comments about the DC subway map. Having grown up in New York, I can tell you the the "geographic" NYC Subway map is almost entirely useless for its intended purpose -- helping people navigate the subway. It does not clearly or simply display the most critical piece of information: which trains stop where at which times. True, a fully diagrammatic map a la London wouldn't work in NYC, but the current map shouldn't be held up as a positive example. (Hell, it's not even that geographically accurate!) I much prefer Eddie Jabbour's Kick Map, which is almost as geographic but is also easy to read.

As for the DC Metro map: I wouldn't mind adjusting the line weight or the typeface to make it a little prettier, but for the most part, it does exactly what it's supposed to. Please-oh-please don't try and fix it, 'cause it ain't broke.

by Noah on Mar 10, 2009 12:09 pm • linkreport

There appears to be a strong relationship between stations with slash-dash names and the need for more transit in those same locations.

by staypuftman on Mar 10, 2009 12:10 pm • linkreport

Petworth-ParkView: Thanks. I learned something.

CP re: Van Ness-I know people who live there (and used to live there) and refer to where they live(ed) as Van Ness. It's a neighborhood name that's in use, whether it's from a historical never built parking lot or not, it's in use as a name for a location. I don't disagree that north Cleve Park is discriptive too.

by Bianchi on Mar 10, 2009 12:13 pm • linkreport

FYI - When it comes time to put the Silver line on the map (which will be soon - it was approved today if you haven't heard) WMATA's graphic designers will have to narrow the line weights. The new map will look something like this.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 12:15 pm • linkreport

I'm pretty sure universities have their name on metro stops because they PAID metro to do so. For what it's worth, I agree with keeping university names, and descriptive landmark names as opposed to just neighborhoods. Nothing's worse for a tourism city (which we ARE) than a public transportation system that only makes sense to locals. Anyway here's the chat where i remember hearing that: I know it's not a real article, so I would welcome anyone who can find real evidence one way or another.

by jen on Mar 10, 2009 12:22 pm • linkreport

"Independence East?" Please. Maybe instead of Stadium Armory it could be "Hill East."

And if you change Capitol South to "Capitol Hill" you may as well change Metro Center to "Downtown."

To be historically accurate, NOMA should be called Eckington. NOMA only exists in the minds of real estate developers.

Most of these I like though!

by Tom A. on Mar 10, 2009 12:34 pm • linkreport

Van Ness has become a place by sheer force of Metro, so I'd much rather let it stay than use the wannabe name of North Cleveland Park. Metro made a bunch of places when it opened, and one is Van Ness.

Generally this is great, but we gotta get rid of the relational names. "North Beltway", for example, contains no information about the neighborhood, "NoMa" is a terrible name in the first place, and the "Wests" and "Easts" just make those neighborhoods sound shamefully nonexistent.

I disagree with David Ramos, though, the big lines are great, simple, and well-balanced. You don't like a little Helvetica now and then? Most subways eschew geographical data for precisely the reason that it gets too confusing on a map and actually doesn't help people that much.

by öarüchitect on Mar 10, 2009 12:37 pm • linkreport

Skimming through, I think someone else mentioned this already, but why change Van Dorn? Especially when Alexandria is planning a new "Eisenhower West" station?

Morningside is closer than "Auth", but I'd still prefer to keep it as "Branch Ave".

What's your rationale for renaming Anacostia?

by Froggie on Mar 10, 2009 12:39 pm • linkreport

I agree with Noah that Eddie Jabbour's Kick Maps are superior representations.

by Paul S on Mar 10, 2009 12:40 pm • linkreport

You cannot call the station NoMa. I refuse to let the marketing department at [insert now-bankrupt firm here] rename a place (and in such a cliched manner.) Call it Eckington. Call in Galludet. But not NoMa. Although, I do appreciate the shorteting of the insane "NYA/FA/GU" moniker.

by Aaron on Mar 10, 2009 12:53 pm • linkreport

I don't have a problem with longish names. The current name for U St. is overkill, sure. But does that mean we have to take the "GWU" out of "Foggy Bottom"?

I'll stick up for schools in particular. Sure, the students and staff who go every day should know what station their school is at. But schools are a major draw for visitors: people attending conferences, public lectures, performances, sporting events, students' visiting friends and family, applicants on campus visits, etc.

I might have a bias since I haven't lived here long, but the Metro station names are my first rough guide to where a neighborhood is located.

I will say, though, that I generally dislike street names. If we're trying to make the stations easier to find, I'd rather have the address be shown on the map under the station name in parentheses or on a supplemental list under the map. But as people have mentioned, naming a station "X Ave." or "Route Y" tells you very little about where it's located. I'd rather use (or create) a place name so the areas around the station can develop a better sense of identity.

by Gavin Baker on Mar 10, 2009 12:54 pm • linkreport

Although, I do appreciate the shorteting of the insane "NYA/FA/GU" moniker.

Actually, why don't we call the neighborhood Nyafagu? I mean, ever since Union Station obliterated the old Swampoodle neighborhood, NY & FL has been a serious borderland. From the Metro platform, you can see Shaw, Bloomingdale, Eckington, Brentwood, Gallaudet, North Capitol Hill, and Sirsum Corda. Now that the Metro station is transforming everything within walking distance into an orchestra of cranes, aa new neighborhood name seems appropriate -- and what better way to get back at the empty suits who invented NoMa than to invent our own acrnonym that sounds like a third world city!

by tom veil on Mar 10, 2009 1:12 pm • linkreport

enjoying the discussion about map design.

I agree that NoMa is a bad name. Eckington I know. I've lived in DC longer then NoMa has been a "place".(although i just learned the name Park View. Perhpas NoMa too is older then I think).

What about cross street names? One of my stops in Chicago was North and Clybourn (sp?). One knew exactly where it was. I guess that doesn't work for stops with two exits. E.g would it be U St & Vermont or U & 13th?

by Bianchi on Mar 10, 2009 1:22 pm • linkreport

GW should remain on the Foggy Bottom-GWU Station name because the station IS ON THE GW CAMPUS! In fact, the first Metro maps just said "George Washington University" for this stop.

by M-LP on Mar 10, 2009 1:24 pm • linkreport

Tom Veil - "Nyafagu" sounds like an ethnic slur, or some fake Yiddish used by an old Borscht Belt Comedian. The person inside me who loves language and the sound of words just cringes at that. If we're going for some clever acronym name, I'd rather stick with NoMa, which at least doesn't inspire your own tongue to choke you to death.

by X-Himy on Mar 10, 2009 1:30 pm • linkreport

I like Sursum Corda for the NYA station. It would certainly be a unique name.

Bianchi, one thing that Metro planners specifically wanted to avoid (with comparison to Chicago) was multiple stops with the same name. Chicago has a ton of these, since stops are usually just named after the cross street. Adding both cross streets could be quite confusing, especially with DC's grid and the multiple versions of various intersections, depending upon the quadrant.

by Alex B. on Mar 10, 2009 1:31 pm • linkreport

Virginia Square is named after the Virginia Square Shopping Center that used to be there. Now the name has attached to the neighborhood. It's perfectly fine as is.

by Brendan on Mar 10, 2009 1:46 pm • linkreport

I'll concede that the relative merits of schematic vs. geographic transit maps are debatable. If you want to understand what drove Harry Beck to his solution, though, do look at a street map of London.

Nevertheless, the Metro map is inadequate. If you are renaming stations because there is no other way to convey contextual information, then something is badly wrong with your map.

The current Metro system map reads well at small sizes (back of a brochure) or at long viewing distances (across a crowded train). It's much too heavy for close viewing. The big blobby lines and the circles around stations are noisy under any conditions, though. I've got no complaint about Helvetica, but the entire map is screaming at me.

Screaming might make a strong first impression. It's a good way to get very simple messages across a crowd. It does not lend itself to the communication of dense information like, say, what landmarks might be near a subway stop.

I'm not talking about the wayfinding signage in the stations, by the way. The original Metro wayfinding signage was by Massimo Vignelli's office in NY. That system (very soft-spoken for subway signage) has long been occluded by the current clutter of vaguely-related signage ideas.

by David Ramos on Mar 10, 2009 1:52 pm • linkreport

Great overall idea. The use of station names to indicate multiple area attractions has gotten too out of hand as it has become something that provides legitimacy and importance in the mind of the name advocates.

Go back to the basic names, with some of the suggested changes. In Boston, for example, there are tons of stations that are just names based on a street or a square. That's fine--people know where they are. And for tourists, hand out a guide. The guide contains basic things like the nearest stop. E.g., Zoo--Clevelpand park or Woodley Park

As for "indiana plaza" I know where that is, but I've never heard of it. There's no plaza there, either. If not "Archives" why not "Pennsylvania Avenue" or "national galleries"?

I would not append "Verizon Center" to Chinatown--first it's free advertising. Second, it was the MCI center just a few years ago, and maybe it will be something else in a few more years.

by ah on Mar 10, 2009 1:55 pm • linkreport

The other possibility is to acknowledge that what works at long viewing distances will fail for dense information up close, and make more than one map. Metro kindasorta does this but not in a useful way.

Even London does this. Fare zone information and commuter rail lines get stripped out as the maps need to get louder and louder.

by David Ramos on Mar 10, 2009 1:57 pm • linkreport

What's wrong with "Forest Glen"? I'll grant that Forest Glen doesn't have much identity as a place; it's just another undifferentiated patch of suburb. But what kind of name is "Beltway North"?

by DC Expat on Mar 10, 2009 1:59 pm • linkreport

The Mexico City subway has icons for every single station. No need for words at all and even illiterate users can find their way.

I live near hte U Street African American Civil War Memorial Garnet Patterson Ben's Chili Bowl Minority AIDS Council Reeves Center George's Carry Out II Metro Station and I like that name just as it is, monkeyrotica.

by Ward 1 Guy on Mar 10, 2009 2:00 pm • linkreport

Re: Virginia Square, as noted by Brendan, it was the name of an old shopping center there. I kind of wish that, given the name, Arlington had included an actual central SQUARE (plaza or park of some sort) in its neighborhood plan for the station area. It would give a great development and neighborhood focus to probably the least improved Orange line station in the corridor.

by Joey on Mar 10, 2009 2:18 pm • linkreport

Thanks to Brendan and Joey for the information on why the Virginia Square station is named how it is. I suppose there is no good reason to rename the station (especially to Quincy Park) but I see no reason to keep the name the same either. It denotes nothing about the actual area and is confusing to those of us newer in Arlington. Ballston and Clarendon are pretty well defined areas, while VA Square is a sort of amorphous blob in the middle, with no relation (anymore) to the name of the station.

by Chris Seay on Mar 10, 2009 2:26 pm • linkreport

If people really feel that the Verizon Center needs to be on the station name, I'd suggest using the generic "Arena", like I used the generic "Ballpark" at Navy Yard. Doesn't matter how often the naming rights are sold or resold if you do it that way.

Also, Gallery Place is like Van Ness - it was a name invented by Metro planners that has caught on since. I've never been crazy about it since the galleries it references are not well known (2008's Colbert sighting notwithstanding). Even if there's very little Chinese about Chinatown, I like "Chinatown" better as a neighborhood name.

by BeyondDC on Mar 10, 2009 2:45 pm • linkreport

@jen 12:22 -- I don't think the universities paid to have their names on stations; I'm quite sure Howard, where I work, didn't. Rather, this is politics, as with most of the station-name additions. In this case it's pragmatic as well: the universities not only attract many occasional visitors, as others have mentioned, they're also major business operations (George Washington University, for example, is the largest non-government employer in the District). For these and other reasons they have a lot of heft in local politics, and if a university's administrators think it would be a good idea for its name to be on the nearest station, several councilmembers, and hence Metro, are likely to agree.

Some years ago I went to a public presentation of the plans for the then-future station that was still known simply as New York Avenue. The proceedings included speeches (in sign language) by members of a delegation from Gallaudet University formally asking Metro to add "Gallaudet" to the station name and a public agreement to do so by the Metro board members present. I'm sure this had all been arranged beforehand with the help of the councilmembers for the wards the station and the university were in, and perhaps the mayor as well, but I doubt there was anything more to it than that (certainly no payment by Gallaudet) -- it was so very clearly a political everybody-wins situation.

by david on Mar 10, 2009 2:50 pm • linkreport

I like Branch Avenue better than Auth, but that's mostly because when I first moved here and lived on the green line, I used "branching out" as my mnemonic device to remember that Branch Avenue was the direction I should head in the mornings.

Also, the "U Street African American Civil War Memorial Garnet Patterson Ben's Chili Bowl Minority AIDS Council Reeves Center George's Carry Out II Metro Station" might be the funniest thing I've read all week.

by Melissa on Mar 10, 2009 3:21 pm • linkreport

You have 8 syllables before your CEO makes your mapmaker consider leaving this out of his portfolio. Live with it, WMATA. As long as the names are distinct & memorable, it wouldn't even matter if the names had arbitrarily no relation to their surroundings - they'd be memorized inside of a year.

Add some mechanism for a smaller subtext for each station, and you can list the top five attractions if you like.

by Squalish on Mar 10, 2009 3:22 pm • linkreport

I would recommend switching the "Zoo" station to Cleveland Park-Zoo, since it's closer and downhill. Tourists need directional signing, too.

by Daniel M. Laenker on Mar 10, 2009 3:34 pm • linkreport

I agree with the very first poster...CM Graham needs to be stopped before he names again (just waiting for the new Columbia Heights/DCUSA stop). And I would be perfectly content with removing AM from the Woodley Park stop.

FYI, Cardoza isn't just the high school.

by Adams Morgan on Mar 10, 2009 3:56 pm • linkreport

I think the Gallery Pl-Chinatown stop should be renamed to Gallery Place instead of Chinatown. After all, most of the Chinese immigrants have moved out of that area. It's currently one of the smallest Chinatowns in N.A. but the shopping district in Chinatown is known as Gallery Place.

by Scott on Mar 10, 2009 4:15 pm • linkreport

"I like Sursum Corda for the NYA station. It would certainly be a unique name."

Someone will protest on political grounds about separation of church and state or some such. "Sursum Corda" is Latin and means "Lift up your hearts"; the phrase will have been most often heard by people who have attended a Catholic Mass celebrated in Latin. Of course that's not a legitimate reason to rule out that station name, especially with a nearby neighborhood using it, but the fear of such a protest would almost certainly be enough to prevent it.

People who comment about the problem of using the names of roads that run long distances do make a valid point. I was riding the Blue Line home from work once, pulling into the Braddock Road stop, when a lady with a suitcase asked me (her accent clearly identified her as foreign) why someone would tell her to meet them at the Van Dorn Street stop if they lived on "Bradcock Road." I simply said, "It's a really long road and that stop is probably a lot closer." She still seemed confused by it. The alternate suggestion "Parker Gray" confused me, though. I've lived in Northern Virginia since 1974 and I've never heard the name "Parker Gray." But the stop isn't really close enough to Del Ray to use that neighborhood's name, and there isn't really any other nearby landmark that would serve as a good name (heck, even the Association of Old Crows changed their sign). Under the circumstances, "Braddock Road" seems to make as much sense as anything else, if only because it's served well enough for almost 30 years.

What's interesting to me is to note the difference between some of the originally-planned names and some of what came to pass. The Congress Heights stop was, at one time, to be called "Alabama Avenue" (this may have been back in the days of the proposed Rosecroft routing, but I don't remember). I saw a very old map that showed the current Virginia Square stop as being named "Ballston" and the current Ballston stop as being named "Glebe Road." (I do not have access to this map: It was hanging in an office underneath the Lincoln Memorial when I took the tour of the area underneath.) I seem to recall that prior to the Metro opening, people didn't use the name "Ballston" and just referred to the area in terms of the Parkington shopping center (now known as Ballston Common). To me this somewhat underscores how important it is to get the names right, although it also underscores that if they get it wrong, WMATA's usage might prevail over time anyway.

I think the term "Arena" needs to be on the Gallery Place stop even if it means the name is longer than other stops. That's a major destination for both locals and out-of-towners. Saying this, however, makes me wonder what should be done about the stadium stops. "Ballpark" has been proposed for Navy Yard, and then we currently have "Stadium-Armory," and then there is no designation at all for FedEx Field. This leads to some potential for confusion (the casual baseball viewer may not know nor care about the distinction between a ballpark and a stadium), but on the other hand, I think WMATA's current naming convention smacks of the Code of Federal Regulations in that they're trying to think of every possible thing someone might want to reach and then slapping it on a Metro stop. Under the current naming paradigm, they could almost change the name of the Green Line terminus to "Greenbelt/Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport"....or why stop there, since the bus from West Falls Church to Dulles, coupled with the nonstop air service out of Dulles to South Africa, clearly calls for "West Falls Church/VPI-UVA/Johannesburg."

OK, I'm getting snarky, but the point is that you have to draw a line and that while it's not a bad idea to list some of the tourist destinations on the Metro map, why can't they just put them in some of the unused white space? (Example: two-column table. Left column headed "TO REACH" and right column headed "USE." Example: "Nationals Park ---> Navy Yard." "National Harbor ---> (wherever) to bus.") In connection with this, I keep thinking of the times I've ridden the MARTA in Atlanta, which has easily-understood pre-recorded station announcements that include stop and area information. Example: "North Avenue. Exit here for Georgia Tech." I suppose our cars aren't currently configured for that, but it doesn't seem like a terribly complex (nor terribly pricey) modification, and proper use of the announcements might eliminate the need for any renaming.

by Rich on Mar 10, 2009 4:38 pm • linkreport

Appending the Woodley Park station with Adams Morgan/Zoo was just cruel. How many people feel duped when they get off the station and find themselves in neither the Zoo nor Adams Morgan.

Does anybody know the song about Charlie and the MTA? It's a classic. Here's my version, but you have to sing really really fast at times for the lyric to keep up with the music.

Jimbo swiped his card at the National Archives/Navy Memorial Station

And he changed at the Gallery Place/Chinatown/Verizon Center

When he got to U St./Cardozo/African American Civil War Memorial he almost ran out breath

The conductor told him the name's too long.


But did he ever stop naming? No he never stopped naming.

And his name we are still defaming.

He may stay forever on the Board of WMATA.

He's the man who never stopped naming.

by Ward 1 Guy on Mar 10, 2009 4:52 pm • linkreport

I am amused at the selection of Springfield at the end of the Blue Line ... in the mid 70's, this station was to be just Franconia and there was to be another one just outside the Beltway with that one being called Springfield.

Also, in regards to changing Vienna to Nutley St, it'll never happen, the city of Vienna paid into the "kitty" when it came to financing the system, their name will remain .. the same with the city of Falls Church.

by coneyraven on Mar 10, 2009 5:07 pm • linkreport

Dan, excellent post. As I work on my super-duper transit vision, I went through and renamed many of the stations. Most were renamed because, as you mentioned with the Purple Line and College Park, there could (potentially) be transit closer places like Mount Vernon Square, Fairfax, Marymount U, etc. But U Street is an excellent example of a name that just needs to be shortened.

A couple thoughts on your choices...

-Van Ness could be renamed "Tobago" as Tsarchitect has called that area.

-West Hyattsville was originally supposed to be called Chillum, but it was originally supposed to be a little further west in the town of Chillum. The area Bianchi descirbed as Hyattsville is not actually part of the municipality, whereas West Hyattsville is an area within the municipality, and it is known as such locally, primarily the area east of the station at the Queens Chapel town center.

-NoMa is fine with me. I don't care who came up with it. That area isn't Eckington anymore. The rest of Eckington to the north should get some kind of a station one day anyway.

-I would have renamed Southern Avenue "Hillcrest Heights" after the adjacent area of Prince George's County

-Branch Avenue is actually in Camp Springs, which might be an appropriate name for that station.

-Forest Glen might be a rather useless station (imagine if it was built just INSIDE the Beltway) however it is aptly named as is. The Forest Glen post office is just up the street, and even though now this area is called Silver Spring, historically Forest Glen was its own town.

-I don't like "Brentwood" because it could be confused with the Prince George's County municipality a couple miles further up Rhode Island Avenue (between Mount Rainier and Hyattsville). I like the idea of changing the name of that station, though.

-I would leave Anacostia and Congress Heights alone until some more transit is built in River East. And that needs to happen! once real Anacostia has a station, perhaps the Green Line stop can be renamed Buena Vista or Barry Farm.

-For Stadium-Armory, I've seen "East End" thrown around, and I kind of like that one. It gives a little definition to the old Federal city (like West End, the proposed Blue Line station). RFK Stadium won't be around too much longer, so no use naming it after that.

-I'd go with "Seat Pleasant" over "Addison Road". Why not name the station after the municipality instead of the road?

-I like Benning because the three neighborhoods at that corner are Benning, Benning Heights, and Benning Ridge.

-I would have shortened Morgan Boulevard-Summerfield to just Summerfield

-Instead of Kenilworth Avenue (misleading, because eventually that road will go all the way to Laurel) I would have gone with Mayfair of Fort Mahan Park.

-For Braddock Road, perhaps Rosemont. I've never heard of Parker Gray. King Street should just be renamed Alexandria Transit Center, since it has VRE and Metro, and might eventually get Purple Line service.

-If an infill is built along Eisenhower Avenue, I would suggest Cameron Run.

-Finally, I would change the name of Prince George's Plaza. I don't like the idea of having a station named after a mall that has since changed its name anyway. Call it University Park or North Hyattsville,

by Dave Murphy on Mar 10, 2009 5:19 pm • linkreport

I think it should stay Gallery Place - Chinatown.

by Vik on Mar 10, 2009 5:21 pm • linkreport

Lots of great ideas out there. Some I like, some I don't. I won't get into details because so many people have already made good cases.

One thing I haven't heard yet is "Greenbelt." While the station is technically within Greenbelt's corporate limits, it sits on the border with College Park. As a matter of fact, as soon as you exit the West entrance, you're in College Park. And the station is not within walking distance to anything in Greenbelt--especially not Old Greenbelt. At least there are houses one can walk to on the College Park side. This name arose, I think, because originally, the Green Line was supposed to terminate at "Greenbelt Road," which is halfway between the extant Greenbelt and College Park Stations. A more appropriate name would be "Hollywood" or "Hollywood Park" after the adjacent neighborhood.

However, one of my biggest pet peeves with Metro naming, however, is New York Avenue/Florida Avenue/Galluadet University. The station has two entrances, one on M Street NE and one on Florida Avenue. There is absolutely no reason to include New York Avenue, which is a microfreeway at that point, on the station name.

I already refer to stations (in common parlance) by shorter names. When I refer to that station, I call it simply, Florida Avenue. I understand the idea behind appending ever more things to station names, but no one really uses the full names. Even in College Park, people just call the station College Park.

What I find most comical is when Metro makes announcements about single tracking, and suddenly, Orange Line trains are sharing the same track between "Vienna Fairfax George Mason University and West Falls Church Virginia Tech University of Virginia." For an out of towner, it can be hard to tell whether that's a list of two stations or a list of six.

I agree with using the MARTA announcement system. I grew up in Atlanta, and I see no reason why at stops a list of things in the immediate vicinity and things reachable by bus can't be listed instead of lengthening station names.

Of course, MARTA is not guiltless. The station that opened in 1979 as Omni, had the shortest name in the system at 4 letters. The same station now has one of the longest names in the country: Georgia Dome/Philips Arena/CNN Center/Georgia World Congress Center.

At the same time, I would be loathe to rename many stations beyond dropping extraneous abbreviations. Metro's station names can have a way of defining an area that previously had no monikker. They can also give a broader knowledge of existing names. Everyone knows (the general location) of Foggy Bottom, because its on the Metro Map.

But on the subject of punctuation, I wonder why some stations use hyphens,some stations use slashes, and some stations use both slashes and hyphens. Vienna/Fairfax-GMU clearly denotes two areas, Vienna and Fairfax, but is GMU dashed to Fairfax because it's in Fairfax or because it was appended under a different system? After all, New York Avenue/Florida Avenue/Galluadet Universtiy gets all slashes; it doesn't relegate the University to a post-dash status.

Perhaps more egregious is Mount Vernon Square/7th Street-Convention Center. Why one slash and one dash? Why not two dashes or two slashes. Are three distinct things being served or just two-one with another venue alongside? And why is 7th Street even an important part of the name? Every Green Line station between L'Enfant Plaza and Shaw is under 7th Street. All I'm asking for is a little consistency.

So, let's get with the program Metro. If we're going to have standards, we'd better start hearing:

L'Enfant Plaza/7th Street; Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter/7th Street; Gallery Place-Chinatown/7th Street; and Shaw-Howard Universty/7th Street too.

And for good measure, let's hear Farragut North/Connecticut Avenue and Dupont Circle/Connecticut Avenue too.

I think the numerous comments in this thread reveals how egregious this naming thing has gotten.

by Matt' on Mar 10, 2009 5:39 pm • linkreport

Glad to see this topic addressed. The first step is to REMOVE THE POLITICANS FROM THE PROCESS. Jim Graham has personally ruined the Woodley Park and U Street stations with unnecessary appendages. At one meeting he brought up the U Street station, struggled to remember all the darn words, and then gave up and made a joke about how long the name is.

The next step is to define a naming process. Each station name should represent the broadest name to encompass its primary jurisdiction - keep trying to make the name more specific to the location, but stop when you start to lose inclusion of parts of the service area.

Here's a sample scale from general to specific:

State (Maryland)

Region (Northern Virginia)

County (Prince William)

City (Bethesda)

Neighborhood (Tenleytown)

Major place marker (Pentagon)

Each station name should have a subheading with more specific location info, such as major cross streets. The subheading would be displayed on the large name plaques, and the announcer could mention them before stopping. But keep the map names simple!

by Michael on Mar 10, 2009 9:48 pm • linkreport

Why not have a process of determining what the name should be

* if the neighborhood is less then 5 blocks away give it that name

* If more than 5 blocks way give it the name of the street it is on ( the exact street not the closest main road)

* Let people whom have lived in the areas over 5 years decide if its a residential area

* No new comers that came in just because there is development to rename the station or area.

I agree with Chinatown, Mt Vernon Sq. , U Street, Shaw, Largo, Chillium, and Ballston

However I dont with

Kenilworth Ave the entrance and buses are off Minesota Ave you cant even get to the station if you were driving on the ave without leaving the ave and going to different streets

keep it Minnesota Ave, or name it Mayfair

Benning there are many areas named Benning in the general area leave it alone its good the way it is im suprised DC or WMATA hasnt tried to add Central Ave to it. Isnt the station actually in Glendale or Capitol View.

Saint Elizabeth why you cant even get to the station from Saint Elizabeth without a long walk if the station was at the main entrance i'd understand otherwise it should be Congress Hgts.

MLK Ave why would you rename Anacostia that its not on MLK ave that is misleading Howard Rd, Barry Farms etc would all be better

Potomac Circle wheres the actually circle leave it alone what is the chance of another station being on Potomac Ave. Potomac Half Circle

Southwest Waterfront do you need southwest since there are no other stations called waterfront the only ones actually close to water Regan, Rosslyn, are not named waterfront

Brentwood let the residents of the area decide

Noma why name it after a fake neighborhood that came after the station plus NOMA means North of Mass Ave, to vague Mt. Vernon, Union Station, Shaw, are all north of mass ave name it Eckington, M Street or Florida Ave names that actually make sense. You ask anyone who lives around the station what is noma the answer will be I dont know or what the trashcans have on them.

Upper Northwest to vague there are like 9 stations in Upper NW if there is a

Parkview what the hell i think the residents would perfer Petworth

Indepence East why not 19th street

Capitol Hill no the area known as Capitol Hill extends past the capitol it could be anywhere from the Capitol to Potomac Ave so no

Stations I would add to the list

New Carrolton the station is in Laham; New Carrolton should have never been named that in the first place rename it Laham, Garden City, Harkins Road or Ellin Road

Landover rename it Landover Hills

Navy Yard was the Navy Yard ever at the location of the station if yes keep it if not no because its misleading.

Southern Ave to vague Southern Ave is huge Hillcrest Hgts, Shipley Terr. are better.

Naylor Rd to vague the road is quite long name it Good Hope Hills, Carriage Hill or Branch Ave its alot closer to the actually ave than the current Branch Ave.

I wonder why the author of this map wants to change some stations that are on roads but not others either all should be changed or none.

No stations should be named Arena, Stadium, Field unless your including the full name of the stadium, arena, field with it to avoid confusion.

by KK on Mar 10, 2009 11:15 pm • linkreport

Am I the only one who wants National Airport to be just "National Airport" again?

by rsn on Mar 11, 2009 2:03 am • linkreport


New Carrollton station is on the edge of the municipal boundary of New Carrollton, and Landover is in Landover, not Landover Hills.

Again, I think it would be very confusing to name a station "Brentwood" because that is the name of a neighborhood in NE AND a nearby town in Prince George's

by Dave Murphy on Mar 11, 2009 5:05 am • linkreport

>Am I the only one who wants National Airport to be just "National Airport" again?

I guess that begs the question: Now that we have a democratic Congress, would it be worth the trouble to change it back?

by BeyondDC on Mar 11, 2009 9:33 am • linkreport

I get the purpose of the shortened names, like U St and Mt Vernon Square. Others make sense because they are currently confusing, like Smithsonian (many of the museums are closer to other stations such as L'Enfant Plaza.) But others changes are downright puzzling, like Capitol Hill (many stations are in that area) and Beltway North? What's that?

If anything the thread just shows why the current mishmash of names exists. You can't please everyone. Some in the thread blame WMATA, but they have better things to worry about than some long station names.

I love the short names in Boston. Kenmore. Copley. Aquarium. But names here in DC are too politicized to get names that short.

by Omari on Mar 11, 2009 10:02 am • linkreport

"Am I the only one who wants National Airport to be just "National Airport" again?

I guess that begs the question: Now that we have a democratic Congress, would it be worth the trouble to change it back?"

I still call it National Airport, and I'm no real fan of the Gipper, but let's leave the name alone. And if they were to change it back, how about the even more awkward "Baltimore Washingotn International Thurgood Mouthful Airport"? Granted, Marshall was a great civil rights lawyer (but ok justice), but c'mon - it is a mouthful to day. BWI was just fine. Or we could go back to the original name of "Friendship Airport."

by Max on Mar 11, 2009 10:47 am • linkreport

As I posted when commenting on this to POP:

"While technically the metro stop is not in Park View, I like sharing the name as the stop is right on the border. The problem I have with the current name is that its a street/neighborhood combo, so everyone assumes the stop is the epicenter of Petworth and thinks they’re in Petworth when the cross the street to the south. The stop is actually in the extreme southeast corner of Petworth, which makes the current stop name somewhat misleading."

We Park Viewians are just as proud of our neighborhood, and I for one don't like people referring to it as Petworth

by Park View on Mar 11, 2009 11:56 am • linkreport

As a long-time user of the Forest Glen station, I wondered why it was chosen to be re-named. While the area doesn't have much, if any, of a regional identity, I feel that Beltway North doesn't describe where the station is.

Just my thoughts

by Art on Mar 11, 2009 4:51 pm • linkreport

How about renaming Navy Yard to "Nationals" or "Nationals-Navy Yard" kind of like the "Sox-35th" station at Comiskey Park (or whatever its called now) in Chicago.

Also, rename Eastern Market to Barracks Row (the original name).

by steve oh on Mar 11, 2009 6:40 pm • linkreport

Generally, I agree with shortening the names, but Beltway North: Are you kidding?! That's better than Forest Glen? That area was Forest Glen before the Beltway was built, and there was a train station there.

Expanding on ah's suggestion, there is a lot of unused real estate on the insides of Metro cars where they now have an occasional sign telling you to look out for terrorists. Many systems put maps of the line you're on in this area above the windows. Metro could do that and list the points of interest at each stop or a two-column table like Rich has suggested. I also like Rich's idea of announcing the points of interest before each stop, but they would have to be prerecorded. Many Metro drivers are incomprehensible, especially when they are trying to pronounce "Grosvenor" or "Judiciary."

by Stanton Park on Mar 11, 2009 8:27 pm • linkreport

You mean Jewdishuwary.

by BeyondDC on Mar 11, 2009 9:20 pm • linkreport

Stanton Park,

When Metro opened, there were strip maps inside the cars. The 1000 series cars were outfitted with rollsigns (instead of the current flip-dot technology) and had a glass window on the inside. The signs were designed so that when the exterior sign displayed "Rhode Island Ave" in white text on a red background, the inside showed a red line with stations in white on a brown background.

I guess they phased these out when we lost the rollsigns.

Incidentally, the 7000 series cars which will go into service around the same time as Phase I of the Silver Line will have digital versions of these maps. The 7000 series' signs will also be able to display information such as elevator outages at specific stations and so forth. They'll be quite advanced.

by Matt' on Mar 11, 2009 9:57 pm • linkreport

I've never heard of Parker Grey either. Del Ray may seem a bit far away, but I live at the north end of it near Glebe and use the Braddock station all the's my local. Mount Vernon Avenue is only a block away from the station, but also might be too ambiguous. I prefer North Old Town, or maybe West Street as it dead ends into the station?

Parker Grey sounds more like a law firm than a neighborhood.

by ajw_93 on Mar 12, 2009 10:13 am • linkreport

Oh, and if Smithsonian were renamed National Mall, thousands of tourists would emerge and wonder where all the shoe stores are. I can't tell you how often people have asked me where the mall is, and what kind of stores they have there. People already think it is the Mall of America...let's not encourage them, ok?

But good on ya for getting Adams Morgan off the map. It is too far away from the station to be part of the name!

by ajw_93 on Mar 12, 2009 10:18 am • linkreport

I like the general idea! I think the general naming convention should be the following:

1. If possible, name the stop after the neighborhood, not the street: Woodley Park stop is not in Adams Morgan and I'm not even sure where/what Dunn Loring is..The station name should conjur up an image of the place...therefore "beltway west" is out.

2. Get the main idea across: The 1-2 word station name is a great idea. It will make the names easier to remember. U St..seriously, best name ever.

3. Call it what everyone calls it: Changing Vienna to Nutley St. and Stadium/Armory will confuse's really not worth it.

4. Screw the feds, it's NATIONAL airport :)

by chrisb on Mar 12, 2009 3:23 pm • linkreport

I've hated the National Airport change for years -- but kind of like that it's now an identifier for whether someone has lived in DC for awhile. I've never heard anyone with more than 5 years in DC call it anything other than "National" or "DCA". Let's leave it just so I can feel superior!

by dino on Mar 12, 2009 3:35 pm • linkreport

Thank you for bringing this up, as this extraneous naming has always annoyed me. Some didn't like the East and West Falls Church names, and it is confusing to visitors. (I always have to remind folks coming out to EFC, "my" Metro station, that it's the *first* Falls Church station coming from DC or National Airport.)

The website for the area's neighborhood association says that the East Falls Church area has been called that as far back as 1801, so it's not just a "made up" name (or added directional) for Metro. For EFC, I had heard someone suggest Tuckahoe (a park, school and street with that name are close by), but I assume the name is otherwise meaningless and would probably elicit giggles if not jokes.

As for WFC, I agree with the previous poster, who suggested Pimmit Hills.

by Roger on Mar 15, 2009 9:55 am • linkreport

If possible, name the stop after the neighborhood, not the street: Woodley Park stop is not in Adams Morgan and I'm not even sure where/what Dunn Loring is.
And we hit upon the first flaw of the plan -- Dunn Loring *is* the name of the nearby neighborhood the station serves. Dunn Loring stands to the north of the station. Merrifield just sorta grew from the south to encompass the station

by Wes on Mar 18, 2009 11:40 am • linkreport

Frankly, looking at the map again, I think you veered too much on the side of change. Eisenhower West for instance just change for change sake, since the only point of note near that station *is* Van Dorn Street, even though it is about 1/2 mile away. (Eisenhower Ave. station could probably be renamed Hoffman Center, though) A number of other suggestions for names have no meaning to the people who live or work near the station; just imagine how confusing it would be to strangers to the region or the neighborhood. Parker Grey? Indiana Plaza? Beltway North? Those names are all worse than the ones they replace. If you have to strain to reach for a neighborhood name, it probably isn't a good name for a station

by Wes on Apr 28, 2009 8:20 pm • linkreport

Here are some of the new names Metro could adopt:

Shady Grove - Gaithersburg

Largo Town Center - Largo

Woodley Park/Zoo/Adams Morgan - National Zoo

Brookland/CUA - Catholic University/National Shrine

Capitol South - U.S. Capitol

Georgia Ave./Petworth - Petworth

Tenleytown/AU - American University

by Gian on May 1, 2009 8:01 pm • linkreport

As a DC native who has been using the Metro system since it opened in 1976, and who has lived through the destruction, deterioration, gentrification and restoration of Washington, here are my comments.

Chinatown? Really? It's a few blocks of Chinese restaurants. Denied. Shorten it back to it's original name: "Gallery Place". It was called that because it's in between the Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Art.

Beltway North? Oh, please. That sounds pretentious and non-descript. Denied. Keep it "Forest Glen," which is the actual name of the area.

NoMa? A name (or abbreviation of a name) that has never existed. Is the marketing machine trying to be hip by trying to make it sound like "SoHo" in Manhattan? Change it to the name of the neighborhood: "Eckington" (even though I really don't like that name).

As for "U St/.../...", it's a ridiculously long and exhausting name. Just change the name back to the original name as it appeared on the map when the system opened (even though the station opened almost 25 years later): "U Street". If every station in the system that was located close to any type of memorial contained the name of the memorial in the station name, it would be a nightmare. Be consistent: All and everywhere or none and nowhere.

As for Archives, let's shorten it back to it's original name: "Archives." "Penn Quarter" is a newly invented marketing name to make the area sound hip to sell all of the recently built condos, and simply doesn't make sense.

Replace "Van Ness/UDC" with the name of the area: Forest Hills. "Upper NW"? Really? Upper NW is anything from AU Park through Chevy Chase, and even on the other side of the park through Colonial Village and Shepherd Park. Denied. "Forest Hills" it shall be.

"Woodley Park .... blah blah blah" to simply "Woodley Park." Yes, that is a neighborhood name. When they added "Adams-Morgan" to the name several years ago I thought it was a bit of a stretch. As many of you stated, the zoo is in between Cleveland Park and Woodley Park, so it doesn't make sense to have it in the name. If someone is trying to find the zoo, they can find out which station to go to just like many people have already learned that if you're going to the zoo, it's easier to go to Cleveland Park and walk. Why complicate things. "Woodley Park" it is.

Somebody suggested renaming "Tenleytown" to "American University." Hogwash. AU proper is a mile away. "Tenleytown" is the historic name for the neighborhood dating back at least 100+ years. The original station name was supposed to be "Tenley Circle". "American University" is denied. Either "Tenleytown" or "Tenley Circle" are approved.

Let's shorten "Grosvenor-Strathmore" back to the name it had for 20 years ... "Grosvenor". My heavens, how much money was wasted over the years on making all of these silly changes to existing stations. Can you imagine how much it cost WMATA to change the names of these stations throughout the system? Sheesh! "Grosvenor" is approved!

Drop all of the hyphens and slashes as suggested, and get rid of the names of the schools. Honestly, unless the station is situated on the campus, the school name has no business being in the station name. If someone can't use a map or do the research to find out which stations are closest to their destination, there is a problem (particularly if they're a student at the school .. ha ha). Perhaps we should add the name of every local attraction and business within a one-mile radius of a station to each station name, huh? Give me a break. If you go to UMD, MU, GMU, AU, CUA, SEU, UDC, HU, GWU ... and a partridge in a pear tree, you can figure out which station is closest to your school. This is more about the schools promoting themselves than anything else.

"Park View"? I've asked everyone in my family if they've ever heard that area referred to as "Park View" and none of them had. Even my deceased grandmother told us years ago that she had lived in "Petworth" for a time, and that was at 9th and Allison. I grant you that "Park View" sounds a lot prettier than "Petworth," but we must be true to the best-known neighborhood names.

I have no opinions about the stations in Virginia or Southern Maryland as they are outside of my home base.

My 2 cents. No offense to anyone.

Remember: Less is More

by Matthew on Feb 8, 2010 1:21 am • linkreport

I will comment on the Maryland side of the green line heading away from Southeast DC. I have lived in Prince George's long enough to say that I can comment on it (unless 25 years isn't enough time)

The station renamed for Auth Road is going to throw everyone off. Even though Auth Road takes drivers directly to the station itself, everyone knows that the far more well-known State Route 5: Branch Avenue, is the major arterial road leading to the current terminus Metro station. Leave that one as-is, because Auth Road has no appreciable value, other than being a minor side street, anyways.

"If you have to strain to reach for a neighborhood name, it probably isn't a good name for a station."
-by Wes

If you really wanted to change the name to something more productive, find out the name of the condos or the townhouses and label it after them. Auth Road is just plain horrible.

by C. R. on May 1, 2010 1:28 am • linkreport

So there's not much left to say, but I'll try anyway:
1) I'm going to agree with Matt that Greenbelt really should be Hollywood; if you were worried about "confused tourists" thinking they were in California (telling people about "Brookland" gets interesting), call it Berwyn. Greenbelt's a good three miles away from the Metro, and Greenbelt Road just over a mile.
2) "Smithsonian" only makes sense because, well, it's kinda close I guess to the Castle; yes, it's the least convenient station for any of the Big Name Museums, but "Smithsonian Castle" is too wordy and "Castle" sounds a bit too vague—to say nothing of the Brewmaster's Castle.
3) NoMa? Seriously? It's Eckington. And if you don't like that, Swampoodle.
4) As has been pointed out, West H'ville is pretty much in Chillum. Plus, it almost makes it sound like there should be an East H'ville.
5) In some cases, I'd argue for keeping a few university names, especially if tourists flock to the universities or things on their campuses. I'm thinking of CUA here—the west Metro exit's pretty much on CUA's campus, which can't be said for most any other university save GWU. Plus, "Catholicland" doesn't have the same ring to it. If it weren't for the fact that Brookland would riot, I'd almost suggest naming the station "Basilica." Then again, that might lead to people looking for the National Cathedral . . .

by Phill on May 27, 2010 10:27 pm • linkreport

The Van Ness-UDC name should probably be Forest Hills-UDC. I would keep the UDC because the amount of students using the metro is a lot and its got a campus that is almost on top of the metro! And the neighborhood is Forest Hills, not North Cleveland Park (The boundary between Cleveland Park and Forest Hills is Tilden St.) The only problem with the name is that everyone now knows the area as van ness although that is only the name of a street a block away. Northwest covers a vast area that incorporates the neighborhood around Van Ness station however the borders are miles away from their and could even include Tenleytown and Friendship Heights stops so that is a terrible name. As for the Archives stop it should be named ARCHIVES, Indiana Plaza is something that I have never heard of even though I go to that neighborhood all the time and have been a DC resident for my entire life! Archives-Penn Quarter would also be fine and Brookland station should have the CUA attached definitely!

by astonvillan on Jan 30, 2011 4:16 pm • linkreport

No! You can't take away Franconia-Springfield. Best. Drag. Name. Ever.

by ksu499 on Feb 4, 2011 12:29 pm • linkreport

I think Upper Northwest (Van Ness) should be called Upper Caucasia.

by AlphaTango on Jun 15, 2011 12:50 pm • linkreport

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