My least favorite streets in DC, part 2
Yesterday, I listed ten of my least favorite streets in DC. Here are the ten that topped the list:high speed interchange that is an affront to the Park View neighborhood, imposing on its view of the McMillian Reservoir. From there, it separates a hospital center fit for Gaithersburg West from a prime tract of real estate that we can't quite seem to develop properly.
And from there, it's all downhill. It runs past a series of sprawling Catholic institutions, including Catholic University, its only intersections being Irving Street and the entrances to the car-oriented facilities. It actually drives over a Metro station, but development of the area has been stymied by neighbors more interested in having industrial parking lots instead of some retail and green space. Beyond 12th Street, it's any other residential avenue to the Maryland Line, where it becomes Queens Chapel Road, another infamous wider-than-it-needs-to-be PG County thoroughfare.these look like something out of Olney.
At the other end, it fronts a couple of nasty super blocks that eliminate any street grids. Van Ness Street is fronted by a fence to protect you from the horrible modern architecture. And this is all right on top of Van Ness Metro.
Where to start? The freeway signs hanging over a historic downtown neighborhood? The freeway style set up along the train tracks? The traffic? The lack of a safe pedestrian environment? The cut through at the nameless circle at Montana Avenue? The truck stop urbanism at Bladensburg Road? The failed attempt to improve on that truck stop urbanism? The fact that one of the monumental avenues with vistas to the White House has been transformed into a poor man's freeway? Or the emaciation of the Ivy City neighborhood caused by said freeway? I'll let you pick.
From the southern vehicular terminus, D Street, the first thing you pass on the right are two giant surface parking lots, considered the most offensive parking lots in the city. They sit between the Capitol and Union Station. Apparently we haven't found a more suitable use for some of the most expensive real estate on earth beyond free parking for congressional staff.
North of there, there are steadily improving blocks in NoMa. But just before New York Avenue, the underpasses begin. I can understand one underpass here and there, but North Capitol has three. The worst part is that they make it impossible to cross North Capitol at adjacent blocks.
In Bloomingdale, there's the undeveloped lot at the McMillian sand filtration site, a suburban hospital complex, and then a gigantic freeway cloverleaf that serves no real purpose at Irving Street. Beyond that is basically a freeway to nowhere until Taylor Street, where it eventually becomes a residential artery. This is hardly the monumental thoroughfare it ought to be.
I bet many years before I was born, this was actually a very charming street with breathtaking views of the Capitol. Stand at Delaware and M today, and you get a view of parking lots. There's definitely no view of the Capitol. North of the freeway the road was removed to make way for acres of free parking for congressional staff. And if you're looking for charming row houses, try one of the other 13 Colonies. Everything on Delaware Avenue, including much of the street grid, fell victim to urban renewal. If you enjoy hideous architecture, by all means bring your camera.
5) E Street NW
4) Malcolm X Avenue SE
I have never felt safe driving on Malcolm X Avenue, which is odd because I feel perfectly safe walking on the less secluded, more well lit MLK Avenue it crosses. But what really infuriates me is that instead of a civil rights memorial or an African American history museum, the corner of MLK and Malcolm X has a fried chicken chain across the street from a liquor store. Bad urban planning has never been so racist.
3) Chappie James Blvd SW
Every time I have ever been on Bolling AFB I cringe at the painfully wasteful land use. Had this not been a military base, this would probably be one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in DC. Instead, Chappie James Blvd is the main road through the base, and although it is more than a mile and a half long, and it is not fronted by a single building. This, of course, keeps the views of the snout-fronted servicemen housing wide open.
The rear alley parking setup that seems to work for all the adjacent neighborhoods is not present here. Instead, the Fort Lincoln neighborhood forgoes front lawns or porches for paved parking. They will need those spaces when the big box development at the edge of the neighborhood will not be reachable on foot despite being less than half a mile away. Of course, you can't see any of that from Fort Lincoln Drive itself, because it is not fronted by a single building for its entire length.Freeway fed at the western end and excessively wide with no median, it is hard to decide whether it is more unsafe to walk or drive on Constitution. This certainly isn't the most pedestrian unfriendly road in the area, or even the city, but considering it fronts the Mall, several museums, most of the major monuments and memorials, the Ellipse, and of course the Capitol, this road sees a good deal more tourists and recreation seekers than most others, and it is designed like an urban speedway.
- Firth Stirling Avenue SE: Stark, traffic clogged landscape
- Naylor Road SE: Inconsistent building types and an unsafe feel
- Brentwood Road NE: Blank walls and big boxes next to Metro
- Virginia Avenue NW/SW: Freeway feel in the north, industrial access road in the south
- T Street SW: Surface parking and dead industrial buildings on a riverfront approach
- Blair Road NW: Horrible blank wall along the train tracks
- Klingle Road NW: Freeway interchange to a closed and neglected traffic sewer through the woods
Are these the worst streets in DC? What streets would you say are the worst?
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