Then and Now: Crystal City
Crystal City started out as a hodgepodge of junkyards, low rent motels, and light industrial uses clustered around Route 1 and the RF&P railroad. This image shows how sparsely populated the area was in 1934:
Crystal City in the 1960s
Crystal City saw a great deal of construction in the 1960s, as its proximity to Route 1, the District of Columbia, the Pentagon, and National Airport made it an ideal location for office and residential construction.
Much of this growth was guided by modernist city planning principles of the time, favoring superblocks that limit road connections, separating transportation modes with elevated highways and underground pedestrian tunnels, creating internal retail space instead of along sidewalks, and employing an overall brutalist aesthetic.
Crystal City in 2006
Metrorail was introduced to Crystal City in 1977, and the area slowly evolved to become a multimodal transportation hub with connections to ART, Metrobus, Metrorail, the VRE, and National Airport. By the 2000s, Crystal City reached much of its development potential under the planning and zoning framework at the time and forged a more pedestrian friendly street and retail corridor along Crystal Drive.
The following photos were taken in 2006, and show Crystal City one year after the announcement of the recommendations of the 2005 Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) called for moving 13,000 jobs out of Crystal City, potentially sapping the economic vitality from the area. According to the January 1, 2010 estimates, Crystal City had approximately 10,700 residents and 24,800 jobs.
Crystal City in 2050
The Crystal City Sector Plan establishes an overall future vision for Crystal City and provides a planning framework that will enable the neighborhood to thrive in a post-BRAC era. The Sector Plan addresses future land use, transportation, public open space, urban form and character, parking, sustainability, infrastructure financing, and other components to guide public and private reinvestment in Crystal City's built environment. In summary, the Sector Plan includes key strategies to:
- improve neighborhood form by setting guidelines for the placement and massing of buildings, and gradually transforming the existing superblock environment into a more fine grained neighborhood block pattern;
- mix land uses and create active street life to increase safety and walkability;
- improve accessibility, circulation, and wayfinding via a comprehensive and multimodal transportation network;
- create new and/or improve existing public open spaces as part of a network of diverse, usable, accessible and high-quality parks and plazas; and
- finance and implement improvements to the public infrastructure networks of streets, transit, and public open spaces needed to support growth in Crystal City.
- Latest Metro map drafts add Anacostia parks and other tweaks
- Bikeshare is a gateway to private biking, not competition
- DC Council makes major policy changes overnight
- Short-term Washingtonians deserve a voice, too
- Public land deals have both benefits and pitfalls
- Parklets give every block a little park
- Judge denies injunction against closing schools