Greater Greater Washington

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Public Spaces


A "no cellphones" express walking lane appeared on a DC sidewalk. What's the story?

A curious thing appeared on a downtown DC sidewalk this week: Dedicated lanes for pedestrians talking on cellphones, with an express lane to the side for everyone else.


Photo by Rob Pegoraro on Flickr.

The lanes aren't a half-baked experiment from DDOT. They're actually a stunt from National Geographic.

National Geographic workers added the sidewalk lanes on 18th Street NW between K and L streets, with permission from DDOT, to film people's reactions for an upcoming TV show about human behavior.

Film crews recorded pedestrians' reactions for several hours yesterday. The most common reaction seemed to be curiosity, but according to Yahoo! Tech columnist Rob Pegoraro, the new lanes did inspire many people to move to one side or the other.

This might have drawn inspiration from a "tourist lane" New York-based group Improv Everywhere painted on a Manhattan sidewalk in 2010.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Transit


Fun on Friday: Transit door chimes around the world

Whoever made this video compilation of "doors closing" chimes from metro lines around the world is a transit geek after my own heart.

After watching the video, I have a fresh appreciation for WMATA's comparatively pleasant choice.

Transit


Can you guess the Metro stations in this week's pictures?

Welcome to the second installment of our weekly "whichWMATA" series! Can you guess which 5 stations these images depict?


Image 1


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4

The final image this week is a hard one. But believe it or not, there is enough information in the picture to narrow it down to 2 stations.


Image 5

As a hint to help you identify the 5th station, the "west bound" refers not to a Metro service, but a connecting service. And keep in mind that the decision between eastbound and westbound is made inside the Metro station.

We'll hide the comments so that the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: Here are the answers. Thanks for playing and check back next week for more whichWMATA!

Transit


Did you guess the Metro station? Here are the answers to this week's quiz

On Monday, we posted our first challenge to see how well you knew Metro. I took Instagram photos of 5 stations and we asked you to try to identify them. Here are the answers. How well did you do?

We got 40 guesses on the post. No one guessed all 5 correctly, but two people, Sand Box John and Phil, each got 4 correct. Congratulations!


Image 1: Prince George's Plaza.

The first image was of Prince George's Plaza. Half of you got that right. The station is in an open cut, and the southern end of the platform has nice terraced hedges. Those are visible in the picture from aboard a Greenbelt-bound train.

About a quarter of you guessed Arlington Cemetery, which was a good guess. That station also has side platforms and is in a cut.


Image 2: Greenbelt.

Image 2 was a tough one. This is a photo of a skylight above the faregates at Greenbelt station. Next time you head for the B30, look up.

Only one person, Phil, got this one right.


Image 3: NoMa-Galluadet University.

NoMa is a newer station, which is clear in this photo from the clean, fresh concrete wall. NoMa also went through the signage update early, which is why the sign has new elements, but is missing the "RD" in the circle that is present in the newest signage. 13 of you got this one.

Several of you guessed subway stations for this one. Since the arrow is pointing up toward the platform, this one clearly had to be a station where the tracks were above the mezzanine, not below.


Image 4: Wheaton.

This is a photo of the longest escalators in the Western Hemisphere, at Wheaton station. Of course, Metro has lots of stations with long escalators, so this one was a bit challenging. Even still, 15 of you got it right.

Other popular choices included Woodley Park (7 guesses) and Dupont Circle (4 guesses).


Image 5: Gallery Place.

17 of you correctly deduced that it was Gallery Place. This one is a great example of how to use deductive reasoning to solve the clue. There were some hints of that in the comments. What do we know about the picture?

First off, this is a station that has side platforms and is underground. That immediately narrows it down to 13 stations. We can't see a cross vault, which takes Metro Center and L'Enfant Plaza off the list.

Given the length of the view and the position of the photographer, we can tell that the station has mezzanines at both ends. That narrows it down to 6 (Dupont Circle, Farragut West, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, McPherson Square, and Smithsonian). The platform is also missing pylons, which narrows it down to 4 stations, which don't have them (Farragut West, Gallery Place, Judiciary Square, and McPherson Square).

Next Monday, we'll have 5 more photos for you to identify. Thanks for playing!

Transit


How well do you know Metro? Can you guess the station?

One of WMATA's design principles from the start was to have a uniform station design. That can sometimes make it hard to figure out which stop you're at. But there are subtle differences. Can you spot them?


Image 1

A few weeks ago, I started posting one photo a day under the tag #whichWMATA on my Instagram account. We've decided to bring it to Greater Greater Washington. But instead of posting every day, we'll post once a week.

Can you guess where these photos were taken?


Image 2


Image 3


Image 4


Image 5

We'll hide the comments so that the early birds don't spoil the fun for the rest of you.

Update: Some people interpreted the instructions to say that all of the photos are from one station. They are not. You can guess the station for each of the five photos independently.

Update 2: The guessing is over and the answers are here. Check back next week for more photos to guess!

Architecture


Tetris on the side of a skyscraper? Why not, it's the future

What does it look like when one of Philadelphia's most prominent skyscrapers becomes a giant Tetris game board?

It looks awesome, that's what.


Photo by Bradley Maule for PhillySkyline.com.

Last Saturday, organizers for Philly Tech Week temporarily turned the 29-story Cira Centre into a huge game of Tetris. And it wasn't just for looks. Actual people played actual games, with the whole city looking on.

Meanwhile, construction is wrapping up on the DC region's new tallest skyscraper. Just sayin'.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Transit


Fun on Friday: Play the Mini Metro game

Mini Metro is a fun new browser game that simulates a transit network. Stations representing different destinations pop up, and you have to connect them with metro lines that take passengers where they want to go.

Update: I've added more tips & tricks at the bottom of this post.


Screencap of the game, with components labeled.

The game starts off easy. You get one square station icon, one triangle, and one circle. Connect them with a single transit line and you're all set.

But after a few moments more stations start to appear. You have a limited number of metro lines to work with, and each line only gets one train. So the more stations appear, the longer it takes for a train to traverse the line, and the more passengers build up.

Ideally you want each transit line to cross at least one of every station type, to minimize transfers, but that soon becomes impossible when different types of stations begin to appear, like crosses and gemstones.

The game ends when too many waiting passengers build up at a station. The highest score I've gotten is about 500, but most of my games end in the 300s or 400s.

I've noticed certain types of stations seem to represent certain types of land uses.

Squares are employment centers, like downtowns. You start off with only one square, and you have to get quite deep into the game before a 2nd appears.

Circles are the most common station type, so they probably represent residential areas.

Triangles are the 2nd most common. I think of them as shopping areas, but they could be schools or parks.

Other symbols are rare, usually only appear once, and represent specialty land uses. I think of them as hospitals, airports, or universities.

How high can you score?

More tips & tricks:

  • A hub and spoke layout works great in the early game, but once your score reaches about 350 you need to start moving to more of a grid.
  • 6 stations is about the maximum any one line can accommodate before it gets overcrowded.
  • You can pause the game by clicking on the clock.
  • At key points in the game, pause the game to delete-and-redraw entire lines, along more efficient routes. Key points are typically when you add your 5th line, 3rd tunnel, and when the 2nd square appears.
  • The order in which I usually use bonuses:
    1. Light blue line
    2. Longer/faster train
    3. Green line
    4. 3rd tunnel (sometimes sooner if the river is unfavorable)
    5. Bigger station
    6. Light rail (I've not seen this, but rumor says it appears next)
Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Public Spaces


Captain America obliterates Rosslyn and Roosevelt Island

If you're like me, then you're probably pretty excited for the next Captain America movie, The Winter Soldier, coming out in April. Set in a reimagined DC, the film has a very different vision of Arlington's waterfront:


Helicarriers in the Potomac. Screencap by Rob Bricken on i09.

One of the things that piqued my interest was that S.H.I.E.L.D.'s Helicarriers, or flying aircraft carriers, are supposedly manufactured and stored underneath the Potomac right where the Orange and Blue Line tunnels are. That would certainly explain some of the delays on my daily commute!

Science fiction blog io9 screencapped an entire trailer of the film, giving us a better look at what that facility looks like. Above is an overhead shot of the Helicarrier facility.

In the film, the Georgetown side of the Potomac looks much the same, but the Arlington side looks very different. It looks like the Helicarrier facility has replaced part or all of Roosevelt Island, whose worth as a park and nature preserve is apparently less valuable than our need to have flying ships that can be blown up by demi-gods, possessed archers, and Hulks.

The Rosslyn skyline is missing, as well as I-66 and the George Washington Parkway which have been replaced with shorter office buildings. But maybe those were just moved underground. It's clear that at least one high-rise remains in Arlington, as we see Robert Redford's character looking out of his office window towards the National Mall.


Looking out across the Potomac. Screencap by Rob Bricken.

At least fans of DC's height limit can look forward to this film, unlike the disappointment they probably felt at the end of Terminator 2.

Development


Signs you should stop thinking about Smart Growth and enjoy your egg nog

When you see your future mother-in-law's holiday village and think, "Needs more height & density near the train station."

Merry Christmas, everybody.

Bicycling


Vancouver's most joyful bike trail makes commuting fun

There's a common misconception in some circles that bicycling is merely for recreation, as opposed to a legitimate transportation mode. Of course that's wrong, cycling is often the most convenient way to get from point A to point B in a city. But why can't transportation facilities be fun too?

According to Vancouver, they can.


Vancouver "Whoopdeedoo." Photo by Paul Krueger on flickr.

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

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