Washington, DC’s 7th Gift to the World—The Metro

In the spirit of all the holiday gift giving that will be taking place over the next couple of months, all the Metroblogging cities are giving 7 gifts to the world throughout the week of Nov, 26th through Dec, 2nd. This is Washington, DC’s 7th Gift to the World—
The Metro.

In the United States, there are four major cities that have subway systems that most of us are at least familiar with, if not ones we have actually ridden on. Prior to WW II, we had the famous “L” in Chicago and the New York Subway. After the war, San Francisco’s BART was built. Europe is home to the famous London Underground and the Paris Metro.

And of course here in Washington, DC we have our own Metro.

Very early plans for a mass transit system began during WW II, but it wasn’t until after President Kennedy’s assassination that serious planning, engineering and design aspects were on the drawing board. In a 1966 letter to the NCTA, President Lyndon Johnson called for “architecturally significant stations.” An early proposal suggested that each one have its own distinctive style, but later it was agreed that every station should be uniform in design.

Groundbreaking took place in 1969, and construction was carried out in phases over the next decade. Extensions and improvements have continued to the present day. The system is laid out like the spokes of a wheel, with Metro Center at the hub. Each route is color coded and include the Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Blue lines. Although initially not part of the WMATA, a 6th line, the light rail “Purple” line is in design phase and is meant to act as a sort of rim to the wheel—circling the district and connecting many of the endpoints. More on that in a future post.

Although there are occasional problems, overall the Metro is clean, efficient, and inexpensive. I don’t own a car, so I rely on it to get to where I need to go. My one complaint are the stations, I think they need brighter lighting and better signage with more contrast.

The next time you plan to visit our nation’s capitol, remember you can ditch the car and use the Metro to get to all those wonderful museums and other attractions.

Happy holidays!

4 Comments so far

  1. till (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 4:07 am

    You really call it “metro” like the French in Paris?

  2. Doug (unregistered) on November 30th, 2006 @ 4:49 am

    We sure do, or sometimes the longer Metrorail to distinguish it from buses that are part of same system. We also have MARC (commuter train in Maryland), VRE (Virginia), and Amtrak (DC, Philly, NY, Boston corridor).

  3. Joseph J. Finn (unregistered) on December 5th, 2006 @ 5:40 pm

    And also, much as I love the rough charms of the L here in Chicago, it’s the most beautiful of the systems (though parts of the Underground in London, created by the same guy who unified the L, are rather nice).

  4. Doug (unregistered) on December 5th, 2006 @ 6:57 pm

    I haven’t ridden the Underground but have always wanted to, although it makes me a bit nervous these days for obvious reasons.

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