The Giant Circle at Fort Reno

tenleytown parks 1902

I found the 1910 Parks Commission Plan earlier. Now I’ve been able to find a higher resolution version of the plan, albeit a little different. This one is from the original, famous McMillan Commission report. Click the images to see the whole city.

This is the first time a park at Fort Reno was proposed. Here, it’s imagined as a much bigger circular park centered around the now obliterated, high point of DC. The Black-populated town at Fort Reno was still pretty small; the streetcar had only arrived a few years before. Similarly, you can see that the Chevy Chase Land Company had only begun to make forays into the District. 

The Nebraska Ave and Yuma street parkways are visible. You can see how large they wanted Soapstone Valley park to be, extending up to 38th Street. They also wanted to acquire the slopes of Broad Branch Valley. That would have linked up with Fort Reno, as part of the first iteration of Fort Drive.  Below is a map showing the rights-of-way for the 1897 Permanent Highway Plan and existing roads.  

Is there anything else you see?

tenleytown highway 1902

After the break, a GIF, a GIF, a GIF, I say, a comparative GIF!

Broad Branch Road could include all users

The badly deteriorated Broad Branch Road in northwest Washington could become a more complete street that will accommodate pedestrians and cyclists as well as drivers, as part of a much-needed restoration.

Winding west from Rock Creek to Chevy Chase, the 2-mile-long route does double duty for recreation and commuting. It’s necessary link between upper northwest’s neighborhoods, Rock Creek Park, and downtown.

Originally a market road for local farmers, most of its current infrastructure dates to the early 20th century. Patchwork fixes have only staved off a century of deterioration. Flooding has undermined the road’s substructure, most dramatically in 2011, when the bridge over Soapstone Creek collapsed. Since it needs to replace the roadbed anyway, DDOT has taken the opportunity to update the design for modern uses.

Rock Creek Park

Oddisee has been a bit of a thing in DC since he showed up a couple of years ago, but since summer’s coming around, I’d like to bring up his mixtape from last year, Rock Creek Park. When I graduated from high school, I don’t think that I could have imagined a hip-hop album about anything within a half-mile of my parents house that wasn’t a tryin’ it homage to Maret’s lunch menu, but hey, things change. And it’s really great, as both music and also for what it represents.

The instrumental album, I suppose, feels like the park. At the least, it feels like a great soundtrack to rolling around the park when your mind’s at ease. The opener, “Still Doin’ It,” establishes the theme with collaborator y.U.’s lyrics about biking and driving around DC. That kind of multimodal use of the city warms the cockles of this urbanist’s heart. The symphonic “Carter Barron”  plays off the go-go rhythms of “Clara Barton.” Oddisee throws pretty much any sound you can find in DC together and makes it work. And doesn’t “Closed After Dark let you know that the Blackbyrds still know what goes on there?

Anyhow, check it out. It’s local. And still fresh.

Forest Hills’ Brown House

Upper Northwest has a reputation for having bland architecture, with the exception of pre-Depression Chevy Chase. But that’s proving itself to be a not completely true perception.  Down at the eastern end of Audubon Terrace in Forest Hills there’s a real treasure of modern architecture, almost completely buried the trees of  Soapstone Valley.  Although it’s been a house I’ve admired since a stopping a run in the valley back in high school, Modern Capital clued me in to the house’s authorship by the definitive SoCal architect, Richard Neutra.


The residence, known as the Brown House, was built in 1968, only two years before the architect’s death. It is the only example of that architect’s work in DC, and one of only a few on the East Coast. More photos under the fold.