So, property and school districts are both legal structures that have strong effects on the perception of space and the organization of social networks. But generally, the legal structure that affects the commercial and economic growth of spaces is zoning.
Zoning, quickly, is a Progressive-era policy from the early 1900s that dictates what uses can or cannot exist on a certain piece of property or in a general area. The Modern Movement picked up the concept as a way of guaranteeing a healthy city, as did the Garden City and Regional Planning movements. Generally, its effects have been good – like keeping smelting plants away from residences. But it’s also led to unhealthy homogeneity and a commuter culture that was less prominent before governments began micromanaging the fabric of cities.
This is one of the wonkier posts, but it’s important to understand what has been planned for the area.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 091005A: Zoning Definitions
OK, so the color here is seriously off. I may have to redo some of these maps in a RGB color space. For now, enjoy the eye strain!
I haven’t discussed the role of bicycles in the T-T area, but here’s a map of suitability for bike access. Bear in mind that there are no facilities for bikes, only one designated routes.
Blue is the one designated bike route that passes near Fort Reno Park, and therefore gives bikers a little more respectability. Green is sidewalks and dark gray is alleys, both places where cyclists have to share the road with pedestrians as well as drivers. Light gray paths represent neighborhood streets with little traffic and generally no center dividing lines. Yellow indicates busier, possibly divided streets where bikers might have some problems with the cars. Red streets are arterials where biking is either dangerous or “disruptive” for automobiles.
That’s it for now.
So, in addition to the visible boundaries of the city, there are the invisible ones, ones that are really only legible to a bureaucracy, but have significant effects on the lives of residents. Because it affects individuals so young and even effects the parents, where someone goes to school seriously alters the social geography of cities. They decide where the majority of socialization occurs: in one school, in another school; in private schools, in public schools; in classrooms or in breakfast nooks.
When I was a wee little Flannie, attending Murch and carousing about my block, I had neighbors across the street whom I hardly knew. Why? They went to Janney. We met and played outside occasionally, but by 3rd grade, we both had already formed our social lives, and that was it. Our parents were likewise divided; they knew each other, but that was it. My street was the boundary between two schools and there was a palpable difference between the facing blocks.
In the Reno-Tenleytown-Tobago area, there are seven schools that provide Nursery school through Twelfth Grade education. Obviously, there’s also American University, but that’s not as relevant since its students are not shaped as much by boundaries and divisions. There are also any number of private and parochial schools students could attend, three of which are in the area, but with a minivan or a Volvo, you too can idle your car outside your child’s school. So let’s just do the public schools.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 091004A: Schools
Now, the final part of contemporary research: pedestrian areas.
There are three kinds of areas: unprogrammed spaces like plazas, sidewalks, and walkways, spaces for programmed activities, and then mixed-traffic areas like alleys.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 091003: Walkspace
I’ve been visiting the Historical Society of Washington and the Washingtoniana collection at MLK library. While I make more sense of my research, here is a pile of interesting things about Upper Northwest:
Famous people have been through the area. Oliver Wendell Holmes was stationed at Fort Reno and referred to the area as “Ten Alley Town.” Dolley Madison watched DC burn from Tenleytown and may have overnighted here. Edward Braddock and George Washington passed through in 1755 on their way to Fort Cumberland, and further east, military failure.
Wisconsin Avenue, from Georgetown to Tenleytown, has been a city street since 1809. But most of the streets were planned after 1897. Some of these schemes were grandiose. For example, in 1901, the city considered tunneling Rock Creek from Adams Morgan to the C&O Canal and building a “parkway” on top. One of the other tunneling proposals put Foundry Branch in a pipe and ran a road to be named Arizona Ave on top of it.
Idaho Ave was supposed to be a much grander thoroughfare before the 1960s, when they gave up on it. It would have intersected Connecticut at Yuma Street. There was supposed to be a circle at Idaho and Reno, north of Tilden. Most shamefully, they dropped a plan to build Hamilton Circle at Idaho and Mass Aves.
Fort Reno Park should have been more developed than it is now. In addition to a Fort Circle plan, the McMillan Commission planned for another parkway up Soapstone Valley and over to Dalecarlia. Until the 30s, Military Road was called Keokuk St. and Grant Road was called Military Road. There was also a Xenia St.
Much weirder stuff below the fold.
Continue reading ➞ The Gizorans of Washington and Other Miscellany
After some awesome long nights, the map of buildings is ready. This was a major hurdle in the project, so expect a slew of posts over the next few days. All I have left are the pedestrian paths, before it’s all analysis and design. So:
This is a figure-ground drawing of all the buildings, by use. Keep reading for breakdowns by use.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 090827: Uses
Ok, so for the second set of transportation analysis, I’ve compared transit accessibility to lot areas. Even without buildings, it’s possible to get a sense of the transit-accessible public space here. Areas that are lighter have more transit options. Again, Tenleytown is a hub of activity, where the blocks around the circle and the Metro stop are major transfer points that get a lot of street traffic.
So, Chevy Chase isn’t really the most transit-accessible place in the world. Even if I had used a 1/4 mile radius for buses, there would have been a dark spot there. Also, note that the commercial strip between Fessenden and Ellicott streets is in the 1/2 mile radius overlap between Tenleytown and Friendship Heights, which may contribute to its success, in spite of being somewhat isolated by the hill to the south. Read on for a breakdown of plans.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 090804B: Transit Fade
I’m still working on the buildings and pedestrian maps, but I took a break to chart out the public transportation resources. I’ve included all public transportation resources, but not AU shuttles or the W45/47. Those aren’t accessible to 90% of potential park users, so I’m not interested. So, to start, here’s a route map. Clearly, it gets kind of insane around Tenleytown.
Note: These drawings are in an Adobe CMYK color space, so may look wacky on some computers.
So that’s a good beginning. These are obvious facts. Under the fold is an analysis of the walksheds for each stop, station, and line.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park Update 090804A: Transit Radii
As promised, a map of all of the property lots in the area of Reno/Tenleytown area. Fascinating ain’t it?
Even without squinting, you can see diagonal lines that don’t seem to match up with any roads or lots. I’m fairly certain these cuts line up with older borders and roads, putting a whole new volume of evidence of the past fossilized in the modern legal form of the city. The erasure and remainder of various structures as a history appears too. Why did some lines stick around? Perhaps one owner sold out before the other, and a divided lot just went up for sale as two later. More comparisons under the fold.
Continue reading ➞ Reno Park 090725: Property
After some hard importing/copying work and on-the ground observation, I’ve finally assembled this map of all legally marked streets and alleys in DC. Next up, sidewalks, then buildings and property, and finally land use. I’ll start doing mashup comparisons of these maps for the walkshed and green space requirements. Plus, I think I came up with an particularly useful modern variation on the Nolli Plan, which should make any archi-map geek excited. Comparisons to topography under the fold.
Generally, it’s interesting to see how the grid and the avenues flattened the topography. If I do a historical map, then the comparison would be fascinating, but historical topography is not relevant to my goals. Also note the amount of parking on the avenues, and how alleys nicely eliminate driveways in front of houses. Finally, Tenleytown is at the pass over the ridge line that begins at AU and ends near Chevy Chase. The hills and valleys in the area almost necessitated that the Georgetown-Frederick Pike go through this area at this spot.