Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Vote on new Metro station names now

October 11, 2011 - 12:00 PM
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(Photo: WMATA)

The Metro Board will be considering new station names Thursday, according to Greater Greater Washington. The transit website features a survey in which you can vote on potential station names for the stations that WMATA is evaluating. Greater Greater Washington says they'll be passing along these results to WMATA. See the latest revised version of the Metro map here.

Vote now here and see which stations are under consideration.

What's interesting to me is how intense and serious all these different name suggestions are — they come from D.C., WMATA, Montgomery County, and other organizations with a serious interest in defining the locations to come. Metro stations have that power. Their presence can kickstart economic growth and development, unify communities, and create a new awareness for the businesses, entertainment, and other virtues of these different blocks. Why does D.C. want "National Mall" added as a subtitle to the Smithsonian station? To raise awareness of all the tourist-rich locations there, especially for newcomers who might be less sure. Alexandria wants "Old Town" in the full name of its King Street Metro station rather than in the subtitle because they know people respond to the idea of Old Town Alexandria. That's where a lot of the charm and cachet and draw is. Enthusiasm's in the name half the time. When The Getaway opened in Columbia Heights, I encountered multiple people who commented on how they wanted to visit the bar for the killer name alone.

These WMATA station names propose including key locations as subtitles in many cases — the Holy Cross Hospital, Ballpark, and so on. It's a nice thought but I hope those suggested names don't run into the same problem as Waterfront - SEU, in which Southeastern University has since closed. That station name will have to change now as a result.

A good name makes or breaks a place. Proust talked about the "place-name" as a concept that evoked something much deeper than the casual way we'd regard a mere address; geography and label act together to create the identity of a given place in our minds and memories. Vote on these now and share your own thoughts — the impact could last for decades.

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