Vienna Virginia … Again with the Running

Along my habitual running trail is a neighborhood along Glyndon Street.  The little brick houses there (as above)  are disappearing. People who want to live here but dislike the current housing options have been tearing them down to build bigger and more luxurious homes. These nice homes are very different from those they displace. The people who live in them are different too. In driveways next to old houses, you find Chevy pickups holding the tools of McCain supporters. In the multicar garages of the new homes are Prius with Obama bumper stickers.

It goes deeper than that.   Whole Foods comes to displace Safeway.  Restaurant menus change from down home to ethnic fusion.  There are fewer kids playing on the streets and Virginia accent becomes less and less common in this part of Virginia.   Native Virginians have long said that you probably have to go south of the Rappahannock to get to Virginia.  That is becoming more uniformly true.  The area is gentrifying.  Lawyers and government workers are replacing the small business employees and owners.

I have mixed feelings about those things.   I am a carpetbagger myself.   I think shopping at Whole Foods is a waste of money, but my tastes run toward the gentrification.  Those houses are too big for me, but I like to look at them in the neighborhood.   (It is always better to have the cheapest house in a rich neighborhood.  You get to look at your neighbors’ houses and they get to look at yours.)  On the other hand, I have come to like many of the aspects of the neighborhood I had.   I learned to like Old Virginia.  I also don’t like the “style” of some of my new neighbors, who insist on wearing designer running suits and those tight bike pants.    

I guess on balance the change is good, but my ledger does not balance the same debits and credits as most of my neighbors.  For example, I like the density near the Metro. I think they should build high rises for residential and office space and lots of retail.  That is the only way to get “transit oriented development.”  I want my Metro area to look like Clarendon.  

Local citizens’ groups try to fight density.  Ironically, it is often the newest people leading the charge.  They moved here to escape such things and now it is following them and they want to lock the door.  I think that position is hypocritical.  We can’t expect to have a Metro stop with a low rise neighborhood around it.  All that means is more people drive more cars more often.   A Metro stop is too important an asset to be left sitting lonely.  We either build density here where commuters can use the Metro or push sprawl out onto the farms and fields in Loudon or even Harpers Ferry, from which people will commute hundreds of miles a week in their cars.  For me the choice is obvious. 

Above is part of an older Virginia suburb too.  The development is named for Stonewall Jackson and all the streets are named for his subordinate commanders or his famous campaigns.  I doubt anybody would choose those names and themes today. 

Strange the things you think about when you are running.  As I mentioned in the previous posts, running gives you a thinking opportunity.  I didn’t say it was always profound thought.