Earth Day Park & L’Enfant Promenade

I usually get off the Metro at Smithsonian.   That is two stops before the one closest to my job at State Annex 44.  The walk takes around fifteen minutes and it is through some nice places around the Smithsonian. 

You probably would not make a special trip to see Earth Day Park, on Independence Avenue.   As the old saying goes, it is worth seeing but maybe not worth going to see.  It is one of those things  you notice and enjoy when you it becomes an ordinary part of life.   You enjoy it more when you know a little about it. 

Earth Day Park was dedicated on Earth Day in 1996.  It covers the top of Interstate 395 as it passes below the Mall.   This makes it remarkable.  This kind of thing is not usually attractive and I understand that this was no exception until the park was made. 

Everything in the park is low maintenance.     The lily turf requires no regular cutting.  It is enough to do it once a year and it survives even if you don’t.    The trees and bushes can live on the semi-rooftop environment, with its frequent lack of normal soil moisture. 

BTW – the path looks very inviting, but if you follow it you don’t get anywhere.  When I first saw it, I thought it might be a nice sideways to get to work.  Not. 

Above is L’Enfant Promenade.   I mentioned it in an earlier post.  I don’t like it.  It is ugly, almost Stalinist.  That boulevard goes nowhere.   You can kind of get down to the riverfront from there, but it is not easy.    The road ends at Benjamin Banneker Memorial, about a quarter mile from where the picture was taken, just over the rise at the horizon.    In typical 1960s style, L’Enfant Promenade manages to almost get it right, but ends up combining two things in a way that emphasizes the disadvantages of each.   You can see from the picture that the promenade looks like a boulevard for cars.  It is.   But since it goes nowhere there is not much point to drive along it.   It has become a long parking lot.   There was great potential as a walking street, as the name promenade implies.   The end of the street has a nice view of the river.  But there is enough traffic to make walking (or running) unpleasant.    The design exacerbates the problem, as the few cars that do use the road come around a circle at Bannecker Memorial in a way that keeps pedestrians looking over their shoulders.

So, to sum up:  Earth Day Park Good; L’Enfant Promenade bad.  Perhaps they should restructure L’Enfant to make it more pedestrian friendly and more like Earth Day Park. 

Above is one of the local attractions – Quiznos.  You can see all us bureaucrats lining up for the feed.  I get the small classic Italian on wheat bread.  When you get the combo (i.e. coke and chips) it costs $7.02 with taxes included.  Quiznos is my favorite sub, excepting Cousins from Milwuakee, which is unfortunately unavailable in Washington.