Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Change is frustratingly slow, rarely visionary: Prince George's County, Maryland

A couple weeks ago, I saw a mention of how effective on January 1st, Arlington County, Virginia's "new" bag tax is going into effect.

BUT DC implemented a bag tax in 2010 ("The Last Word on bag taxes," "DC bag tax and the Wall Street Journal").  Ironically, early in 2010, the Wall Street Journal wrote it would be a disaster.  Later in the year, they recanted.  The impetus in DC was to pay towards more regular cleaning of the Anacostia River.  Apparently it is successful ("Water Quality Data Show Where Swimming Beaches Could Be On D.C. Rivers," DCist).

12 years seems like an inordinate amount of time for such a simple change.

Granted, I know that local jurisdictions in Virginia operate under a very strict legal interpretation of what they can do.  And that's why it took so long.

Called the Dillon Rule, the State Legislature must authorize through legislation the ability of local jurisdictions to take actions, from getting rid of Confederate monuments ("Confederate memorials can be removed by local governments, Va. lawmakers say," USA Today), to enacting tourism taxes ("Arlington allowed to raise tax on hotel users after years of tension with legislators," Washington Post), or putting a charge on plastic bags, which was authorized in 2020 (Guidelines for the Virginia Disposable Plastic Bag Tax, State of Virginia).

Innovation and government are no longer particularly congruent.  It reminds me of Everett Rogers' writings on innovation, and his classic book, Diffusion of Innovation.  

I haven't read it for decades, but I remember his point that educational innovations took the longest time to diffuse across the country--17 years--because there are so many different school districts.

It would be interesting to repeat the survey that Rogers did, originally in the late 1950s for his doctoral dissertation, because I bet these days, innovation within government agencies of all types is far slower than it was during the period of the "Great Society," the New Deal, or even in the later 1960s and into 1970s, when new government agencies like EPA, and the Departments of Transportation, Education, and HUD were created, when the federal government as well as local governments were engaged in a wide variety of innovation programs and practice. 

The reality is that the idea of states and local governments as "laboratories of democracy" is no longer realistic ("Have States Lost Their Place as Labs of Democracy?," Governing Magazine), with a few exceptions, like California ("California lawmakers debate universal health care proposal," AP, "How Cities Became the New Laboratories of Democracy," Governing).  

Prince George's County: transportation as a driver of economic development or not

PGC comes up because blogreader will sent me a link to an article, ("Residents Oppose New Town Center in Upper Marlboro," NBC4) about how Upper Marlboro residents are organizing against a proposal for densification.  Upper Marlboro, the county seat, is poorly served by transit, being 13 miles from the New Carrollton Metrorail Station and 9+ miles to Largo Town Center.  From the article:

Senior citizens in Upper Marlboro's Marwood community are opposed to the possibility of a large development across from their community. “You can't even get in and out of the community during rush hour,” resident Christina Hough said. Landowners want to change the area from rural residential to mixed-use transportation.

“Once it gets rezoned to mixed-used transportation, anything, and I mean anything that's legal, can be built up there,” Hough said. The change could make way for hotels, restaurants, a gas station with a convenience store, an office building, a strip mall and almost 200 townhomes across the highway from the Westphalia Town Center that's under construction. 

“People coming out of the District of Columbia or elsewhere going south on Pennsylvania Avenue, it's hard to cross over to Westphalia, but on this side of the road, there is nothing, and this will be providing an opportunity for restaurants and other type of uses and stuff at this location,” said Arthur Horne, attorney for the landowner. 

The planning department voted against the development, saying it did not fit the county's plan for that area, a point attorneys for the landowners argued before the council Monday.

I've written a bunch about Prince George's County, Maryland, being that it abuts DC, and became a majority middle class black suburban county in the 1990s, even featured on the cover of the New York Times Magazine ("The New Black Suburbs," 1992; also see "Black, Successful and Safe And Gone From Capital," 1996).

The running theme is that the County had an opportunity to repattern its land use planning paradigm around transit, first with the opening of the Metrorail starting in the 1970s, as Arlington County did, where that County forced the rerouting of the Orange Line from the middle of I-66 to the Rosslyn-Ballston corridor, leading to a massive revival of the County's population and commerce.

Note that while Arlington County for a time lost out to Fairfax and Loudoun Counties because of cheaper space further out that became accessible via the new Silver Line Metrorail project ("The state of Arlington County Virginia's commercial real estate market: 2012 and the future," 2012), it has been resuscitated by Amazon's choice of Crystal City for its HQ2 ("Crystal City Arlington as Amazon one-half of HQ2 | Part 1: General + Housing impact," 2018).

But PGC didn't do that kind of land "reproduction."  It's still pretty much sprawl.   

Washington Post graphic.

But the County has been given a rare second chance to repattern land use with the development of the Purple Line light rail program, which will link Bethesda in Montgomery County to New Carrollton, providing east-west connections to the Red lines in Montgomery County, and the northern end of the Green Line and Yellow Line, and the eastern terminus of the Orange Line, as well as to various MARC commuter railroad lines along the way, with 11 new light rail stations, in addition to the 15 Metrorail stations in the County, plus close by Fort Totten Station in DC.

-- "The future of mixed use development/urbanization: Part 3, Prince George's County, where's the there?," 2011
-- "A recommended new planning direction for Prince George's County," 2011
-- "Another lesson that Prince George's County has a three to five year window to reposition based on visionary transportation planning," 2011
-- "Frustration #3: the talk about transit oriented development and Prince George's County ," 2012

But even though the county states that they are committed to "transit oriented development," the reality is that the county is still very much committed to the sprawl paradigm, where major land use projects like National Harbor or Konterra have zero connections to high capacity transit.

Largo Metrorail Station.

Although they are now at the transit pods of development stage, promoting projects in Greenbelt ("Will US Bureau of Engraving and Printing relocate to Greenbelt?," 2019) and Largo ("Downtown is not a word without meaning: renaming the Largo Town Center to Downtown Largo is without meaning," 2021) among others.

New Carrollton should become the county's seat, moving from Upper Marlboro.  A related point was that if the County really wants to display bona fide commitment to TOD, they should move the county seat from Upper Marlboro, which has minimal transit connections, to New Carrollton, which has Metrorail, MARC, and Amtrak connections, is the major conurbation in the county, and will be the terminus of the Purple Line.

-- "Go big or go home: Prince George's County needs to think big and consider better revitalization examples for New Carrollton," 2014
-- "Prince George's County embarks on a zoning rewrite: Part 1," 2015
-- "Prince George's County embarks on a zoning rewrite effort: Part 2" 2015
-- "Purple Line Part 6 |  Creating a transportation development authority in Montgomery and Prince George's County to effectuate placemaking, retail development, and housing programs in association with the Purple Line," 2017
-- "Purple Line Part 7 | Using the Purple Line to rebrand Montgomery and Prince George's Counties as Design Forward," 2017

Although there is no question that the county has a true government campus in Upper Marlboro, the problem is that it is poorly located vis a vis the rest of the county and transit.

And PGC isn't the only entity that doesn't really understand how to leverage transit as a priming action for economic development.

-- "The ability to develop around transit stations is conditional on land use and mobility context," 2021

Residential property values and urban form.  Note I've also written that while many argue that the County's lagging residential property values have to do with racism, 

I disagree, making the point that the sprawl development pattern doesn't hold value in the same way that a more concentrated urban form does, especially when associated with fixed rail transit.

-- "The eight components of housing value," 2016/2015

This piece argues that border communities like Mount Rainer can better leverage their proximity to DC:

-- "When the one over neighborhood is in the county next door, and housing prices have been in the tank: Mount Rainer, Maryland," 2016

Quality of schools as another issue concerning residential choice.  I've had conversations recounted to me, stating that developers for the most part argue they'd rather develop in places other than Prince George's County because of how the school system lags other jurisdictions ("The Prince George’s County school board is making a great case for abolishing the school board," 2021, "School system beset by problems," "Schools Chief Tries Moving a Mountain," "No Continuity, Uninvolved Parents," "Even Affluent Are Forced to Make Painful Choices," four part series, 1998, Washington Post), that if people have children, PGC is their last choice, therefore why bother with new projects since they won't be able to sell at top dollar.  

One exception is the Route 1 Corridor, which is close to DC, and anchored by the University of Maryland and federal agencies.

Substantive school improvement is necessary to change PGC's position in the residential choice landscape at the metropolitan scale.

The failure to adequately leverage the University of Maryland College Park.  Separately, I've argued that College Park's militant refusal to become "a college town" has stunted its development and quality of life, the economic development potential of the county, and the quality of the school system because UMD isn't a school quality force multiplier the same way that NIH and NIST are in Montgomery County.

-- "To be a great city, College Park Maryland needs some "there", it needs a center," 2013
-- "More Prince George's County: College Park's militant refusal to become a college town makes it impossible for the city(and maybe the County) to become a great place," 2015
-- "College town follow up: alumni as residents and contributions to community capital," 2015
-- "Revisiting past blog entries: College Park as a college town and economic development | PG County and Amazon," 2018

A third chance to reorganize around transit?  WMATA has unveiled conceptual plans for a separated Blue Line that could add heavy rail service to National Harbor which has the area's only casino, the MGM Grand, which is a major trip generator ("The Blue Line Could Go to National Harbor One Day," Washingtonian Magazine).  

(The Blue Line to Greenbelt option is a version of my "Separated Silver Line" concept.  See "More on Redundancy, engineered resilience, and subway systems: Metrorail failures will increase without adding capacity in the core,")

Irrespective of whether or not WMATA actually does anything wrt its Rosslyn/Blue Line problem ("A "Transformational Projects Action Plan" for the Metrorail Blue Line," ), given that the Purple Line development process has been underway for more than 20 years, early on, PGC should have been pushing for an almost simultaneous planning of a second phase, extending the line from New Carrollton to Alexandria, providing connections to National Harbor.  Such planning isn't on the horizon at all.

Original conceptual map of a circumferential Purple Line

(As another example of how long change takes, the first time I read about the Purple Line idea was when it was featured in a cover story in the Washington City Paper in the late 1980s.)

PGC could also be an advocate for repositioning MARC as a passenger rail service as opposed to a commuter service oriented to Washington, providing other opportunities for growth and intensification ("A "Transformational Projects Action Plan" for a statewide passenger railroad program in Maryland,"), by extending rail service to Annapolis and Southern Maryland.

Similarly, PGC should be an advocate of merging the MARC Penn Line with the VRE Fredericksburg Line ("A new backbone for the regional transit system: merging the MARC Penn and VRE Fredericksburg Lines"), better integrating railroad and heavy rail service ("One big idea: Getting MARC and Metrorail to integrate fares, stations, and marketing systems, using London Overground as an example"), and extending the Penn Line to Delaware ("Maryland trains to Newark inch closer," Wilmington News-Journal, 2017), although planning for MARC improvements have dissipated during the anti-transit period of Governor Hogan, although he is into maglev ("DC, Transformational Projects Action Planning, and the Baltimore-Washington Maglev project"), which could be another opportunity for Prince George's County.

As one example, merging the MARC Penn Line with VRE would provide much better connections to the new Amazon facility in Arlington County as well as to National Airport.

Conclusion.  Since the initial planning of the Metrorail system in the 1960s, Prince George's County has had multiple opportunities to reshape its land use and transportation planning paradigm.  Lack of vision and difficult political conditions within the county have made that unachievable.  

Given the long period required to make even simple changes like the 10+ year period it took for Virginia jurisdictions to get authorization to enact bag taxes, it's hard to say if there will ever be substantive changes on this dimension in PGC, at least within my lifetime.

Resetting goals.  Baltimore County is a little smaller than PGC population-wise, but still the 75th most populated county in the US.  When I worked there I said their problem was that they didn't think very big.

That despite its size and economic vibrancy, they were mostly content comparing themselves to Baltimore City, which for decades has been a shrinking and crime ridden city.  On that basis, they always come out ahead.

Back then, Baltimore County was a top 50 county by population.  My argument was that they needed to set those other counties as their peers for comparison and evaluation purposes, not Baltimore City, and set their sights accordingly.  

While more areas around the country have grown faster than DC area counties in the last ten years, Baltimore County is still in the top 75 counties in the US in terms of population based on 2021 data.  Other similarly populated counties should be their reference group, not a declining center city.

Fairfax County is the 40th largest county by population
Montgomery County is 45th
Prince George's County is 63rd
Baltimore County is 75th

Definitely there is a similar set of lowered expectations in Prince George's County.  Economically, it's a laggard compared to other Washington area jurisdictions, but compared to many such counties across the country, it is rich in opportunity.  

Prince George's County needs to create a new set of expectations on what it can achieve.

-- Reinventing Suburban Business Districts (ULI)
-- Reinventing America's Suburban Strips
-- Revitalizing Distressed Older Suburbs
-- Putting the Urban in Suburban: Art and Business of Placemaking
-- "The secret to a successful suburb: Lakewood, Cleveland Heights and the Inner-ring Divide," Cleveland Plain Dealer
-- "A County and its Cities: The Impact of Hennepin Community Works," Journal of Urban Affairs 30:3 (2008)
+ the example of Oklahoma City ("Change isn't usually that simple: The repatterning of Oklahoma City's Downtown Streetscape," 2021)


When I was thinking of running for City Council in Ward 4 in 2015 ("Outline for a proposed Ward-focused (DC) Councilmember campaign platform and agenda"), I talked to some people who had been on Council in neighboring jurisdictions.  One had been on the PG County Council.  He told me that "it's not a seminar where people learn and grow and make better decisions over time.  People who get elected think they know everything already, that they got elected because of their stated agenda."

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At 10:18 AM, Anonymous h st ll said...

you probably are aware but transit here is atrocious and gets worse and worse. bus service was just cut drastically but they can't even meet that, leaving many commuters stranded for an hour plus ... metro rail continues to operate on 24 min headways with no foreseeable way to return the 7k series to service. rough times and the almost 5b/yr in funding is goin to god knows what

i'm buying a car asap f* this s*

At 10:39 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

You've hit on a key issue -- why can't governments/society innovate -- and I think its fascinating you say too many layers of government is the problem.

It's a larger trend where people who vote D are turning very anti-federalist.

What it reminds me of is the work the Bourbons (or other enlightenment autocrats -- Frederick II, Peter the Great) did to break down old social orders in order to promote commerce in the 1700s.

And of course one problem is our county and society was founded as a negative reaction to that. Having Americans pay their fair share of British military costs is reasonable, but people didn't see it that way.

One argument is of course the Revolution was led by land speculators who wanted access to the great Indian reserves.

Steam power of course changed all that.

W/R/T to PG county the linked NY Times articles were fascinating.

"The second stage was inadvertently propelled by the county's Economic Development Corporation. It tried to entice developers to create industries and build houses that would woo white-collar professionals. The selling points of the county were these: the cheaper rural land of Prince George's contrasted with the overdeveloped tracts in neighboring counties; Prince George's road-improvement plan, and the presence of the Goddard Space Flight Center, the world's largest space research facility, Andrews Air Force Base and the University of Maryland at College Park. The campaign reaped $10 billion in new investments in the county, which included the construction of homes for mid- to high-level executives.

Diana V. Jackson, director of development for the corporation, says the majority of those new homeowners were blacks -- something that startled the county's white leadership, according to many political activists and black realtors."

The New Black Suburbs, NYC June 14 1992

I've been looking at housing prices to income rations worldwide, and they are fascinating as well.

You can sort by Price to Income ratio to get the result I'm seeing.

First quartile is largely third world cities where the numbers are being distorted by inequality in income. But housing is very expensive there.

Second quartile has a lot of European cities where the PI ratio is around 10.

Highest ranked US city is Naples FL at around 17. London which everyone agrees is overprices is around 10. New York is the first big us city (8.76).Arlington is 7.69, SF at 7.6. DC at around 5.

Most US metro are in the last 100, where they are around 2.5.

Akron, Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit and Memphis are the bottom in the world.

I don't know where PG ranks in that -- I'm guessing around 2.5 We know it's the lowest in the DC area.

And again, unless you have leadership brave enough to do a population replacement policies are reflecting what people want -- cheap housing.

I'd suggest as a goal, you want to see housing as expensive as Toronto or NYC, which is around 10-1.

The problem is this is a big county, and people don't want to pay that much.

The 1992 articles also says that the areas closest to DC where the ones with a crime problem, and that is another factor is why an Arlington model would not have worked.

At 11:12 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I did some edits, and added a section before the conclusion about further doubling down on transit -- a third opportunity.

2. I keep meaning to write about the debacle of WMATA. The latest finally gets me to both of you in your ongoing beliefs that WMATA is pretty much a failure. For years and years I gave them the benefit of the doubt, but this is a "bridge too far."

I wrote this after the crash, about how WMATA needed to rebuild the regional consensus about transit.

In 2014 I updated it, suggesting that WMATA's 40th anniversary of operation in 2016 provides another opportunity to do so.

I guess now they have the opportunity to do this for the 50th anniversary in 2016.

Better late than never?

I had been so "depressed" about the WMATA failure that I haven't been able to write about it.

Maybe the VV model is a way to reboot.

== continued ==

At 11:13 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

== continued ==

3. I still remember opening up the NYT Sunday paper to that magazine cover featuring PGC. (I didn't mention in the entry that the people on the cover are the Johnsons, we know what happened to them.)

I think charlie's point about the edge of PGC and DC and crime is a good one.

OTOH, about 16 years ago at the Arlington County Fair at the government booth, I talked with the then County Manager, Ron Carlee, and he explained that at the time the County Council made the bet the farm move on the Orange Line, the county was in severe decline, losing residents and business--just like other inner ring suburbs across the country. They made that decision to reverse the staunch, figuring they had few other viable alternatives.

ALTHOUGH you are absolutely right that in the 1970s (hell through 2003), who would have thought that DC would be able to resurge?

So your point is apt.

But at the same time, they needed to bet the farm, just like Hennepin County did, facing major financial exigency if Minneapolis (and its resultant property tax revenues) continued to decline.

"A County and Its Cities: the Impact of Hennepin Community Works"

However, I didn't put this in the piece because it was a bit too picayune...

the advantage that Arlington had over PGC is that it had a center in the Wilson Boulevard corridor, plus the early "edge city" (but not on the edge) proximity of both Rosslyn and Crystal City to the Pentagon.

Similarly, Montgomery County had conurbations, so the Red Line ended up serving actual places like Bethesda, Rockville, Silver Spring, and Wheaton. (For MoCo's benefit, the Metrorail should have gone out to Gaithersburg and Germantown too.)

With the Green Line the closest conurbation that is a place is College Park or Greenbelt. And New Carrollton on the Orange. PGC's attempt to create "a downtown" at Largo is a joke. Etc. So the Metrorail didn't have the same kind of priming effect in PGC that it did elsewhere.

PGC's heavy rail planning stayed tied to the freeway planning of which WMATA planning was originally integrated.

While Arlington shifted the Orange Line away from I-66, PGC's Green Line remains in what would have been the I-95 corridor from College Park to Fort Totten. And the Orange Line remains in the existing Amtrak corridor, which like the old Ma & Pa railroad in Baltimore/Baltimore County, ended up being a more industrial routing that a place serving routing. Then again, the railroad was more focused on reaching DC from other points in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, not serving PG County.

The other thing is that Metrorail was not designed to improve DC, it was designed to facilitate suburban commuters working in the city. BUT it happened to simultaneously serve neighborhoods that were potential worthwhile, so over time it helped revive most of the neighborhoods, especially and particularly in the core, it just took 25+ years to do so.

By contrast, for the most part PGC didn't have stations in places where people wanted, potentially, to live.

It's like the Miami heavy rail. They put stations where they thought there was a need to improve, but there weren't necessarily the preconditions in place where improvement could happen, at least any time soon.

PGC is more like that.

cf. NoMA infill station and the velocity of development it unleashed.

At 11:24 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

One of my lines about the innovativeness in Baltimore or Pittsburgh versus DC is that those communities:

"have a desperate willingness to experiment because they have no other choice."

Interesting though about "the industrial focus" because that's what Baltimore County did, even when I worked there, when by that time, the place was post industrial. I'm surprised they've been able to revive the old Sparrow Point Bethlehem Steel site, but then again, being proximate to the port and there still being a need for that type of space has been an advantage. (OTOH, there have been few spillover benefits from expansion of Aberdeen Proving Ground.)

I still stay that PGC needed to deal with this as the ultimate moment of redefinition. They didn't have better alternatives.

In this piece I didn't use the "transformational projects action plan" concept. I could do a very brief follow up. They need to do a TPAP/Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area Projects program too, for all the same reasons as the other places I write about.

They haven't. Baker, who is amazing, did some TOD stuff and "revitalizing neighborhoods" stuff but I thought for the most part it missed the boat. Again, they didn't really understand you need to have some "there" there, that just because you have a station, doesn't make a place with amazing potential.
Maybe because they didn't have the money, the personnel, the vision, etc. (Rereading my piece on New Carrollton, I was thinking, wow, Victor Hoskins sure keeps falling up...)

charlie, since you actually read those cites, I have mentioned this article many times, I wonder if you have read it.

It was from 2003 in the old Gazette, about the disproportionately negative impact on PGC from DC's downsizing of public housing, and the displacement of many of those tenants to PGC.

At 11:33 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Government and society and innovation... I wouldn't say that I am anti federalist now. Just that because the Republicans are so neoliberal, so anti government, it's virtually impossible to do anything, because they are intransigently against.

And this is an issue at the local level too, across the country, especially with transit.

The other problem with innovation at the federal level is because it is so difficult to pass legislation, it's almost impossible to be iterative. And there is an unwillingness to recognize how long it takes to do something.

I mean the people calling Biden a failure! It's impossible to pass legislation and launch a program in six months.

But back to iterativeness, ACA should have launched as a pilot in 4-6 states. After a couple years they should have assessed it, made changes, further rolled it out, etc. (Especially with the website stuff.)

Things just don't work like that.

Even at the local level, there aren't a lot of places where mayors stay long enough and or are good enough with good ideas to make a difference.

In Charleston SC you had Riley, in Carmel Indiana you have Jim Brainard.

In LA and Seattle with transit, and in Oklahoma City with transformational projects, they've created a framework to continue programs beyond the tenure of any particular mayors/county executives.

Look at DC. As someone who worked for Council when Bowser was a Councilmember said "she hates to have to make a decision [because it might not be the right one].

I get so depressed about all the missed opportunities in the city. Good thing that the bones are good. But as long as the Republicans are so anti government, it's going to make success in DC at the local economic development scale increasingly more difficult, because more and more agency activity will leak from the city.

And that doesn't even take into account the pandemic and its effect on "going to the office."

At 11:40 AM, Anonymous Charlie said...

I saw Bowser recently. She has learned a lot. She was JV league when she was elected but I'd say about average for big city mayors now. She's careful, and doesn't overpromise.

Great cite by the gazette article. thanks, Just read it, don't remember it before.

But the contrast to the early 90s articles on PG county is staggering.

and yeah that Jack Johnson reference was priceless.

I've got the digest your comment on PG railing planning and place making. Very true.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

I don't know what to think of the housing cost points you make. Not being "the city" I think you're right that aiming to transition to a higher cost market was difficult.

At the same time, PGC became the American Dream for African-Americans leaving the city. There are plenty of McMansion black majority subdivisions with pre-crash at least, relatively high values. Not like Fairfax or Loudoun, but still.

I think people really miss the issue of place value, which is why I wrote those pieces about the components of housing value. And I could still probably add a ninth, which is mentioned in some of the others, which I guess should be overtly urban versus suburban form. (The latter is what the new urbanists call "conventional subdivision.")

There are articles lately about PGC housing being cheaper relative to the DMV. But it doesn't have the preconditions that contribute to long term value and price appreciation.

Which is why I wrote about it in September.

Then again, DC has had opportunity to re-plat in a more urban form in Fort Totten and around the Rhode Island Metro stations and it didn't. So plenty of places miss these opportunities.

I never got out to Orenco Station in suburban Portland, but apparently it is the poster child for using a transit station as a way to reshape land use.

DK how true it is.

But that's the way of transit oriented development for 150+ years.

Land speculators bought lots of land in the H Street area. There was a brick machining plant just over Florida Avenue (Boundary Street then) and the owners bought land in the area.

But no one was buying it.

So they built a horse pulled streetcar. And land started selling more.

BUT before the late 1880s, the area had been plated to be more what we call rural. They changed the platting for rowhouse style development.

At 11:54 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

another "conurbation" example in MoCo is the Takoma station which serves both DC and Takoma Park, Maryland. (I think I've mentioned this in an entry.)

TP was one of the centers of activism against freeways and subsequently for Metrorail.

But at the same time, contemporarily, they are very "anti development." Their success "against" the freeways kind of makes them reflexively against everything new.

A few years ago, at the "social tea" part of the Takoma Park historic house tour, I talked with the son of a former councilmember (I don't think she was a mayor), who was adamant that Metrorail's entry revived the town.

That not unlike how Ron Carlee described the state of Arlington in the late 1960s, Takoma Park as an inner ring suburb, was on the decline too.

He said with Metrorail service it rekindled interest in living there, people with families bought houses, the Old Town Center improved, etc.

None of the Metrorail stations in PGC have land use contexts that are similar. The stations are all in off places.

Imagine the difference if the College Park station was in the "heart" of CP.

Or that there was a station in "Downtown Hyattsville" instead of West Hyattsville.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Wrt freeway integrated with heavy rail planning, I meant to re-nention the Shell map from 1967 that I picked up at an antique mall in Richmond.

It shows the proposed freeway corridors of that time.

Charlie, your condo building might not exist, had the ring freeway been built, just south of U Street.

Oh, and MoCo also has Friendship Heights as a town center with subway service.

The railroads were from an earlier time, so places like Kensington or Garrett Park or Riverdale Park in PGC didn't have the same benefit. They were always small places.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Prince George’s County planners are setting a vision for transportation, looking toward 2035


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