Friday, May 17, 2013

Alphabet City

They call it DC, this city that’s also a state (or rather a district)—not to be confused with VA across the river or MD, which surrounds it on every other side. That two-letter moniker—DC—is apt, since letters seem to float across and even organize this town. 

Although it’s the place where (federal budget) numbers, with dollar signs, tend to get the final say, at heart, Washington is an alphabet city.

It’s the only city I know of with letter names for major horizontal streets. And it was only after a week of riding around that I realized that the actual name names of so many of the minor streets ascend in alphabetical order: Euclid, Fairmont, Girard, Harvard, Irving, Kenyon, etc. When the alphabet runs out, it just starts all over at A again. Strangely, though, I couldn't find any X or Z street names on my map.

These heritage markers adorn many a plaque.

The baseball team’s loopy W pays a subtle, inverted homage to its predecessor’s loopy M of the Montreal Expos.

 Speaking of M, the subway's Metro signs are a common landmark.

The fabulous cycling trails are known by their letters too: The C&O (Chesapeake and Ohio); the W& OD or “WAD,” as it’s known (Washington and Old Dominion); the CCT (Capital Crescent Trail). 

There may not be any streets beginning with Z, but when I happened upon this Georgetown gate, I found the sense of closure I was looking for.

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