Martin Austermuhle made a whimsical point on Twitter about this picture, a 1992 historical photograph DCist featured to celebrate the convention center’s 10th birthday:
Martin wrote, “D.C., pre-war on cars. The place was motorist heaven.”
This makes a real point. We’ve been hearing a lot about the “war on cars” lately as AAA, the car lobby organization, has been really pushing the theme hard in the press and outlets eager for controversy lap up the destructive rhetoric.
But let’s not forget where we were. Not that long ago, much of D.C. had been shaped by a multi-decade “war on the city.” Well-meaning urban renewal efforts tore out large swaths of the urban fabric to build things like the Southeast-Southwest Freeway and big parking lots, like the ones in the picture.
The 1958 zoning code that D.C. is currently trying to replace was a weapon in that war. Its author, Harold Lewis, wrote that the city’s form was unable to adapt to a more car-oriented form and zoning must therefore compel it “for the salvation of the downtown area.”
[Continue reading David Alpert’s post at Greater Greater Washington.]
David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.