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An Eyeful of Washington Eyesores

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

We've always been complimentary to Washington in the Sunday Source, so we wanted to balance our adoration with a bit of criticism. We asked readers to nominate the ugliest buildings or landmarks in the D.C. area. Dozens of submissions poured in. We picked six, photographed them and tried to find out how and whence the hideousness came.

-- Alex Baldinger and Dan Zak

Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge Connecting Washington and Virginia over the Potomac River on Interstate 66

Sandwiched between two beautiful examples of civil engineering, Arlington Memorial Bridge and Key Bridge, the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, with its industrial steel-plate and rivet construction, always makes me cringe. My regular commute is to get on the G.W. Parkway at the Beltway and head south toward the bridges, and the gorgeous cityscape of Washington with the Lincoln Memorial is framed by the horrible visage of the Roosevelt Bridge.

-- Richard McWalters, 52, Sterling

The bridge's completion in 1964 was the product of a troubled childhood: Fourteen years of arguing, skepticism and despair on the part of planners and builders produced one ugly baby. Owned and maintained by the District, the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge is made of haunched steel-plate girders and has a decidedly utilitarian look (as was fashionable in '60s infrastructure). The comment from McWalters, who has a degree in industrial education, suggests planners should've gone with an earlier idea: Build the D.C.-Virginia connector as a tunnel, out of sight.

Glenn Dale Hospital Glenn Dale Road between Glenn Dale Boulevard and Annapolis Road

This group of buildings has been closed for years. They were never meant to be beautiful, and their horrible state of disrepair and unfortunate history make them a real blight.


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