Oh, wow. Is there nothing that academicians don't study? Now a report tells us which units carried on the inventory of the National Park Service have been pigeonholed in a way that they are "forgotten by virtually all who pass by."

There are 34 places on the list, two in the Washington area, and one of them is hardly ignorable and forgotten. It's the Washington Visitor Center, the corpus of magnificent old Union Station, which I passed yesterday in groping my way into the miserable Amtrak station.

The Visitor Center was created in 1968 for the worthy goal of saving the otherwise doomed Union Station building and having it function in time for the 1976 Bicentennial. The project was so mishandled by both Congress and the National Park Service that it has become, in the words of the study, "the most embarrassing unit in Park Service history." MetroScene does not dissent.

If current plans work out, the station building will be reconverted into a railroad station.

The study was made by Alan K. Hogenauer, assistant professor in--first take a deep breath!--the department of tourism, travel and transportation management at the graduate school of management and urban professions of the New School for Social Research in New York City. He is, by his own claim, the first person to have visited all 34 delisted Park Service units.

The other "defrocked" Park Service project in the Washington area was Belvoir mansion, the home of Lord William Fairfax, on the Ft. Belvoir military reservation in the Virginia county that bears his name. According to Hogenauer, the old War Department never transferred title. If sometime you wish to visit the mansion's foundations, call the Ft. Belvoir public affairs office.