Washington, a newspaper correspondent wrote in 1906, "is destined to be the most beautiful city in the world. Its great development is already under way."

With "the finest group of public buildings in the world" there were "a wealth of broad avenues and circles and ornamental grounds that tells of a spaciousness that is unrivaled, the noble river and the beauties of the surrounding country . . . attractions enough in Washington, not only to allure visitors, to make them wish that they might live here.

"The influx of moneyed people will increase, the cheap buildings of the past will be swept away, the government will carry forward its vast improvement plans, no matter what the cost, and eventually the city will not only have an enormous population, but will be more uniformly beautiful than any other city on the face of the globe."

These words were penned by O.O. Stealey, then the Washington correspondent for the Louisville Courier-Journal, in his book, "Twenty Years in the Press Gallery."

"In many respects, and good ones at that," wrote Stealey, "Washington is different from any other city in the union. For instance, it is a common sight to see ladies on the streets unattended by male escorts at any hour of the night . . . and they are never accosted, much less molested. They attract special attention only from strangers in the city . . . .

"The laws here are very strict for the protection of the gentle sex, and they are rigidly enforced. It would cost a 'masher' a heavy fine and a jail sentence to speak to a woman on the streets with whom he had no acquaintance, unless she gave him encouragement.

"Women of doubtful reputation are not allowed to promenade the streets at night outside of Hooker's Division, a territory south of Pennsylvania Avenue from 12th to 15th streets," where the District Building and Commerce Department, among others, are now located.

Author Stealey added:

"It is also rare in Washington to witness on any of the business or residential streets a man in a drunken, staggering condition." Tune in Tomorrow

Somehow, unwittingly, Metro Scene seems to have been sucked -- or suckered -- by sheer curiosity from someone's apparent diet travails into what looks increasingly like a soap opera romance. Two days last week we reported on personals ads, under the heading "Happy Days" that seemed to deal with weight loss. But the latest two doubt-creating installments follow.

On Sunday:

HAPPY DAYS

LML -- Will we ever put an end to these lonely separations? 125/LAV.

On Monday:

HAPPY DAYS

LML -- Do we still share the same dreams for our future? 125/LAV.

On Tuesday? Look today, as I will, for Chapter 5. Clearing the Air

It was a simple typing error on my part: One day last week Metro Scene had the wrong date for the shutdown of air conditioning at the White House and the related absence of the first family. The correct date is Aug. 16, with the shutdown lasting through Sept. 7.