Getting around at a glance, via subway:
London: Piccadilly Circus.
New York: Canal Street.
San Francisco: Civic Center.
Washington: Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan.
U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.
In Washington, Metro station names are going to unwieldy lengths. Gallery Place was first, becoming Gallery Place-Chinatown. Archives soon followed, becoming Archives-Navy Memorial. Lovely Grosvenor is now Grosvenor-Strathmore. And politics aside, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport takes more time to announce than the Transportation Security Administration takes to go through my briefcase.
Now welcome to the Metro lexicon Penn Quarter, the newest addition to Archives-Navy Memorial.
In most cities, subway stop names are succinct and, more important, stable -- one- or two-word appellations that make for simple neighborhood and district references for visitors and locals. But here in Washington, the Metro system seems bent on changing the names of its stations as often as Hecht's changes window displays at Friendship Heights -- or has it become Friendship Heights-Chevy Chase/Western Avenue?
As a native Washingtonian, I was proud when the Metrorail system opened in the 1970s. My hometown suddenly had a world-class rapid-transit system with distinctive station names that only the nation's capital could have: Federal Triangle, Smithsonian, Judiciary Square, Capitol South and Archives.
Archives was my favorite, perhaps because I find "archives" such an elegant word. Perhaps it was my visual association with John Russell Pope's granite and limestone temple, which serves as the repository for our nation's most important documents. And perhaps I take bureaucratic pride in knowing that only in Washington would we devote a Metro stop to parchment, oak desks and file cabinets. Archives -- a simple yet substantial name that became Archives-Navy Memorial.
Now it's become Archives-Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter. Where did Penn Quarter come from? I thought that was a location, like "Upper Georgetown," that existed only in real estate ads.
And why was it added to Archives? Why not Gallery Place-Chinatown/Penn Quarter? Gallery Place is just as close to Penn Quarter as Archives. Besides, Penn Quarter sounds like a neighborhood in Philadelphia.
As long as we are adding to the Archives station name, I was rather fond of the old Kahn's Department Store that stood on the site of the Navy Memorial in the days when Washington had a slew of grand department stores along the F and Seventh street corridor.
So why not Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter/Kahn's? Or better yet Kahn's-Apex to immortalize the notorious liquor store that once graced Pennsylvania Avenue at that location? Yes, that's it!
"Yellow line in the direction of Huntington. Next station Archives-Navy Memorial-Penn Quarter/Kahn's-Apex . . . doors closing."
-- Paul Daniel Marriott