Thursday, September 18, 2014

family dinner at zpizza (sponsored post)

If you follow Just Up The Pike on Facebook or Twitter (and you should!), you've probably heard me talk about my favorite restaurants in Silver Spring, places like Urban Butcher and Denizens Brewing Company. But I haven't spent a lot of time at zpizza on Ellsworth Drive, which at 10 years (has it been that long?) in downtown Silver Spring is practically an institution compared to some of these newer places.

Started in California in 1986, zpizza (it is spelled lowercase) considers itself the first "chef-inspired pizza chain." It has locations in 15 states and the District of Columbia, as well as South Korea, Vietnam, and the United Arab Emirates. The other week, I was invited to participate in a press dinner to try out some of their new menu items.

Why did I do it? Well, four weeks ago I moved out of the group house I was living in Park Hills, which our landlord put up for sale, and moved back in with my parents while waiting to move into my new home, which is a topic for another post. Zpizza offered to deliver pizza for 8 to my parents' house, and not being a great cook, I was eager to contribute to family dinner, especially given my family's predilection for Little Caesars.

When the pizzas arrived, I was a little shocked at how much we got:

Monday, September 8, 2014

the definitive history of east county

Crossing The Street, Stewart Lane at 29
A family tries to cross Columbia Pike in 2007. Photo by the author.
In yesterday's Washington Post, Bill Turque looks at increasing poverty in Montgomery County, much of which is clustered in East County neighborhoods like Briggs Chaney, located nine miles north of downtown Silver Spring.

I was trying to think of things to say about it, but the story manages to take things we've been talking about here for the past eight years and wraps it up into one overarching narrative and history of how East County got this way and what might happen next.

If you haven't read it yet, you you should do it now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

how did silver spring get its boundaries? and how would you define them?

You could ask five residents what Silver Spring's boundaries are and receive five different answers, ranging from a neighborhood near the DC line to a city the size of the District of Columbia itself. But how did it end up this way to begin with? The answer involves a railroad, zip codes, and possibly Marion Barry.
Silver Spring, as the Census Bureau sees it. Image from Wikipedia.

Unlike northeastern states where every square inch of land sits inside a municipality, or western states where cities compete for territory to access natural resources or tax revenue, much of Maryland and Virginia are unincorporated. Part of the reason is that counties in these states can perform functions like zoning and schools, reducing the incentive for communities to become a town or city.

Silver Spring is one those places. As a result, most definitions of Silver Spring fall into two camps: one I call "Little Silver Spring," or areas near its historical center, or "Big Silver Spring," which comprises most of eastern Montgomery County. To find out which one is more dominant, local organization Silver Spring Inc. will have residents draw their own boundaries in an interactive event at Fenton Street Market this Saturday.

Monday, August 18, 2014

this could have been the silver spring transit center

Though it remains unfinished, the Silver Spring Transit Center has been in planning since 1997. But 20 years before that, architecture students created this proposal for a giant box stretching across downtown Silver Spring.

Model Photograph
A 1970s proposal for the Silver Spring Transit Center. All images courtesy of Neil Greene.

Silver Spring is one of the region's largest transportation hubs, bringing together Metro, commuter rail, local buses, intercity buses, and eventually the Purple Line and the Capital Crescent Trail. Fitting all of those pieces presents a pretty interesting design challenge, and naturally attracts architecture students. When I was in architecture school at the University of Maryland, I saw more than a few thesis projects reimagining the transit center.

Section Drawing
A section drawing of the proposed transit center, which would have also contained stores, offices, a hotel, and apartments.

Recently, Action Committee for Transit's Neil Greene found this proposal for the Silver Spring Transit Center produced by a group of architecture students at Catholic University in the 1970s, right before the Metro station opened in 1978. Like the most recent plans for the transit center, which have since fallen through, they surrounded the transit center with buildings containing apartments, offices, a hotel, and shops. Except in this proposal, they'd all be in one giant superstructure surrounding the station platform.