Thursday, July 24, 2008

sick of emo kids on ellsworth: a series on downtown silver spring's meeting place

For four years, Ellsworth Drive in Downtown Silver Spring has been the place to see and be seen in East County. Anchored by "the Turf," the plastic lawn dubbed "the venue for some of the best people-watching in the region" by the Post's Marc Fisher, Ellsworth has played host to a diverse group of people. But as the street - and the busy chain stores along it - have grown increasingly popular, many are beginning to wonder if its success is actually a curse.

Over the past few weeks, Just Up The Pike has tackled the issues surrounding Ellsworth Drive: how it became the way is, how it functions now and what lessons it teaches us. Check out this four-part (and counting) series on Downtown's gathering place:

"how to walk without driving downtown": A complaint about Ellsworth's "mall-like characteristics" and how gathering places can be created on a more localized scale by redeveloping MoCo's strip malls.

"how to grow an old town in no time": The people on Ellsworth may be real, but as a city street, it's a little contrived. What does it take to create more vibrant, diverse places within Downtown Silver Spring?

"learning from new rochelle": Residents in New Rochelle, New York wondered if their newly-revitalized downtown would be stifled after riots overtook a new shopping complex there. What could Downtown Silver Spring learn about this incident - and its implications for Ellsworth?

"seriously, don't go back to rockville": Fears of crime and rowdy teens on Ellsworth are sending many area residents to Rockville or Bethesda to spend time in their downtowns. A lengthy rant on whether this is really worth it, and how else we could deal with the issue.


Davemurphy said...

I'm glad other people recognize DTSS's diversity as a commodity and not a nuisance. Keep it up.

Sligo said...

I went to Rockville Town Center for the first time last week. It's kind of like Silver Spring but with nicer stores. I like the residential mix, too. Still, I'd never make a trip up there for it.

Also, they still have outdoor movies. Remember how popular those were in Silver Spring? Too bad those are gone.

I generally avoid going to Bethesda because it makes me feel poor, but they do have some damn good restaurants.

Thomas Hardman said...

Ah diversity. Diversity is always great until it becomes effectively a monoculture that pointedly excludes your own group.

Regardless of the specifics of any given exclusive monoculture, that they're exclusive is the operative part of the phrase "bad bad bad".

As for me, the monoculture I see in Bethesda is basically the monoculture of Green. Not rich? GTFO. That means me. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm about 90 percent more poor than dirt.

I can't really comment on Rockville Town Center other than that, like DTSS, it looks pretty new and shiny and probably designed with the state-of-the-art mass-psychology principles. That means that it's for The Mall People and Family Units, not for people like me. In any case, since I don't have money to spend, there's not much point in me going there, now is there.

Oh, that's right, both DTSS and Rockville have some of the few remaining theaters in MoCo. But I'd rather drive to the Rio and see a matinee at 2:00 in the afternoon when all of the kids are in school... it's just me and the movie and almost none of the people who actually like being in crowds.

And those last would be the monoculture that excludes my diversity.

Unknown said...

Last night my family and I went to DTSS and had dinner at McGinty's. It was a nice crowd -- definitely really diverse in terms of all sorts of things. There were some teenagers, lots of families, couples, etc. It was a pleasant and friendly atmosphere. McGinty's isn't a chain (at least I don't think so!) and the food was good, if expensive.

I know the teenagers are an issue on weekend nights but let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Anonymous said...

I generally cannot tolerate the constant bombardment of degenerates who go downtown. In one evening I was preached at by an old gay man on why I should vote for Obama without asking mind you, feeling like I'm being slapped in the face by unavoidably looking at young women who think it is sexy to have the bottom half of their asses falling out of their shorts, and all sorts degenerates making asses of themselves by yelling and screaming at each other. I find it really unpleasant and the quality of stores and restaurants is lacking. I would much rather go into the district and avoid the zoo.

Anonymous said...

One thing that never gets addressed regards the concept of redevelopment and expansion without paying heed to the overcrowding that is rampant in Silver Spring. I drove down to walk the walk with a new friend from out of town, and just getting to a spot to park near whole foods was simply ludicrous. Whats the point of having controlled intersections when the pedestrians routinely and flagrantly step into traffic. are they stupid? I realize that there is a walker's approach to the whole thing, but the amount of building and population density in the area precludes the fact that there is still a through thorofare at play.

Too many buildings and too many people in a constricted place like this will turn it into a slum in 10 years.

A little more thought in the planning please????