Saturday, August 30, 2008

new ways to hang on ellsworth emerge post-"the turf"

Tonight, Ellsworth Drive played host to an extended skate session, much as it has every weekend since the block east of Fenton Street (in front of Chick-Fil-A) has been closed off to traffic. And people came to watch: young parents bearing infants; a pint-sized cheering section complete with balloons and chants ("Go, Abdul!") bored teenagers ("I don't know why they tore that thing up," I overheard one girl say, referring to "the Turf").

The older set even stopped to look, mesmerized by the jumps both successful and not-successful. When one kid (at right, in the Nationals cap) wiped out, they all laughed and took out cameras. Public embarrassment? You bet! And only on Ellsworth.

Ellsworth makes me prouder still to say I'm from Silver Spring, and more so when I compare it to Bethesda or Clarendon, where I was earlier today. Not only are Bethesda and Clarendon less diverse, but they lack the spontaneity Silver Spring has. Only here will you find skater kids showing off to a willing audience - and in the middle of Downtown, too! Not tucked away in some back alley or overlooked parking lot.

"The Turf" may no longer be with us, but this three-year experiment in place-making showed there's more to creating a vibrant community than pretty buildings. We needed it to draw people Downtown, but now that they're here, nothing will keep them from coming back.

BELOW: One kid tries to win over a tough crowd, and a little cheering section provides color commentary.

1 comment:

Dave Murphy said...

You have to love that place. I attribute much of it to the place-ness of DTSS, but the people who live in and around that area are what make it possible to have such a pleasant, fun, and most importantly interesting destination there.