Saturday, August 18, 2012

Still Life With Robin: GGW (It's Great!)

by Peggy Robin

It’s August and I’m not on vacation right now, but this column is on a quasi-vacation, in that I’m doing it the lazy way, mainly by recommending that you read someone else’s column. I’m a fan of the always lively, often provocative and occasionally infuriating blog, Greater Greater Washington, the main focus of which is a subject near and dear to my heart (I told you this was a lazy-day column, so I’m not editing out the cliches): this city that has been my home for the past four decades (and change).

Greater Greater Washinton --or GGW as its regular readers fondly call it—has been around since 2008, when it was launched by David Alpert, who left Google and came here to pursue his interest in city planning and advocate for improvements in public transportation, walkability, and the liveliness and variety that comes with increased density in urban neighborhoods. On many specific issues I disagree with his conclusions intensely; he’s against DC’s height limit, for example -- but I have always found his ideas well-argued and impressively supported by data. (In some cases, though, I think that all the data in the world in support of the benefits of density won’t make up for the intangibles that are lost when a tall building takes over what had been a comfortably low-scale block, or blots out a spactactular vista. Whenever I feel moved to comment along those lines, I find someone has always beat me to the punch; that is to say, the comments on the blog tend to be well-argued, level-headed, and worthwhile reading, too. That’s practically miraculous in a blog! I should also spread some of the credit for the consistently high level of argument to the 38 other contributors/writers listed on the site’s “about us” page --  see

Now I’d like to send you directly to what I consider GGW’s greatest hits:

Discussion of the newly unveiled plans for a $7 billion renovation of Union Station:

Consideration of the benefits of relocating the proposed Eisenhower Memorial:

The never-ceases-to-amaze and brilliant animation showing the history and growth of Metro from its opening day to 2010:

This insightful take on how subway riders’ views of the city are shaped by the design and proportions of transit maps:

Alpert's four-part series on education policy, showing that GWW is not limited to planning, zoning, and transit:

A recurring feature: marvelous photos pulled from the Greater and Lesser Washington Flickr Pool:

And capping it off, my favorite post of all -- and if you go to only one thing on GGW, this should be it!:  The entries in the spring 2011 contest: “Design a Better Metro Map”

If I’ve missed any of your favorite GGW columns, just let me know on the comments section of this column below.


Still Life With Robin is published on Saturdays on the Cleveland Park Listserv,, and All Life Is Local.

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