Saturday, September 10, 2022

Still Life with Robin: New Names for Old Stations

by Peggy Robin

This weekend marks the official re-naming of four Metro stations. Well, let me put my opinion right out there: I would call it a mis-naming of three of the four stations at issue.

The White Flint Station is being rebranded as "North Bethesda." Someone apparently forgot to ask the Postal Service where it is. If you look up the address of the building right next door to the station (that's the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission),  you will find the address is indisputably in Rockville, MD., with a zip code of 20852 (handled by the Rockville Annex Post Office, a one-mile walk from that Metro station).

"South Rockville" would have been the geographically correct name -- but I would have opposed that, as well, on the grounds that it's never a good idea to have two stations in a row with similar names. Speaking as someone who's gotten off at East Falls Church when I meant to get off at West Falls Church, I can tell you it's an easy mistake, and one that Metro could have warded off simply by choosing a more distinctive name for one of the pair. 

So....Mid-Pike, anyone?

Moving on to the next case of a bad name change: Largo Town Center has now been transformed into "Downtown Largo" -- immediately calling to mind the old 60s comedy show "Laugh-in," which was brought to you so memorably from "beautiful downtown Burbank."

Now I don't object at all to Tyson's Corner dropping the "Corner" and becoming plain old Tysons. This is the only change that I endorse whole-heartedly. The Tyson's shopping mall/office hub has never been (even in its misty past) a quaint country corner of a town. It was just silliness to call all those glass towers and concrete mega-malls a "Corner."

But then silliness reigns again as Prince George's Plaza is made over into "Hyattsville Crossing." Hyattsville is a suburb with over 20,000 people; it's not some dusty rural village with a single intersection that could be called "the crossing." Who comes up with this stuff? Just call it Hyattsville and be done with it.

Now, I realize, of course, that it's absolutely too late to kvetch about any of these changes. It's not like the decision is reversible -- not after Metro has spent -- oh, I don't know, tens of thousands? hundreds of thousands? could even be more than a million (I'm too lazy to look it up) -- on focus groups rating a variety of proposed new names, and conducted surveys and then hired designers to do the re-lettering of station names and redo all the maps and websites.

I had my chance to weigh in when the public was surveyed, and I said my piece then. I could tell by the survey questions, making me tell how often I used the stations in question ("seldom or never") that the vote of a non-commuter like me was not going to count for much. Nor should it, I concede. 

But just let them try to change the name of Cleveland Park! That would be a different story! And you might see me chaining myself to the name pylon rather than see "Cleveland Park" taken down. But of course, Metro would never be so foolish as to propose anything like that....would they?

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

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