Sprawl now: DC

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Flower Valley



Now there is everywhere what as a child I saw growing further out on Long Island, centerless developments and commercial strips sprawling with only highways for connection.

Recently I drove half of a "transect" of the Washington area, starting at Dupont Circle and heading north. Over the District line, in Silver Spring, I met tall buildings, then row houses, then separated houses in developments with countrified names but no country visible, "Heath Field," "Fir Glen," "Aspen Hill," "Milestone," "Hunting Hill Estates." Then came the old town of Wheaton, then a "Brooke Manor Estates" without trees. Near Gaithersberg I drove through "Flower Valley," a perfect example of suburban house styles and spacing and landscaping, but with no visible cars or people.

All of these connect to the strips, not to town centers.

But the strip is changing: I found an all Spanish-speaking crew at a Burger King, and Korean hangul written on an auto body shop sign. One suburban Maryland real estate agency advertised that their office could assist clients who speak English, Spanish, French, German, Danish, Arabic, Italian, Korean, Indian, Tagalog, Dutch, ASL, "and more!"

Then I was into New Urbanism at Kentlands. Later I passed "The Preserve, an Estate Development in a Wooded Enclave," came to horse country with large houses on empty lots, then open farms with signs offering more house lots.

The next day the Virginia suburbs were similar, though there were more beauty strips of trees masking some of the developments. Nature was asserting itself, though, as was evident from the many insect control company trucks. I drove through the Edge City at Tyson's Corner in a congestion of traffic and buildings placed every which way unconcerned for one another. I spent time in the area around Reston and Herndon with small medium large extra-large shopping centers amid high tech industry near Dulles Airport. There I found the thirty-year old new town of Reston, and I visited the village center at Lake Anne.

At lunch in the Jasmine Cafe the people at the next tables talked about interior decorators and stock options.