Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Mean Streets?

Every fall when institutions of higher learning start classes, I begin to get emails from both local as well as not so local graduate students (Canada, I'm talking about you) .  They have a paper to write and have chosen Silver Spring as their topic.

The below email arrived in my in-box today:

"Hello. My name is BLANK and I am a senior psychology major attending BLANK. I have been living in Silver Spring for the past four years. I have an assignment for my Urban Sociology class where I need to look at the population demographics of Silver Spring from the year 2000 to now. I was able to find some information on the census website, but a lot of people tell me Silver Spring used to be a tough area not too long ago. I was wondering if you would be able to give me some insight on how the area has changed, what caused the social change to occur, and around what year(s) did it happen? I would be very appreciative of any information you would be able to give me. Thank you."

I smiled at the thought of Silver Spring being thought of as "a tough area."  By 2000 both Whole Foods (then named Fresh Fields) and Strosniders Hardware opened in "Phase One" of Silver Spring's "Town Center."  Discovery Communications and the American Film Institute had also decided by 2000 to locate here.

This "tough area" is one of the biggest (sub)urban myths that Silver Spring still seems to be trying to live down.  I've lived in downtown Silver Spring since 1992 and have been a visitor since the late 1970s and never once felt any more endangered here than anywhere else in the DC metro area that I have ever been to.

I welcome readers' opinions/answers to this student's questions.  Please post comments and I will share them with this individual.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

See the World's Largest Acorn & More Unusual Local Attractions!

Did you know that the world's largest (man-made) acorn can be found right here in downtown Silver Spring or that a statue of a lobsterman is in Washington, DC?

These and other greater Washington one-of-a-kind landmarks and destinations will be featured on More Unusual Attractions, to air on October 7th and 10th at 9 pm on WETA TV 26.

I will appear in the segment about Silver Spring's historic circa 1850 Acorn Gazebo, located in Acorn Park at the corner of East-West Highway and Newell Street.  For information about the other landmarks and attractions that will appear in the program, visit the More Unusual Attractions Map.

Please join me this Saturday, October 1st, for a walking tour of historic Silver Spring that will include the Acorn Gazebo along with other fascinating insights into Silver Spring's history.

The tour kicks off at 10 am from the Silver Spring Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Station, 8100 Georgia Avenue, and concludes at noon.  The cost is $5 per person.  Reservations are not required.  Limited parking available in front of the station or a short walk from the Silver Spring Metro Station.  Well behaved dogs welcome!

(The railroad station is open FREE from 10-3 on Saturday.)

Hope to see you Saturday!

Friday, September 16, 2011

"Nothing By You"

I had a good chuckle when I came across this cartoon on p. 35 of the September 12, 2011 issue of The New Yorker.

Get it?

For those who don't, the cartoon depicts a stylized view of the 5th Avenue facade of the landmark 1911 New York Public Library as seen from E. 41st Street.  The banner hanging over the entrance is chiding the reader who would be so lucky to have a work represented in one of the greatest libraries in the world.

To which I immediately thought, "Hey, maybe I do!"

Off to I went and in the author field I typed "McCoy Jerry A." and hit the "Submit" button.  My jaw dropped.

There, shelved inside this century old marble Beaux Arts edifice designed by Carrère and Hastings, sits Downtown Silver Spring in the Irma and Paul Milstein Division of United States History, Local History and Genealogy.  The neighboring book to the right is Smith Island, Chesapeake Bay by Frances W. Dize and to the left sits another book on Silver Spring, Enchanted Forest Glen : the Endangered Legacy of National Park Seminary Historic District in Silver Spring, Maryland.

I have been planning a visit to NY see the High Line and the National September 11 Memorial & Museum.  To these sites I will now add Room 121 of the NYPL's Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.