Reason 224

#224: All the circles. I can’t name them all and they are confusing to tourists (and Jon Stewart) but I like the way they make the city look. Very beautiful.

The ones I see every day are Dupont Circle and Washington Circle.

Dupont Circle was also the very first circle I ever saw in DC because it’s where my first job was. It has been my neighborhood for four years. Dupont is giant, and clean and gorgeous and for the most part, not very confusing. I understand it now.

This is how it works:

– Connecticut Ave comes in through one side and out the other side. That is, to stay on Connecticut Ave you need to cross the circle if you are walking. If you are driving you can go halfway around it or go under it.

– New Hampshire Ave works almost the same way as Connecticut Ave. Except that there’s been construction going on there forever so it’s a pain.

– Massachusetts Ave also comes in through one side and out the other. Then two circles down (at Logan) you need to go under the Circle to stay on Massachusetts Ave.

– P St is the most confusing of all. P St is also on both sides of the Circle but because it’s a straight line street (it cuts the district horizontally) and not a diagonal avenue, it hits the Circle at a weird angle.

Dupont Circle

Dupont Circle

Washington Circle is much more confusing. It’s so hard to figure out that years ago, when I was a new teacher at The Global Language Network, I got lost there at night. Very lost. It was raining and it was dark and I was cold. I ended up sitting on the sidewalk crying. Because this city is amazing, a couple of minutes later someone showed up and asked me what was wrong and helped me find my way home. I have grown up now, so I wouldn’t do that again. I also now understand this Circle. And it only took about six years.

This is how it works:

– New Hampshire Ave comes in one side and leaves on the other side of the circle. If you remember, this is the same avenue that cuts across Dupont.

– 23rd St also crosses the circle, but does so at a strange angle because it’s a straight line street (cuts the city vertically).

– Pennsylvania Ave works like New Hampshire. It comes in one side and leaves out the other.

– K St is the killer. It comes in one side and then kind of goes underground. Or not really underground so much as there is an overpass above it. This is the most confusing thing of all.

That’s pretty much how the circles work. If you don’t want to get very, very lost, the best plan is to avoid them. The second best plan is to ask for help (without crying). The third best plan is to try to follow my explanation of how they work. And if you get lost or get frustrated, try to focus on how beautiful they look and how much lovelier they are than a traffic light.

If you are still frustrated, you’re in good company. This is what Jon Stewart had to say about them a few years ago:—indecision-2010—extreme-makeover-dc-edition


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