Sunday, September 13, 2009

Where I Live: Silver Sprung

Let's start by getting out the way the old "Where is Silver Spring, really?" question -- from the wikipedia:

"As an unincorporated area, Silver Spring's boundaries are not officially defined. Residents of a huge swath of Montgomery County have Silver Spring mailing addresses. This area extends roughly from the Washington, D.C., Prince George's County, Maryland and Howard County, Maryland lines to the south, east and north, and Rock Creek Park and Plyers Mill Road to the west and north-west. These boundaries make Silver Spring larger in area than any city in Maryland except for Baltimore."

There is no mayor, and no city hall, but because Silver Spring is Montgomery County, it tends to be taken pretty well care of. But I promise this won't be a rant about how I live in the real Silver Spring.

Instead I figured I'd mention one of the dominant issues of Silver Spring when I was a teenager - Mall of America 2. Yes, a decade or so ago (maybe it was even longer now), the developers who brought you Mall of America (the greatest/worst bit of capitalism in this fine nation), decided that Silver Spring would be the perfect place for the sequel to the epic monstrosity in Minnesota. In their plan City Place would bite the dust, and be replaced by a super-mega mall with a water park and roller coaster, and more stores than you could shake a stick at. At the time I thought it would be really cool, although most folks in the area disagreed. If I remember right the yard signs said "Smart Growth Yes, Mega-Mall No"

At the end of the day financial factors won out, the developers couldn't put together any funding and there was no Mall of America 2. And smart growth has actually happened. Downtown Silver Spring is a wonderful, highly walkable place, with a few movie theaters (including the AFI, which is a gem), a Boarders and Whole Foods, a bunch of restaurants and the world headquarters for Discover Communications, which we stole from Bethesda. Sure it's not perfect. There are too many chain restaurants, and with the amount of snot nosed little teenage punks walking around the downtown area, it can feels like a mall sometimes, but as a whole it's proof that you can make a much more inviting environment.

In the end downtown Silver Spring actually ended up exactly how people wanted it to. An already well developed more-urban suburb with excellent public transportation and a diverse and very educated group of residents was revitalized into a vibrant city (or "unincorporated area") center.

[First image from second image from and I miss that artificial turf field.]


Jstone said...

I don't miss that artificial turf at all. Although I guess it contained more of the snot nosed punks and kept them from standing in the streets. Not running in the streets, no, just standing, like you or I would stand at a bar and have a talk.

B.Graham said...

I'm still learning, but I like it here so far...