March 31, 2011

If Tysons is to become a real place, it needs real names

What do Gallery Place, Van Ness, and White Flint all have in common? Originally they were mere Metro station names, but since being introduced they have all transcended to become the names of entire neighborhoods. What do Tysons-McLean, Tysons I & II, Tysons Central, and Tysons-Spring Hill Road have in common? They are proposed Metro station names that will never, ever do the same. Maybe if people drop the “Tysons” part of each name and just use the second half colloquially, but even then it’s hard to imagine anyone calling a neighborhood “I&II”.

Yesterday, Fairfax County’s Board of Supervisors approved its recommendations for the 8 new Metro stations that will open in Fairfax as part of the Silver Line. The names are, in a word, terrible. The four stations in Tysons Corner are particularly unfortunate, because the county is engaged in a long term plan to remake Tysons as an urban center. Suburban park and rides might not need distinctive names, but urban neighborhoods do, and in this way Fairfax is utterly failing its own agenda for Tysons Corner.

I’ve discussed this before, as has GGW, but the proposed names for Tysons are so mind-bogglingly bad that they really do merit response. What sort of names might better define the urban neighborhoods Fairfax hopes to create in Tysons Corner? How about any of the following, all named after neighborhoods, parks, or roads in the vicinity of the proposed stations:

Fairfax Proposal Better Option Tysons-McLean Scott Run Tysons I&II Galleria Center Tysons Central Westpark Tysons-Spring Hill Road Spring Hill

The good news is the WMATA Board has ultimate say over what these stations will be called, so there is still hope that they will ignore Fairfax’s recommendations in favor of station names that will convey some sense of place to the neighborhoods that are sure to grow around them. But how likely is WMATA to overturn a local decision? And really, why should they? It’s not the Metro Board’s job to fix Tysons Corner. SOURCE: Beyond DC

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