0148. A whole new city concept... (USA 075--new)

Reston Travel Blog

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Soon after I head east from Leesburg, I start seeing the ominous symptoms of suburban sprawl.... First it’s the enormous mansions dotting the landscape... then the two lane road turns into a 6 lane parkway... then the sloppy developments... strip malls... an occasional office building just scattered randomly all over the place. 

 Genarally speaking, I hate suburbs.  First of all they kill beautiful rural landscapes and secondly they kill cities by sucking all the life out of them.

 Today adventure is going to be a little different.  I did a little homework before taking this trip and found 2 Open Mikes going on this evening.  So I’m going to do a little indoor performing for a change.  Both the venues are in the west suburbs of DC, so I figure it’s just going to be suburban sprawl, with no real “towns” to explore.  The first one is a packed out restaurant with a very attentive crowd and good atmosphere.  It’s a fun experience—although I still feel playing music on parkbenches in new places is more exciting than this.

The second Open Mike is down the at a bar in a suburb called Reston.  I figure Reston is just another stereotypical suburb not even worth exploring—but when I look at it on the map, something seems odd about this place.  I’m supposed to play at Tavern on the Lake on Washington Plaza--but the map makes it look like "Washington Plaza" is out in the countryside somewhere... Then, as I drive there, I pass through about a mile of forest and then... these quaint little shops built along a quiet lake where there are no streets--all the cars are parked far away... So after my session I have to explore this place.  I hike along the lake past these dreamy, dimly lit pathways winding along the lake past little clusters of houses (again, with cars parked a distance away)  It all has more of a Club Med feel then of an actual residential community.

But this is not tourist resort--this is a "city" where people live.  And not just rich people--it's carefully planned so that people of various economic levels can live and work and relax in the same area.  I've read about this "New Urbanism" concept and loved the idea--now I've accidentally stumbled on one and get to see how it actually works!

I wander around this original "Lake Anne Community" which was built in the 1960s with a clear purpose: to create a community that includes housing, recreation, shopping and places to work, all within walking or bicycling distance. A community where people are given priority instead of cars.  And incidentally, it was also the first multiracial community in the area.   It is a very inspiring discovery that makes you really wonder if maybe the concept had “caught on” more the endless blight of suburban America might have been prevented.

From Lake Anne Community I head to the "Town Center" of Reston--a crisp, new high rise area of office buildings and entertainment all built just within the last 20 years.  It's also carefully planned to save as much space as possible for nature and be compact enough so that many people can ride bicycles to work.  The idea is that you can live with all the conveniences of a city--and yet feel like you're living in the country.

Finally, at 12:30 AM I decide to call it a day... A very, very long day...

After wandering aroud the original "Lake Anne Community" (built in the 1960s--incidentally, also the first multiracial community in the area...) I headed to the "Town Center"--a crisp, new high rise area of office buildings and entertainment all built just within the last 20 years.  It's also carefully planned to save as much space as possible for nature and be compact enough so that many people can ride bicycles to work.

The idea is that you can live with all the conveniences of a city--and yet feel like you're living in the country.

A very inspiring experience...

Finally, at 12:30 AM I decided to call it a day... A very, very long day...

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Reston
photo by: Africancrab