Posts Tagged ‘Metropolitan Branch Trail’

28 Blocks

During today’s bike ride on the Metropolitan Branch Trail I encountered a large mural on the facade of the Penn Center building at 1709 3rd Street (MAP), in northeast D.C.’s Eckington neighborhood. In addition to its massive size, what initially caught my attention was the realism and unusual yet simple gray tones that give the mural the appearance of an old black-and-white photograph.

The mural is entitled “28 Blocks,” and is the creation of American artist Garin Baker. Baker resides in New York City and is a traditionally trained realist painter, but his professional career spans across artistic disciplines. Baker spent four months hand-painting the 60’ by 160’ mural on 156 sections of parachute cloth in his studio. He then brought the work to D.C., and used a special polymer glue to attach the mural to the facade of the building, followed by a final coating and varnish that add UV and graffiti protection, thus requiring only minimal maintenance for many years.

The mural gets its name from the 28 blocks of marble used between 1914 and 1922 to erect the Lincoln Memorial’s iconic 120-ton marble statue of a seated Abraham Lincoln. But the mural isn’t intended to honor Lincoln. In fact, even the image of the Lincoln statue within the mural is only a peripheral image to provide context to the focus of the work. The mural depicts and is intended as a tribute to the men who are responsible for cutting out, hauling, carving and erecting the iconic Lincoln Memorial statue, which was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and planned by architect Henry Bacon. Most of those men were first or second generation black men who were born free, or Italian immigrants.

A quote from Frederick Douglass is also prominently featured on the mural. It reads: “Without culture there can be no growth; Without exertion, no acquisition; Without friction, no polish; Without labor, no knowledge; Without action, no progress. And without conflict, no victory.”

According to Baker, the color scheme of black, white and gray is intentional and carries symbolism. “People see things in black and white, but it’s really not the full story,” he said. “Only through all the shades of gray do we see the full truth.”

The mural is conveniently positioned adjacent to the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which gives cyclists, joggers and walkers a front row seat to view it. But not only that, the trail runs parallel to the train tracks that not only carries commuters and other riders on the Red Line between the Rhode Island Avenue and NoMa-Gallaudet University and New York Avenue stations, but also ferries people from New York to Union Station, allowing them to see the mural out their windows just before reaching the station. Officials with the city’s Department of General Services say 50,000 or more people a day can see the mural. I’m glad I was one of them today.


[Click on the photos to view the full-size versions]


1 – A Metro train inbound from Alexandria to D.C. as it passes over the Potomac River

Back in May of this year I wrote a post about meeting my original goal for this blog, and what my future goals would be.  Along with that post I also published a couple of dozen miscellaneous photos that I had taken during my lunchtime bike rides, but had not previously used for other posts on this blog.  As this year is rapidly coming to an end, I decided to post some more miscellaneous photos.  So below I have included a couple of dozen more photos that I took at different times over the past year, but have not used for this blog.  Be sure to click on each of the photos to view the full-size versions.

 2 2016eoy02    3 2016eoy04    4 2016eoy10

 5 2016eoy05    6 2016eoy06    7 2016eoy09

 8 2016eoy08    9 2016eoy07  10 2016eoy44

11 2016eoy11  12 2016eoy141  13 2016eoy54

14 2016eoy13  15 2016eoy16  16 2016eoy17

17 2016eoy361  18 2016eoy26  19 2016eoy22

20 2016eoy23  21 2016eoy25  22 2016eoy21

23 2016eoy18  24 2016eoy37  25 2016eoy39
[Click on the photos above to view the full size versions]

1 – A Metro train inbound from Alexandria to D.C. as it passes over the Potomac River.
2 – A hauntingly beautiful abandoned mansion located on Cooper Circle in LeDroit Park.
3 – A demonstration by Native Americans on the steps of The Lincoln Memorial.
4 – A musician taking a mid-afternoon nap in the park at DuPont Circle.
5 – A young girl admiring a mounted Park Police officer’s horse on the National Mall.
6 – An old farmer and his family selling watermelons out of the back of a truck on Rhode Island Avenue.
7 – A bike repurposed as a planter on the front porch of a home in LeDroit Park.
8 – A book sale at Second Story Books at the corner of 20th and P Streets in DuPont Circle.
9 – A mural interplaying with the shade of the leaves of a nearby tree on Capitol Hill.
10 – The First Street protected bikeway connecting Union Station to the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
11 – A merging of protests in front of The White House and  Lafayette Square Park.
12 – A view of the Anacostia River through the thick growth of vegetation on Kingman Island.
13 – Chocolate City Bar mural in a alley near 14th and S Streets, NW
14 – Demolished buildings on 14th Street making way for new Downtown construction.
15 – A ping pong game in the Farragut Square Park sponsored by the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District.
16 – Statues outside Bar Rogue in the Kimpton Rouge Hotel on 16th Street.
17 – The former Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration headquarters building on First Street in northeast D.C.
18 – Boats docked on the Southeast Waterfront just west of the Maine Avenue Fish Market.
19 – A homeless woman who spends her days on a bench in DuPont Circle Park.
20 – A news reporter broadcasting live from in front of FBI Headquarters.
21 – Chinese zodiac signs adorn the crosswalk at 7th and H Streets near The Friendship Archway in Chinatown.
22 – A bee pollinating a flower in The Smithsonian’s Butterfly Habitat Garden.
23 – An Organic Transit ELF vehicle parked at a bike rack on the National Mall.
24 – A street musician playing for tips outside the Farragut North Metro Station during the morning rush hour.
25 – A bench with a view on the southern side of the Tidal Basin.

NOTE:  Come back tomorrow for Part 2 of my year-end collection of various photos.

The Metropolitan Branch Trail

The Metropolitan Branch Trail

On this ride I explored the Metropolitan Branch Trail, which is an eight-mile trail that runs through the middle of D.C. (MAP), from Union Station downtown all the way to the Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad Station in Silver Spring, Maryland. Seven miles of the trail are within the city limits, and one mile is in Maryland. The trail gets its name from the Metropolitan Branch Line of the B&O Railroad, which the trail parallels. It is technically considered a rail-trail conversion because a key section of the trail is on former B&O Railroad right-of-way.

The urban trail takes cyclists past graffiti, industrial sites, train tracks, a brewery, and a touch of greenery as it passes through several of D.C.’s vibrant and historic neighborhoods, including the NOMA, Edgewood, Eckington and Brookland neighborhoods. Used much more for utilitarian purposes than for recreation, the trail is an important transportation route providing connections to homes and work, as well as access to seven Metro stations, and the National Mall.

However, the Metropolitan Branch Trail currently remains unfinished.  Plans for the future include connections to the area’s trail network such as the Capital Crescent Trail, Anacostia Trails System, and integration into the East Coast Greenway.

MBT01     mbt22     MBT07

mbt21     mbt20     MBT09     MBT01
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

The Tai Shan Restaurant in Chinatown

The Tai Shan Restaurant in Chinatown

My traditional end-of-the-month restaurant review for this last full month of summer is of the family-owned Tai Shan Chinese Restaurant, located at 622 H Street (MAP), just down the street from the iconic Friendship Archway in the heart of northwest D.C.’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The first time I visited Tai Shan was memorable. Interestingly, however, it was not because of the food. It was on August 23, 2011. I can remember the date because I stopped in on my way back to my downtown office after a long bike ride on the Metropolitan Branch Trail. And as I rode through Chinatown, I could see that traffic in the streets was gridlocked, and the sidewalks were overcrowded with people who had evacuated the nearby buildings. I had been alone and somewhat isolated from the city while I was riding on the trail, and based on what I was seeing I was fearful that there had been another terrorist attack. I went into the restaurant and asked what was happening, and it was then that I found out that there had been an earthquake. I had not felt it, and did not know about it until that moment. They were still open for business, so I got my order to go and ate my lunch that day across the street from the building where I work while I waited for engineers to inspect the building. A couple of hours later we were advised by security personnel that we could enter the building only long enough to gather our belongings, and to drive our cars out of the basement parking garage if we were parked there. Although a number of buildings and structures in the city suffered significant damage, such as The Washington Monument and the National Cathedral, our building was deemed safe and we were able to return to work the next day.

I have been back to Tai Shan a number of times since that initial visit, and despite an expansive menu specializing in authentic traditional favorites as well as specialty entrees, my customary order is the orange chicken with steamed rice. In fact, I’ve been back so many times that several of the servers there recognize me and ask me if I’ll need a menu or will I be ordering the orange chicken again. I have tried numerous of their other offerings as well, and based on the dishes I have sampled, combined with the inexpensive prices, I can understand why Tai Shan has been awarded several Washingtonian Best Bargain Restaurant awards.

A stalwart among Chinatown’s more than twenty Chinese and Asian restaurants; Tai Shan’s informal atmosphere reflects the traditional culture of the neighborhood.  Simply furnished and decorated, the décor consists of solid wooden tables and chairs with an Asian flair, pastel floral tablecloths, festive and colorful lighting, and traditional Chinese lanterns. Although somewhat small in size, it is still roomy. And a wall-length mirror on one side of the dining room helps provide an illusion of extra space. Tai Shan’s name is Mandarin for “peaceful mountain,” and the quiet and comfortable setting, which provides a respite from the hectic city just outside its doors, helps it live up to its name.

The fortune from a fortune cookie I got recently with my lunch read, “You will travel to many places.” I thought this was very applicable to me, and I interpreted it to apply to my adventures travelling by bike in D.C. When travelling to Tai Shan, you should know that they provide no parking, and nearby street parking is very limited. But it is easily accessible by Metro, with the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro Station just a half a block down the street. Or you can do as I always do, and put transportation worries aside and go there via bicycle.

The Chinatown restaurant is sometimes known as D.C.’s other Tai Shan, because Tai Shan is also the name of a famous panda cub who was formerly a resident across town at the National Zoo. While the panda was universally liked, the restaurant has received mixed online reviews on such sites as Yelp, Urbanspoon and Foursquare. Nonetheless, I have always found Tai Shan to have quality food, generous portions, fair prices, and fast and friendly service.  So I recommend Tai Shan. But perhaps you should go and decide for yourself.

chinatown3     China0     FriendshipArch01
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

UPDATE:  After operating for 21 years at its H Street location in Chinatown, Tai Shan closed its doors in August of 2015.