Tuesday, September 2, 2008

What Makes DelRay a Real Place?

Just beyond the Pentagon and Crystal City, tucked away from the traffic on Route 1, is the neighborhood of DelRay, which is truly a PLACE. How do you know a place when you find it, besides the feeling of Home it calls up? Let's look at the details of DelRay:

  • The houses are different from each other, either built that way or made that way, painted bright hues or with interesting additions or art objects to suit the taste of each owner
  • Nearly everything is within walking distance -- the Metro, the hardware story, the grocery store, many restaurants, the library, shops, the post office, the butcher shop
  • People walk dogs, wheel children in strollers, go out in the evenings for ice cream so they know each other (if not by name, then by the name of their dog or their child:-)
  • St. Elmos coffee shop, in the heart of town, is the "meeting spot" as is "The Farmer's Market" which sells local produce every weekend -- both places are crowded with people, babies, dogs and conversation
  • Lack of chains -- there's a 7-11, which blends into the shops and houses around it but other than that most of the stores are individually and locally owned
  • The sidewalks have been widened, paved with bricks and smoothed at the curbs to allow for handicap access, bicycles, and general beauty in walking -- freedom of movement is a hallmark here
  • Great oaks and maples line the streets, flowers grow in abundance in each lawn or in windowboxes, and there are great grassy areas where dogs can romp and children can play. Every spring, the cherry trees flower in lacy frothy profusion.
  • Several special events bring visitors to town -- Art on the Avenue, being the biggest and most well-known. People come by the thousands to see local art, listen to local music, and eat local food.
  • Though only minutes away from DC, DelRay feels worlds away, having its own pace, its own feel, is own aesthetic.

A business associate who dropped me off after a particularly stressful meeting in the City, said upon suddenly entering DelRay, "Wow, this place is great. It feels like my old home town, but . . . .better." I'm not sure what he meant by "better," but I suspect it had to do with his suddenly appreciating how much he missed that Home Town, after being immersed in No Place for so long. Or perhaps it's because DelRay has been consciously created by people who respect the past and embrace the future. (Marilyn Finnemore)

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