Category Archives: BeltwayLand

The greater Washington D.C. area which I define as the District, Arlington and Fairfax counties in Virginia and Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland all of which the Capital Beltway resides in.

washington-coliseum

Wizards should investigate Washington Coliseum for their new practice facility

Welp: REI is moving there (Urban Turf) which seems like a pretty good use of the space, particularly for the spelunking crowd.

The Washington Wizards seek a new practice facility. They have been using Verizon Center auxiliary courts since the arena opened, but team owner Ted Leonsis wants a separate building. The model for this is his Capitals, who moved to what is now called Kettler Capitals Iceplex, a two-rink facility built on top of an Arlington County parking garage adjacent to Ballston Common Mall. The project was financed by the county and the Capitals rent and operate it. The modern amenities, convenient location to the core of the Caps fanbase and new rinks have been a positive for the team and the community. It’s not surprising that he wants to see if that can be reproduced for his basketball team.

The other morning as I was getting off the Red Line at NoMa, which should be called Swampoodle, (Ghosts of DC) station I looked over at the old Washington Coliseum and had a thought — could that be re-purposed into a new Wizards practice facility? Opened in 1941 as Uline Arena, Miguel Uline built it for his Washington Lions hockey team. The Lions uniforms inspired the Caps’ winter classic kit.

In the late 1940s it was the home of D.C.’s original basketball team, the Capitols, led by head coach and D.C. native Red Auerbach and the NBA’s first African-American player, Earl Lloyd. Oh and it also hosted the Beatles in their first public American concert in 1964. The ABA’s Caps played there for one season too and the album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits’ cover photo was shot there. It’s been in developmental limbo for many years and currently acts as a parking garage.

The Coliseum has more practical advantages beyond history of course. Located a block from Metro (and only three stops from Gallery Place-Chinatown station which Verizon Center is on top of) is located in an upcoming neighborhood, visibility (thousands of commuters pass it daily) and is an existing footprint. A Clinton Yates column expressed concerns about permanent neighborhood disruption when Shaw was proposed (The Post) as a site.

Turning the Coliseum into a 21st century practice facility isn’t a silver bullet by any means. The building is owned by Douglas Realty would undoubtedly need significant renovations whether it is sold or leased. There would almost certainly need to be a parking garage, weight rooms, plumbing and probably food service built there as well. It’s not my money to spend and I suspect Leonsis would rather the District finance it rather than him. Whether it is economically feasible, desirable or even available, it is worth looking into, because this could be a real opportunity for the franchise as well as the District.

LEARN MORE

Ghosts of Hockey, Basketball and Rock 'n' Roll – Ghosts of DC.

Before Ovechkin: The Washington Lions and Uline Arena – Ghosts of DC.

A Brief History of the Washington Coliseum/Uline Arena – Beatlemania – Curbed DC.

Photos of The Beatles first appearance in America at Uline Arena (Washington Coliseum) on Feb 11, 1964 two days after their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of Shirley Highway in Alexandria

va350_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation has released another Then & Now video, this time of Henry G. Shirley Highway in 1949, then known as Virginia primary route 350 and now Interstate 395. Last time, the video was of US 29 in Arlington. This time VDOT recreated about a 2-mile drive along Shirley Highway and combined it with the 1949 footage (IN COLOR!) of the same stretch of road, though nothing really is the same:

Shirley Highway predates the interstate highway system, having been built to provide access to the Pentagon and the Fairlington development that came out of World War II as well as a bypass of US 1 a bypass of US 1 between the Occoquan and Potomac Rivers. Technically, Shirley Highway did not go over either river, but provided a direct connection between the two of them.

In the original 1956 interstate highway plan, VA 350 was to be part of I-95. The new number may not have been posted as such until massive rebuilding in the early 1970s that included 2 reversible express lanes. The designation was short-lived though as the proposal to build I-95 between New York Ave (US 50) and the Capital Beltway near College Park was cancelled. Shirley Highway was re-designated I-395 in 1977.

The contrast between then and now is striking of course. The video begins near Edsall Road which today is just south of the terminus of the “EZ Pass Express” toll lanes that supplanted the 1971 express lanes. The two lanes in each direction with no shoulders of 1949 is unrecognizable to the 11 lanes over three separated roadways of now. The hills of the Alexandria area are quite visible too — it looks like a rural area then. Because it was.

Concrete arch bridges (similar to the Washington Blvd spans over Columbia Pike that are being replaced now) and sporadic white guide signs have been replaced by steel girders and frequent big green signs. A conspicuous NO THRU TRUCKS signal also makes an appearance.

Rolling along in 1949 Shirley Highway was through untouched country side past the current Landmark Mall (opened as a shopping center in 1956) and the new Mark Center. Van Dorn Street, which parallels Shirley Highway now wasn’t even there yet, nor was it’s residential development. That would come within a decade. The large Mark Center building would only open in the last few years.

This is a fun exercise for me, seeing what the area close to my current home looked like long before I was born. A late former neighbor grew up in Fairlington and told me about how they would ride their bicycles along the grading for an Shirley Highway when it was under construction; I wish I could show him this video.

There is a lot more to learn about Shirley Highway and see maps and photographs and I recommend the following sites:

Adam Froehlig and Mike Roberson’s Virginia Highways Project – VA 350

Scott Kozel’s Roads to the Future – Henry G. Shirley Memorial Highway

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New DC United stadium approved for Buzzard Point


It took over a decade to happen, but D.C. United will have a new home after the D.C. Council and passed funding legislation for a stadium at Buzzards Point – D.C. Council gives final approval to soccer stadium deal (The Post):

With the vote, the team secured a deal that could get it out of the aging RFK Stadium as soon as 2017. And Mayor Vincent C. Gray, with about two weeks left in office, secured a legacy.

The final vote was matter-of-fact, with the council’s 12 members approving the deal unanimously.

A companion funding bill also passed unanimously Wednesday authorizing nearly $140 million for the project — including $33 million in shifts from other projects and $106 million in new borrowing.

DC United tried to get a stadium built on the other side of the Anacostia River at Poplar Point but, that got scuttled by then mayor Adrian Fenty. Moving the team to Prince George’s County was also proposed, but that did not proceed very far. Building Nationals Park clearly delayed the soccer stadium, but in 2017 DCU and the Nats will be neighbors, separated by a mere 4 blocks. Navy Yard Metro will be the closest station to the soccer stadium as well.

I’m really happy for the fans of United; Dan Steinberg Post columnist (weird) and DC Sports Bog-er has said for years that they are his favorite fans. It’s hard to argue with him, they have a passion for the black and red.

TIME TO COMMIT

On a personal note, I have become increasingly interested in soccer in the last five years, but have been holding back on completely embracing United because I wanted to know they weren’t going to leave the area for some place like Baltimore or Philly. In particular, I did not want my six-year old son, who has developed an interest and aptitude for soccer, to get his heart broken. Now that we know the team is here for the duration, we’ll probably start attending games regularly. I think I might have to go to the store and get him a shirt for Christmas.

WHAT’S THE BUZZ?

Like many of the teams in our nation’s capital, United has an eagle for a mascot. One of the supporters groups is called the Screaming Eagles too. While tradition is important, this outsider thinks that becoming the Screaming Buzzards on account of their new location might be something to explore.

DCU is also considering rebranding a bit with the move:

I have a feeling not much will change.

OTHER USES

There is talk of the stadium being used for other events, like high school football and concerts. The Washington Spirits of the National Women’s Soccer League would probably play there occasionally. I wonder if the vagabond Chesapeake Bayhawks Major League Lacrosse team that has played all in DC, Baltimore, George Mason University and currently the Naval Academy might be looking to move as well.

THE OBSOLESCENCE OF RFK & MAYBE SOME METRO STATION NAMES

DC United is the sole remaining tenant at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium . The will likely play there a total 21 seasons, second only to the Redskins for longevity. Overall 13 baseball seasons were spent at RFK between the Senators and Nationals in the 1960s, 1970s and 2000s. With RFK’s inevitable demise (which deserves it’s own blog post) what becomes of the Stadium-Armory Metro station name? My guess is they’ll rename it to Hill East or something and remove the Armory reference entirely. Of course the city is tilting at windmills for the 2024 Olympics and/or a new Redskins stadium, so who knows? I wonder if the Navy Yard-Ballpark station gets another new name too, since two stadia will be served.

VENDORS

DC United and DC Brau already have a beer, The Tradition, so I can only assume local craft beer will be a part of the new stadium. Ben’s Chili Bowl is in several locations, so they may show up too. Since MLS doesn’t have all the national sponsorships that other leagues do, focusing on local/regional vendors and products is an appealing part of the DCU experience.

BALTIMORE IN MLS?

To the north, efforts to entice DCU to head up there were at least considered. I’m glad that hasn’t happened, but I’d be on board with a Baltimore MLS team. They have a lower-division team called the Bohemians after the infamous National Bohemian beer and since soccer is usually sponsored, that’d be one of the better one. That’d be a good instant rivalry, along with the ones with Red Bull NY (actually Harrison, NJ) and Philly Union.

MORE COVERAGE

D.C. United stadium approval improves its playing field in MLS in many ways. – The Post

City council unanimously passes legislation to build stadium for D.C. UnitedThe Wash. Times

Letter from D.C. United Managing General Partner Jason LevienD.C. United

Major League Soccer Commissioner Don Garber talks D.C. United StadiumD.C. United

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VDOT releases 1949 footage of US 29 in Arlington

us29_va_old_tinyThe Virginia Department of Transportation found footage of US 29 (Lee Highway) from Key Bridge to Cherrydale filmed in 1949. VDOT recreated the same drive and combined that and the 1949 footage into one video and posted it on youtube:

us211_va_old_tinyThe 1949 footage isn’t perfect, but still gives an idea of post-WWII Arlington County. Streetcars are visible and along with the billboards that faced Georgetown at the Virginia end of Key Bridge. It’s also noteworthy that there are two US 29 signs visible, but not US 211 which was officially multiplexed with US 29 until 1980 according to the Virginia Highways Project when it was officially truncated at Warrenton. I had previously heard 1984, but I suspect that the completion of Interstate 66 outside the Beltway hastened the demise of US 211 since it was no longer than only continuous route number from the Shenandoah Valley to Washington, D.C. This video suggests that the predecessor agency of VDOT and/or Arlington County was disinterested in the US 211 designation near Washington in that designation long before it was technically removed.

In the last frame, beyond the intersection of Kirkwood Road, is a trestle for the Washington & Old Dominion Railroad. That right-of-way would later be used for Interstate 66, completed in 1982 and the Custis Trail, BeltwayLand’s most challenging bicycle path. Starting that year, the intersection with Kirkwood Road was also the northern terminus of the George Washington Memorial Parkway according to Steve Anderson’s dcroads.net. Since 1959, that part of the GW Parkway has been a spur called Spout Run Parkway.

Highway markers from Shields Up!

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northern-virginia-oktoberfest-beers

BeltwayLand and beyond beer: Oktoberfest!

It’s late-September — school is open, the Washington Nationals have won the NL East, football is back and daylight is becoming scarce as it is officially autumn at 10:29 p.m. tonight. Gin and tonic season has gracefully yielded to Oktoberfests and ales made with last year’s pumpkin crop. The same will happen with this year’s apples too.

OKTOBERFESTS
As much as I like Oktoberfest beers, mid-August is TOO SOON for them to be released. The trouble can be they sell out before the swimming pools all close. Now, though, it’s definitely time to start drinking them. Actually, a few weeks ago…

So far, I have purchased three local Oktoberfests:

Corcoran Brewing Company Corktoberfest (Purcellville, Va.)
Port City – Oktoberfest (Alexandria, Va.)
Lost Rhino – Rhinofest (Ashburn, Va.)

The first two I bought at the breweries, while the third was found at Westover Market in Arlington. They are all really good, though Rhinofest available in 1 pint, 6 oz. bottles is pretty pricey.

DC Brau is releasing their first Oktoberfest:

“It’s a very traditional Oktoberfest,” explains Jeff Hancock, President & Head Brewer of DC Brau. “In recent years, Oktoberfests from Germany have started getting lighter in color and are closer to resembling Helles lagers than Oktoberfests or Märzens. We think our version will stand out amongst the myriad pumpkin beers and Oktoberfests on the market this season.”

They are only making 60 barrels though, all for draft distribution or growler fills, but including Nationals Park.

Outside of BeltwayLand, Flying Dog of Frederick, Md. makes Dogtoberfest. It’s not my favorite, but it tends to stick around longer than some of the other ones. At least in Northern Virginia. Former Ashburn-based Old Dominion also brews one from Delaware.

I really like the Shiner Oktoberfest as well as Leingkugel’s and Great Lakes. Yuengling’s was disappointing and Samuel Adams is okay and probably the most-heavily distributed.

OMBUDTOBERFEST?
Just going going to throw this out there for the Ombudsman — how about brewing a märzen next year around this time? No wedding to plan and the house is moved into, so how about it?

Also, I owe you a half-smoke.

FESTIVAL SEASON
Drink up: A guide to local fall beer festivalsThe Post
There are several beer festivals, mostly celebrating Oktoberfest in the D.C. area plus Annapolis and Baltimore. Snallygaster is already in the past, but there are still others to come. I might check out the Shirlington one hosted by Capital City Brewing Co. since it’s nearby, but we’ll see. Or maybe I’ll stop by my hometown for Vienna Oktoberfest. That one is a bit on the family friendly side which may be a feature, not a bug. #dadlife

DC Beer Festival is at Nationals Park on November 8.

Flying Dog keeps a pretty busy events schedule too.

Of course there is a downside to all of these festivals — undesirables from out of state sometimes come down for these things:

OLD BUST HEAD IS OPEN
Just days after the last BeltwayLand and beyond beer update, Old Bust Head opened it’s doors.

Old Bust Head Brewing Co. puts Fauquier beer on mapFauquier Now

By the way, gentleman farmer and the respectable half of Slow States, @thefolkist, grew hops for Old Bust Head’s Harvest Ale.

DISTILLED BEER?
Here’s one I missed from the summer — DC Brau and New Columbia Distillers (makers of Green Hat gin) are collaborating:

When the seasons change, explains DC Brau co-founder Brandon Skall, his brewery’s canning line acts up. In the last week, roughly 65 cases of canned beer were sealed while only half or two-thirds full. “It’s perfect beer, but the cans are just too shallow to go to the market,” Skall says. The brewery staff prepared to get rid of the beer, but “it breaks my heart to just dump it down the drain,” Skall says.

Then he had a brainstorm. “I’d heard about people who distilled with beer, so I called John [Uselton, the owner of New Columbia Distillers] and asked him if we could do something with it.”

New Columbia Distillers is turning DC Brau into … somethingThe Post

HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
Virginia Craft Brewers Cup 2014 Winners Announced
Devil’s Backbone, host of the Brewer’s Cup, did very well in the Virginia Craft Brewers Cup, as reported by Virginia Beer Trail.

WHERE TO GET CRAFT BEER AT NATIONALS PARK
The Washington Nationals have one homestand left, so make sure you visit the Nationals Review beer guide one more time before heading to Nationals Park.

VIRGINIA IS FOR BEER LOVERS
The Virginia is for Lovers site, virginia.org, has an extensive section on Virginia Craft Beer & Breweries.

BIKEABLE BREWS
Keeping on the tourism theme, Crooked Run Brewing tweeted out this GitHub map of breweries and brewpubs along the W&OD Trail. No love for the Vienna Inn though? They sell some craft beer now.

Cycling to a brewery sounds fun. Cycling back from one though, that could be another story. Discipline, food, time and a lot of water are probably required for this to work out. Be responsible.

WHY CRAFT BEER COST $12 A SIX PACK
Craft beer costs more than macro beer and Huffington Post is on it.

EVERY BEER LABEL IS APPROVED BY ONE MAN
Meet the Beer Bottle DictatorThe Daily Beast
Somewhere in the DC area, Kevin “Battle” Martin approves every beer label for the Tax and Trade Bureau.

BREAKING “OLD DAD BEER” NEWS
Pabst Brewing Co. sold to Russian firm Oasis Beverages Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel
The Ruskies bought PBR!

Then, news broke late Thursday that Pabst Brewing is being sold to Russian company Oasis Beverages for an undisclosed sum. Oasis is partnering with TSG, an investment firm, to buy Pabst. TSG Consumer Partners will take a minority stake in Pabst.

Oasis describes itself as a “leading independent brewer in Russia with growing soft drink operations.” The company was founded in 2008. It has facilities in Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine.

So, in addition to Pabst, Old Style, Schlitz, Natty Boh, Old Milwaukee, Stroh’s and others are now all Russian owned…

Well played, sir.

SIGNING OFF
I’ve already spent 10 days writing this post, so enough is enough.

PROST!

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