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In Today's D.C. Extra: The Guide

The Guide, the annual handbook for living in the District has important information about city government, schools, transportation, services and recreation. Plus, tips on the District's real estate outlook, the 10 best places to entertain children, the capital's standout attractions, higher education, historic sites and more. And, new this year, residents share some of their favorite places in the District as well as advice for newcomers.

By Marcia Davis  |  April 24, 2008; 3:32 PM ET
Categories:  City Life  
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The guide is very well done but has two significant flaws: (1) it looks at the District with rose-colored glasses; and (2) it fails to give full information about the bus and subway system and how they interface.

With regard to (1), there should have been a reproduction of the city map, available on the Metropolitan Police web site, indicating crimes reported over various periods. In other words, where is it dangerous, where is it (comparatively) safer in the District of Columbia? The stories about the recent spate of murders in northeast as well as the hooligan behavior of misfit Wilson High students in the same edition need to have been referenced. Simply letting a nice little lady wax poetic about the joys of living on Windom Place N.W. was not what I would call reportorial sufficiency.

Further, the nice lady from Windom Place in her encomium ignored the fact that the District as a whole is almost entirely lacking in recreational facilities. How many well-maintained baseball fields exist in the city? How many pony leagues (for 10-13 year-olds) are there? Answer: None or virtually none. When my former wife and I were raising three boys in Adams Morgan 40 years ago, the only playground available was at a junior high school at 16th and Park Road, not exactly in the neighborhood but close enough. Problem was the "playground" was a dirt lot with no amenities and no maintenance. With boys moving into adolesence, we moved to the burbs and found excellent schools and lots of recreational facilities including, yes, baseball fields. (Now, of course, soccer fields abound as well.) No wonder basketball is the popular D.C. sport--it only takes a paved court, a couple of baskets and no maintenance. In sum, the District is very unfriendly to youth, something that was overlooked in the D.C. Guide.

With regard to (2), there just isn't enough information available in one place with regard to Metro buses and subways. The articles in the Guide referenced "passes," Smartrip," and other items Metro apparently has available for riders, but failed to say what these items are or how they can be obtained. Moreover, it was not clear from the Guide how one uses these items--how or if they work on buses, and how one goes about moving from bus to subway to bus. Also, all of the locations listed in the Guide--theatres, etc.--lacked any refeerence to how to reach them by bus or subway. Apparently the Post and Metro expect riders to call a telephone number and request information every time someone wants to go to a location in the city. Finally, so far as I can tell, there is no map available showing bus routes. One apparently is expected to know where the various buses go, and rely on the (very) fine print available on posts at bus stops for any other information.

The Guide should have spent way more time on bus routes and how they interchange with the subway lines with accompanying graphics. Which incidentally reminds me that the Post's graphics department is first rate and is underutilized IMHO.

Don't let my user name fool you: I and my wife are now full-time D.C. residents.

Posted by: JohnR(VA) | April 25, 2008 7:00 AM | Report abuse

I recycled yesterday's Express, it didn't seem thicker than any other, and it didn't seem to include any comprehensive guide...

Posted by: Anonymous | April 25, 2008 10:01 AM | Report abuse

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