December 28th, 2005

Dupont Circle

It makes me really happy to be staying next to Dupont Circle. I love this portion of Washington D.C. The part of Connecticut Avenue where we stayed last time is nice, but this stretch is even better. If only Vesuvio's were still around so that I could sate my teenage nostalgia. Or the Haagen Dazs place. At least Olsson's Books and Records is still nearby.

A Room With A View

And to give a better sense of why I love the Dupont Circle area, here's the view from my hotel window:

People who haven't been here before -- and I'm seeing a surprising number of them in my time at the MLA -- have been saying the thing that newcomers to D.C. always seem to say, which is that the city is "very European." By that they mean that it's not dominated by highrises and that there are plenty of trees. In other words, they have the post-urban planning Europe of the late 19th century in mind, more specifically Baron Haussman's wide-boulevarded Paris, which Walter Benjamin wrote about in his Passagenwerk. Last night I heard a talk about the McMillan plan for Washington D.C., which dates to 1901-1902 and was implemented to give the city precisely that look and feel. So that "very European" is ideologically loaded. But I still appreciate what the aesthetic does for the flâneur's experience of the city. In fact, I'm going to go be a flâneur right now. Why take a pricey cab or the Metro when you can walk?