Saturday, April 01, 2006

Definitions and the politically useful sloppy use of words

Illustrations respectively from satellite and from

Promenade: n 1: a formal ball held for a school class toward the end of the academic year [syn: prom] 2: a public area set aside as a pedestrian walk [syn: mall] 3: a square dance figure; couples march counterclockwise in a circle 4: a march of all the guests at the opening of a formal dance 5: a leisurely walk (usually in some public place) [syn: amble, ramble, saunter, stroll, perambulation] v 1: march in a procession; "the veterans paraded down the street" [syn: parade, troop] 2: take a leisurely walk; "The ladies promenaded along the beach"

Avenue: N: a wide street or thoroughfare [syn: avenue]

Boulevard: n 1: a line of approach; "they explored every avenue they could think of"; "it promises to open new avenues to understanding" 2: a wide street or thoroughfare [syn: boulevard]

The term Boulevard is being used interchangeably to describe what we would colloquially know as an Avenue and a Promenade.

One example: this letter by National Capital Planning Commission Deputy Executive Director MARCEL ACOSTA, published in The Washington Post Letters to the Editor section, March 27, 2006:

Marcel Acosta, AICP, is senior vice president of planning and development for the Chicago Transit Authority, the nation’s second largest public transportation system. In this capacity, he oversees the agency’s strategic planning, market research, service development, schedules, operations planning, and facilities development efforts. His efforts focus on rebuilding ridership and increasing customer satisfaction Loeb Fellowship, Havrvard University School of Design 2000

In his March 16 Metro column, "South Capitol Street Will Have to Play Catch-Up," Marc Fisher said that one needs a good imagination to see a transformed South Capitol Street.

For more than 10 years, beginning long before anyone dreamed of a baseball stadium being built near the Anacostia River, the National Capital Planning Commission envisioned South Capitol Street as a magnificent boulevard that would befit such a prominent location.

Last year our South Capitol Street Task Force unveiled its vision for transforming the neglected street into a grand urban corridor and waterfront gateway, offering spectacular views to and from the U.S. Capitol. The area would have plazas, parkland, national monuments, commercial and residential uses, and a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge.

We are working with the D.C. Transportation Department, the D.C. Office of Planning and the Anacostia Waterfront Corp. to turn this vision into a reality, and we are delighted that the stadium will help jump-start the transformation.


Deputy Executive Director

National Capital Planning Commission

Why not describe the 1990s NCPC "vision" for South Capitol Street -- as represented by its main publication at that time (1997) "Extending the Legacy: Planning America's Capital for the 21st Century" -- as a "Promenade", and the subsequent plan as an "Avenue"?

Other surface streets of comparable width in Washington, DC are called "Avenues", such as New Jersey Avenue, New York Avenue, Pennsylvania Avenue. Or, generally though not neccessarily for narrower ones, Streets, such as East Capitol Street, hence, simply call it South Capitol Street, with 15’ extra building setback for wider sidewalks. Who uses the same single word for describing a surface street and for describing the National Mall?

Describing these two seperate choices with the same word does not adequately convey their major differences, and misleads by suggesting that the differences are not worth mentioning.

Who thinks that's a good idea for using the same word to describe the National Mall and New York Avenue (135' total width right of way) or Pennsylvania Avenue (160' total width right of way)?

This Marcel Acosta letter is only typical with the style of "reporting" regarding South Capitol Street related developments.

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