Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
So, my colleague and friend Gracie McKenzie recently finished a quest that took her a while! She traveled to the end of all the D.C. Metro lines. Here is what she learned:
I live closer to the bus and usually ride my bike everywhere, so I started the challenge to familiarize myself with the corners of the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia metro that were beyond my reach. I’m certainly not the first person to embark on this kind of quest: I remember reading a few years ago on CityLab about the book Subway Adventure Guide: New York City—To the End of the Line, which makes a good case for this type of exploration.
On Sunday, at the New Carrollton station, I came to the end of the Orange Line, and finally, this project. I celebrated at a local minor league baseball game nearby, where I watched the Akron RubberDucks beat the hometown Bowie Baysox while savoring a slice of crab dip pizza.
In case you’d like to embark on a similar project, here are three things to keep in mind:
1) Take your time! While you could race through every station in one day, you’ll see more if you choose one or two per day. Then, find an activity to do afterwards somewhere close by or along the route back.
2) Pick an adventure partner! Doing a challenge with another person will give you an excuse to see each other—I’m a vocal proponent of structured friendship opportunities—and allow you to tell collective stories about the adventures you have had together.
3) It’s OK if you don’t actually hang out around the last stop! In D.C., that station is usually a parking garage off of a highway (although sometimes a nice Brutalist one). There were businesses around, but they weren’t generally accessible without a car. So instead, we would visit the end of the line, look around, then get back on the train for a few stops, until we got to a place where we could get around on our feet. (As a bonus, this strategy often allowed us to save on train fare).
Have you ever gone to the end of one of your city’s train lines without a particular destination in mind? What did you see? Send us pictures and stories.
What we’re writing:
What is lost when you subscribe to everything? ¤ Mayor Pete, out of office. ¤ A Buffalo-based artist creates tissue-box replicas of demolished buildings. ¤ An ode to the Hudson River. ¤ “In fact Jadwiga hated Brutalism; she just wanted to be slick and smooth.” ¤ What happens when your neighborhood gets a corporate rebrand? ¤ What neon signs point to. ¤
What we’re taking in:
“Why do cathedrals take so long to build?” (The Prepared) ¤ The man who visited all 415 national parks. (WJLA) ¤ “For many residents, Skopje’s formerly Modernist identity was a source of pride, now annihilated.” (The Calvert Journal) ¤ Writer Laila Lalami, on home. (Guernica) ¤ The thief who stole ancient books from a hilltop monastery. (Narratively) ¤ “The moon is hot again.” (The New Yorker) ¤ “On Pier 39, past the roving tourist hordes taking Fisherman’s Wharf selfies, floats a boat that transports the dead to whatever voyage is next.” (San Francisco Chronicle) ¤ A new play memorializes a long-lost Latinx hot spot in Chicago. (New York Times) ¤ Portland’s overlooked hip-hop scene. (Pacific Standard) ¤ Man, these Board of Supervisors meetings get profane! (Los Angeles Times) ¤