Travel Back Thursday: Washington, D.C. Metro On Opening Day

WMATA

I don’t know about you, but Thursday afternoons are when my weekend plans start to take shape. And tomorrow, after my laptop is shut down and I exchange my button-down for a t-shirt, I’ll be heading in to D.C. for the evening by way of the Metro, alongside countless others. The same scenario will undoubtedly play out in every other major city with a subway-esque train system.

The Washington Metro opened its doors in March of 1976. Today’s photo shows people waiting in line at the Rhode Island Avenue station for a free Metro ride on opening day, March 27. In the near future, Northern Virginia residents will experience another “opening day line” as Metro opens the first phase of the Silver Line route.

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5 U.S. Beaches You Can Get to Without a Car

Beaches with a car - Chicago's Oak Street Beach
Flickr, Tom Gill

Summer may be winding down, but there are still a few weekends left to spend at the beach. Rather than sit in traffic or rent an expensive car, you can ride public transportation to many beaches in the U.S. Seasonal routes are especially likely to be popular, so go early and pack light.

Boston – CapeFLYER train to Cape Cod
Reintroduced this summer, the CapeFLYER train goes every weekend from Boston out to Hyannis, connecting to ferries for Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard and buses up and down Cape Cod. Fares are from $18 from South Station, with a few bucks’ savings if you buy round trip. You can bring a bike, get concessions onboard and get free Wi-Fi. The train will run through Columbus Day, October 14.

Chicago – El train to Oak Street Beach
Not everyone thinks of this city smack in the midwest as a beach town, but thanks to Lake Michigan, there are more beaches around Chicago than Bermuda. There are many to choose from, but Oak Street Beach is the most central with the most spectacular skyline view. It’s a few blocks from the El train at Clark and Division, though a bus up Lake Shore Drive will get you there closer. Beaches are free and open until Labor Day, but you can enjoy the water views year round. CTA fares are $2.25, with deductions for transit cards.Los Angeles – Big Blue Bus to Santa Monica
While it’s a major car city, there are ways to get to Santa Monica and Venice Beach from downtown Los Angeles without wheels. The Big Blue Bus serves all of Santa Monica and connects to Venice Beach as well. Fares are just $1, with day passes available. LA Metro has rapid buses to Venice Beach, with fares from $1.50. A new light rail line will connect Santa Monica to downtown LA, getting you on the beach even faster.

New York – A train to Far Rockaway
New Yorkers are lucky to have lots of options for sand and swimming, from Brooklyn‘s Brighton Beach to Long Island‘s Jones Beach, and Rockaway Beach in Queens has long been an urban favorite. While it suffered a lot from last year’s superstorm Sandy, it’s back in a big way, with many boardwalk concessions reopened and a new boutique hotel. A $2.50 subway fare gets you there on the A train, and there’s also a weekend-only ferry from downtown Manhattan if you’d like a more scenic (and spendy, at $20 one way) ride.

Washington, D.C. – DC2NY bus to Delaware beaches
While a bit much for a day trip, budget bus company DC2NY offers seasonal shuttles to Delaware‘s Rehoboth (one of Dr. Beach‘s favorites in the country) and Dewey beaches from Washington, as well as Wilmington and New York. The trip takes about 2½ hours, leaving Friday night and weekend mornings through Labor Day. Fares are $39 each way, but you do get Wi-Fi, a power outlet and a bottle of water.

What are your favorite beaches to visit without a car?

Baby On Board: Babies Born In Train Stations

MTA train station baby
MTA Police Department

Last week, the hashtag #MetroBaby was trending after a Washington, D.C. woman gave birth to a baby boy on a Metro platform. Despite many humorous suggestions for the baby’s name (my favorites: Stan Clear and Doris Closing), Amir Mason was born a few weeks early and delivered safely.

Yesterday, New York got its own Metro Baby when police helped deliver a baby boy in Penn Station. On her way home from a doctor’s appointment and waiting for a Long Island Rail Road train, the mother was overcome with labor pains and taken to the police station office inside the train station. Paramedics from St. Luke’s Hospital were on hand to deliver baby Oscar, and assisting MTA Officer Melissa DeFrancsco noted, “It was awesome.”

The D.C. Metro baby got a train-themed gift basket and $100 transit card from the agency. The New York MTA is presumably still picking out a card.

Are train station babies a new trend? What station is likely to be next? I’d vote for somewhere like London‘s airy and renovated St. Pancras station, with plenty of restaurants and shops, a luxury hotel, and an easy hop to Paris by Eurostar.

D.C. Metro Staff And Passengers Assist Birth Of ‘Metrobaby’

Metrobaby
Joshua Sherurcij

D.C. Metro staff and passengers had to come to the rescue when a woman started giving birth in L’Enfant Plaza Metro Station yesterday, the Washington Post reports.

Shavonnte Taylor, 23, was on her way to an appointment with her obstetrician when she started having contractions two weeks before her baby was due. She tried to continue her journey but the baby had different ideas.

Luckily Autumn Manka, a licensed emergency medical technician, was passing by. She lay Taylor down on the floor as more passengers, DC Metro staff, and two Metro Transit Police officers came to help. Within minutes the baby was born next to a broken escalator near the Seventh Street and Maryland Avenue exit.

Inevitably, the kid got his own hashtag, #metrobaby. Several Twitter users posted a snarky headline from today’s Express, while others suggested naming the baby L’Enfant. “L’Enfant” of course, is French for “the infant.”

His real name is Amir Mason. He weighs 8 pounds, 5 ounces and is doing fine.

What’s An Appropriate Penalty For Defacing The Lincoln Memorial?

Lincoln Memorial Vandalized

The Lincoln Memorial was closed early Friday morning after police discovered that someone had splashed green paint on the iconic 19-foot tall statue shortly before 1:30 a.m. A National Park Service spokesperson said that there appeared to be no permanent damage to the statue. The memorial’s portico reopened this afternoon after the cleanup was complete.

Honest Abe is a beloved national hero. Historians consistently rank him as one of our best presidents, and the Lincoln Memorial holds an important place in American history as the site where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963. The online reaction to the brazen act of vandalism ranged from despair to anger to disbelief.”There’s not many things left in the country that could be considered sacrosanct..but this would have to have been one of the few,” wrote one Huffington Post reader. “Shame on whoever did this.”

CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin said on air that the defacement “made her furious.” Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary, tweeted that it was “very upsetting” using the hashtag #Protectthemall.

“Unreal! What is happening to this country?” tweeted Shari Starkey. And @Trinaelephant tweeted, “Someone vandalized the Lincoln Memorial? Here’s an idea. You don’t like the country, then LEAVE.”

I used to live and work in Washington, D.C. and the Lincoln Memorial was one of my favorite places to take visitors or to visit alone, especially late at night when few tourists are around. Police say they are reviewing surveillance footage to determine who committed the crime and I pray that the perpetrator or perpetrators of this senseless act of vandalism are caught and given swift, harsh justice.

Vandalism is typically a crime that merits just a slap on the wrist, but I hope the perpetrators do some time. Perhaps a little time behind bars would give them an opportunity to brush up on their American history. What do you think is an appropriate punishment for defacing this cherished memorial?