Thursday, March 26, 2015

Center Point

Where is the center of town? You know, Downtown Columbia. Is it the Mall? Whole Foods? CA Headquarters? The People Tree? If you read a lot, you may see Central Library as the hub around which other things are placed, whereas if you frequently attend concerts and plays you may think of the Rouse Theater as the center. Swimmers--Splashdown. Walkers--the path around Lake Kittamaqundi. What about Merriweather? Or Symphony Woods?

There was a time when Jessie Newburn of Totally HoCo posited the theory that the Dobbin Road Starbucks was true center. And the homeless and jobless have often planted themselves at the intersection of Dobbin and Route 175. Is that the true center--a highly-frequented center of commerce?

Of course we all know that Columbia was not meant to be a city or town in the old-school, traditional sense. It's not built on a neatly-formed grid with streets running north/south. It's not centered around government buildings like a Town Hall or a Courthouse. No, the New American City was meant to fit in with the natural topography of the land. Roads were meant to encourage curious exploration: the joy of discovery.

Maybe it doesn't matter where the center of town is. Perhaps it's asking an old and outdated question of a New City that was meant to break the mold. But, as long-planned pieces of the Columbia "whole" begin to take shape, even near completion, I wonder if that will change our experience of what the central point is. How will all these entities function together? What new experiences will they create?

Probably the only thing I can say with any certainty is that, if we convened a symposium on "What is the Center of Columbia?", there would be a multitude of loud and impassioned opinions and we would come to no consensus. Ah, Columbians. Bless our pointed heads, we never fall short on opinions. Some see synergy and energy. Some see traffic jams.

So, what do you think? Is there a center of town? Do you think there should be? Does it matter?



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