Mason Law Environs Named to "Great Places in America"

See also: Clarendon's Roads to Success (Washington Post, October 23, 2008)

The American Planning Association (APA) has formally recognized what Mason Law students and staff have long known in naming the Clarendon-Wilson Corridor of Arlington, Virginia, as "Great Streets" in its 2008 list of "Great Places in America" in which neighborhoods are cited for "exemplary character, quality, and planning." 

The Clarendon-Wilson corridor is described by the APA as an "urban village" in which nearly 20 percent of residents do not own cars, and 50 percent walk, bike, or use the metro area transit systems to get to work. Local government, business owners, and residents, says the APA, "have used planning and smart growth practices to take advantage of, and effect, change."

The presence of the Metro subway system is lauded for its importance to the neighborhood and provides a benefit also enjoyed by Mason Law's students and staff, who are within easy walking distance of two stations. Also cited were the myriad restaurants, particularly those offering a wide variety of ethnic foods, and multi-cultural atmosphere in which one in five residents is foreign born and one in four speaks a language other than English at home.

Great Places

"The early story of these two boulevards is similar to that of many urban streets elsewhere in the country. The streetcar's arrival in 1896 brought shoppers to Clarendon in droves and, over time, led the streets to become part of what was considered Clarendon's downtown. With construction of the country's freeways, including I-495 — the D.C. metro area's 'Capital Beltway' — the exodus of businesses and households from Clarendon to newer suburbs was hastened.

"With Metrorail's Orange Line service beginning beneath the two boulevards in 1979, planners turned to developing a series of sector area plans for each of the five Metro stations in Arlington.

"The first sector plan for Clarendon was approved in 1984 and followed by revisions and updates in 1990 and 2006, respectively. The first major development built on Clarendon Boulevard following the sector plan was Market Commons in 1999. In addition to its stores, Market Commons includes townhouses and luxury apartments. Outdoor fountains, soft music, benches, and a playground attract people of all ages. Residents from Market Commons also can shop for organic produce and baked goods at a farmer's market at the Clarendon Metro station.

"One of many historic structures that have been preserved along the two boulevards is the 1939 Underwood Building. Typical of the streamlined Moderne style popular in Arlington County at the time, this structure and the Old Dominion Building are part of a larger project known as the Clarendon Center."

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