The Key to Safe Streets: Five Cities Humanizing Street Design
Case Studies 

Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

*Nominee 

Dupont Circle

Washington

DC

USA

Contributed by 
Michael Schade
Project for Public Spaces
 on 
December 2, 2004
December 14, 2017

The center of this historic neighborhood is the fountain and park in the middle of a traffic circle.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Dupont Circle is surrounded by historic residential buildings and businesses like coffee shops, hotels, cafes and movie theatres. It also has the city's best weekly farmers market. The Circle has a fountain in the middle of it, with benches all around. The whole park is not very big, but it's packed every day in the summer. It's a circle with intersecting and concentric walkways.

Access & Linkages

There is convenient bus and subway access. The Circle is at the intersection of five main streets that connect you to the White House, Georgetown, Rock Creek Park, Embassy Row and more.

Comfort & Image

There are benches located on the concentric circles. If it's nice out people bring blankets and sit on the ground. Litter isn't usually a problem, but if it's a nice day out the trash cans can over-flow. If there are a lot of people the first impression is GREAT! If there aren't, it looks like any other empty park with a beautiful fountain in the middle of it. Maintenance is regular, and it does feel safe...there are bike police that ride by. Vehicles surround this park (it's in the center of the traffic circle) but once you cross into the park, they just seem to disappear. Many of the CityÍs notable stores are found only in Dupont: Axis salon (the city's wittiest window displays); Kramerbooks (the region's best cafe/bookstore, open late with live music); live street performers; concentration of art galleries plus the Phillips Collection; and you also have the City's best restaurants.

Uses & Activities

This is the City's only circle that is populated. 17th Street is home to City's best Halloween event, the High Heel Drag Race. There are permanent checker/chess boards that are always in use. People watching is the main activity...and eating.

Sociability

Many residents who are involved in the community spend time in the Circle. People are just happy, social, interested in their neighbors (which is so rare these days). Singles and couples, college kids and seniors, gay and straight, democrats and republicans, bums and professionals, tourists and locals, everyone gravitate to this park...you just can't help it. With so many people using it, you feel like you are missing out by not stopping and absorbing the vibe. There are many educational institutions headquartered here. The fountain in the circle is the city's best meeting place. *Amber Richane also contributed to this nomination.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Dupont Circle
All images (except for last) © Keith Stanley.
Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle
Chess players in the Circle.
Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle
A recital and fundraiser held in the Circle.
Dupont Circle
Dupont Circle
Photo © Dick Hodgman.
Dupont Circle

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.

NOMINATE A PLACE

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