New Signage in Columbia Heights Metro

Thanks to all the readers who sent emails about this. I was away from my computer much of the afternoon but I really appreciate all those who sent the heads up. Anyway, you can see that the northbound and southbound signs were changed with Mt. Pleasant and Pleasant Plains arrows. Personally I think this is a terrible idea. I actually think signs that simply said east or west would be far more useful. What do you guys think – is the signage gonna help or confuse people?

DCist notes:

“According to Metro spokesperson Ron Holzer, the sign was installed at the request of Councilmember Jim Graham. “He said customers were confused about which exit to use for these two neighborhoods,” said Holzer.”

Also note that the Northbound and Southbound signs still exist by the separate metro entrances:

51 Comment

  • I agree East and West would make more sense, but I’m always happy to see my largely unknown neighborhood get mentioned. Northbound and southbound always seemed silly to me, since pedestrians can travel in either direction. It took me a few seconds to translate northbound to east when I first moved here.

  • Wow, I agree this is incredibly pointless. I also think E/W makes more sense than N/S but really, does Councilmember Graham really not have anything better to work on other than changing perfectly functional signs?

  • I’m newish to the neighborhood — what area makes up pleasant plains?

  • @ serrano:,_Washington,_D.C.

    What’s really bizarre about it is that the U St stop is actually closer to most of Pleasant Plains.

  • Who says CM Graham does not do enough for his ward?

  • signs are good.. now i wont have to explain 10 times to people to walk against the traffic on irving street to get to mt. pleasant.. (but then again, if i have to explain 10 times, maybe they arent bright enough to read signs either)

  • I’ve lived here 10 years and have never heard of Pleasant Plains. If this is supposed to clear up confusion, I fear it will actually have the opposite effect.

  • Pleasant Plains Represent! East or West seems like it would have made more sense but I’m also glad to see Pleasant Plains getting a little recognition. I think people might be a little confused initially but they’ll learn shortly after.

  • This makes little sense. If you’ve heard of Pleasant Plains or Mt. Pleasant, you likely know how to get there…and if you don’t, a single sign isn’t going to help you much past the Potbelly’s. The 14th St. signs were much more useful, and now you actually have to go to the station exits to see them. Seems to me they should be switched.

  • I am not new to the neighborhood and admit that I never heard of Pleasant Planes.
    Not that this is a terrible idea. It has the effect of imparting name recognition of the local geography.
    East and West should be added to the sign.

  • Well they’ll still be confused unless signage exists on the street level guiding people to those two neighborhoods…

    • I have discussion about creating just those street level signs (for Mt. Pleasant at least). It’s true the metro signs only point people in the right direction, and won’t let them know when they’ve arrived at their destination.

  • This just goes along with the trend to make metro signage more place-specific (“Woodley Park-Adams Morgan,” “Gallery Place/Chinatown…). Hey, at least they didn’t change the station name to “Columbia Heights-Mt. Pleasant-Plains.”

  • Jim Graham: Worthless

    • Thanks for your comment. From it, I gather you have no idea what Jim Graham has done in his years on the council. Your comment is shallow and opportunistic. You’d be shocked to learn exactly how much of present-day Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, U Street, metro green & yellow lines, Pleasant Plains, Georgia Avenue, Adams Morgan and more that CM Graham has had a profound effect on since he was elected in 1998. Do you have any idea what these neighborhoods were like in 1998? Especially Columbia Heights and U Street?

      You’re either ignorant or you just like the cheap thrill of putting anonymous cheap shots on websites like this one. Congratulations.

      • While I think Jim Graham has done a lot for the city, I’d agree with LJ that this particular effort is time and money better spent on something else.

      • Maybe I should have been clear. I wasn’t saying Jim Graham hasn’t done anything good for the city (though, there are valid gripes some of his opponents are making about his deals with developers). I was specifically referencing the signs. Sorry for the confusion.

        • Thank you very much for clarifying – I can get kind of snitty when people toss out pithy unspecific criticisms of community leaders who, you have to admit, work very hard with the best of intentions. You’ve got a good point that every issue has two sides (or more) and graham is not blameless for some of the things that have gone wrong, or could have gone better.

          • What is the nature of your relationship with Council Member Graham? Full disclosure would be most appropriate here.

          • Response to Jack (this posting may be above his) – I voted for Graham in 1998 and 2002. I voted for CM Muriel Bowser in Ward 4, a few blocks north of the border between Ward 1 and Ward 4, in 2006. That is the extent of my relationship with Graham. That, plus sometimes (more often than not) he remembers my name when we run into each other on the street. Sometimes he calls me Mark.

          • Nope sorry, the comment came below Jack’s. Can I have a re-do?

          • How hard should one work for $126,000.00 a year?

      • saf

        Let’s see – he served on, and chaired, the metro board while never riding the system. He hired and supported Loza. He regularly proposes then withdraws silly legislation solely to brag that he has proposed such legislation.

        And you know damn well that the green and yellow line projects were in process long before he was elected.

        And yes, I lived in Ward 1 in the 80s, so I know what it was like, and have lived in Ward 4 since.

        • My point is not that he built the Metro. He was ward council member when the station at ColHts opened and when U Street had barely started to redevelop, and played a huge role in shaping how those neighborhoods developed after metro opened. Also, on the board while all of the vacant land owned by metro was made available for tax-generating, neighborhood-oriented, transit-oriented development. That is one very notable track record. Not without its bumps, but very influential in shaping how we live in Ward 1 and Ward 4 today.

          • Michael, I usually respect your opinion on … PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING! But I disagree with you about JG. Oh well.

      • I know, as an almost life-long Ward One resident, that he takes an awful lot of credit for stuff he had abso-smurf-ly nothing to do with. And doesn’t mind excluding residents who helped along the way, either. Different strokes for different folks, y’all… this isn’t his website. I respect your right to love him. Respect others right to differ in their opinion.

  • As a side note I’ve always felt that exiting a metro station was like playing pin the tail on the donkey. The design perversely shows you the most detailed maps in an area where you are blind to all other visual references, then walks you through a combination of tunnels, left/right turns, and escalators, before dumping you on the street. I’ve ridden metro my whole life and I’m still disoriented by every unfamiliar station exit.

    • I agree. A simple street map (just showing the streets adjacent to the station) would help a lot.

      • I think the best solution (which already is in place outside of tourist-area metro stops, like Chinatown) is to have signs (within relatively close proximity) at the top of the metro exits that provide street maps – having signs in the metro is nice, but when you are underground, you can’t look up and see the street names and landmarks that correspond to the map. I don’t know who funds the signs in Chinatown, but they should be adopted elsewhere.

    • i’ve had this issue in a lot of places around the world – arriving out of the subway tunnel, it’s not always easy to tell where you are, which direction you’re facing, etc.

      tokyo has the best solution for this that i’ve seen to date, and it would be excellent for other cities to adopt. at the top of the stairs of every metro exit, there is about a 1′ tile embedded in the sidewalk with a representation of a compass. helps a TON to figure out which way you should be walking when you get out.

      • They did a test run of that in NYC and the problem was that people would stop at the top of the stairs trying to figure out which way to go and back up traffic. I think they ripped them up……….

        However, I do agree having some type of directional assistance would be very helpful.

  • How much did this cost? I realize it’s only two signs (or one large, I can’t tell from the photo), but does Metro really have any spare change laying around to make largely useless changes like this?

  • Greetings,

    The July issue of the Pleasant Plains Neighborhood Network Newsletter can be downloaded at

  • Pleasant Plains? Isn’t that some place in Iowa?

  • This confused me as I had/still have no idea what or where Pleasant Plains is and I’ve lived here over a year.

    Coming out of an unknown metro station is a pain because you do not know which way you are facing. A simple sign saying “North” would work wonders… Even better would be a sign overhead the escalator with a depiction of the major streets. I always find myself walking 1/2 a block the wrong way and that sucks.

    • Pleasant Plains is the neighborhood you most likely thought was just “East Columbia Heights.” In the same way that you may say “hunh?” about a lot of neighborhoods and points of interest, perhaps in a few years it will become a well known reference point. It used to be!

  • i agree that northbound/southbound is pretty horrible, like you are going to hop off the escalator and drive right down the street. yeah, i know some people ride buses from the metro station, but it just seems weird to have pedestrian signs geared towards driving.

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