Dupont Circle Mystery

10 06 2009

If you’re like me, and you’ve frequently walked around Dupont Circle, you’ve probably seen a few large metal grates that stick out a foot or so above the ground. There are maybe three entrances to this underground plaza; one at Massachusetts Avenue, one at Connecticut Avenue, and another at 19th Street.  I’ve heard that these are boarded up, old Metro escalators, or other such stairways down to the Metro. I somehow thought I remembered these at one time being open to the public in my early days as a Washingtonian, sometime under the age of 10. When I asked my dad about these mysterious closed over entrances, I got a completely different story.

Apparently way back before my parents moved to Washington, D.C., before I was born, these closed up grates were entrances to an underground tunnel under Dupont Circle, on the same ground as the Metro. This was no ordinary secret passage tunnel way, as it was created for the purpose of retail shopping. It was going to be an underground mall such as the one at Union Station. This idea was abandoned however, when not enough store areas were being filled. Apparently, there was enough shopping above ground, and as more retail was moving to the suburbs and outer areas of the city, people didn’t see it necessary to create more shopping below ground.

Another disregarded proposal for this underground plaza was to make it into a homeless shelter. However, as in the previous scenario, this too, did not get past the draft stages.

So that was all back in the late 1970s to early 1980’s or so. The plans were all deserted, the entrances were all sealed, and everyone went about their business like nothing ever happened. I doubt there are plans in the future to re-open the gates and remodel the empty, underground space.




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