Saturday, April 27, 2013

X is for...

This was, by far, the most difficult post of the month for me.  There just aren't that many x-things in D.C. (at least none that are appropriate for my blog, know what I'm saying?), so I struggled with what to discuss today.

I decided the easiest thing would be to talk about what isn't there.

I think the best place to start is by reviewing the overall map of D.C. The streets are laid out in a grid, and we have letter streets running east-west while numbered streets run north-south.  State streets run diagonally.

Pierre L'Enfant
You may notice there is something missing in terms of letter streets--there is no X Street (there's no J, Y or Z street either, but that's beside the point).  Why are we missing an X Street?

The likeliest answer posits that when Pierre L'Enfant was designing the city, he didn't want to include an X Street because X was a common symbol for Christ.  We'll never know if that's the real reason, but it certainly sounds plausible to me.

With that in mind, let us turn our attention to the National Christmas Tree (or X-Mas Tree, if you like).

Located in the Ellipse, the tree is decorated to the nines every year, along with additional, smaller trees for each of the 50 states.  It's quite a display, and the pictures don't really do it justice.

Here it is in 2011...
And here it is in 2012.
As you can see from the pictures, the tree is decorated differently every year, so even if you've seen it before, it's worth going back!

14 comments:

  1. Great play on words. X marks the spots on all the tourist maps too.

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  2. Interesting! I hadn't thought about that one.

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  3. X is a toughie (I cheated!) The 'Xmas' tree looks amazing; I bet it's quite a sight!
    angelinetrevena.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. It's beautiful in person--definitely worth seeing.

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  4. The tree works. I always made a trip to see the tree when I lived near DC.

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  5. Considering there's no Y or Z streets either, it sounds more like they just ran out of streets. What's much more interesting is why there's no J. Discrimination! J lovers unite! lol

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    1. I think because J can look a lot like I depending on the typeface... Either that, or it's a grand plot against the letter J :)

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  6. Interesting that they used every letter of the alphabet other than J, X, Y and Z. Mind you, I'm not a huge fan of letter/number systems for naming streets, even though it does make it simpler to find things. I prefer numbers and names. That way we get the opportunity to marvel at names like Farfrompoopen Road and Engine Fold Lane. ;)

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  7. Great catch! X is a hard letter, but you handled it well. :)

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