Since January, 2003
 Sliding from Before to After

Michael Stevens, the executive director of the Capitol Riverfront Business Improvement District, has sent a letter to the mayor, the city council, the WMATA board and other city officials, formally requesting that the Navy Yard station on Metro's Green Line be renamed " Capitol Riverfront/" (aka Curly W, for Nationals Park).
With Metro letting it be known this week that any new station names will have to be 19 characters or less thanks to the transit agency's decision to begin enforcing their own naming rules again, the BID's earlier desire to add their name and the Nationals' logo to the existing station name would not be allowed. Therefore, in order to get Capitol Riverfront added, the BID feels that "Navy Yard" can be, well, shipped out to sea.
Stevens' letter says that "the name Navy Yard station has served this area well for approximately 20 years and was very descriptive 20 years ago when the federal government owned the majority of the land up to the metro station." But the letter also says that Navy Yard "no longer accurately describes the neighborhood and destinations served" by the station.
The letter goes on to describe the changing demographics of the area since the station opened in 1991, makes mention of the fact that Capitol Riverfront is "an established office submarket recognized and named by Co-Star," and notes that "the entrance to the Navy Yard is located at 6th St., SE and M St., SE, which is approximately a half mile away and a twelve minute walk from the metro."
In explaining how the name change meets WMATA's stated principle that a new name incorporate "customer input," the letter describes the "coalition of public and private stakeholders [who] conducted a study and provided input that led to the development of the Capitol Riverfront name for the neighborhood," back in 2007.
DC and the other jurisdictions are supposed to come up with any new station names by September in order to make the new June 2012 map that Metro will be preparing to coincide with the plans to realign the Yellow and Blue lines; the Examiner wrote earlier this week about the plans to shorten 11 of the more lengthy station names.
Greater Greater Washington also wrote recently on the plans to shorten names, and in describing the focus groups that WMATA conducted on current and proposed station names, said: "The participants did like two potential station name changes: 'Smithsonian-National Mall' and adding some information about the Nationals to Navy Yard, whether a curly W logo or the words 'Ballpark' or 'Nationals.' They didn't like also adding 'Capitol Riverfront,' the name of the BID."
The Navy Yard was established in 1799; from World War I until 1963, the Navy Yard's acreage included the land south of M and east of 1st, in what then became the Southeast Federal Center and is now The Yards. The neighborhood directly around the Navy Yard has also been known as "Navy Yard," with "the near Southeast" starting to be used in 1960s if the Washington Post's archives are an accurate guide. (I have always avoided the "Navy Yard" moniker for the neighborhood so as not to have to spend every day of my life saying "No, not in the Navy Yard, near the Navy Yard.")
Comments (19)
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Chris says: (7/26/11 7:47 PM)
To quote my mother when she was visiting DC: "Why do so many people here wear Walgreens hats?"

A single "W"-even in logo font-is just not useful as a subway station name.

My vote (not that I have a vote) would be Navy Yard-Ballpark.

FourthandEye says: (7/26/11 8:07 PM)
Too many people get caught up in wanting the Metro map to brand their neighborhood. This isn't 20 years ago where people had to call the restaurant or use paper maps to figure out directions to where they want to go. Just about anyone with a smart phone or computer access can invest a couple of minutes before their trip to use the internet to figure out where they need to go.

I think Navy Yard-Ballpark still is suitable. I also don't think Capitol Riverfront is destined to take off. More visitors will probably call the neighborhood "The Yards" than Capitol Riverfront after that development matures...

Michael says: (7/26/11 9:49 PM)
The BID doesn't speak for all of us, or any of us, as it's not a representative body of the Navy Yard's residents.

Save the Navy Yard; I'll be writing those same government bodies to stop these bland focus-group name machinations...

contemna says: (7/26/11 10:41 PM)
N.B. I don't care much about the ballpark or for it.
I really dislike cutesy branding for a private business going on public signage and therefore claiming the neighborhood identity. Why don't we just call it the Booz Allen Hamilton station, Akridge Downs; or for parity, rename Chinatown/Gallery Place to Verizon Center Station?
Capitol Riverfront would easily get confused with Waterfront and SW.

Navy Yard has a sense of history and function, while still being descriptive.

lester says: (7/27/11 7:30 AM)
I agree with most of the other comments. I think Capitol Riverfront as a name for the metro stop is very confusing, seeing how it really isn't particularly close to the Capitol Building (about 0.9 miles away). I could also see tourists getting it confused with other riverfront areas (like Georgetown, especially since there isn't a Georgetown stop). Heck, the metro stop itself isn't even that close to the waterfront really.

Now, if the BID could start doing what it's supposed to do, and focus on drawing in businesses, we'd be on to something.


MJM says: (7/27/11 9:51 AM)
Well the BID might represent you more than you think (yo pay a BID tax to support them and they in turn support you). For one, I don't live in the Navy Yard. Try a little experiment when talking to people where you live. Tell them Navy Yard and see what kind of reaction you get - for me its been why do you live there, that is a scary area. Or try I live in the Cap Riverfront - oh where's that? Its the new neighborhood near the new baseball stadium or its near/along the river in Near-SE. The latter gets a lot better response than the Navy Yard. Maybe if we had a name for the neighborhood (e.g. Cap Riverfront) the name might take off. The area where we live is not the Navy Yard - you can't see the Navy Yard from the metro. I can see why the BID is pushing it, partly to remove the stigma of the Navy Yard and what was associated with the Navy Yard (not the actually Navy Yard but the area around the Navy Yard).

The metro is closer to the river than the Navy Yard.

G Street says: (7/27/11 10:19 AM)
There is no river near the Capitol – except the river of red ink.

It’s like those realtors who advertise a house near RFK as *Capitol Hill*. It is? What part? Oh, that’s right, the bottom of the hill.

When I think of Riverfront, I think of old Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati. (Now Cinergy Field?)

Agree w/ the smart JD posters here – Navy Yards-Ballpark. (19 characters)

Daedam says: (7/27/11 10:30 AM)
I would advocate changing the name to Near Southeast. In the two years I've lived in the neighborhood, that name has resonated the most with me and seems most descriptive. While I have no problem with the name of the BID, I don't think it is a great name for a neighborhood.

It might seem trivial on the surface, but changing the station name from Navy Yard to Capitol Riverfront makes it much more difficult to articulate, as it doubles the number of syllables. This is important because short, simple names make giving directions easier and would seem to be more likely to catch on in common speech. Similarly, most of the downtown stations (excluding Federal Center SW, Federal Triangle, and Judiciary Square, none of which are really residential neighborhoods) are four syllables or less. If Navy Yard is to be changed, something like Near Southeast would at least be just as easy to say and would be more descriptive than a newly-manufactured marketing name. When I'm describing where I live to others, I'd say I use either Near Southeast and Navy Yard 98% of the time, depending on if my audience is more familiar with the city or the Metro. I very rarely describe the neighborhood as Capitol Riverfront, not only because it is a mouthful, but because the name has no meaning to most people. I also agree with points about it being confusing or misleading to those not familiar with the area.

Finally, is there any reason the curly W has to actually be part of the station name, and not just added to the map and/or to wayfinding signage?

Daedam says: (7/27/11 10:33 AM)
To clarify, I meant that I advocate changing the name to Near Southeast IF it has to be something other than Navy Yard. I would be perfectly content if the name remained Navy Yard. Navy Yard-Ballpark isn't a terrible option either, but perhaps the Ballpark part could be one of the soon-to-be-introduced station subtitles.

JD says: (7/27/11 10:35 AM)
And, for an interesting side-question:

How likely do we think it is that WMATA will remove an original station name? I'm pretty sure that's never happened. At the least, it would make years and years and years of documents and products totally outdated. (Plenty of original names have been added onto, of course, but you can still figure out what station is being referred to in past documentation.)

Terry says: (7/27/11 11:04 AM)
Using Mr. Steven's logic that the Navy Yard gate is so far away from the Metro station invalidates using Capitol since it is even farther away. I think the improvements of the neighborhood have been erasing the stigma of the term "Navy Yard" and that is something to be proud of. I vote for Navy Yard-Ballpark.

Eric says: (7/27/11 11:54 AM)
I like near SE as a term to use when talking, but not as a station name.

Keep it up Navy Yard. Maybe change it to Navy Yard (W) or Navy Yard/Ballpark.

Capitol Riverfront sounds nice and generic, but that's precisely what's wrong with it. Navy Yard also gives a bit of historical credit.

SML says: (7/27/11 3:33 PM)
Navy Yard-Ballpark


Near SE


Michael says: (7/27/11 4:58 PM)
Agreed with most comments here. I've already sent letters to the WAMATA board, Councilman Wells, my ANC, and several other officials to stop this name change that would eliminate Navy Yard and the concomitant history attached to that name.

@MJM - That would be taxation without representation... But seriously, the BID is interested in serving local corporate interests and only indirectly the "residents."

Navy Yard-Ballpark seems like the best option to me...

Sophia Monster says: (7/28/11 10:43 AM)
How about Station of the Depend Adult Undergarment? Too long?

rdotis says: (7/28/11 5:47 PM)
Stick with something that gives Metro riders a clear indication of the station's location and what's nearby - especially since Metro's maps are visually vague in pinpointing a station's actual location.

Navy Yard and Ball Park are hard to confuse with some other part of town and give a clear indication of the station's location and what's presumably within walking distance.

Near Southeast is too large an area and could be any number of different locations if you don't have a history with the area.

Capitol Riverfront (or anything with Riverfront but without some combination of Navy Yard or Ball Park) could be any of several stations near the Potomac or Anacostia Rivers. Perhaps someday the name of a commercial development will become synonymous with that part of town (just as Land Mark Mall in VA describes the area around it), but people from out of town won't have that knowledge.

4thStreetTunnel says: (8/1/11 9:51 PM)
The Navy and its contractors are the largest employer in the neighborhood, the largest contributor to neighborhood traffic on non-game days, and the largest contributor to the neighborhood's history. Are Michael Stevens and the BID so ashamed of our men and women in uniform who live and work here that they don't want them associated with their neighborhood?

Apollo says: (8/2/11 9:14 AM)
Go Navy!!! I have read that this is the first and therefore oldest port for the US Navy. Also, the grounds and museum hold one of the finest and largest collections of Navy History in the US. People from all over the country (world) visit here with one of their primary intentions being to visit the Washington Navy Museum. I say keep it like it is.

Ben in SE says: (8/2/11 10:05 AM)
What's in a name? Well, quite a lot, actually. Based on my experience in Washington, the vast majority of people do not associate the Navy Yard name with the rich history of the Navy Yard or the continuing positive contributions to the area by the Navy (and other armed services). Instead, and to the extent they associate it with anything at all and don't give me a blank stare like I told them I live by the [insert something no one has ever heard of], most people associate Navy Yard with the crime and decay that until recently plagued the area. Most people's Navy Yard is the area that was chronicled in that absurd report a while back that said our little piece of SE was the most dangerous place in DC. If we hope to break free from that past and focus instead on the neighborhood's bright future, a break from the Navy Yard name might be a necessary step in that direction.

While I'm not all that wild about the proposed name (I've never really warmed to Capitol Riverfont), I would prefer it to a name that has lost all sense of its true meaning and no longer defines this area.

And contrary to a recent assertion, I see no evidence to suggest that this name change is driven by shame in our men and women in uniform. Personally, I would have no tolerance for such an action--a feeling I am sure I share with the vast majority of my neighbors. Go Navy, indeed!

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