One argument against overhead wires is that they will ruin the views of Washington and mar wire-free places like the Mall and grand avenues.

But an eagle-eyed reader sent along this surprising picture:


Image from Google Street View. Click for interactive version.


A wire blocks the view of the Washington Monument!

The tipster adds that this wire has been here for a long time, but we simply didn’t notice it, just as the occasional streetcar wire will not constantly and painfully impinge upon our consciousness.

To be clear, I don’t support building a streetcar with overhead wires on the Mall. I don’t support wires on Pennsylvania Avenue either, with its dramatic views of the Capitol, or 16th Street, with its long views of the Washington Monument.

I simply believe that the vast majority of DC streetscapes will not be harmed by wires, and we should use batteries or supercapacitors on the few that are until technology has advanced far enough that streetcars can realiably run without wires and recharge at stations even with air conditioning or heat.

That wire is ugly, but it should be removed, not replicated. Edited to add: The even uglier thing, that blocks the view to a much greater extent, is the tour bus, not to mention the two roadways slicing the green space and making it difficult to walk between the Monument and the Tidal Basin.

David Alpert is the founder of Greater Greater Washington and its board president. He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle.