410,000 people enter Washington, DC each weekday (as of 2005), the second-largest increase of any American city. But if you walk around large parts of downtown in the middle of the day, you might not think so. So many buildings face inward, with their public spaces in central courtyards cut off from the fabric of the city, feeding their workers in indoor cafeterias, leaving the streets and public squares (such as the park around the northwest entrance to Judicary Square) remarkably desolate. Even the new condos along Massachusetts Avenue have car-oriented driveway loops but no stores or restaurants facing the sidewalks. Is this really city living?

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). 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. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.