Best Suburban Fake Downtown
At some point when no one was looking, the great American suburbs morphed from being the land of the shopping mall to being the land of the Seinfeld stage-set: From Rockville to Reston to that stretch of Friendship Heights just across Western Avenue, suburban commerce now unfolds on prosperous sidewalks in front of pricey boutiques—a Hollywood back-lot version of an urban downtown. And, naturally, Bethesda leads the pack in sidewalkiness, with block after block of uncommonly clean urbanism: Taylor Gourmet, Sweetgreen, the Apple Store. Is there a real urban neighborhood that can top its commercial possibilities? And with off-street parking, too? Of course, citified Bethesda faces a longer-term threat. No, silly, not homeless people! We’re talking about Tysons Corner, where planners envision an entire sidewalk-oriented city will rise in place of highway dreck, abetted by multiple subway stops.