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In “Heart of Glass” (9/5), David Morton writes that Charles Goodman and Bob Davenport designed Hollin Hills “a little over 50 years ago” with “cul-de-sacs, a feature then considered so cutting-edge that Goodman and Davenport caught flak from the Federal Housing Administration for using them.”
That sounds like a suburban legend. Certainly, it is not true that cul-de-sacs were shocking in the early ’50s. They have been a feature of suburban and “garden-city” planning for more than a century. Cul-de-sacs were used in a section of Baltimore’s Roland Park neighborhood, which was plotted in 1905. The first cul-de-sac in D.C. was laid out in Cleveland Park in 1928, the same year that Radburn, N.J.whose design was extremely influentialwas organized around “superblocks” and cul-de-sacs. Near Hollin Hills in Fairfax County, the development of Virginia Hills featured cul-de-sacs. Its first residents arrived in 1951.
It’s telling that the author of “Heart of Glass” also wrote the Washington City Paper’s cover story on monorails, which was a transparent tissue of hype and half-truths. Perhaps someone at the paper should temper Morton’s fables with common sense. Or at least subject them to rudimentary fact-checking.