WMATA Green Line

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WMATA Green Line train at Branch Avenue. Photo by Brian J. Cudahy, January 1998.


The Washington DC Metro Green Line has finally been completed; the last section opened on Saturday, January 13, 2001. This completes the Metro System as originally conceived. We shall begin our journey on the Green line at its northern end, which is serpentine all the way into the District. Nowhere else in the Metro system will you find so many curves.

Station By Station

Greenbelt. We start, appropriately enough, at Greenbelt. This station sits on an embankment and features a peaked-roof design and an island platform. It is located along the CSX railroad immediately south (inside) of the Capital Beltway (I-495) and east of Cherrywood Lane. The parking lot has direct access from southbound I-495 and has an exit to go north on I-495, which is great for commuters coming down from Baltimore and points in between. The parking lot is large, and has 3,358 total spaces. The Green line's tracks extend north from the station for a considerable distance, hinting at a possible future extension beyond. A service and repair facility is located just on the other side of the Beltway. Greenbelt station opened December 11, 1993.

College Park-U.of Md.. College Park-U.of Md (University of Maryland) station comes next. It is at ground level, and has an island platform with a peaked roof. The entrance is located at Calvert Road, alongside the CSX tracks. Part of the University of Maryland campus is adjacent; the main campus is about a half-mile west. As its name implies, this station is frequented by college students travelling to and from classes. There is also a parking facility adjacent, with 530 spaces. Nearby is the College Park Airport, which is America's first commercial airport facility. Just south of the station, the line goes over the CSX tracks via a flyover bridge, then they abruptly dive into a hillside, disappearing beneath Albion Road. College Park-U.of Md. station opened December 11, 1993.

Hyattsville Crossing (formerly named Prince George's Plaza). The Green line zig-zags through a stretch of tunnel beneath Albion Road, Queens Chapel Road and just south of East-West Highway before emerging into the Hyattsville Crossing station. This station, located just south of East-West Highway at Belcrest Road, is truly unique. It sits in an open cut, below street level, and features two side platforms. The cut's sides are sloped and terraced, and are landscaped with flowering trees, shrubs and bushes, A parking garage five levels high sits over the station's east end, forming a roof and canopy. Coffering and soundproofing panels can be seen in the ceiling above the platform, giving it a look similar to the underground stations, but with a squared pattern. Two escalators lead from the platforms to the station entrance. The parking garage holds 1,068 spaces. The tracks dive back underground as soon as the station platform ends, only to re-emerge about three-tenths of a mile west. This stretch of the Green line goes into and out of tunnels four times. This station opened December 11, 1993, and the name change took effect in September, 2022. (Photo captions have been updated to reflect the new name regardless of the date the photo was taken.)

West Hyattsville. After ducking into and out of tunnels twice, we arrive at the West Hyattsville station. This elevated station is located just west of Ager Road near the intersection of Queens Chapel Road. It sits a considerable distance back from the street. It features neither a peaked nor gull-wing roof; rather, a series of concrete bars link the roofs of the two side platforms. There is a full mezzanine below the platform's north end, where the exit is located. At this end of the station, the tracks veer off to the left and dive underground. At the opposite end of the platform, there is a 90-degree curve, after which the tracks once again plunge beneath the ground. This station was originally to be named "Chillum", after the neighborhood of the same name, but was later changed to its present name. West Hyattsville station opened December 11, 1993.

Fort Totten (lower level). The lower level platform at Fort Totten is also unique - it has the distinction of being the only station that is both out-of-doors AND underground. The east end, which connects to the Red Line above, has a modified gull-wing roof design; the west end, embedded in a hillside, is underground and has a modified Arch III design. In the island platform's center are columns supporting recessed lighting fixtures that shine up at the arched ceiling. Fort Totten station lower level opened December 11, 1993.

How the Green Line route was changed: Originally, the Green line was supposed to go under Gallatin Street NW as far as Kansas Avenue NW, then down Kansas Avenue NW to 13th Street NW and diagonally across the neighborhood to 14th Street NW. However, a change of route was forced by neighborhood activists, who went to court to force this change. Instead, the Green line is being built down New Hampshire Avenue NW, a less residential street, with a reverse curve down Park Road NW and into 14th Street NW. As a result, the Georgia Avenue-Petworth station will be closer to Mount Pleasant than to Petworth itself.

Georgia Avenue-Petworth. This station features an island platform and Arch II design, with a fully rounded ceiling vault and slightly deepened recesses. The exit pod is near the south end of the station. New-style ceiling lights, like those found at Glenmont on the Red Line have been installed, and the station name is found on the pylons near the escalators. Entrances are located on opposite corners (NE & NW) of the intersection of New Hampshire and Georgia Avenues NW, near Rock Creek Road. The station was originally planned to be further up Georgia Avenue, at Kansas Avenue, but was moved to this location to ease construction problems and neighborhood construction concerns. Georgia Avenue-Petworth opened September 18, 1999.

Columbia Heights. Station layout is similar to Georgia Avenue-Petworth, with an island platform and an Arch II ceiling; however, the vault is lower, broader and more oval-shaped, with shallower recesses, hinting at the notion that the station builders may have originally planned to create a waffle ceiling design. The platform itself is several feet wider than the one at Georgia Avenue-Petworth. Entrances are located on the northwest and southeast corners of 14th and Irving Streets NW, with the physical station location beneath 14th Street NW between Harvard Street NW and Irving Street NW. The pod is at the station's far north end, and the new-style fixtures found at Georgia Avenue-Petworth can also be found here. There is a very sharp (15MPH) curve just to the north, with the tracks leading first up Park Road NW then up New Hampshire Avenue NW. For a distance beneath Park Road NW, the tunnel has been double-decked to spare the demolition of nearby homes, stores, and a church. Grout and cement were pumped into the ground in this area to stabilize the soil and prevent groundwater seepage into the tunnels. In addition, this stretch of tunnel is almost fully illuminated along the first (and sharpest) curved stretch, ostensibly for safety reasons. There is almost no clearance along the catwalks in this area and train wheel noise is clearly evident at the station's north end. Columbia Heights opened September 18, 1999.

U Street-African American Civil War Memorial-Cardozo. This station was the former terminus for the south leg of the Green line; now it emerges as one of the more heavily-used stops along the route, thanks in part to the resurgence of the neighborhood and commercial strip above. This station was the last to be built with waffle architecture; the remaining underground stations all featuring the less-expensive Arch designs. There are 90-degree curves on either side of the station; there are also two entrances: one at 13th and U Streets NW, the other two blocks east between 10th and 11th Streets NW. As usual, there is an island platform. There is also an entrance pod at either end, leaving the center of the platform open. The "Cardozo" suffix was added at the last minute, and refers to the nearby Cardozo High School. The references to the Civil War Memorial were added in 1999. U Street-African American Civil War Memorial-Cardozo station opened May 11, 1991.

Shaw-Howard University. After a broad curve, the Green line arrives at Shaw-Howard University station, which was originally called simply "Shaw", in reference to the neighborhood's name. Howard University's campus is not quite as close as one would think; it is a long five blocks north. This station is one of the last to have waffle architecture; there is the obligatory island platform layout, with two entrances- one at 7th and S Streets NW, the other is one block west at the corner of 8th and R Streets NW. The station is physically located under 7th Street NW, between R and S Streets NW. Shaw-Howard University station opened May 11, 1991.

Mount Vernon Square-UDC-7th Street Convention Center. The next stop is Mount Vernon Square-UDC. Here, the WMATA Yellow Line makes its appearance. The station is located at 7th and M Streets NW, with the entrance at the southwest corner. The entrance pod is near the south end of the station. It is the first station to feature Arch II architecture and the platform is of the island variety. The Yellow line trains reverse directions on a third, center track just north of the station. Groundwater has penetrated the station's side walls and has caused considerable damage here. The main branch of the DC public library is located just south, in Mount Vernon Square, and a branch of the University of DC is nearby. This station was originally intended to be called "Federal City College", as it is with other stations, the name was changed. Mount Vernon Square-7th Street Convention Center opened May 11, 1991.

Gallery Place-Chinatown (lower level). The Green line's next stop is Gallery Place-Chinatown's lower level. The Green and WMATA Yellow Line trains use the lower level's island platform, which was built as part of the original system, but not opened until the rest of the 7th Street subway was completed. The lighting in the lower level is rather dim, similar to that at L'Enfant Plaza; and the station name placards are large, like those on the upper level, and they sit near the base of the station's walls. The upper level's entrance pod does not completely cover the lower level's platform - at the south end of the station the entire height of the vault is exposed, with the ceiling reaching a full fifty feet in height. It is a breathtaking space, unique in the system. High on the wall at the south end of the station is an artwork (details given below) which represents the Yellow Line. The main entrance to this platform is at 7th and H Streets NW, which is in the heart of Chinatown proper (Chinese gates and arches adorn the streets above); there is another entrance at 7th and G Streets NW and one more at 9th and G Streets NW for the Red line. Artwork at south end of Gallery Place-Chinatown station: First American Bank's Metro Art I - "Yellow Line" Assemblage/Collage created by Constance Fleres. Gallery Place-Chinatown lower level opened April 30, 1983.

Archives-Navy Memorial/Penn Quarter. Archives-Navy Memorial station is in the heart of downtown - the entrance is on the west side of 7th Street NW, between Pennsylvania Avenue NW and Indiana Avenue NW. It features an island platform and the standard waffle architecture. It is also one of the more popular stops along the Green line - especially for tourists. The FBI building is nearby, so is Ford's Theatre, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Archives, from which the station gets its name. The "Navy Memorial" suffix was added after the fact; the original name was to be simply "Archives". The entrance pod is at the station's north end and the escalator rise is shorter than most. In the corridor leading to the escalator can be seen a marble relief artwork depicting a submarine surfacing, as well as poetry with nautical/naval themes engraved in the walls. Archives-Navy Memorial station opened April 30, 1983.

L'Enfant Plaza (upper level). L'Enfant Plaza's upper level can get very busy - this is a transfer point to the WMATA Blue Line and WMATA Orange Line lines on the lower level. It is also the main jumping-off point for folks going to National Airport. Constructed as part of the original Blue and Orange route, this station was left unused for several years, serving only a passageway to the station's north exit. Finally put to use in 1983, it quickly became a popular transfer point. It resembles Metro Center in terms of design, with the junction between the two vaults almost at the south end of the station. It does, however, make for a spectacular view from the entrance pod at the north end, or simply standing on the platform where the two subways cross. Major hotels are all around, along with shopping, theatres and some of the Mall attractions - the Hirshhorn Gallery and the National Air and Space Museum are both nearby. L'Enfant Plaza (upper level) opened April 30, 1983.

Waterfront-SEU. The Waterfront station is the main station in residential Southwest Washington. It is located beneath M Street SW, with an exit at 4th and M Streets SW. The "SEU" refers to Southeastern University, which is somewhere in the area; it was added in 1997. There is an island platform with waffle architecture; the vault is a bit lower and slightly flattened, similar to that at Union Station. The entrance pod is near the station's center; there is a 90-degree curve just to the west, where the line swings up 7th Street SW. Waterfront-SEU station opened December 28, 1991.

Navy Yard. Navy Yard station has two entrances along M Street SE - one at Half Street SE, the other at New Jersey Avenue SE. This island-platform station features a waffle design with a higher vault than that at Waterfront. There is an entrance pod at either end. The station takes its name from the Washington Navy Yard, which is located about four blocks to the east along M Street SE. Just to the east, the tunnel takes a 55-degree curve and plunges into a tunnel beneath the Anacostia River, which was built nearly 20 feet below the river bed utilizing a TBM (tunnel boring machine; the first job of its kind in the USA). Navy Yard station opened December 28, 1991.

Anacostia. This former terminus of the Green line is here at Anacostia, on the other side of the Anacostia River, near the intersection of Howard Road SE and Shannon Place SE. This is the first station serving the Southeast community (Capitol Heights, three miles northeast, is on the border of the two district divisions). For all intents and purposes, it is an underground station, but there is a difference - there's a building sitting on top of it. If this building were removed, the station would be in an open cut. The aforementioned building houses the station entrances and parking garage, which has 808 all-day spaces plus 325 metered spots. There is a station entrance at either end of the island platform. The walls of the station are not vaulted - they have a simple, smooth concrete finish. The ceiling is unique - round vaults run perpendicular to the tracks, and the effect is as if you had cut concrete pipes in half and set them into the ceiling. The vaults are also lined with acoustic panels. This station had to circumvent a number of difficulties associated with its location and construction - a couple of local roads, a freeway and the water table of the Anacostia River - a very complex planning and construction job was accomplished here. Anacostia station opened December 28, 1991.

Congress Heights. Located at Alabama Avenue SE at 13th Street SE, this underground station features the island platform and Arch II architecture found at Georgia Avenue-Petworth. There is a small bus island and dropoff area but no day parking. The entrance pod is at the south end of the station and the station platform itself extends partly under the grounds of St. Elizabeth's Hospital. There are station entrances on both sides of Alabama Avenue SE. Congress Heights station opened January 13, 2001.

Southern Avenue. This station is located in a shallow open cut which appears to have been carved out of a hillside. It features an island platform and a peaked roof set in a concrete canopy, similar to the station at Springfield-Franconia. The entrance is along the south side of Southern Avenue SE near 23rd Parkway. A parking garage and lot adjacent to the station contains 1,980 spaces. Southern Avenue station opened January 13, 2001.

Naylor Road. This is an elevated station and is located in the triangle formed by Naylor Road, Suitland Parkway and Branch Avenue. It features an island platform with a modified peaked-roof design; There are bridges on both sides of the station made out of concrete. This station won an award presented by the Portland Cement Association for the excellent use of concrete. There is a diamond crossover south of the station. The mezzanine is below the center of the platform. A small parking facility contains 368 spaces. Naylor Road station opened January 13, 2001.

Suitland. This station is located at Suitland Parkway, just west of Silver Hill Road. It was to be a ground-level station but apparently has been set just below grade, giving it the impression of being in a very shallow open cut. It has an island platform with a structure above it, similar to Springfield-Franconia, with a peaked skylight in its roof. The parking facility contains 1,890 spaces. Suitland station opened January 13, 2001.

Branch Avenue. The southern terminus of the Green Line, this station is set in shallow open cut. It is located north of Branch Ave. near the intersection of Old Soper Road and Auth Way. It features a design similar to Suitland, with a structure over the platform area. Again, there is a peaked skylight in the top of the structure. A parking facility (combined lot/garage) contains a total of 3,072 spaces. An inspection and maintenance facility has been built nearby; in an unusual change of direction, the tracks make a U-turn to reach it. Branch Avenue station opened January 13, 2001.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 21014

(70k, 748x498)
Photo by: Wayne Whitehorne
Location: Archives-Navy Memorial

Image 21175

(58k, 500x743)
Photo by: Wayne Whitehorne
Location: Fort Totten

Image 21211

(98k, 741x498)
Photo by: Wayne Whitehorne
Location: West Hyattsville

Image 130365

(371k, 1044x700)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: Archives-Navy Memorial

Image 130390

(376k, 1044x700)
Photo by: David Pirmann
Location: U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101-145

Photos By Location

Photo locations: Greenbelt Shops, Greenbelt, Berwyn Road Overpass, College Park-U.of Md., Hyattsville Crossing (Prince George's Plaza), West Hyattsville, Portal nr. W. Hyattsville-Green Line, Fort Totten, Georgia Avenue-Petworth, Columbia Heights, U Street/African-American Civil War Memorial/Cardozo, Shaw-Howard University, Mt Vernon Sq-UDC, Gallery Place-Chinatown, Archives-Navy Memorial, L'Enfant Plaza, Waterfront, Navy Yard-Ballpark, Anacostia, Congress Heights, Southern Avenue, Naylor Road, Suitland, Branch Avenue

Page Credits

By Wayne Whitehorne.

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