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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cady's Alley, Georgetown, District of Columbia

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Cady's Alley in Georgetown, District of Columbia, very easily could claim the title of being one of the prettiest alleys in America. The alley has almost always been relegated to purely utilitarian functions. Fact of the matter is that alleys too can inspire aesthetic delight.

Perhaps the reason for this high-quality design is an effort to promote Cady's Alley as Georgetown's Design District. The combination of locally-owned home furnishing and high-end antique stores have helped to set this area apart. These are now being complemented by national furnishing retailers hawking their own unique aesthetic.

This effect was accomplished through utilizing a number of strategies. Most notably this alley uses high-quality architectural surfaces from building edge to building edge. While there are buildings of varying scales from high one store buildings up to multiple story buildings these are well placed with respect to one another and create visual interest. Building surfaces in some areas pick up on paving materials used in other areas, such as the use of large stone blocks. Efforts are made to provide high quality signage and lighting throughout this area, though not of a uniform quality. Finally, using stone and concrete in the center with brick to either side, creates the sense of being on a track, and helps to pull people through the area.

Of course we would be remiss to not mention the visually gripping bicycle shop at the east entrance of Cady's Alley. Painted a bright yellow color with universally recognized symbol of bicycles painted upon it, there is not mistaking the purpose of the business. By standing out in the urban environment it helps to anchor the alley, and mark either the beginning or ending depending on the direct people are coming from.

Cady's Alley has such attractive power that there is a pedestrian walkway and entrance off of the heavily trafficked "M St NW" to the north.

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