I’m in Washington for Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network-related reasons, and snapped this photo as I got in late last night from Philadelphia on Amtrak.

The Metro system is unlikely anything else I’ve seen, such a great example of architectural brutalism that’s somehow not appalling in the way that brutalism, by its nature, tends to be. The dimly lit stations feel elegant rather than dismal, thanks to the contrast of the vaulted ceilings and truly monumental scale of things like the exit stairs at stations like Woodley Park:

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For all of its problems and the complaints of Washingtonians, Metro offers something that basically no other system in the country does: a sense of coherence and consistency and maybe even beauty in its stations. All of this makes travel feel energizing, rather than enervating in the way systems too often do. It shows that there can be a certain beauty in public works, even in a capitalistic society.

Los Angeles does a pretty great job, too, if only because it seems so few use it.