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Can You Walk from Crystal City to Reagan National? We Gave it a Try.

It took 23 minutes to go a third of a mile—but fear not! Maybe Amazon could help.
Photograph by Andrew Beaujon.

Reagan National airport is about 1,800 feet from Amazon’s new Crystal City headquarters—a proximity that surely helped the neighborhood lure the tech behemoth. But that’s not to say it’s an easy stroll: Train tracks, busy roads, and other obstacles separate a walker from DCA. Eventually, a pedestrian bridge could make the journey less fraught, but in the meantime, we gave one route a try.

2:25 PM The journey starts at Crystal City Water Park, which, with its Brutalist walls, feels both futuristic and out of date—perfect for Crystal City.

2:26 PM Feeling good. A curving walkway, fallen leaves swirling gently in the breeze. Why would anyone Uber when this lovely experience is available?

2:32 PM The path leads into the also-lovely Mount Vernon Trail. I’ve never been so relaxed while traveling to an airport. Who needs a pedestrian bridge?

2:39 PM Starting to get tired. I notice a turnoff marked “Washington National Airport.” Sorry, Ronald Reagan.

2:44 PM A long path toward a garage. Cars whiz by six feet to my left. Was this a good idea? Having doubts.

2:45 PM Made it safely to the outskirts of National. A somewhat neglected bike parking lot contains a number of bicycles in various stages of disintegration. There’s not another living human in sight. Is someone going to mistake me for a hijacker sneaking onto the premises?

2:48 PM I cross Parking Garage B/C, dodging cars. Suddenly I come upon what looks suspiciously like civilization: a glass-brick vestibule with an elevator entrance. Two floors later, I’m crossing into the airport. It’s taken me 23 minutes to go a third of a mile.

3:01 PM There’s no better way to celebrate the end of your walk to the airport than with a bottle of cold water from a terminal newsstand. Added bonus: Look at all those beautiful magazines!

3:46 PM After repeating my walk in reverse, I celebrate with a beer at Highline RxR. Total number of steps: 15,126. Chances any current traveler would actually make this journey: close to zero. My position on the idea of a pedestrian bridge: now unapologetically pro.

This article appears in the February 2019 issue of Washingtonian.

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Andrew Beaujon Washingtonian
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Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.