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Just a Roundup of Some Truly Cursed DC Places

Because everything is awful, so why not celebrate it!

Photo by Tom Bridge from Flickr Creative Commons

As the dumpster fire that is the world burns hotter and hotter (both figuratively and literally, thanks global warming!) it’s become increasingly difficult to find things to celebrate. Genius Twitter user Layla Dhere decided to turn into the skid and show some love to the most awful places in the District.

“Why isn’t there a prompt about the most cursed places in Washington DC?” she tweeted. Her picks: “The Air and Space Museum, Chop’t (any of them), the Metro Red Line,” and “that one gas station in Georgetown that’s like $10/gallon.”

Her tweet blew up, prompting hundreds of Washingtonians to share their favorite cursed DC locales. We rounded up and ranked some of our favorite responses.

The Red Line

When I described the world as a dumpster fire I was speaking metaphorically. In describing the Red Line as a dumpster fire, there’s a good chance at any given time I’m speaking literally. The Red Line has a penchant for the dramatic and just LOVES to have its tracks burst into flames, with its probability for spontaneous combustion rising proportionately with the level of importance of you arriving anywhere on time. Will there be breathing room (let alone an open seat) on any car? Never. Will there be seemingly unnecessary delay-inducing construction projects? Always. Cursedness Score: 6/10 

Woodley Park/Dupont Escalator

While we’re on the topic of the Red Line, let’s talk about the too-long escalators at the Woodley Park and Dupont stops that make it feel like you’re descending into hell. Which, you kind of are, since you’re about to board the Red Line. Many a high-heels-wearer has cautiously boarded these Dantean monstrosities, trying to swallow back the too-real visions of a slight misstep that could send one careening to their death. Death is also possible as a result of any attempt to walk up these passageways, which has been known to trigger heart failure. Cursedness Score: 5/10

The Bathroom at Dan’s Cafe

It’s been well-proven Covid-19 originated in China, but this lavatory would be a fair second guess. If you enjoy feeling like everyone can hear your business while you’re desperately trying to hit the mark in an impossibly small, impossibly sticky closet of a loo (all while deeply inebriated from the liquor your friend squeezed out of a plastic ketchup bottle into your plastered maw), then this one’s for you! Cursedness Score: 9/10

Gate 35X

Our own Jessica Sidman did a great explainer of the DCA gate from hell, which she described as “an inhumane cattle-herding pen with an escalator that takes you to a bus terminal that takes you to your remotely parked airplane.” “Even DCA itself calls 35X “infamously congested” with 6,000 passengers making their way through each day,” she wrote. Sadly, 35X is one of the casualties of National’s latest facelift, so it’s cursedness will live on only in the memories of those it scarred. Cursedness Score: 8/10

Rock N’ Roll Burger King

The only publicly-accessible Burger King in the District, this homage to the ’80s and ’90s had to battle a NIMBY lawsuit that went all the way to the DC Court of Appeals to assert its right to properly curse Van Ness. Enter and be amazed by the shrine to “Jaws,” the inexplicable life-size recreations of the children from “E.T.” suspended from the ceiling, and the general proliferation of neon. Note: In late January, the owner said he planned to give the establishment a distinctly non-cursed makeover. The Rock N’ Roll Burger King did not respond for comment. Cursedness Score: 7/10

Recessions

Mere words cannot accurately describe the awfulness of this subterranean hellhole, but I shall do my best. Built below a hotel in the Golden Triangle area (which is already cursed for not being a real thing), this bar’s interior designers combined the parquet flooring from your suburban childhood dance studio, the low-hung ceilings from your grandparent’s basement, and the faux-stone walls from your nouveau-riche neighbor’s McMansion to create a space worthy of Satan himself. Add in the fact that the whole place reeks of chlorine (from the hotel pool?) and you’ll understand why you can get a stein of beer the size of your torso for $5. Cursedness Score: 8/10

Dupont “Soviet” Safeway

If you enjoy obtaining food and other goods when you go grocery shopping, you will likely find the experience at Dupont Circle’s “Soviet” Safeway leaves something to be desired. Frequenters of this cursed locale were probably the most prepared to handle Covid-related shortages, as they have been throwing ‘bows for the last package of toilet paper for years. Don’t worry, just because the shelves are empty doesn’t mean the checkout lines are. After all, who doesn’t want to wait 45 minutes to purchase only half the items they came for. Cursedness Score: 6/10

Dave Thomas Circle i.e. Cursed Wendy’s

As if we could forget the cursedness GOAT. Let us begin with Dave Thomas Circle itself, which is actually in the shape of a triangle. Cursed. This “traffic circle” is a seven car pile-up waiting to happen: New York Ave. has SIX lanes, and in a truly cursed paradox drivers must make three turns to continue on Florida Ave. eastbound. In the center of this lawsuit-bait of urban planning sits the most inaccessible Wendy’s in the entire world. To attempt to enter the grounds of the establishment by foot or vehicle is to open yourself up to the possibility of sudden death. Though, we’re told the adrenaline makes the frosties taste sweeter. Cursedness Score: 11/10, I am weeping at the level of cursedness

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Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.