Silver Chips Online

A balance needed between old and new

Silver Spring too corporate for comfort

By Meaghan Mallari, Online Managing Editor
July 31, 2005
Bright lights, sidewalk music and the coming and going of hundreds of people everyday are the new Downtown Silver Spring. Over the past few years, in an effort fueled by the hard work of Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan, Silver Spring's old buildings, crime and trash have been systematically replaced with bright colors, music, a multiplex movie theater and chain food stores.

While Silver Spring is trying to keep up with the rapid commercial growth of other cities, such as Bethesda and Adam's Morgan, residents should attempt to keep their town's uniqueness alive. Eating out at chain restaurants once in a while, when in a hurry or on a budget, is fine. Going to the multiplex on occasion is fine, too. However, people still need to make an effort to bypass the glamour and head into the older and more charming parts of Silver Spring.

Unfortunately, most people have forgotten that the old Silver Spring still exists. Behind the surreal and brightly colored Ellsworth Drive, there still exist the old restaurants that have operated in the town for years and years, such as Vicino Ristorante Italiano, Thai Derm, Kefa Cafe and Mi Rancho. The old bookstores, such as Silver Spring Books, still remain, but are forgotten now that Borders has moved in.

It's hard, in a developing county, not to build up small old cities into booming, industrial people-magnets. For teens, Downtown Silver Spring has become a safe place to meet friends, sit around and entertain themselves. The once forgotten town center has been turned into the quintessential "hangout" spot for many teens, young adults and families. Potbelly's is now a popular restaurant for teens to grab a quick sandwich before crossing Ellsworth Drive and heading into the Majestic to see the newest movies. Borders has also become a calm area for adults and teens to listen to music and read books.

After exams, Blair students can be found squeezing themselves onto Ride-On buses heading into Downtown Silver Spring where they meet up with other groups to celebrate the end of that day's exams.

But despite the great attractions of this new development, many question: what happened to the Silver Spring we used to know, the quirky, diverse and artsy Silver Spring that was comprised of family run restaurants and small shops? According to The Washington Post, politicians such as County Council member Tom Perez (D-Silver Spring) and Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery) oppose the "revitalization" of Downtown Silver Spring. Gutierrez even labels Silver Spring as a "junior Bethesda," commenting on the chain restaurants and the massive corporate growth in the area.

For adults who grew up in Silver Spring, the change has come with certain sacrifices. Some have learned to adapt to the growth of the city, while others still make every effort to visit the lesser known restaurants around the corner from the nightlife of Ellsworth Drive.

An effort must be made by residents and visitors to curb the growing commercialism within Downtown Silver Spring, lest we forget the small businesses and family restaurants we know and love.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/5529