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Morning Notes

Dave Grohl Rocks Local Studio — “Dave Grohl doesn’t seem terribly interested in taking a day off. Shortly after the 9:30 Club announced the Grohl-led Foo Fighters would play a surprise show Thursday, the former Nirvana drummer reunited with D.C.-based punk rockers, at Inner Ear Studio — the legendary and soon-to-close Arlington, Virginia, recording studio owned by Don Zientara.” [WTOP]

Fmr. Fire Chief on Arlington’s 9/11 Response — “‘It was truly an all-hands-on-deck endeavor,’ Schwartz said at the historical society’s annual banquet, held Sept. 9 at Washington Golf & Country Club. ‘We’re all in this together. There’s not a single agency or even a single jurisdiction that can handle this by themselves.’ Schwartz pointed to the county’s then-fire chief, Edward Plaugher, for his work building relationships with agencies like the FBI. Plaugher ‘was ahead of his time’ in being concerned about terrorism.” [Sun Gazette]

Night Paving at Busy Intersection — “Nighttime paving continues overnight this week at the Langston Boulevard (Lee Highway)-Glebe Road intersection improvements project… lasting into Friday, Sept. 17.” [Twitter]

Nicecream Hits Rocky Road — Nicecream, the handcrafted ice cream shop that expanded after finding success with its first location in Clarendon, is closing its Shaw store in the District. [PoPville]

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Morning Notes

Tower of Light Returns — From Dave Statter: “The Tower of Light at the Pentagon began tonight & continues through September 12 in honor of those killed when the United States was attacked 20 years ago Saturday.” [Twitter, Fox 5]

Road Closures for Memorial 5K — “The Arlington Police, Fire, Sheriff and ECC Memorial 9/11 Memorial 5k race will take place on the evening of Saturday, September 11, 2021. The Arlington County Police Department will close the following roadways around the Pentagon and in Crystal City to accommodate the event.” [ACPD]

Some Boundary Adjustments Coming — “Arlington’s public-school leadership has so much on its return-to-classrooms plate already – ya think? – that a massive boundary-adjustment process is just not in the cards for now. School officials are planning for ‘only those adjustments that must be done,’ said Lisa Stengle, the school system’s executive director of planning and evaluation, during an Aug. 26 briefing to School Board members.” [Sun Gazette]

Feds Add Rep from Arlington to Metro BoardUpdated at 9 a.m. — A new alternate Metro Board member from Arlington was sworn in yesterday. Assistant County Manager & Director of Communications and Public Engagement Bryna Helfer is a federal appointee to the Board. Helfer previously worked for the U.S. Dept. of Transportation. [U.S. Dept. of Transportation, Twitter]

Biz Booming for Local Tattoo Shop — “As more Americans resolve to change their lives after a tumultuous year and a half, many are choosing to get tattoos: D.C.-area tattoo-shop owners are reporting a boom in business, even though the pandemic all but shuttered other industries. Inside Lady Octopus, in Arlington, Virginia, artist Gilda Acosta shades in a touch of light green on the leaves of a primrose. Client Meg Little, of Alexandria, booked this appointment seven months ago.” [WTOP]

Higher Ed Booms With Amazon Arrival — “With the arrival of Amazon and a proliferation of other tech companies in fields ranging from big data to cybersecurity, candidates like Bhatia are in high demand. The problem is, there aren’t enough to go around. Universities are trying to change that, and in the process, sparking an academic explosion in and around Arlington… Virginia Tech, Mason and the University of Maryland are preparing to open gleaming new facilities here.” [Arlington Magazine]

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Ceremonies and events will be held in Arlington this weekend to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Saturday.

The events will pay tribute to those who died as well as to Arlington’s first responders, whose response to the Pentagon attack has been hailed as a “model for the nation” by the 9/11 Commission.

Among the events on tap are a wreath-laying ceremony, a memorial 5K, a bike ride, a softball tournament, and a private event at the Pentagon for the families of the victims.

With some events at-capacity or closed to the public, the county says locals can observe the day from home, by watching short videos produced by the county, or by hanging American flags.

Wreath-Laying Ceremony

The Arlington County Public Safety Combined Honor Guard will perform a Presentation of Colors and lay a wreath at county government headquarters at 2100 Clarendon Blvd at 9 a.m tomorrow (Friday). A moment of silence will be observed at 9:37 a.m., when American Airlines Flight 77 struck the Pentagon.

The ceremony can be steamed on the county website, YouTube, or Facebook, or viewed on Comcast channel 1085 or Verizon FiOS channel 39.

Memorial 5K

Arlington’s police and fire departments, the Sheriff’s Office and the Emergency Communications Center will host the annual 9/11 Memorial 5K Run and fundraiser this Saturday. The race starts at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in Crystal City (300 Army Navy Drive). The in-person race is at capacity, but the event is still registering virtual participants.

Pentagon Memorial Event

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is currently closed due to COVID-19, with no reopening date set. Family members of victims and other invited guests will be admitted this weekend for a seated event with social distancing and various speakers.

‘Ride of Hope’ Cycling Event

Cyclists will ride 15 miles, starting at 7 a.m. on Saturday, and stop at the nine Arlington fire stations that responded to the attack. The ride ends with a moment of silence and a wreath ceremony.

Those who responded 20 years ago will ride to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial and lay another wreath. All retired and active first responders are invited, as well as family and friends 18 and older. If spots are available, other adults can join as well.

Photography Exhibit

Three local photographers will host a photography exhibit entitled “Still Standing — Still Free” at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall, with original photos, a video of the immediate aftermath, 9/11 artifacts and never-before-seen snapshots. The display will be free to the public. It runs from Saturday, Sept. 11 through Monday, Oct. 11.

First Responders Cup Tournament

A softball tournament at the Barcroft Park (4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive) on Saturday will raise money for Pentagon Disaster Relief charities. All games are free to participate in and open to anyone who is interested. Opening ceremonies start at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, and will feature the Armed Services Color Guard, the 3rd Army Old Guard Ceremonial Fife and Drums Corps, and the fire department.

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Morning Notes

Firefighters Recount 9/11 Horror — “Arlington County firefighter Matthew Herrera was racing to a call for an apartment fire in Rosslyn, Virginia, 20 years ago, when his crew was rerouted. Their new destination: the Pentagon, for a report of a plane down in the area. It was Sept. 11, 2001. Herrera, now a captain, struggled to get through piles of debris inside the building, right where the plane had hit, to fight the blaze. ‘The first time I fell, I got up real quick and I remember (thinking), ‘I hope I’m not stepping on somebody.’ And I knew that I probably was,’ Herrera told WTOP.” [WTOP]

More Recollections of Sept. 11 — “What they encountered was catastrophic, unprecedented and unforgettable. ‘There was just one piece of the plane I could see,’ recalls Scott, who today holds the rank of Captain II with Arlington Fire/EMS. ‘It was the letter C, from American Airlines.’ Along with countless other responders, Scott spent hours working to suppress the fire raging on the Pentagon’s west side.” [Arlington Magazine, WJLA, NBC 4]

Car Break-ins Around Arlington Ridge — “2300 block of S. Arlington Ridge Road / 1200 block of Oakcrest Road. At approximately 9:52 a.m. on September 3, police were dispatched to the report of multiple larcenies from auto. The investigation determined that between 10:30 p.m. on September 2 and 9:52 a.m. on September 3, the unknown suspect(s) entered approximately four vehicles and rummaged through them. A variety of tools and personal items were reported stolen from the victim vehicles.” [ACPD]

First Hurricane Dog Adopted at AWLA — From the Animal Welfare League of Arlington: “Over the weekend, the first of our Louisiana dogs was adopted! We think Milo is very happy with his new family . More of the dogs from Louisiana will be available in the coming days/weeks so keep an eye on our website!” [Twitter]

Yorktown Football Undefeated So Far — “When it come to his team’s execution on offense, Bruce Hanson is hard to please. The longtime head coach of the Yorktown Patriots has a 2-0 football team already this fall that has scored 19 and 43 points in each of those high-school contests. Yet Hanson isn’t satisfied with what he says is sloppy and uneven performances, including during Yorktown’s 43-17 blowout of visiting Wilson on Sept. 2.” [Sun Gazette]

A Capital Problem Along Route 50 — “@VaDOTNOVA: Please fix the capitalization error on this sign. Should read ’14th Street,’ not ’14Th Street.’ Has annoyed me for years. On WB Arlington Blvd (US 50) near the Marine Corps Memorial.” [Twitter]

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(Updated 8/27/21) The long-planned 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center is aiming for a September 2025 opening, executive director Jim Laychak tells ARLnow.

A video announcement with updated designs, plans, and visuals for the education center that will be located along the soon-to-be-realigned Columbia Pike will be unveiled in the coming weeks and prior to the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Laychak says.

The website and provided renderings currently shows a sleek, modern design with exhibits, “interactive biographies” of those who died at the Pentagon on 9/11, a rooftop terrace, ample parking, and a family gallery.

The project has contracted Fentress Architects to design the building as well as the museum design firm PRD to do the exhibits. PRD recently helped to design D.C.’s Museum of the Bible.

Construction on the anticipated companion to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is expected to start within two years.

“September 2023, we could start construction and, in two years from that, we will be open,” says Laychak, who also oversaw the building of the nearby memorial. “It’s about a two year construction [phase].”

However, that timeline isn’t set and and is dependent on the completion of the Arlington National Cemetery Defense Access Roads Project. That project will realign Columbia Pike, modify the S. Joyce Street intersection, and shift the Columbia Pike and Washington Blvd. interchange. This is all being done to allow for Arlington National Cemetery to expand.

“The site where we are going to build is on that whole grassy area where the gas station used to be,” says Laychak. “It’s got a cloverleaf there and… that needs to change to a parallel on and off ramp… to Washington Blvd. So, all of that needs to happen first.”

Construction on the road realignment was originally slated to start  in “summer 2021,” according to the U.S. Department of Transportation website, but work hasn’t begun yet.

ARLnow has reached out to the department about an updated timeline for the project but has yet to hear back as of publication.

The Pentagon Memorial opened to the public in 2008, but the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial Visitor Education Center wasn’t announced until late September 2015. It will sit on land owned by Arlington National Cemetery.

“The 9/11 Pentagon Visitor Education Center site is in a dramatic location,” the museum’s website said back in 2015. “Right where the attack of 9/11 took place and adjacent to the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery and Air Force Memorial.”

In 2016, renderings were displayed at the Pentagon City mall. Initially, it was expected to be completed by 2020 but that didn’t happen due to the project needing to wait for the ANC expansion and roads projects to take shape, says Laychak.

The last few years have mostly been filled with completing the architecture design, raising money, and reassembling a board of directors that now includes Sean Connaughton, a former Virginia transportation secretary.

The project has raised about $5 million, which was used to complete the design of the education center and exhibits. Overall, it will need to raise another $80 million, which Laychak estimates will be a split between federal appropriations (much like what was the case for the memorial) and private funds. The executive team is in the midst of a capital campaign to raise those funds.

Laychak believes the addition of the education center, along with the expansion of the cemetery and the roads project, will transform the 9/11 Pentagon Memorial into a “destination location.” It will also make the memorial much easier to get to, he says, since right now it can be a bit of a maze of a walk through parking lots, concrete barriers, and closed access points.

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The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial (courtesy of 9/11 Trail)

The National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial is currently closed to the public due COVID protocols and may not be open to the public by September 11, a Pentagon spokesperson confirms to ARLnow.

The Department of Defense closed down the 9/11 Memorial and public tours again earlier this month due to an increase in COVID-19 cases in the region.

At this point, it’s unlikely that the memorial in Arlington will be reopened to the public on September 11, the 20th anniversary of the attack on the Pentagon.

“We can not predict when it will be open again,” Pentagon spokesperson Susan Gough tells ARLnow.

As of August 2, the Pentagon reservation has been under Health Protection Condition Bravo (HPCON Bravo), meaning there’s “moderate” community transmission. This lines up with CDC’s data on August 2 showing that Arlington, as a whole, was seeing “substantial” community transmission. (It was recently upgraded to “high” by the CDC.)

Gough says the restrictions on the memorial will only loosen when the entire reservation moves to HPCON Alpha — “limited” community transmission.

While the memorial is outside, it operates under the parameters of the entire Pentagon. Meaning, it will only reopen to the public when the Defense Department shifts the entire reservation back to HPCON Alpha.

While the memorial probably won’t be open for visitation by the general public, there will be a small ceremony on the morning of September 11 for families and invited guests only.

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A 1,300-mile network of trails that connects Arlington to the two other sites of the Sept. 11 terror attacks could be granted federal designation next month.

Initially founded in the weeks after the attacks, the expansive September 11th National Memorial Trail, which runs through six states and D.C., has yet to be fully completed.

Federal designation would give the network of trails name-recognition and help the nonprofit alliance administering the trail fund its completion in the coming decades, proponents say.

A bill advocating for federal designation, put forward and sponsored by Northern Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer, respectively, is with the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It passed unanimously in the House of Representatives last week.

If approved by the Senate, locals riding on the Mount Vernon Trail — which is part of the 9/11 Memorial Trail — or near Arlington National Cemetery may see new, standardized signage within the next year heralding the “September 11th National Memorial Trail Route,” according to Thomas Baxter, President of the September 11th National Memorial Trail Alliance, which administers the trail.

“The designation will help in our visibility of the 9/11 National Memorial Trail and will enhance our partnership with the National Parks Service,” the trail’s founder, David Brickley, tells ARLnow. “It’ll enhance the experience of the visitor and assure that that story of what happened on 9/11 are not forgotten.”

Brickley, a Virginian, says the move will be at little to no cost for local municipalities or the taxpayer. Outside of consistent signage across the six states and D.C., other practical implications — such as new construction — have yet to be teased out, according to Beyer’s team.

The trail route from the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial to the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York City and the Flight 93 National Memorial in Pennsylvania will be administered by the National Park Service. Brickley said maintenance will remain the responsibility of the trail’s alliance.

Still, the connection to NPS will help, as much of the trail runs through national park land, he said.

To make sure the trail isn’t too much of a burden to municipalities, Baxter said the trail alliance works with local community foundations to maintain individual sections.

In Arlington, “we are in discussions with several community foundations, but one has yet to be selected,” he said.

As for whether designation will bring long-term projects down the road, Beyer’s spokesman Aaron Fritschner said “we don’t know yet.”

“The first step is to get the federal designation, which is what Rep. Connolly’s bill does, and which would create a federal status so the 9/11 Memorial Trail remains protected by federal law along its full length, some of which runs through jurisdictions where you might have less certainty about it remaining protected without a federal designation than you would expect in a place like Arlington.”

About 51% of the 1,300-mile trail is designated for off road multi-use trails, meaning another 49% is not built up or runs through land that could one day be developed, Baxter said. Finishing the trail involves securing property, writing grants and working with local partners.

“It’s going to take a long time, probably decades, to get it all the way complete,” he said.

Designation will make the trail more competitive when applying for state, federal and private grants for building the trails and maintaining them, he said.

With federal designation possibly coming soon, Brickley thanked Beyer and Connolly for their support.

“Gerry Connolly and Don Beyer have been tremendous friends to the trail and the alliance,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for better congressmen helping with this project.”

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Fire Station 5 in Aurora Highlands (via Google Maps)

Arlington County’s first responders, family and friends will gather on Saturday, Sep. 11 for a bike ride to honor those who responded to the attack on the Pentagon 20 years ago.

The bike ride will also commemorate the 20th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Called the 20th Anniversary 9/11 Ride of Hope, the 15-mile bike ride will stop at the nine Arlington fire stations that responded to the Sep. 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

The ride will begin at 7 a.m. at Fire Station 6 (6950 Little Falls Road), near Falls Church, and for most attendees, will end at Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes Street) in Aurora Highlands. There, organizers will hold a moment of silence.

There will also be a wreath-laying ceremony at Fire Station 5, which will be a “memorial service for a grand opening of a memorial park” that includes a steel beam from the World Trade Center, which currently lies next to the station, organizers Dale Smith and Christine Cornwell said.

Smith and Cornwell are both retired firefighters, and Smith was on the scene after the Sep. 11 attack on the Pentagon. First responders who were at the scene of the attack will then ride to the Pentagon 9/11 memorial to lay another wreath.

Organizers said the entire ride will be at a leisurely and relaxed pace and will have a police escort.

The bike ride is open to all retired and active first responders, along with family and friends over the age of 18. Other adults may join as well, but with a limit of 200 people, priority will be given to first responders. After conceiving the idea, the two obtained approval from the Arlington County Fire Department to hold the event.

Cornwell and Smith said they hope that even if people are unable to participate, they still support the riders along the route.

“We really would love for the citizens of Arlington to either flags on the route, be on the route, or make signs for the first responders. I think it would be a really uplifting thing,” Cornwell said.

The bike ride is one of several Arlington events that will be held to remember the attacks on Sep. 11, 2001. Later that day, Arlington’s 9/11 Memorial 5K will start at 6 p.m.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Pupatella Gets Millions for Expansion — “Arlington’s own Pupatella pizza restaurant chain has raised $7.5 million to continue its growth spurt, with plans to open more more than a dozen restaurants in the coming years. The round was fully subscribed and had participation from almost all of the investors who participated in the company’s first round in 2018, when it raised $3.75 million.” [Washington Business Journal]

Steel from WTC Donated to Arlington — “Two pieces of steel from the World Trade Center will now be on permanent display in D.C. and Virginia ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. The words ‘never forget’ are written on the front of a piece of steel beam unveiled during a ceremony in front of the Arlington County Police Officer Memorial on Sunday.” [WTOP]

Crystal City Getting Cooler? — “Nearly three years after Amazon announced it would be bringing its second headquarters to Arlington — and specifically to ‘National Landing,’ a name conjured by local officials to sell the area as a tech hub — its reputation may be changing.” [Washington Post]

Big Win for Fmr. Youth Soccer Star — “Congratulations to #TeamArlington alum [Eryk Williamson] and the @usmnt on winning the CONCACAF Gold Cup.” [Twitter, ALXnow]

Food Scrap Caddy Being Delivered — “With Arlington’s weekly food scraps collection program launching next month, a County-provided countertop caddy, instructions and even introductory biodegradable bags will be delivered to curbside customer homes beginning this week.” [Arlington County]

Fire Engine Involved in Crash — “An Arlington fire engine was involved in a crash at the intersection of 18th Street S. and S. Fern Street this morning around 9:30. No firefighters were injured. One person in the second vehicle involved was taken to the hospital but is expected to be okay, per an ACFD spokesman.” [Twitter]

CPRO to Mark 35th Anniversary — “As the group’s 35th anniversary looms on the horizon this fall, the recent annual meeting of the Columbia Pike Revitalization Organization (CPRO) was a chance to take stock of tumultuous times and fly the organization’s flag in the march toward the future.” [Sun Gazette]

Arlington Poetry Book — “I picked up a copy of the ‘Written in Arlington: Poems of Arlington, Virginia’ edited by Katherine E. Young, our poet laureate emerita. Published quietly last fall during the pandemic, it showcases storytelling via 150 poems by 87 poets who ‘live, work, study, worship in or simply pass through… and in so doing, make Arlington their own,’ Young explains. She nodded to famous Arlington-based poets — George Washington Parke Custis, Doors singer Jim Morrison, and Zitkala-Sa.” [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

Here Comes the Next Cicada Generation — “Cicada nymphs have started hatching during the past week. They’re the offspring from our recent cicada swarm, and they’ll rain down from above for the next few weeks, with numbers totaling in the billions… wearing a hat in the woods is a good idea for the next few weeks. Just in case you walk under a tiny, divebombing nymph.” [Capital Weather Gang]

Rent Rising in Arlington — “It was upended during the worst of the COVID crisis, but the Arlington apartment-rental market continues roaring back to life, according to a data analysis by Apartment List. With an average rental rate of $1,962 for a one-bedroom unit and $2,375 for a two-bedroom unit, Arlington’s month-over-month rental rate in August grew 3.6 percent from July, compared to a 2.6-percent increase nationally, ranking the county 22nd among the nation’s 100 largest urban areas.” [Sun Gazette]

Unusual Robbery in Crystal City — ” At approximately 11:26 p.m. on July 29, police were dispatched to the report of a robbery by force. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim observed an undisclosed amount of cash on the ground and collected it in an attempt to return it to its owner. The unknown male suspect approached the victim and attempted to take the money from his hands. The victim began to walk in the opposite direction and entered a nearby business, where Suspect One followed him and was joined by two other male suspects. Suspect One successfully took the money from the victim’s hands and all three suspects fled from the business in a vehicle.” [ACPD]

County Covid Testing Location Closing — “The #COVID19 mobile testing unit at Lee Community Center is officially retiring today, after administering nearly 15,000 tests throughout the pandemic. If you need a test, visit one of our three locations, open daily from 11 AM – 7 PM.” [Twitter]

Community Pantomime Performances — “As it prepares to resume in-person performances at its Crystal City venue, Synetic Theater will be headed into the community with a series of free public performances of the family-focused ‘The Miraculous Magical Balloon.'” [Sun Gazette]

Long-Distance 9/11 Walk Kicks Off — From the Arlington County Fire Department: “We were honored to host the kickoff for [the Tunnel to Towers Never Forget] Walk. The over 500 mile walk for CEO Frank Siller is meant to honor the heroism of first responders who lost their lives on 9/11.” [Twitter, Yahoo News, Twitter]

Reminder: Vote in This Week’s Arlies — Have a favorite real estate agent for selling your home? A favorite home renovation company? Let us know by the time voting closes at noon tomorrow. [ARLnow]

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At 8 a.m. on Sunday, a man will embark on a 42-day walk from the Pentagon to Shanksville, Pennsylvania to the World Trade Center in New York City to honor the first responders who risked their lives on Sept. 11, 2001.

The journey is personal for Frank Siller, who is traversing six states and more than 500 miles in memory of his brother, New York firefighter Stephen Siller, who died responding to the terrorist attack. The surviving Siller plans to arrive in Manhattan on Sept. 11.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack, as well as that of Tunnel to Towers, the organization Siller founded in 2001 to support first responders. The name is in memory of Stephen’s walk through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel — while carrying 60 pounds of gear — to reach the Twin Towers and save those in the World Trade Center’s North Tower.

Arlington County announced a number of road closures to facilitate Siller’s trip on foot.

  • S. Hayes Street between S. Fern Street and 15th Street S. will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to noon
  • Street parking along the stretch of S. Hayes Street will be restricted
  • Rolling road closures will be implemented as Siller walks from Arlington Fire Station No. 5 at 1750 S. Hayes Street to Courthouse Plaza and then into D.C.

In addition to the long walk to remember, Tunnel to Towers will mark the somber anniversary through charitable acts, a concert and a run through NYC.

Photo by Marc Hermann/MTA New York City Transit via Flickr

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