Image courtesy of Liesl Ament

By Liesl Ament

This is an independently submitted op-ed for our Quill section. Views and statements made in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions of  The Tower.

As a commuter student, I am proud to boast that the highlight of my trip home is climbing the tallest escalator in North America. Interested in doing the same? Then hop on the Red Line and visit this 230-foot monstrosity at the Wheaton Metro Station.

The penultimate stop on the Glenmont-bound Red Line, Wheaton, is only seventeen minutes from Brookland-CUA. The weekday fare is $3.95. The station is situated at the intersection of Georgia Avenue and Veirs Mill Road in Montgomery County, Maryland.

Some Catholic University of America (CUA) students have visited Wheaton solely for its record-setting escalator, which takes three and a half minutes to ride when standing still. If you want to extend your trip longer than that, however, be sure to check out the other attractions that the Wheaton area has to offer. One of my favorite parts of the station is MoCo-based artist Marcia F. Billig’s bronze statue, The Commuter. Situated just outside the station entrance, this statue depicts a man on roller skates, clutching a briefcase and newspaper in his hand as he dashes forward to catch the train. While not every CUA student is a commuter, most—if not all—of us can relate to The Commuter’s restless energy, whether it’s because we’re running late to class or nearly missing a paper deadline.

Directly above the station lies the Marian Fryer Town Plaza. This community gathering space features a canopied stage and grassy terrace seating. Speaking from personal experience, it’s the perfect spot for eating a Chipotle burrito and contemplating life’s greatest mysteries. The plaza is usually quiet during the semester. In the summer, however, it hosts cultural events such as the Taste of Wheaton and the TGIF Summer Series, which brings live music to the area.

When I lived on campus, my main reason for visiting Wheaton was the Westfield Wheaton Mall. A five-minute walk across Georgia Avenue, the mall includes major chains like Costco, Macy’s, and JCPenney. College girls everywhere will be delighted to learn it also has a Target! Student-athletes will appreciate Dick’s Sporting Goods. My personal favorite stop is JoAnn Fabric, where I stock up on canvases, fabric, markers, and other art supplies. Apparel stores in the mall include H&M, Aeropostale, Hollister, and Hot Topic. Aside from the Costco food court (which boasts dirt-cheap hot dogs), the mall’s food options include Cinnabon, Auntie Anne’s pretzels, Chipotle, Nando’s, Popeyes, Charleys Cheesesteaks, and Panda Express.

Here’s the question of the day: why go to Wheaton when there are other shopping centers closer to campus? True, Wheaton doesn’t have the convenience of Columbia Heights. Its main draw is its novelty. Wheaton provides a crazy-tall escalator and a scenic plaza for students who enjoy exploring the DMV for its own sake, Wheaton provides a crazy-tall escalator and a scenic plaza to enjoy. It’s nothing too crazy, but it’s pleasant nonetheless.

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