Columbia, Maryland

APRIL 7, 1997

Driving around Columbia reminds me of surfing the web. Everything is hidden, not visible except for an icon that says mall or village center, or hotel. But double-click one of these icons – that is, follow the small, waist-high sign that tastefully pokes up off the road – and a hidden reality opens up to you, be it a shopping mall, a housing subdivision, a park, or a school.

Like the web, one can pas quite a few pleasant hours in Columbia, navigating its maze of curvy, curvilinear streets, losing all sense of place and time. Each choice leads to a new set of choices. Destinations are down secondary roads, and in even there are concealed behind rows of trees and sculpted man-made hills.