Wednesday, April 30, 2008

brick by brick

as much as I look forward to this not being a "blight", there's a certain character and intricate story in urban decay: warped rooves, fire-damaged bricks, rusting metal.

workers knock down bricks from the side, saying (as we already knew) that only the facades will stay

...meanwhile I am wondering when the facades will be structurally supported.

stamped tin ceiling

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Hangin' with HGTV's Carter Oosterhouse

(excerpt from my upcoming piece in East of the River)

When Washington, D.C. was voted one of three winners of Home and Garden Television’s (HGTV) Change the World. Start at Home contest, it won help on three revitalization projects: landscaping and cleanup at Anacostia Park along the river, building a new play area at Bethel Christian Fellowship Child Development Center, and renovations and repairs at twelve homes on S Street in the Fairlawn neighborhood, immediately adjacent Historic Anacostia.

Carter and resident Trudy Bloome

On the job Monday was Carter Oosterhouse, host of HGTV’s “Carter Can” (and Nautica cologne model) – a little damp from the rain but still sporting a varsity smile. A native of Northern Michigan and now residing in Los Angeles, this was Carter’s first time in D.C. Only here for the day, he seemed to shrug off the fact that his only view had been through rain-shower windows. “Washington is a beautiful city. I’m glad to have the chance to give back to a city with so much history,” noting that the neighborhood’s history and beauty is evident even on such a gray day.

(for more, check out the May 2008 edition of East of the River!)

photo by DG-rad

Monday, April 28, 2008

updates at 1901-1919 MLK

Work is being done at 1901-1919 MLK Ave. DC, which owns these three buildings, is finally beginning to demolish what will not be saved - everything except the facades.

shoe store?

old grungy entrances are being dismantled

WalkingTown Barry Farm

local blogger the flipflop fed toured the Barry Farm neighborhood this past weekend as part of WalkingTown DC.
To read about it, Click Here

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Big Chair Coffee?

Speculation is rising about the possibility of a new coffee shop in the heart of Anacostia. Apparently a local businessman bought much of the equipment from the newly-closed Murky Coffee at Eastern Market, and is planning to set up a new shop across from the Big Chair in our fine neighborhood.

The proposed location, 2122 MLK Ave, is currently vacant:

For more, check out my sources at:
Washington City Paper
DC Foodies

WalkingTown DC: Anacostia

WalkingTown DC Spring Edition is this weekend! I'm glad to see that the "Anacostia by Bike" tour is once again completely booked (although not sure how much it ventures east of the River), but there are still many more available.

The only tour that is truly focused on a neighborhood east of the Anacostia is of Barry Farm:
Barry Farm, Anacostia
Saturday 10:45 am - 12:45 pm
Meet and end at Anacostia Metro station

This visit to Anacostia highlights an area that was once home to thousands of homeless ex-slaves after the Civil War. Secretly purchased by General Oliver O. Howard of the Bureau of Refugees, Freemen, and Abandoned Lands, and the local Barry Family, these 370 acres of land became affluent and nationally known as Frederick Douglass’s sons and other notables lived there. Led by Kalem Umrani and presented by Barry Farm Residents Council.
Regardless of which neighborhoods you pick, these tours are a really great way to learn about neighborhoods around the city that you might not have a reason to visit otherwise.

Full WalkingTown DC Schedule,
courtesy of Greater Greater Washington:

Click to Enlarge

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

twin houses, part 1

One of the many unique characteristics of Historic Anacostia is the profusion of twin houses. Because the neighborhood was built by lots of different developers and landowners over a long period of time, there are many instances of townhouses (not duplexes) connected to only one other home, rather than the more common long strings of nearly-identical houses you might find in other parts of the city- although we have a few of those as well.

I really like both of these sets: the first from the 1300 block of V St SE, and the second from the 1400 block.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Historic Anacostia Walking Tours

Main Street Anacostia is resuming their walking tours tomorrow, April 19, at 10 AM. These are a great way for people both inside and outside of the community to learn more about our great neighborhood.

From the MSA website:
The tour travels along the historic routes of Anacostia giving participants the opportunity to see and learn about various landmarks in the historically-rich neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River. Tour stops include Rosie’s Row, Frederick Douglass home, Old Carver Theatre, the “Big Chair”, and a host of others.

The walking tours will be held every third Saturday at 10am through October 2008. The tour begins and ends at the Anacostia Metro Station (green line). Donations are appreciated.
2008 Tour Dates: April 19, May 17, June 21, July 19, August 16, September 20, October 18

To Make Reservations: call 202-889-5090

photo for graphic courtesy of flickr user stgermh

New Skyland Images

Here are some new elevations from the Skyland Town Center website.

Looking good for the most part, although I wish there could be more variation in the building heights! And developers: please make use of the roofs facing Naylor Road. These buildings will have spectacular views of the rest of the city.

Click to Enlarge

To download the PDF of these elevations, Click Here

Thursday, April 17, 2008

great spot for a saloon

something about these buildings, the red one in particular, reminds me of the old West.

On Tuesday morning there was a dumpster outside of the yellow building, and it looked like the interior was being gutted. But it was gone and swept clean when this photo was taken a few hours later:

until yesterday I didn't realize how photo-realistic the elk signs were on the new Elks Lodge facade. Kind of creepy / hunting season-esque?

one mystery solved

just outside Drake's, the indoor shrubbery recently became the potted outdoor shrubbery:


Last week, this:

Click to Enlarge

became this:

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I'm hoping it's just the primer for a sweet paint job. But I also know that this building is part of the Anacostia Square assemblage, which means that it, like everything else on the block, is veiled in mystery.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

$900,000 for Historic Anacostia

This morning Mayor Fenty and Planning Director Harriet Tregoning held a press conference at a home on Valley Place announcing the final delivery of $900,000 in grant money for the 53 homes slated for exterior improvements in the Anacostia Historic District.

Fenty signing the check

The press conference was mostly symbolic: large check, beautiful family receiving grant money, handful of residents and community supporters cheering it on --but also very encouraging to see that this process (grant applications were due last summer) actually works, and that we will begin seeing real results soon. Anacostia will be better for it.

For more information on the Historic Homeowners Grant Program, Click Here

For WBJ's coverage, Click Here

Monday, April 14, 2008

view from anacostia, circa 1970s

interesting how similar it is to today's view. Note the change from apartment-style homes further up the hill to the classic Uniontown / Anacostia cottages and victorians below:

Stay tuned for some comparison shots from this location...

image courtesy of the Anacostia Community Museum

cleanup crew

Last weekend I met up with a group from the Student Conservation Association and the Southeast White House during their cleanup of the riverbank along Anacostia Park. The event was organized by the Alice Ferguson Foundation. Thank you so much to everyone for your help!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

salvation army update

Here are some photos from a couple weeks ago of the progress at the Solomon G. Brown Corps Community Center (aka Salvation Army building):

I'm not really digging the cinder block tower, but holding out hope that it will somehow blend in once the rest is finished.

images courtesy of WCS Construction

Sunday, April 6, 2008

the new view

courtesy of flickr user otavio_dc

The big news last week was that, finally, the new Nationals ballpark opened within a block of the Anacostia River. Although some claim that Near Southeast (or Navy Yard, or Capitol Riverfront, as DC is trying to brand it) was already well on its way to being developed before the announcement was made to build at that location, the stadium's construction and promise has served as a major catalyst in that last two years for what is becoming a major new section of the city. Fact: people are coming to a section of the city that, before the stadium, there was no real reason to see. And they are coming in throngs.

One interesting and somewhat unexpected byproduct of all this is that, because of the stadium's location, Anacostia is suddenly being seen by thousands of people as they walk up the stadium's ramps, sit in their nosebleed seats (said rather reluctantly, as from my experience there is really no bad seat in the park), or check out the view from one of the many viewing platforms. For a region that often forgets--or never knew to begin with--that D.C. has two rivers, this is quite the change.

A quick search on Flickr shows Anacostia as quite the backdrop:

courtesy of flickr user afagen

courtesy of flickr user cljo

courtesy of flickr user ewilfong

courtesy of flickr user shepdave

courtesy of flickr user abragrace

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forty Years Later

Today marks the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr, as well as the anniversary of the riots that shook, smoked, and sacked countless neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. and elsewhere.

Here is a map of riot events in D.C., from Ten Blocks From the White House, courtesy of Rob Goodspeed
Click to Enlarge

Notice that Anacostia is labelled "SE Shopping Area". Wow.

Here is one local account of that fateful day:

"I was a Senior at Anacostia High School at 16th & R Streets, S.E. I remember Principal Lamb opening up the speaker system and telling everyone in the school that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just been assassinated. My entire classroom got up from our seats, the girls got their purses, and we walked straight out of the front door without saying a word, along with probably 3/4 of the school. I am white, but that day it didn’t matter. We were classmates and we were in this together. We marched, linked arm in arm about 15 across, down to the Capital. That is one time in my life that will be burned in my memory forever. They were already rioting on Good Hope Road and police and fire trucks were all over the place. We just kept on going and nobody bothered us. We were quiet and determined. We cried as we walked, but everyone stayed calm."

-Helen Bolger Garrett
(courtesy of NBC4)

For some reason I was under the impression that although the neighborhood was affected and changed by them, that there weren't riots in Anacostia. The above map and personal account tell a different story, and explains a lot about the current physical condition and visage of disinvestment on our streets.

Would D.C. neighborhoods be as strong as they are today if it weren't for the absolute upheaval that took place after MLK's death? They say that broken bones grow back stronger, and I am looking forward to the day that Anacostia is stronger than it has ever been. The bones are here, ready and waiting.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

re: that building on the corner

I think it is kind of telling that I opened the "Meet Anacostia Gateway" post with a picture of the view from the building, and that I closed it with actual pictures of the exterior. It isn't hard to see that the building is not exactly showstopping or jawdrop gorgeous architecture. I know that I and many others wish it had more character and variation-- but the real news here is, for better or worse, what it represents: new investment in Anacostia, hundreds of new people coming into the neighborhood, and the potential for new retail.

Architecture and symbolism can work together beautifully: one example is the redevelopment of Columbia Heights, minus DC-USA (each word is linked to a different photo), but it is up to the developers, the city, and the resident stakeholders to demand that. We are glad for Anacostia Gateway, but expect better as our neighborhood's redevelopment and regeneration continues.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Some shrubbery inside Drake's. Any new plants (non-invasive) are good plants, in my opinion, though I'd be interested to learn where these are going!