Change in Truxton Circle 1880-2010, part 1

Well the art show/ history exhibit The Triangle Known As Truxton Circle is over. If you missed it, you've missed it. It is not showing anywhere else. It was a great show because of so many local elements from the location (thanks Weibenson & Dorman Architects PC), the community (thanks Scott Roberts for putting it all out there) and the fact that three neighbors (creative types) had one singular topic, our neighborhood.
My major theme for the show was change.
Change and BEANS 1880-2010
Two pieces (which is 12 individual pieces) really brought it home, Change and Beans. Quick key, Yellow on the map and Navy beans are White people, Brown on the map and Black beans are Black people and Green and Brown Pinto beans are everyone else.
I loved the response visitors had with BEANS! I hadn't planned to create it, but in meetings with Ira and Brian (the more experienced artists) they suggested some visual to continue Change 1880-1940 and show the demographic change since the 1940 census. So I looked into artistic graphs and other visuals. I settled on doing something with dried beans. I figured if no one bought the pieces I could make soup afterwards.
So what are you seeing in the photo above. You are seeing demographic change. You are seeing a neighborhood fill up and empty out. Here are the numbers:
  • 1880= 1511 approx (832 whites, 678 blacks, 0 Asians)
  • 1900= 4723 approx (2281 whites, 2438 blacks, 4 Asians/Chinese)
  • 1910= 6801 approx (4565 whites, 2232 blacks, 4 Asians/ Chinese)
  • 1920= 7234 approx (4221 whites, 3008 blacks, 6 Asians)
  • 1930= 6175 approx (1712 whites, 4455 blacks, 6 Asians/ Chinese)
  • 1940= 8242 or 8244 (1718 whites, 6519 blacks, 4 Asians-3 Japanese-1 Chinese)
  • 1950= 7720 (1511 white, 6186 black, 23 everyone else)
  • 1960= 6789 (58 white, 6716 black, 15 everyone else)
  • 1970= 5830 (21 white, 5768 black, 41 everyone else)
  • 1980= 3349 (61 white, 3249 black, 39 everyone else)
  • 1990= 3623 (189 white, 3347 black, 87 everyone else)
  • 2000= 2997 (103 white, 2713 black, 181 everyone else)
  • 2010= 3028 (816 white, 1964 black, 248 everyone else)

There is a lot to unpack there. So I'm going to do a part 2.

Parking- People buy houses with no parking

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No Parking Wednesday Parking.
It has come up recently regarding the development on Richardson Place and the developer who is looking for a variance for two sorta connected lots on the 300 block of P St NW and the 1500 block of 3rd.
People attached to cars don't seem to understand those of us who aren't. I haven't owned a car in over 20 years..... gad I'm old. I have lived in DC for about 17 years, also carless. And as a carless person I have bought a house, where I didn't care about parking. I only care about parking when it comes to accommodating visitors who have cars.
Well development or not, being able to park in front of your house is going away, unless you're handicapped. Change has not only come on the residential side, there has also been change on the commercial side with more (hopefully) businesses and houses of worship that will demand parking. Yes there are more people and households with more cars, but businesses like the nearby DCity Smokehouse, Big Bear Cafe and TC's ANXO (mentioned in the Michelin guide) bring outside cars in the north, Wicked Bloom and NoMA businesses bring cars to the east and southside of Truxton. If North Capitol becomes the commercial strip that we all hope it will be then there will be fewer parking spaces in residential areas. We will be like Dupont or Georgetown or any other DC neighborhood with a healthy residential and commercial area.
And like Dupont and Georgetown people buy expensive houses and condos with no parking. A quick look on Redfin for Dupont and it appears if you are spending a million or more on a property, you may get one lousy parking space, anything less than a mil and you're parking on the streets with the rest of the peons. The new Ditto condos at 4th and P sold. The one without parking sold for smidge less than a million, the one with parking sold for $1.2 million. Five thousand less than a million, over 2,000 sq ft of modern living space and you have to compete with cabbies for parking near the mosque. I guess that's the future.

A little forgotten neighborhood history- an association

So I've been cleaning out my files, in some attempt to gain some control over the boxes of paperwork that I've accumulated in my life. Having a small home, small compared to the rest of America (mine approx 1100 sq ft vs 2600 sq ft) I've tended to be very good about not accumulating 'stuff" but I've managed to let the papers build up.

Anyway, in that pile I found a report about the Three Corners Neighborhood Association. Never heard of them? Yes, most haven't as they were just one of many DC neighborhood associations that formed and died.

The Three Corners Neighborhood Association (3CNA) was created in 2001, the same year the report (PDF here) was written up. According to the report the organization began "as part of the effort to facilitate community improvement. New and longā€time residents in the area began to call on DC officials and services to address problems such as rats, trash, loitering,
drug trafficking, prostitution, etc. "

I vaguely remember attending a meeting or something with the founders of the group. They were a racial mix of professionals. They hoped the report, written up in December of 2001 would bring attention to the problem around the area of Rhode Island Ave, New Jersey Ave and Florida Ave where three Wards and two police districts came together and made it problematic when dealing with crime and other problems where government would be useful.

Ah 2001, the bad old days. This was back when gun shots would ring out almost every night and my street had 24 hour drug dealers. This was also when nobody would deliver any food (I couldn't even get Pizza Hut-then on U St to deliver) but the Postal worker and UPS actually hid your packages. That's all I got.

Need Green to rent green

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I'm going to state the obvious. Housing in DC is expensive.
New housing in DC is expensive. Old, historic, and historic districty housing in DC is expensive.
So taking a plain, basic apartment that is decent enough that you're not calling the owner a slumlord is more than likely to be expensive. Throw on fancy stuff and that's gonna cost extra. Want a green LEED certified apartment or house, yup that's gonna cost you.
The folks at Rent Cafe contacted me a while ago with some tables and graphs.
Along with the statement that:
  • Washington DC overtakes other popular urban hubs - including Manhattan and San Francisco - in green rental stock, boasting an impressive 7,000 apartments classified as ''green.'' The capital also comes in 8th place in our Top Greenest Cities, for best ratio of people to green rentals (96 people for every green unit available).

Makes sense.

For a while I thought our representative bird was the building crane, and those new buildings usually had the extra LEED/ green this and that flava crystals. Before, in the good old days, or bad old days (same days) there was a fair amount of affordable housing going up in DC because that was the market. The regular market rate renters were heading for the burbs. Then after Mayor Williams, DC starts getting all popular and developers are building apartments, condos and houses for people with disposable income/higher paying jobs. People, more willing to pay the green housing premium.
As a homeowner who has done some work on her house I know that the green choice is not necessarily the cheaper choice. Low/No-VOC paint, costs a lot more that the regular paint. Paying someone for the blown-in insulation, more than the pink fiberglass bats. According to the study Rent Cafe mentions,  "Average rent in green-certified apartments is $560 more than in regular new apartments, while most surveyed renters are willing to pay up to only $100 more."
Of course, being green is only one part of the price as there are several other factors that go into making DC housing expensive. There are things the city government demands (taxes, fees) and does (long permitting process), there is our old friend "supply and demand" and a cost of doing business that gets passed on to the renter.

The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle

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Frankenmaps.jpgWell after a year of planning The Triangle Known as Truxton Circle (#TheTraingleKnownAs #TruxtonCircle) is up in a Truxton Circle gallery for Truxton Circle/Shaw residents to view.

Our opening was last night, and despite my own problems with crowded rooms, it was wonderful. Speaking for myself my goal was achieved, I told the history of the neighborhood and people got it, they really got it. I have been trying to tell a story of this neighborhood, this section of the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area I call Truxton Circle for over a decade on this blog. Maybe this blog was always too small and it story needed to be made more real and told with something that can be seen and touched.

But maybe it needed to be told with my colleagues artists Ira Tattelman and Brian Bakke who also told a story of Truxton Circle. Ira told the story the old traffic circle with his installation. People at the opening would look for the traffic circle on my maps. Hint: you can find the remnants of it on the 1970 "You Are Here" map where visitors from Shaw, east of 7th St can place a pin where they live, and an outline of the circle on the "Freeway Plan circa 1957-1960". I'll leave it to everyone else to argue about where exactly the circle was. Brian and I told the story of the people of Truxton Circle (though he doesn't call it that). Whereas I focused on demographics, Brian told stories of particular people, including one character we don't see around much anymore, Hollywood. You remember Hollywood don't you, bearded black man in Parliament-Funkadelic outfits, used to hang out at 7th & P and the BP Station across the street from the gallery (410 Florida Ave NW) where all this is taking place?

I really liked how everyone interacted with the art and the exhibit. And I hope those of you who came will come again to get the luxury of reading the captions and panels on a less crowded day. The gallery (410 GooDBuddY at 410 FL Ave NW) is open on Saturdays 12-2PM, Fridays 10AM-12PM until we shutter the thing February 17. Inauguration Day stop by we'll be open until 3pm that day, and we have an artists talk February 11th 2-4PM so you can ask us questions. 

Thanks to BACA, the DC Humanities Council, ANXO, Right Proper and other sponsors, oh and Scott Roberts (Mr. Info).

This is a fight I'm done with- Richardson Place

So I'm back from a BACA meeting. Two topics took up a majority of the meeting, one being the District of Columbia's criminal justice system, the other being the proposed co-housing, 24 bedroom, 24 bath thing up on Richardson Place. The residents of Richardson, particularly Jim N. have my sympathy, but that property, that problem, I'm done with it. I fought that fight in 2005, it's been over a decade, and I can think of worse things.... which we fought against, and what OakTree development proposes, that ain't it.

Back in November 2005, eleven years and two months ago, I wrote on the old InShaw blog about Wilbur Mondie/ Mondi and his plans to build some buildings on the empty lots, and later Jim N.'s beautiful garden. In that month a few neighbors on that block, people on Richardson, 4th Street and New Jersey Avenue banded together and got our then ANC and BACA president Jim Berry involved.

Then the residents were concerned about water drainage, parking and a concern about shoehorning families in need into some cheaply built cramped looking housing. I should mention in 2005, parking was plentiful (compared to today) and we had lots of Section 8's (poor people housing) with disruptive tenants. No Big Bear. Nothing cool.

The person spearheading the effort was a lawyer (or employed in the legal profession) named Karl K. and of all the people deeply involved he was the last to move in 2016(?). Jim Berry stepped back and later moved. Toby and his wife moved to NoVa after the birth of their first kid. John stuck around to fight another zoning fight but moved to a guaranteed good DC school district after getting married and having kids. And there were others, who eventually moved. A lot happens in 11 years.

Greater density has happened. Within a 5 minute walk houses are getting re-divided (many were built as duplexes, turned into 1 unit, then divided again) into condos, tall infill buildings were filling in, and there were pop-ups, some good, some bad, and some downright ugly. Street parking became harder to find, and until I married a car-owner, I didn't care. And this was coming from the east with NOMA and the west with U Street amenities slowly moving east. 

Regardless if there are 24 or the feared 48 residents, or even a possible 15-20 residents at one time (because of vacancies) parking is going to get scarce. Those wonderful restaurants and businesses that are slowly making their way down Florida Avenue will bring competition for parking. Demographics are changing and the two bedroom, one den condo or house bought by the power couple, and the dozen more like them, will in time get rented to a gaggle of bros or gals or mixed group when the power couple wants to move because of kids or another job opportunity in Phoenix or New York. 

The building is not as ugly as Mondi had initially proposed. It looks like the infills that dot Shaw.
The people that will supposedly occupy the building would be young single childless professionals. That demographic is taking over the area. Whippersnappers.
At this point I'm not sure what would be gained with such fight. Nah, I'm saving up energy to fight for a turret.


So yesterday I was walking home and noticed this box on the sidewalk on New Jersey Avenue. See picture. Whatever was in the card had been taken out. It looked new enough not to be trash.

Now earlier on my walk I noticed a handcart between two cars on the 600 block of S Street with an Amazon box on it.

Because of what I'll call a #SeeSomethingSaySomethingFail that I'm still kind of smarting from, I had zero interest of investigating to see if these were what I suspect were stolen packages.

There are tons of videos out there of people stealing packages off the porches and front stoops. Cameras don't seem to stop package thieves. But cameras are helpful, just not at stopping the crime.

So try to avoid having packages delivered to your home if you are not planning to be home. Also try to tell people who are apt to send you packages to send them to your office (if you are allowed to receive packages) or to an Amazon Locker or friend or to give you the tracking number. I have seen creative solutions to the problem. I saw a clunky looking "Packages" receptacle in someones front yard. In Baltimore, I saw a sign someone placed on their front door that could be read across the street "FED-EX- UPS- USPS Do Not Leave Packages On Step".

There are packages that you can receive. If you have a big enough mailbox you might be able to receive small things. Items heavy as sin don't go far. Once I noticed a package on a neighbor's stoop. I left a note and was about to take the package in and it was well over 50 pounds. So I amended the note, offering to help bring it in if needed.

A Triangle called Truxton Circle- Art exhibit

1930.jpg I guess I should write something up about an exhibit I'm excited about.
As I've said several times I live on a great block and it's the people that make it great. Anyway, some years ago our block had a art exhibit/ potluck party at a neighbor's house who at the time had all white walls and thought, hey let's put on an exhibit. So IT does art and Brother Brian does art and discovered some other neighbors had an artistic side and throw in some musician neighbors and you have a shin dig. I mention this because that same artistic neighbor energy has created a new thing, "The Triangle Called Truxton Circle". So, IT, Brian and myself are gonna put on a show.
"But Mari, you're not an artist," you say.
"Damned right," I answer.
My role is as historian but I am trying to be more visual than wordy to share with neighbors and the people who show up at gallery openings the history of Truxton Circle. The map above is one of 6 in a set on canvas. I've got several maps to show but I'm most excited about something I'm calling BEANS! BEANS! will tell the story of change with the set of maps. You have to see it to see what I'm talking about.
So what else will be there? Well IT will focus on the fountain that used to be in the circle that was the Truxton Circle that used to sit at Florida and North Capitol. Brian's art will look at people who live and used to live in the neighborhood.
Okay, say you're interested in seeing this, great.
WHERE: 410 GooDBuddY @ 410 Florida Avenue NW
WHEN: January 13- Opening Reception 6-8pm
   January 20 10AM-3PM
   January 21 12PM-2PM
   January 27 10AM-12PM
   January 28 12PM-2PM BACA Event-2PM-4PM
   February 3 10AM-12PM
   February 4 12PM-2PM
   February 10 10AM-3PM
   February 11 12PM-2PM Artist's Talk 2PM-4PM
   February 17- Closing 6-8pm 

There is no way for you to miss this.

Hawk! and other wildlife

City Hawk in Tree
I spotted this lovely creature on my street last week.
I was amazed to see what I think is a hawk or falcon or some bird of prey here in the city. Maybe he (I'm calling it a he) came for the fine locally sourced mice and rats. Or G-d willing he came for the evil squirrels, for they are evil and are greatly deserving of the horrid and slow death that Mother Nature provides, not the swift merciful end brought by modern man in the form of a car. Many a morning riding to work I have wondered what is that flattened form in the road, squirrel or rat? Both are rodents, however one has better PR due to a fluffy tail, but I digress.
The hawk hung around for a little less than an hour. I stood around for ten minutes or so just admiring him as he sat in the tree pictured. Then I remembered my neighbor was working from home and got him to look at the bird. Then I went back to staring at the bird and later thought to take a picture. Then I went back in the house. I came back out to run an errand and accidentally spotted him on a fence. It gave me a fright, I jumped and he flew away.
Another neighbor once told me a deer had made its way into our alley. I have no reason to doubt this neighbor, however I'm not sure how a deer could get here. If a deer came via the Metropolitan Branch Trail (MBT) bike path, then it would need to get past North Capitol, a road I sometimes have trouble with. Maybe it made its way down from MBT through Brookland, near the hospitals and got past a less congested N. Cap, then went down by McMillian and crossed Florida and Rhode Island.
On numerous times I've seem possums. Once in my front yard. Those things are ugly and friggin scary.
And it has been a good long while since spotting a raccoon around these parts. I had the misfortune of having a racoon run through my ceiling crawlspace, as it headed to my neighbor's crawlspaces on a regular basis at 4AM. I think I spotted the culprit wandering out of the alley one evening in no big rush.
We may be urban but wildlife still wanders through visiting the sites that are us.

Bad neighbors begone!

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Jimbo noted one evening that I no longer write catty blog posts about neighborhood characters anymore. There are reasons for that, a main one being the people with serious problems either don't live here anymore or they are long term neighbors and well I gotta live with them. But fate was kind and removed some characters from the block, who I will call bad neighbors, and so I feel free to express.

Trash on sidewalk
'Cause they moved.

The Evil Landlord and the Stupid Young People deserved each other. After years of crackhead tenants the Evil Landlord put in some lovely students, mistreated them, and replaced them with the Stupid Young People.

The group of roommates got this title this winter when we had the big snowstorm. Our block is an awesome block, neighbors come out and shovel the sidewalks. These guys, did not do such a thing.  I could blame it on them being renters and there are others who aren't community minded. But what earned them the title was they managed to get their hulking SUV out onto the unplowed street, to ride around the block then on other separate trips looking for Red Bull. There was constant going in and out, spinning tires, rocking back and forth over snow/ice banks over and over again. All friggin day.

But what really made me want them out and gone was the fake pot. We have long term neighbors who smoke the skunky real pot and the chemically fake pot. Given a choice, the cheapo skunk pot is preferable. The Stupid Young People smoked the fake stuff, but if that wasn't bad enough, they shared the smell with the rest of the block. They would sit a box fan in the window facing the street and blow the fake pot smell out to the sidewalk.

According to other neighbors they were annoyingly loud in the rear yard. They never cranked up the music, which is bound to have a neighbor call the cops. But they would talk loudly, late at night.

So when we saw them moving furniture out a few of us rejoiced. However the Evil Landlord is bound to get more misfit tenants. Yet over time the tenants have gotten better. About a decade ago there were the crackheads who left their friend for dead on the sidewalk. Then there were the crackhead parents, who were at least trying to do right. For a brief moment there were some normal people, but they were replaced by the Stupid Young People. Since the rental screams crappy cheap rathole, maybe we might get more students or people heading downward on the social ladder. I'm hoping for a loner misanthrope who only smokes Camels.

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