A Program for Bates Street

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This is not another pre-WWII photo, this is from the 60s. 1960s.

Now I am sure I posted the publication by the District of Columbia Redevelopment Land Agency (RLA) before, but just in case, I'll put it out there for y'all again. In the late 60s the RLA put out "A Program for Bates Street" (PDF), which is currently located in the archives of George Washington University.

My own curiosity with the Great Society and the flurry of social programs that came out of that period, is how well those goals were achieved. So let's take a look at the program.

The program had 3 main objectives:

1. Introduce a greater amount of housing types and sizes designed to relieve the overcrowding in exisitng housing.

2. Use housing programs for both rental and owned "that will be most responsive to the economic profile of the residents of the Area, given the current costrainst of those programs."

3. Provide needed amenities such as open space for active and passive recreation, off street parking and "separate pedestrian and vehicular circulation systems."

I have to hit #3 first. What the hell is a pedestrian and vehicular circulation system? Sidewalks and roads? If they are sidewalks and roads then they should say sidewalks and roads!

Bates Streets, the unit to the 200 blocks seem pretty unchanged footprint-wise from the days when they were built, as with the rest of the targeted squares. As hinted in the program, Sq. 551 did get new housing, slightly different than the Bates Street and similar Q Street housing, providing that variety of housing types.  As far as overcrowding goes, I think there might have been more than they eye could have seen. I'm noticing with this 1st photograph there is a vacant house all boarded up. With pre-war censuses I can say there might be overcrowding in one  or two houses and the neighboring house only has one or two people. I don't doubt that many houses were overcrowded, but I wonder to the various causes of why. Anyway, the 1st objective was achieved with the removal of the alley dwellings on 551 and the building of the NW Co-op.

Manon Bates St68

The second objective, I have no idea what exactly the goal was supposed to be there. It is too vague to me. Maybe the authors were dancing around something. So I'm going to give that objective a no.

Lastly on the brochure, since Sq. 551 was part of the mix, I'm going to guess the open space amenity is the Florida Avenue Park. I also notice that it is an open space and not a green space. Now this is the park of the past, the park where passive recreation included drunks being passed out on play equipment. I realy appreciate the work of John H. and the Friends of the Park to make the place a better amenity than what the planners of the 60s could do. The Bates Area does have off street parking, I did not realize this was a pressing issue back then.

 Lastly on the whole thing, notice no bars. No bars on the windows. No bars on the doors. I have my theories, but I wonder if it is something that comes later when crime gets worse in the area.

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