October 2013 Archives

Decade in Review: Halloween

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Halloween posts from

2005-Halloween;  Halloween II: Curse of the Signs; Halloween III: Death and Candy

2006-I don't want to hear any Halloween excuses ; Halloween

2007- Trick or Treat; Halloween Reminder;  Halloween Recap

2008- Halloween in the Hood 2008

2009- Miscellany

2010- Trick or Treaters; 2010 In Shaw Halloween Recap

2011- Halloween; Attack of the teenage "Boo"-bies

2012- Halloween-Your guess is as good as mine

You get the idea. We do Halloween. No costume, I give you crappy Dollar Store level candy. How are we to have high expectations of our neighborhood kids academically when we reward low efforts in little things such as this? Anyway the times the kids show up ranges from 5:30-8/9pm, or whenever the plain clothes teens show up with plastic grocery bags, that's when the lights go out.

From January 5, 2005:

The citizens of Wards 8 & 7 have sent a message that they want the good that has been happening to the rest of the city to come to them. Well I got a question for them, do they REALLY want what has happened and is happening to Shaw, LeDroit, Eckington, and other north of the river neighborhoods to happen to them? I know they want the good, but what of the bad? What of the growing pains?
The growing pains I'm thinking about is gentrification. I think the citizens of Ward 8 are mistaken to believe the development/gentrification genie that has been working it's magic in NW parts of DC can be controlled. Never, ever, underestimate the power of market forces. If an area is made attractive enough for enough urban pioneers with the financial power to jack up housing prices, private developers will get wind of it, fix up some places and start a snowball effect that will only help homeowners planning to sell. Twenty one percent** of Ward 8's homes are owner occupied. Would the 79% of renters be able to ride the higher rents and deal with owners cashing in on better prices? I think some would, but there are plenty who would not.
The solution I have heard floated around is to have developers build affordable housing, or set aside units for low and moderate income families. Listening to what has been going on with Arlington, VA it seems easier said than done. Then there are the developers who work on a smaller scale, one house at a time or a small number of units, who have little incentive to sell at lower prices.
Maybe if the real estate values weren't so crazy and there wasn't this housing pressure that forces people to live all the way out in BFE not-even Northern Virginia gentrification wouldn't be an issue. But then again, it is the crazy housing pressures and gentrification that is making places like Shaw more attractive.

Congress Heights on the Rise has an excellent post "Poverty Pimping 101: Maintain the mentality at all costs" that touches on one of the above points of the low rate of home ownership in Ward 8. I made a comment, that is awaiting approval along the lines of do you want the wailing and gnashing of teeth that comes along with getting to the land of success? The cries of gentrification? The loss of 'affordable' housing?

Be careful of what you wish for, because you might get it.

**This link is no longer working

Decade in Review: Richardson Pl Insanity

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This was a toss up between looking at old posts about Richardson Pl and Real Estate Insanity. I still like my post in 2004 about 1611 New Jersey Avenue... remember it is 2004, lots of crack dealers and gunshots at night, crackheads & crackhos in the alley, and no sit down restaurants or cool bars.

There is a house at 1611 New Jersey Avenue for sale for, get this, $798,000. Crack, crack, PCP with an LSD chaser Crack is what the Realtors are smoking. And they must be giving it to their buyers. Yeah, it has 3 bedrooms and 2 baths, and I'm quite sure they are big and everything, but $800K? I know this place has no parking. For $800 grand you should have parking and your own personal crack ho. For less you can get a 5 bedroom 4 bath at 34 Quincy for less than $500K, or at $500K 69 Florida Ave. With the extra $300K you could buy an extra condo or for a tad more 1647 New Jersey Ave (a 2 bedroom 1 bath) for $310K.
Please stop the maddness, just say no to the real estate crack.*

I have similar but not as strong feelings about 415 Richardson Pl NW. It isn't finished but the sellers have thrown a price tag of $999,000 on it. I'd been meaning to write something up earlier because the structure is so big I am not sure how it could be legal with the footprint it takes up. See the following:

Richardson 2

The rear of the adjoing house is not visiable in this photo, which I took to show how little back yard, or space for parking there is, unless the 1st rear floor is the garage. However, the front is set back a bit and not flush with the other Richardson Place houses (photo), so I guess that made it legal.

I wrote a little something about the character of Richardson Place houses when some friends sold their property: "The Richardson houses are skinny. About 11-12 feet wide if memory serves me right, but that isn't a odd thing around here as older homes are narrower. But Richardson, now with a shiny new red brick road, is kinda cute. Hopefully that new road won't suffer from the city's odd habit of paving a road, coming back months later, digging it up, and then repaving it again."

 The Refin listing has mock ups of what the interior and exterior of 415 Richardson Pl is supposed to look like. That doesn't look like a 12 foot wide space. If they skimped and managed to carve out some inches by having thin walls, then I pity all involved, especially the neighbors.

While wandering over to take photos of this mess, I saw a nice big hole for the Mondie flats on the other side of Richardon. I hope the infrastructure can deal with all this.

 *1611 NJ Ave NW did sell the following year for $660,000.

Giant Construction
Last year the old ghetto Giant closed up and it was foretold that we'd have a brand spanking shiny new Giant in 2013. November 2013.
The folks over at the O Street Market blog, believe in the November 2013 opening. There's picture of a nice big underground garage, so big you can drive a truck through it. And I swung by today and snapped a photo of what looks like the freezer/beverage / whatever section. Bisnow has another photo of the store interior.
If you live in the hood, you have seen the progress of this Giant project and there is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Will the grocery store be ready to open in November? Maybe late November.
Back in October of 2004 I wrote about my long on-going (it been nearly 10 years and I'm still hammering away at it) neighborhood history work:
As some of you may or may not know, I have been doing research on the Truxton Circle part of Shaw looking at the 1880-1930 census. It's been a hodge podge job, where I do a little here for this census year and then do a little there for another census year.
Well I lost about a couple of days work of the 1880 census. I remember having it. So now I'm pissed at myself.
How I'm culling the census is super labor intensive. As I get annoyed with the long dead residents of Truxton Circle, I am collecting house by house info. I find mutli-generation houses a chore. I find houses with many boarders a pain. People with kids, bah. I like hermits and lonely widows, and old couples who live alone. I also dislike big blocks where the houses are small and plentiful, like all the blocks between Q and N, North Cap and 1st. Now work for at least 1/2 of one of these blocks is gone.
Subject matter wise, I am discovering heavy pockets of Irish & German immigrants and 1st generation Americans. It will be cool when I can plug all this data into a computer and see demographic patterns shifting.
Well I'll have to do some of the transcribing again, and do a better job of keeping up with my stuff.
Fast forward nine years and there is TruxtonCircle.org, where TC residents can see various maps of their block as well as downloading their block's census data from 1880-1940. I had participated in one of the DC Humanities Council's House History workshops earlier this year and one of the participants was from the TC. So for him, the work had already been done.
The Humanities Council asked me to participate in their on-line auction. For a minimum bid of $175 (so far no one has bid on my thing) I'll give a lesson, one-on-one to up to a group of 20 neighbors on how to get something similar for their block or neighborhood. I imagine it to be part mini-lecture and mostly tutoring to make sure everyone understands completely. Unlike a workshop, I can work with individuals, see what work they've done already, answer questions specific to their needs and challenges.  So please check out the Humanities for Sale Auction at this link and please bid (or find someone to bid) on my neighborhood history lesson. Auction ends October 15th.

DiR: Weedy vegetables

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Cherry tomato fail
I was out of town during the start of the shutdown, and now I'm back and starting my new job as hausfrau for the duration. If this lasts long enough, maybe, just maybe I can catch up and deal with the damned cherry tomatoes.
I will and have admitted that I am a lazy gardener. It seems this year I have been lazier than most years. Being a laid back most of the time gardener I pick easy to grow things, along with a few not so easy to grow items. I have mint, which I have mentioned in the past is a weed. I lovely weed that I dry in the cellar and brew up for tea.  Purslane, I have said is a tasty weed. Arugula has also seemed to be a weed in that this year I didn't plant any and volunteers popped up in a nice sunny spot. I will chop them down and make a curry.
In chatting with a 3rd St neighbor I realized I had another edible weed taking up space, the cherry tomatoes. I can not keep up with them. They are very, very, very productive. The other problem is they drop too easily. You try to grab a few and a whole bunch, red, orange and green little balls drop to the ground. And there are so many. One day I bothered picking a bunch and gave them away; a basketful of tomatoes and I still had more. The other problem is you have to pick them before a big rain or else their skins will split.
The story of how I got the cherry tomatoes can be found in my 2005 story about my composter:
I began composting soon after settling in here in Truxton, I know this because of the cherry tomatoes. I had a house warming party and a guest (Matt) brought a big bowl of cherry tomatoes from his garden. All the tomatoes didn't get eaten and I tossed them in the small white bin. I used the compost for the front yard and the next Spring got cherry tomatoes growing along my gates. I didn't plant them, so I guess some seed from Matt's tomatoes survived the composting and germinated in the ground.
Since these tasty tomatoes drop plenty of little tomatoes a few volunteer plants are bound to pop up the next year and the following years, with little input from me. This year I did cut back on the plant, which I believe just made the thing more productive. I believe Matt moved away or moved out of the swing dancing circle I was in, but I still have the legacy of his tomatoes.