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I read a Washington Post Blog post that got some commentary on the Shaw Neighborhood Yahoo list. Commenters on the list said it was another gentrifcation article that touched on race without mentioning black or white. Well it is a gentrification post and the WP has been writing about gentrification in Shaw (and its various parts) since Feburary 1979.*
I am going to guess that Shaw is on its third wave of gentrification. The first, I'll say came in the 1980s. I'm aware of middle class African Americans and earnest whites, who bought homes in Logan Circle, on Bates Street, or other parts of Shaw. They were to be the start of a revival of the neighborhood. Too bad it took thirty years to get all the amenities their future promised.
The next wave was during the turn of the century, late 90s to early aughts. That's my wave. Though I'll have to cringe as I write this, this was the urban pioneer stage. The residents who came in the 80s were the true pioneers, but there was a little something extra going on in the late 90s. I think of the 90s-00s batch as the DIYers. We bought dilapidated houses, we knocked down walls, we put up drywall, we own a lot of power tools. This was the time when young single guys bought town houses and worked on them with their buddies on the weekend. These same guys also didn't have any heat on in winter and their pipes almost froze. Good times. Before Jimbo was complaining about men who were too busy looking at Grindr on their phones, he was complaining about couples who went on and on about their latest renovation project. This was a time when some people were doing creative things with old townhomes, and bringing new life into the neighborhood. We were the first few customers of Thai X-ing when it was a carry out, Big Bear when all they served was coffee and pastries, and Vegetate when it existed. But ignore me, I'm biased.
The millennials are part of this lastest wave marked by stainless steel granite everything in condos or apartments. If they own it, they spent way too much money to knock down or tear out anything. I am befuddled by their lack of tools. If anyone is knocking down walls and changing layouts it's the contractors who flip the houses.
Thoughout these waves have been poor black people. Poor blacks who survived the '68 riots. Poor blacks who survived the crack years. They have been there to write about and worry about as the waves come in. Each wave washes away their housing, the type of stores they frequent and the services they use. However, some people and places that have managed to survive the last two waves appear to be stronger than others give them credit for and will probably outlast us all.
*Citation = Wolf, Von Eckardt. 1979. Going 'round in (logan) circles. The Washington Post (1974-Current file), Feb 03, 1979.