February 2017 Archives

Change in Truxton Circle 1880-2010, part 2

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Please read Part 1 first.
Triangle Known As Truxton Circle
So at the highest in 1940 there were over eight thousand residents and with the last census in 2010 there were a little over three thousand residents in the NW part of Truxton Circle. There is a NE part on the other side of North Cap but I'm ignoring them*.
So what happened? And what's going to happen going forward?
I have my theories.
As I mentioned the TC population was at its height in 1940 (see part 1 for all the numbers) before the US got involved in WWII. Also by this time the TC was clearly an African American neighborhood, as a Black majority was reached in 1930. Prior to that it was a mixed neighborhood with a White majority. But who out numbers who and percentages are a distraction from the big story this tells of a current population that is less than half of its 1940, 1930 and 1960 populations. And this is with no major change in the housing stock.
Triangle Known As Truxton CircleI created two maps. One of consolidated 1887 maps and another of 1919 maps to show the change in building and housing stock. In 1887 there isn't a lot here. By 1919 most of what we recognize as housing in the TC had been built. The major exception is Square 554, where Mt. Sinai, the Northwest Co-op and the park sits. That block was mostly commercial so the loss in population was probably minimal.
So the housing barely changed and the population changed a lot. So what happened?
My theory, big changes in American culture, changes in migration and changes in attitudes regarding living space. A lot has happened since 1940, civil rights, Section 8, patterns in marriage & families and the rise of the service economy to name a few. The TC Black population was rising ever so slightly starting around 1900 and began to drop noticeably in 1970 and more so in 1980.  My theory was the Great Migration was feeding that side of the population. My great uncle was part of that migration, going from NC to SE DC. My aunts in the 1970s pretty much skipped DC altogether and went to PG County.  I credit Section 8 and HUD programs with out current landscape. The NW Co-op is a product of some HUD program and Section 8 provided value to the housing stock, but not enough value to provide an incentive to tear housing down and replace it with something newer. In 1940 people had larger families and took in lodgers (roommates). In 1940 people did work in the service economy as domestics, but many TC AfrAm men worked as some sort of low skilled laborer. In 2017 there is less demand for full time maids and ditch diggers. There is a demand for knowledge economy and skilled workers such as lawyers, IT people, managers, and the like. Those workers tend to hold off marriage and have way fewer kids, if any. A house that may have been home to 6 people in 1940 may now only have 1 or 2 people.
Another thing relating to the unchanging housing stock and fewer people are attitudes about space. In 1900 there were 11 people in my then 1000 sq ft house. Five of them were adults. In 1940 just 4 but they were all adults sharing a 2 bedroom house. Today the average American home is over 2000 sq ft and children are expected to have their own room. So the current TC housing stock that has remained mostly unchanged is now considered too small for American migrants raised in suburbia or in larger homes. The trend towards tiny spaces seems to appeal to young professionals, not so much families.
The future?
In the near future I predict the neighborhood will become more racially mixed but less economically so. I also think there will be fewer families and the families that do remain will be small. The far future is harder and impossible to guess. We could become something like a slum again if the economy of the area changes because of technology (robots will replace us all) or change in how the Federal government operates (more agency headquarters in Booneyville, VA or MD or WV. So houses split into 2-3 condos may once again return to being 1 house under different circumstances. Whether or not it remains majority African American depends on the state of Black America and what the neighborhood offers.

*They are in a different census tract so it would be a pain to try to incorporate them. Also dealing with the NW part was tedious work so, no. Anyone is welcomed to do NE.

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.

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This page is an archive of entries from February 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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