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.
I 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.
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.