Next to the China shop, next to the gas station: A TC Commerical History

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Over the past month I've been enthralled with an album where the lyrics have made me stop and think. It's Sho Baraka's Narrative, but there is something from My Hood USA, 1937 which made me think of Shaw and well Truxton Circle.

As part of the Triangle Known as Truxton Circle art show (if you missed it, your loss) I had a map for residents to place a pin where they lived so we could see where our audience was from. The map wound up being a little confusing because the pins were colored and the colors on the original map pointed to types of different businesses in the neighborhood.
In the song My Hood USA, 1937 a few of the lyrics go like this:
All we got is liquor stores next to a Burger King
Next to a pawn shop, next to a Dairy Queen
Next to the China shop, next to the gas station
Next to the five churches, next to the building that's vacant

To my knowledge we've never had a Burger King or a Dairy Queen or a pawn shop, but churches, Chinese restaurants and gas stations, yup! We've had those. You may have to see the image in Flickr to see the six liquor stores (seen in brown) in NW Truxton existing in 1970. The other business that populated the TC in 1970 were barber or beauty shops (red), another staple of depressed neighborhoods. Not to fault barbershops, they're in nice upper class neighborhoods too, just not so many it seems. Then you have corner (and not on the corner) grocery stores in orange. We had one drug store, represented by green, on North Cap. I'll bet money it was a People's Drug (surviving People's Drugs are CVS'). The blue is "other convenience". Looking across the street on New Jersey Ave NW, I know one of those blues was a laundromat before it was converted into residential housing.
What this map doesn't show are the vacant buildings. There were vacant buildings when I showed up over a decade ago. Vacant commercial properties. Vacant residential properties. Yes, gentrification brought displacement, but there were many places where there was no one to displace, just an empty brick box with plywood windows someone used to call home.
I'm not even going to get into the "next to the five churches" thing. There were so many churches, storefront and steeple, that would be another blog post.
Sho touches upon the make up of a neighborhood in other songs. In Forward, 1619 he raps " In between white supremacy and black nihilism; AME churches, corner stores and the prison systems". In Kanye, 2009 "And why ain't no Whole Foods in the hood? All I see is fast food here, can we eat good?" ... "Less pawn shops and liquor stores and We Buy Gold".
When I visited Chicago for my "2008 Gentrification Tour" driving through the middle class and downtown neighborhoods I noticed what businesses were around. Lotsa chiropractors' offices in 2008. Looking around TC and Shaw today, our great industry is feeding people and selling mundane to interesting drinking opportunities. We need to diversify, and find other commercial ventures not dependent on people's oral and digestive parts.

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This page contains a single entry by Mari published on March 22, 2017 7:55 PM.

So my neighbor's house caught on fire.... was the previous entry in this blog.

Um diversity? is the next entry in this blog.

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