Around abouts the edge of Shaw- 1942

Panhandler on 7th -1942
Panhandler on 7th Street NW

So I was bopping around the Library of Congress site, looking to tell one story. Well, because I’m too lazy to figure out how to search properly (I’m very disappointed in myself as a librarian) I came across a few photos of life in 1942 around the area of 7th and Florida Avenue NW. As you know Florida Avenue tends to make up the northern border of Shaw, or what was to become Shaw.  This prior to the urban renews plans and prior to Shaw being named Shaw as a neighborhood.

Anyway….

These photos were taken by the noted African American photographer Gordon Parks. He like other notable photographers like Dorothea Lange, worked for the Farm Security Administration. As you can see and as you know, this area is not a farm, little matter…. old timey pictures, yay!

Display window at 7th Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.

If you look in the reflection of the window with the hats, I believe you can see the building that houses Halfsmoke, maybe. I know there was a football stadium over there where Howard University Hospital sits, and those are the stadium lights you can see in the reflection as well. However the turret is not exactly the same so, I’m not sure.

From these photographs I can see hanging out on the 1900 block of 7th Street is a historic activity. However the panhandlers of the 1940s were a heck of a lot better dressed than the hangers out and the odd panhandler found between Florida Avenue and S Street these days. They wore hats in the 40s. And they sold hats on 7th Street. At this moment I don’t think you can get a decent  hat on 7th, unless you have one delivered to the Amazon pickup locker at the 7-11 on 7th and Rhode Island.

Saturday afternoon, 7th Street and Florida Avenue, N.W.

At some point I’ll actually get around to posting the things I meant to post. Until then, enjoy.

Holy Moly My House is Older Than I Thought

Snip from HistoryQuest DC
A view from HistoryQuest DC

Due to my research on my house I was under the impression that it, and all the other ones in the row, was built around 1874-75 ish.

Wrong.

The Historical Society sent out an announcement about their facilities on Mt. Vernon Square and getting ready for the Apple store (yay, I need a new mini). The library is closing up Friday, June 7th, but there are the online resources. So I went to the Ready Reference PDF. And that took me to DC.gov’s HistoryQuest DC. So I looked at the map, tapped on my block and discovered the houses on my row were built in 1872, not 1874/1875 as I thought. I’m in the right decade at least.

So why did I think what I thought? Well I was going by tax records.  Prior to the 1874/1875 tax year there was nothing there, according to the tax assessor. Unfortunately, the oh so helpful Sanborn and other fire maps don’t even bother with the Truxton Circle area until the 1880s at the earliest. HistoryQuest DC used the Washington Evening Star newspaper report on building permits as its source. That source said the owner, Jacob Been had permits dated July 5, 1872.

Well, I guess Mr. Been could have waited 2 years to build.

Random History- Accident at New Jersey and R St NW 1980

So this is random.

First page of Lawsuit
Civil Action No80-2789

So I was going through some court cases, don’t ask why and happened to have noticed this thing. It is a lawsuit for a traffic accident that occurred at New Jersey Ave and R St NW on the border of Truxton Circle.

According to the first page at around noon on October 14, 1980 A Ms. Hodges was trying to turn onto R Street from New Jersey Avenue NW when she claims that a van for Budget Lock and Key hit her and sent her into the northbound lane of traffic.

This is not news, and it is questionable if it is history. But if there is a friggin plaque on the 1500 block of 4th Street documenting a one time rec center, heck I can write about a traffic accident.

The notable thing about this case is that there are depositions, oral histories of sorts,  and one is from someone from the mosque on 4th Street. I glanced over that deposition and I’m not sure what he had to add to the case. The problem with some voices from the past is that they don’t always have anything all that interesting to say.

319 R St NW- There can be a way forward with a turret

So last week I saw the good news from Scott Roberts that the ANC 5E voted to oppose the raze permit application for 319 R St NW.

319 R St NWSince I’m not a house historian I’ll quickly mention 319 R and most of the houses on that block are Wardmans built around 1902-1903, by developer Harry Wardman and his architect Nicholas R. Grimm. My interest is that it at one point housed members the Glorius family, who had owned the whole block and lived there in the late 19th Century. So the house is special in that way. It is also special because it is a corner house.

From what I can remember from the October 2016 BACA meeting the developers wanted to get rid of the turret on this building, among other things. The other things, like placing the entrance on the 4th St side, thus changing windows and doors, and putting on an extra floor, I actually have no problem with that. It’s getting rid of the turret that I have a problem with. Development has been done before, on this very block, a floor added and a turret kept.

Back in 2009, I and resident of the 1700 blk of 4th St, John, fought to preserve a look for that block as the owner wanted to add a 3rd floor and obliterate the roof (with the turret) and replace it with something pitched and very suburban looking. I’ll admit the turret wasn’t the focus, preventing an ugly az popup was, as this was the time of horrible pop ups, popping up in the neighborhood.

100_0768.JPGThis is what 1721 4th Street NW (the blue/gray building) looked like in 2009.

The shorter building to the left is the dry cleaners, and to the right that gap between the buildings is now gone and something plain and brick resides there now.

I never had images of what the owner had suggested to the BZA. But imagine an extra floor and a “decorative” upside down ‘V’ of a roof, like you’d see in suburban Maryland on top. It was ugly.

The owner had to go to BZA because this property was well over 62% of its lot occupancy. Unfortunately Jim Berry was no longer our ANC because he had moved/retired, and our ANC at the time (now city councilperson) was too trusting of the system so this fight was hard. Berry was there with neighbors at BZA hearing with the development on Richardson Place NW.  The ANC then, not so much, and there were fewer neighbors up in arms to fight the owner’s ugly proposal.

Popup on 4thLong story short, we prevailed and it was win-win.  The owner got more square footage and an extra floor. We got something that looked good and was not an ugly as F* popup. Yes, the turret is absorbed into the house, but it isn’t too out of place.

I believe that there can be a win-win with this developer. They can get an extra floor and new entrances (I dunno about parking, that’s another ball of wax) without destroying the turret.  That block will probably see more development in the future and we’ve set a path for how that can look, I just hope the new people follow.

 

Postscript- Yes, I know of this thing called historic districts. I oppose that for my own neighborhood. With historic districts we wouldn’t get such interesting houses like the Darth Vader house that just sold for a million dollars, or the interesting Ditto condos. Yes, we wouldn’t get the monstrosities on P Street, but there is enough good to outweigh the bad, you just have to be vigilant.

 

So Truxton? Shaw? Bloomingdale? Where the hell am I?

Commercial Building Map
Map of Shaw for 1970 Commercial Buildings

So this comes up way too often. So that’s why I decided with this re-boot (messy as it is) that I would call the In Shaw blog Truxton is in Shaw, because it is.

Here is the quick and dirty and maybe in later posts I’ll go deeper.

Bloomingdale is on the other side of Florida Ave, which used to be Boundary Street in the 18th century. Why Boundary Street? Because it was the boundary between the city of Washington and the county of Washington, in the District of Columbia. Bloomingdale, lovely as it is, was/is a suburban neighborhood, in the then county.

Shaw. I have yet, to find ANYTHING, anything calling the area we know as Shaw as “Shaw” prior to the late 1950s, and even then it was called the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. See the map there? That is of the Shaw School Urban Renewal Area. Everything in it, is Shaw. The area known as U Street, you will see it, in Shaw. The portion known as Logan Circle, you can find it in the map, in Shaw.

Truxton Circle, look at the map, it is IN SHAW.

If it is in this map, it is in Shaw, which kinda stopped being a thing sometime after Home Rule and wards were a thing.

BACA Clean Up Tomorrow and Something completely unrelated

First, BACA Saturday, 1st & P @ 10AM. See more here. I won’t be joining this cleanup as tomorrow is run around town looking for something and dropping stuff off day. My main goal is to get sample sizes of various Benjamin Moore paint colors (used to be able to get them at Monarch Paints but no more) and get rid of an old pre-HD TV.

Unrelated- history. Everyso often I think of papers I would write if I were really inspired to write and had the time to write. One topic I’d like to spend some more time on is the topic of urban renewal looking at some long term things. For one I’d look at the gensis of DC urban renewal by NCPC and DC government and any non-government players and get a sense of what their motivations were. Then try to figure out what happened to those individuals as they dropped out of the process when plans changed, and plans do change. Second, changing plans. The experts and planners start off with one set of plans and then due to budget, staff, political pressure, the odd riot, or whathaveyou the plans change. The big freeway that is currently I-395 does not continue up New Jersey Avenue and on to U Street. And the big thing is I’d want such a paper for people to look up the primary sources for themselves. I don’t want people to automatically take my word as gospel. I have biases, and some of them I will publicly admit to, others I won’t. Some will look at the same information and draw different conclusions, but the main thing is that they look and think.