End of September garden report

Stuff is growing.
I might have grown too many tomato plants. I haven’t gotten a lot of tomatoes, due to the extreme heat and the stupid squirrels eating the green ones. The tomato plants are taking up a lot of real estate for with little I’ve gotten so I may not be as willing next year to have more than 5 plants.
The Swiss Chard has been good. If I need something green to eat there has always been enough of the stuff to go out in the yard and cut off a bunch or just rip a whole plant out. Saute some garlic and shallots in a pan, cut up the chard, throw in pan, wilt, ta-da, dinner veggie.
There is a lot of cilantro. I’ve been making some Thai salad with them, as well as a limey tequila ceviche, but not so much tubule (because of the lack of tomatoes). I think I replanted the seeds about a month or two ago.
I’ve completely spent the arugula. I’ve eaten so much of that lettuce that there isn’t much left of the plant.
More onions would be good as I have been using a number of the spring onions in various dishes. I also need to not plant certain onions near other types of onions as their tops look alike, but there bottoms are very different.
The beans keep going and going, despite my efforts. I rolled them in a corner, where they wouldn’t get a lot of light, and they still produce.

1900 Census: 414 Richardson Court NW

My methodology of collecting the data is to note the stats of the head of household, and a bit of head’s spouse then make note of how many people in the house are 16 and over and how many are 15 and below. So I only noticed this when I was gathering the numbers of those 16 and over.
In 1900 at 414 Richardson Court, Julia Williams, a single black woman aged 30 lived with her 3 sisters, her 7 year old son, a boarder and her grandmother. Her grandmother, Hester Jackson, a widow was 101 years old when the census was taken. Mrs. Jackson was listed as being born in 1799 in Virginia. Which a good guess tells me she was very likely to have been born a slave, and worked as a slave. I had to meditate on that for a moment.
The other pauses for thought were the other households on Richardson Court, now Richardson Place. Those houses are small. I’m seeing households of 7 or more people, sometimes with more than one household in a Richardson house.

NoMa stuff

From Jim

Mayor Anthony Williams is holding a public hearing this evening, Thursday, September 28, 2006, regarding the NoMa Draft Plan. In brief, the plan has six broad principles. First, in the area of “Land Use Mix,” the plan seeks to provide a diverse mix of uses that creates a variety of options for living, working, shopping, recreation and culture. In the area of “Transportation and Infrastructure,” the plan seeks to pursue a balance approach to transportation, creating a pedestrian-friendly neighborhood with improved transit accessibility and vehicular circulation. With regard to “Public Realm and Open Space,” the plan seeks to create a vibrant, highly walkable environment with landscaped streets and attractive open spaces, active ground floors and pedestrian links. Concerning the matter of “Identity and Building Design,” the plan seeks to design a new standard of architecture and urban design to create a lasting, competitive identity. With respect to the issue of “Existing Neighborhoods,” the plan seeks to preserve and enhance rowhouse neighborhoods and guide new development to address unmet community needs. Finally, in terms of “Environment and Sustainability,” the plan seeks to address sustainability with high performance design and environmentally-friendly planning, design and construction.

If your busy schedule permits, you may be interested in hearing the details concerning the plan in connection with the above topic areas. In short, we are talking about a huge amount of development activity that will take a decade or more to accomplish, in my opinion. Upon completion, however, this development activity will have such a major impact upon our area that those who have been away from the city for a while may not recognize the area — much like the radical change that has taken place in our downtown core.

For your information and future reference, the NoMa Draft Plan is posted online at www.planning.dc.gov.


Jim Berry
Bates Area Civic Association, Inc.

Looking at the signs

My better angel just walked off my shoulder to get a bite to eat, so…..
My lesser angel is wondering if one could make a game of matching the metal treeboxes with the “Re-Elect Leroy Thorpe” signs. Was it last week when I noticed those bright red and white signs all appeared at once?
I got an email stating that someone was a little overzealous in putting signs in folks yards. Not unheard of. I wasn’t surprised when I found a Linda Cropp sign in my treebox, but as soon as I saw it I removed it. According to my little birdie (just wub the widdle burdies) those signs are not necessarily there at the request or desire of the occupant. Some signs I have seen hint to that. Somewhere on 5th there is a sign that has been placed just so between the security door bars, like a large Chinese takeout menu. Another sign, further up 5th, sits on the ground, between the gate and a wooden fence. Also if you find such a sign in your yard and you really don’t want it, don’t return it, you will be confronted.

What the city directories can tell you

I’m still working on the 1900 census, so I really have no business looking at any other year until 1900 is done. But I did look at another year and this is a good project to pursue, for someone else, so feel free to steal this idea. The last census available to me is 1930. So, I’m going to have to wait a couple of years before the National Archives releases the 1940 census, but there is a way to find out who lived in the hood between 1930 and 1970, the city directories.
In the back of the city directories, there are names and businesses listed by address. So out of curiosity I picked the 1400 block of North Capitol. I was randomly looking at years and addresses but probably with the 1940 City Directory there is Catania Bakery, a grill, and another restaurant on North Cap. Actually several businesses. Got me to wondering what did the commerical corridor of North Capitol look like, pre-war, pre-riots.

Blagden Alley Assoc Meeting

| Blagden Alley Association |
| Monthly Meeting |
| |
| THURSDAY, September 28, 2006 |
| 7:30-9:00 pm |
| Breakwell’s |
| Ninth and M Streets, NW |
| (Note fancy location) |

The newsletter is at


Three topics:
1. The Charter School (that one!) is still alive.
2. How to put a surveillance camera (outdoors) on your PC. We’ll all
need it soon.
3. District Liquors. Update.

Shooting last week

It’s been a week and I am now getting to it. Part due to laziness, people I have warned you about my laziness, part due to other things that have occupied my thoughts (radiators, pipes, leaks, foreign students without visas), and part being just annoyance with the whole thing.

Last week, Monday, at 2pm-ish, in the alley between the 1600 blk of New Jersey Ave and 4th St NW there was a shooting. There were several witnesses and they said that a vehicle drove into the alley from 4th St, tried to turn and go towards Q St but couldn’t because a truck was blocking the alley (renovation work on a house) and then there was shooting. Supposedly one bullet went into the direction of the day care center on the corner of R and New Jersey. The escape was made through the empty lot on New Jersey Ave. As there were several witnesses, 911 was called by several people…… no one showed up.
Query: If there is shooting and no person gets shot should one bother to call the cops?
My best guess right now, which might not be correct, is that this is some stupid turf battle with the 5th and O group. Two steps forward, one step back. Some have noted an uptick in graffiti and shooting in other parts of this end of Shaw ranging from the area around Kelsey Gardens to my area.

The doll house

The Doll House, as some of us have come to call the house, on the corner of New Jersey and Q, is up for sale. $649K. The market will give it what the market will give.
This might be the third time I noticed it was up on the market in the 5 or so years I have lived in the neighborhood. Today was the first time I actually went inside the house.
We’ve called it the doll house because it is small inside. But it is so darned cute! It’s got a little porch. A little kitchen with a curvy fridge. Period touches. You are aware that it is small but the space is well used.
This weekend we (B. and IT) ventured over to 555 Mass Ave to look at the condos there. The way the model was staged the vibe that was expressed could only be described as ‘Sex in DCity’. The handbag shaped magazine holder in the living room, the style of the furnishings, the view of the city, and the “Sex in the City” book flipped on its pages on the nightstand kinda made it obvious who was the target audience. The doll house by comparision not really staged, more cleaned and neatened up, gave the impression of cozy quaint domesticity.
My favorites in the doll house were the bathrooms. One could imagine soaking in the tub, with lots of light streaming in as the sounds of life on New Jersey Ave (or at least the sound of the 96 bus) go by. One bathroom had a sliding door, so there was no space needed for a door to swing in or out. Because I’m in the planning stages of renovating I’m very curious about how others squeeze in a bathroom.


I have a leak in my pipes. I didn’t notice it until about a month or so ago because it is in the basement, near the furnace, in the room with all the spiders. So I don’t go there much.
Anyway I figured if I turned off the water to the furnace I could dry out the pipe so I could sauder (is that the word?) it. A week later after turning the water off, it was still drippy. Not so much drip-drip, but drip, come back in an hour, drip. Still wet, so I noticed a rusty faucet thingy at the bottom and figured that would drain the pipe. Hooked up a hose to it and 4 ft of pipe should be drained in no time. No time took a good long while.
As I sat by, watching the water drain into the sump pump, I heard a periodic glugging noise. Then it dawned on me and I’m quite sure blood drained out of my face, I was draining not only the pipe but every single radiator in my house. My radiators are big and range from 4 to 3 feet high. All that water.
The problem with draining the radiators is that I would need to pump all that water back up and not all the valves are easy to work with. I can use a special key thing to play with the pressure on 3 of my 5 radiators. One needs a pair of pliers and the other…. I don’t even want to think about that one. Maybe I can find a replacement part for that one. *sigh*
Radiator key and valvy part that I need to replace so I won’t be fearful of bleeding my radiators.

1900 Census project

If anyone cares I have restarted the 1900 census project. This is a continuation of what I did for 1880 and the paper I wrote for last year’s DC Historical Conference, “Ethnic Divides in an 1880 DC Neighborhood”(PDF), which looks at every single family in the NW Truxton neighborhood. There were about 1,000 people, hundreds of families/households and the area wasn’t that heavily populated.
There is no 1890 census to look at. Well, not a complete one, as story has it, that year got burned up in a fire. There are city directories, arranged by name, but they only give address and occupation.
So bad thing about 1900. More people. More households to slog through. More houses. There are alleys that people lived in that don’t exist now.
Good news. I did hired some help to collect the data and put them in the forms I created, so a good portion of the work has been done.
Bad news. I can’t seem to remember where I put 1/2 of it.