My ‘hood

April 4th was the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King.

Following his assassination there were 3 days of riots in Washington DC;  200 fires burned simultaneously, smothering the city in smoke. It took 13,600 armed troops to eventually quell the mayhem but by then considerable damage had been done.

I live in one of the riot corridors.

Initially development in the riot corridors stalled as money was directed towards rebuilding "downtown" and then financial crises and corruption scandals enveloped the city and turned investors and developers away.  Buildings fell into greater disrepair and people, who could afford to, moved out to the suburbs leading to further economic depression and pretty much ghetto conditions.

But, things are slowly changing.  Our corridor is now targeted under the Great Streets Initiative – a City Council initiative for strategic land use, public safety and economic development assistance.

In my 'hood there is sporadic development as new ventures open amongst buildings which show the scars of the riots and 40 years of neglect. Some buildings are still boarded up.  Businesses which survived barred their windows. Razor wire is strewn across vulnerable entrances. It can be difficult to tell which shops actually operate behind the bars and shutters.

In those which do, the sales people work from behind armored glass.  My bottle shop has all the alcohol behind the sales counter – which is behind a floor-to-ceiling wall of bullet proof glass – and they do not sell any Aussie wine!  Our fast food places cook behind armored glass and exchange food for money through secure hatches. My post office does not have anything out to steal – not even the free postal forms!!    

There is only one brave bank in more than 10 blocks (a fortified Bank of America). There are no ATM's. There is a preponderance of check cashing stores.  This is my 'hood:  


This is my grog shop  – next door to it is a new School!!  Not sure if the Home Improvements store actually opens, but they are not a good advertisement if the front roof is anything to go by.  The Hunger Stopper never opens.

My corner stores and the Metro station on the far left: 

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23 responses

  1. Yeah it is! We paid $450,000 in November to move in – this was the "best" area we could afford. Hopefully all the new initiatives will help – there is a new condo/mixed use building going up at the Metro station and there is money available for those willing to take the initiative in starting a business here. Most of the streets around us have lovely row houses which are kept with pride – it is the usual services (like a coffee shop!) we are missing out on at the moment. Most of the time people only see the White House and Capitol (on TV) but there is a lot of poverty here in DC.

  2. Yep! Now you know why I don't post any sunset or urban landscape photos 🙂 I do have a really pretty house though in a nice street. I am looking forward to my bulbs and roses flowering as well as the blossom tree – and I have azaleas too – wonder what colour all these flowers will be.

  3. Thanks for the look at your neighborhood though I must say it's quite a sorry place. I'm sure that, while he would be pleased with much of the progress made by and for Black people, Dr. King would be shocked and saddened at what you have told and shown us. All of these years, all of the work and progress made for rights and opportunity yet many, perhaps most big cities across the US have neighborhoods like yours where it is unpleasant and unsafe to go about life and normal activities. The People deserve better.

  4. It reminds me of the first tiem I visited New York City on a class field trip when I was 9 year's old. Scared the dickens out of me!
    But it could be almost any older, blighted American city. Sad.
    Emjay, do you drive? I thought I recalled you saying you did not. If you do, I highly recommend you venturing beyond the confines of the city out to some of the lovely countryside you have west of you!
    I'm aghast that you paid so much to live in that town!
    Washington was let to rot for the longest time–you are very correct. Then a shameless man, Marion Berry, ran the city further into the ground.

  5. I see your neighbourhood and I think of the latest commercials
    I have seen about buying a home, and that you buy that home not for today but
    for the future and what it will be as well as the neighbourhood will be,
    because if you bought just for today it would either cost you everything you
    will ever make and in a few years it could make where you are right now look
    like gold paved streets. Good luck on the future of your area and business!

    also love the razer wire I want some for something I want to build now that I seen it

  6. I think I like the photos of Australia better.Take some photos of your flowers when they bloom.And I was sorry to hear about your fall,I hope you feel better soon.And welcome home.

  7. Yes, I agree. It surprises me that it has taken 40 years for these initiatives to be put in place. I suppose most big cities in the world will have a "wrong side of the tracks" section.

  8. Ah yes! Marion Barry. I was not here during his "heyday" but everyone has a Marion Barry story – and he continues to provide entertainment (he has been a Councilman since 2004).Yes I have a license but we don't own a car. Occasionally we do rent one and drive out of the city (we tend to fly out more often). Once I get inside the house the neighbourhood fades away and doesn't infringe. I love our little space.

  9. It would be interesting to see how the area would be today if it had not been so affected by the riots – or if the Government had made more concerted efforts to rebuild 40 years ago.

  10. LOL!!! Maybe not often – but we do have a very good City Councilman who is very enthusiastic and active in the community and who is slowly making a difference.

  11. You are absolutely right. We intend this to be our first and only home purchase. We like living in the city and feel that we are getting into this area before it becomes trendy and really overpriced. There will always be employment in DC because of the Government and more and more people seem to want to live in the city (empty nesters etc). Gentrification happens gradually so purchasing a home in an area is a long term investment as you say.The razor wire was at a tire place – it is really mean looking. I expected to see a savage guard dog running around the yard too. It was amusing to see rolls of barbed wire on the roof of the pawn shop.

  12. Thank you. Yes my photos of Australia are nicer – but we also have areas that look as depressing as my 'hood. I feel much better thank you – I am being more careful on that top step now!

  13. Your 'hood looks pretty much like some of the inner city places we have in Perth. But our developers have been moving in for the past 5-6 years and new condos/streetscapes are prettying up the joint. Amazing how a place can fall into disrepair for decades.

  14. Hi Ninja – Sorry I seem to have missed your comment all those weeks ago! I as stunned to realise that it had been like this for 40 years – it just seemed amazing that no-one had taken the initiative to just "develop, develop" . Still I suppose it takes more than one development to bring people into an area that looks like this and has a high crime rate. Once it starts though, things get on a roll… but now with the current mortgage crunch and economic situation some developers are losing their funding before their project finishes. One block built as condos was recently converted to rental (with a property management company) because the developer couldn't sell them. It will be interesting to see what comes out of this recession as far as this area is concerned.

  15. Man, this does look depressing. After an event like that I guess it takes forever and a day for things to improve. Something dies. But, on a lighter note I'm glad you have found a nice place to live and can enjoy gardening.

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