Wednesday, August 22, 2007

10 Years in DC

I can hardly believe it but August marks 10 years since I moved to the District. And it has been almost five years living in Petworth. So much has changed, it boggles my mind. So what has changed:

Adams Morgan changed from an eclectic scene of bars and restaurants to a watered down version of itself. The "new" Adams Morgan is without a doubt the U St. neighborhood. I remember going to the State of the Union on U. Street to listen to live tunes 8 or 9 years ago and when the show was over you jumped into a cab (when you could find one) because there was nothing else to do (with the exception of Ben's Chili Bowl of course).

When I first moved to DC I pretty much rotated between Adams Morgan and Cleveland Park. At the time Nanny O'Briens was, in my opinion, the greatest Irish bar in the District. Now it is under new ownership and it has lost its individuality, it almost feels like a chain. As a matter of fact, Cleveland Park itself seems to have lost some of its luster. In its main strip of stores, there are a number of empty ones most noticeably there is a big gap where the McDonald's used to be, which has been vacant for quite some time now. I always used to secretly pine for Cleveland Park. But I can honestly say Columbia Heights/Petworth is far superior today.

As for changes in Petworth itself over the last five years well they have been substantial as well. For starters, cab drivers now know where Petworth is located. Obviously there are a lot more dining and drinking options. But even more interesting is the fact that there is also a lot more diversity. Petworth has one of the few mixed communities of White, Black and Hispanic residents that exist harmoniously. It is really obvious when you go grab a drink at Temperance.

Well, that is enough of my observations. What have you noticed that has changed (both positive and negative) about DC or Petworth/Columbia Heights since you've been here?


Prince of Petworth said...

To Borat: Please keep posting comments. I'm sorry I got a bit sensitive since someone tried posting under my name. It is totally my bad that I left one of yours out. Maybe I can bribe you with a PoP t-shirt...

borat, et. al. said...


i dig.

no worries.

like i said, i've been through a lot of stuff that you've been through, for the same amount of time! (10 years! wow!)

no bribes needed. i dig your blog. i probably should have been a bit more clear about my intentions...

it'll be cool to meet you at the opening of your new 'state of affairs"!

i don't know who posted crap under your name, but they deserve a big fat kick in the arse!

leave it to this: whoever they are, they're clearly losers. i think we all trust your point of view. if you say they're jerks, they are.

rock on, PoP!

pauper said...

This is definitely going to anger some folks, but since "W" took over office, I think the city has gotten uglier. I can't quite explain it, but I just don't see as many beautiful people.

Maybe Billy Clinton just attracted the hot ones - just don't know.

Disclaimer: I'm a toad.

reuben said...

happy anniversary, pop. ive been here since 1959...i know what you mean about the neighborhoods cited in your post-but i guess i still like cleveland park-cause its got a lot of foot traffic, essentials (like grocery stores ) are in walking distance of housing-the stuff we dont yet (?) have in petworth/brightwood...
but i am glad you are happy..

all the best...

ColHeightsChic said...

I moved to DC in 1997. The neighborhood that's changed for the worst: Adams Morgan. I used to love the diversity, the fact that I could eat Ethiopian food, have a beer at an Irish pub, sip coffee at a French spot, and shake my booty to live reggae on any given night. Yes, all those things still exist, but the majority of the strip is clogged with pubs and sports bars and fraternity-style hang-outs. sniff sniff.
Back then, I remember I wouldn't walk beyond 16th Street at night. So the neighborhood that's changed for the best: CH and Petworth. Woo hoo!!!!!

Sarah said...

I came to DC in 1983. Spent some time in Foggy Bottom (guess what brought me to DC), then Adams Morgan, Shaw, Mt Pleasant, and finally, Petworth (since 1990).

So much has changed in that time. And I am not really that old. But...

Adams Morgan - when I lived there, the bus drivers used to say to me, "Honey, you sure you want to get off HERE?" But I loved it. It wasn't the trend zone it has become. And yes, this was before it was well known as an ethnic dining mecca. But it was a fun neighborhood, and so cheap and convenient.

Shaw - It was some good, some bad. Easy walk to downtown. Decent walkable grocery store. Still, this was before 14th St was sterilized, and so it could be dicey walking home late at night. And I worked nights, so I was always coming home late at night!

Mt P - I loved it. Nice people, good food, CHEAP place to live, convenient. In those days it was a wonderfully mixed community. But we couldn't afford to buy a house there, so we came over to Petworth.

Other things - Cleveland Park I have always thought of as a bunch of rich white republicans (as Rootboy Slim used to sing. Well, howl, I guess. Wasn't quite singing.) But I loved Nanny's. With Brian and company gone now, it's wrong. (I liked it when it was Gallagher's too.) Bedrock - remember when they used to be the small upstart cool company? Wow, have they gone horribly, painfully, corporate. It shows in how they handled Nanny's.

So many other things have changed. Metro Center - nothing remains, it seems like. And Chinatown - not the same place. I'm not sure that's all good.

Man, you're making me half nostalgic, half melancholy.

euclid resident said...

I remember dancing at State of the Union and marvelling at the array of shiny motorcycles parked in front of Republic Gardens. When trying to return home afterwards, I thought I was at the frontier of where a young woman could safely catch a cab alone at night. It sometimes seemed like an awfully long wait for an empty cab.

I remember when Polly's was the only place I knew of (besides Ben's) to grab a bite before a show at the 9:30 club. At a party on 15th street above Q -- long before the age of Whole Foods -- there was heated discussion of the constant break-ins and dangers of life on that block.

I also remember Blelvis singing "Old Shep" with my friend in front of the Black Cat. Where is he now?

Every group house I ever lived in has been returned to its former Victorian splendor or turned into condos. I never thought I would stay in DC much less buy, and spend countless hours renovating, a home several blocks northeast of 14th & U. But it felt like the right thing to do. I didn't know that one day, Red Rocks would open a few blocks away and my husband and I would enjoy margherita pizza after yet another saturday spent stripping and sanding our home's woodwork (those victorians sure loved their woodwork).

This is a very different city from the one I first moved to 13 years ago, but it is still my city.

Anonymous said...

14th Street might be sanitized but I love having more than the chinese carry out as an option for lunch. My elderly neighbors in Petworth who used to chase crack dealers away from in front of their houses are THRILLED with the changes. Let's not romanticize the violent past (and present!) of some of these neighborhoods.

poo poo head said...

whatever happened to that 'compliment guy' in adams morgan? remember? he used to compliment all the ladies.

haven't seen him in a while. then again, i haven't frequented the hood for a few years when i lived in 3636 16th street.

i ended up buying a pad in NE DC, and haven't been back in a while.

oh. one night, on a whim, i went to that little three story latin place on columbia, got wasted, and ate pizza at the pizza slice joint.

it was so raucus, i haven't been back.

yeah, the hoods have changed.

i think petworth and h street have a lot more in common than a lot of the other 'emerging' hoods in dc.

in '96 i was looking to buy an apartment, and my Begg Long and Foster agent told me that she wouldn't work with me if i looked anywhere past 17th street, because she didn't want to feel responsible if i got knifed.

what a joke.

i actually listened to her.

oh well. you live and you learn.

HRH King Friday XIII said...

So true of Cleveland Park. I've only lived in CP for 2 1/2 years, but I'm begining to realize how white bread suburbia it really is. I'm surrounded by mini strip malls and chains. If I wanted that lifestyle I'd live in NOVA.

Anonymous said...

I have lived here since 2000, but was stationed in DC briefly back in the early 80s. Back then, to add to some of the other comments, I remember 14th st. was basically
hooker and strip club central. You would not even think in 1983 that almost 20 years later, all of this would be replaced with high priced condos, eateries and cafes.

I also remember Georgetown was filled with nightspots,and among my faves were the Crazy horse, Pall Malls and The Bayou.

I also recall Rumours was the place to be, but it is vastly different today.

DC at that time did not have all of the amenities that are present now, but it seemed to be a more jovial, friendly and carefree place. today, it just seems to be such an uptight place...

Yes, to add to what Sarah said, Chinatown was not as glitzy as it is now, but it was CHINATOWN.

I used to enjoy going to Adams Morgan back in the 90s when visiting, but it's just not the place it once was. I also remember a place called "The Soul Cafe" on U St.

ColHeightsChic said...

Poo Poo and Euclid Res: Both Blelvis and the Compliment Man were recently written about in the Post. Blelvis is alive and well and hanging out in Columbia Heights these days! He sang to us outside Wonderland a few weeks ago. Check it out:

ColHeightsChic said...

for some reason, the address was cut off. let's try one more time:

ColHeightsChic said...

Darnit! Ok, after the "08" add in the rest of the address:

IntangibleArts said...

I moved to Columbia Heights in 1987. The Tivoli was still a wreck behind barbed-wire fences. I was sharing a rowhouse basement with 5 other punks on Monroe by 14th (rent was something insane like $150/mo).

Used to hear a lot more police action during the night in those days. First time my mother visited (dear sweet thing she is), she got to see a classic COPS-like TV scene outside my door; some guy being chased, thrown to the ground, the whole sheebang.

I didn't get to see the 'hood change gradually: I moved out of town & didn't see DC again for 16 years, so it's a kick upside the head, to see how it is now.

When I lived here before, pizza delivery folks wouldn't come out to my block. Now there's a freakin' woodfire pizza sit-down place a few blocks EAST of THAT!

I'll admit, the enormity of the DC-USA project freaks right-the-hell-out, but overall I love what's happened.

lazy cake said...

Not to hate on Chinatown, but it's not an "authentic" Chinatown like NYC, Philly, SF, etc. There was never a significant Chinese population in the area and it wasn't until the 1970s that the DC gov't decided to get with the program and literally manufacture a Chinatown....
But who the hell can blame them? Chinatown is basically the Times Square of DC at this point, so it'd seem to me that the plan worked.

Jarrett said...

There is a significant Chinese population in this area, but its centered in Rockville, not in DC.

This is a (not too well written) article about DC Chinatown's history, but its about the only one out there.

Honestly, I just wish they would dispense with the efforts to relabel non-Chinese stores in Chinese. It's sorta embarassing, especially when I run into misguided tourists there.

Ms. Go said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ms. Go said...

Gentrification takes the good and the bad.

It destroys the very things they come here for.

We can't have it both ways.