Wow! A Reader Takes A Look Inside The “Wonder Bread” Building

Earlier in the week we looked at this building on the 600 block of S Street, NW. A reader commented:

“God I love this place!!! I snuck into the Wonder Bread Factory two weeks ago. There are thousands of bikes inside its like a chop shop.. its the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

She was kind enough to let me post some photos of the inside:

In an email the reader writes:

“Interesting to note: I called the cops about the bikes …”they had other priorities”. After doing some research I found out they have been there for a while.. with no investigation initiated.”

Pretty wild, yeah?

34 Comment

  • There’s my missing rear wheel!

  • The sad part is, if all those bikes were corpses, you’d get the same response from the police.

    Now, if they were hookers holding boxes of donuts…

  • I came across a photoshoot taken inside of this building earlier this year. Although I haven’t been able to find it again, they said that the property owners were letting a local bike shop keep donated bikes from a charity drive in there.

  • Damn it’s like a graveyard in that piece!

  • How do you “sneak” in? That seems like you are looking for trouble. Damn yuppies and their false sense of security….

    Food for thought: Thinking that the cops would care about bikes @ 6th and S..umm hello..people are getting popped in broad daylight…………

  • @monkeyerotica

    A reference to The Wire? Don’t confuse us with that bunch of gump mah-@*!%ers in Balmer

  • zoom268: im really enjoying the continuous anti-yuppies posts.

  • the bikes in all likelihood belong to the Shaw bike shop (now defunct) that was using the building for storage with the consent of the owners of the building.

    I really miss that bike shop. They were located at 6th and R, then moved to North Capitol, then closed about 2 years ago. They were set up as a non-profit, and trained neighborhood kids to repair bikes, and sold the bikes they fixed up at low cost, as well as doing regular bike repairs. They always did a quality job at affordable prices. I don’t know why they closed up shop, but I guess the guys who were running the place were getting into their 30s, and low cost neighborhood bike repair isn’t exactly the most financially renumerative profession. I miss those guys immensely, and if they’re out there reading this, I just want them to know how much they were appreciated.

  • These pictures are great. There’s an odd majesty to the piles of cycle detritus and the Calderesque wheels.

    DC is a city not historically known for it’s manufacturing base, yet so many people seem interested in repurposing old spaces. Contrast with the rash of psuedo “lofts”, and this really stands out. It looks like it could have been transplanted from DUMBO or Red Hook.

  • Wow, that’s amazing. It’s really beautiful. As far as “sneaking in,” I completley understand the temptation. I’ve snuck into abandoned or empty buildings before, and its always fun. I’m sure part of the thrill comes from being in some place you know you’re not supposed to be.

    As a disclaimer though, Ive only done it where it seemed relatively safe.

  • Although, it does take a certain kind of hubris to break & enter on someone else’s property (it’s owned & being developed by Douglas – and there’s a sign on the side saying so) & then call the cops about what you found on your little field trip.

    While I find the bikes beautiful as well and can corroborate the bikes as part of the old Shaw bike shop, I think the photographer’s lucky that the police did have other priorities than picking her butt up.

  • It takes a certain kind of person to break into a building, then call the police. I’m not surprised that the police didn’t do anything as you aren’t the property owner.

    I’ve been in there before legally. The bikes are left over from a defunct bike shop (as already mentioned). Looks like nothing has changed in a couple of years.

    The building is really not in the best shape, parts of the second floor have collapsed and some of the steel beams supporting the upper story are sagging. I wouldn’t go in there again myself.

    Any word on Douglas Development and their plans for the building?

  • girl breaks into warehouse, assumes illegal activity, doesn’t bother figuring out who owns the place and then expresses her civic outrage at the lack of police response on a local blog. too perfect.

  • super-sweet photos and I’d totally sneak in, too, but your critics have a point about calling the fuzz like Nancy Drew.

  • Shaw sounds a lot like Phoenix Bikes in Arlington (soon to be DC, too). Good orgs working with kids and getting affordable transportation to the people.

  • Angry Hipsters,

    Deep breaths… I had no intention of stirring controversy…nor am I outraged. Whether the bikes are there for storage or bc they are stolen –who cares. I was able to capture some hot pics and share them with those of you who would have never had the chance to see them otherwise.

    –Nancy Drew

  • Yes, that warehouse was used as storage for the Shaw EcoVillage bike program that was called “Chain Reaction”. Lots of people had keys/access to that warehouse, and many likely still do. When Chain Reaction folded most of the good/usable bikes were taken and donated/fixed up/sold or used as beaters by volunteers and other folks associated with the shop.

    I’m interested to hear about Phoenix expanding into DC. WRM, you have any more info? I’ve volunteered with, and unfortunately watched every bike program similar to this fail here so far. I’ve been to Phoenix a few times, and it would be great if you could pull it off here.

  • “Whether the bikes are there for storage or bc they are stolen –who cares. ”

    Presumably those whose bikes had been stolen. But I think we can close the file on this one, detective.

  • Nancy Drew:
    Trust that you’ve stirred no controversy. I think the point was that “Angry Hipsters” such as myself generally don’t take kindly to off-the-cuff insulting of law enforcement, esp. when the person doesn’t know what she’s done in the first place. While the police around here get bad press (sometimes rightly so) it doesn’t mean you can go throwing everyone else trying to do their jobs down with them.

    Again, nice pictures though. The angle on the tires suspended in the light shaft is particularly interesting.

    As for Phoenix… I really hope it works out and wish them every bit of luck I can! While I’m frankly terrible with a wrench, so I’d be of no use to them, I’d love to see something like that around here.

    -Anon @11:30am, aka Dr.FabulousShoes

  • Hater 🙂

  • I thought I’d make note that despite often being portrayed as an evil property owner/developer, besides allowing the bike storage, Mr. Jemal has allowed use of his properties for arts-related interests as well.

    As someone who spends quite a bit of time in old, unrenovated properties (with permission, I might add), safety and liability for property owners are significant concerns.

  • Yeah, ‘Mr. Jemal” only has 3 years left on his probation for wire fraud related to fraudulent leasing commissions.

  • I wasn’t saying that the guy is a saint, just that he has been pretty generous to non-profits regarding use of his some of his properties.

  • those pictures kick.

    i think this is still the plan for the place:

    though.. you know.. the economy and all…

  • In defense of Drew, it hardly seems stupid to me to have assumed that those bikes were stolen. Ok, maybe a bit more research could have been done, but an informational call to the cops hardly seems unjustified. As someone who has had their bike stolen, I think I would’ve done the same. I actually get angry everytime I see a bike missing a wheel, or a seat and these pictures churned up the same emotions. Thanks to whoever knew the truth though for clearing it up.

  • i would love to see some pictures of the inside of the Howard Theater which is right around the block from the wonderbread building. Also completely abandoned, yet much more historically significant.

  • Anonymous is that a dare?

  • Um, guys.

    Remember that you saw the bikes while you were in the act of criminal trespass and probable breaking and entering. So maybe reporting your suspicion of a criminal activity would be, at the very least ironic.

    The police are right to be disinterested. The presence of the bikes in that privately owned building is quite legal. The owner of those bikes has an agreement with the owner of that building to store them there. This is not your business and you only found out about it when you broke in.

    If someone broke into your home and published pictures of your appliances on the web, (thus encouraging people to burgle your residence), I think you would resent it.

    All you have done is created a forum for the bored children of privilege to insult the Metropolitan Police Department and you have encouraged people to break in and steal bikes.

    You really ought to remove this article before you are complicit in further crime or an accident. Otherwise you may find you are culpable.

  • Chain reaction was closed when their parent organization, the Shaw Eco Village project folded due to top level mismanagement. The shop had been doing pretty well only a year before.

    The guys who ran it opened a bike shop called Rollin cycles on 14th St. Please support them.

    I often hear complaints about the lack of a DC bike co-op. Having been involved with several of them I would say that the only thing the city lacks is the commitment of people who make these complaints.

    If there is a financial endowment, a free space, reliable, committed and competent volunteers and customers that will commit to shopping there rather than shopping online.

    If that, then we can have a DC bike Co-op.

  • mt rainier bike co-op!
    it’s the closest thing we got.

  • yes, I am pretty sure that CHAIN REACTION was storing bikes there

    bummer that all those donations never made it to the people of the city

  • ah….


    these bikes should be LIBERATED
    perhaps Phoneix Bikes or the Mt Rainier Bike Coop could use them

    I wish Mount Pleasant had a Bike Coop!

  • you people need to get lives outside of your small, myopic existences. Besides, what’s so cool about a bunch of 20 something posers acting like delivery people? It’s been done, over and over again to the point where it’s pure cliche’. Now back to work slackers!

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