Friday Question of the Day – What’s Been The Most Amazing Change in DC Since You’ve Been Here?

Gallery Place and Verizon Center, originally uploaded by otavio_dc.

It’s really wild how much DC has changed in the 12 years I’ve lived here. So I thought it might make for a fun FQoTD. No matter how long you’ve lived here there has most definitely been some change. I’m just wondering what’s been the most amazing in your opinion. Things that pop into my head are the U Street transformation, Verizon Center/Gallery Place transformation, H Street, NE, Barrack’s Row, Columbia Heights/Target etc., Anacostia, Nats. Stadium…

So in your time in DC – what has been the most incredible transformation?

66 Comment

  • it has to be chinatown/penn quarter/mv triangle transformation – all the areas you cited are hugely different but this area is the starkest contrast. 10 years ago it was a series of vacant lots and porn stores.

  • Yup. Chinablock. It’s gone from a handful of Chinese restaurants to a stripmall in nothing flat. Now, you can actually walk from Judiciary Square to Metro Center and not spit on. AND they’ve gotten rid of almost all the Chinese people.

  • Obviously there are many changes / transformations here that have been significant. To me, though, the evolution of 14th street from the “edge” of the City for many people into the “heart” of the City for many has been quite amazing. 14th now bridges several neighborhoods in a way that it never could before. And the transition from automotive repairs to ritzy boutiques is about as marked as any transition in town (although not as “big” and noticeable as Verizon Center, Convention Center, or Columbia Heights.

  • The de-gayification of Dupont Circle.

  • My first thought was also Chinatown, since I used to regularly spend time at the American Art Museum there in the late ’80’s.

    In terms of fastest change, I’d say U St and 14th St. I can think of several specific clients who had opportunities to purchase real estate dirt cheap in some locations in the early 2000s and chose not to because they didn’t have the vision. I was aware of the development in process and can explain and show and send articles and web sites out the wazoo, but a lot of people can’t really see it until it’s physically there.

    I’m really amazed at the transformation of Bloomingdale, the neighborhood that I live in, since I started working (selling property) here in 2001. I remember having a conversation with an investor, insisting that I KNEW the prices would one day hit $400,000. for a house. He thought I was insane.

  • Mt. Vernon Sq. We are down to like 10 hookers! When I first moved here, the convention center of today was just a giant whole in the ground with abandoned buildings and hookers as far as the eye could see.

  • This August marks my 10th year in D.C. In 1999, downtown was a virtual ghost town at night. Now it’s like any other major American city.

  • White people living east of 14th Street.

    Suburbanites and out-of-staters not assuming that if you live in “The Murder Capitol of the Nation” you will either be killed or sodomized eventually.

    Nothing against consensual sodomy or anything.

  • @hipchickindc

    If you think change came fast to 14th and U you are a freekin’ rookie. I first hit that strip in ’82, at 14th and Swann, when the corner at 14th and U featured mobs of junkies, hookers and dealers just hangin’, every night. There is, to my knowledge, nothing like that in DC now. In ’90 I bought on 13th and T and U street was an open pit, for Metro construction. Squatters, junkies, long-time residents — black and white, gays, kids, and a few young families like ours who couldn’t afford Cleveland Park….all watching stuff change one building at a time. Polly’s. Andalusian Dog. Black Cat. Renovating the Whitelaw…

    The “New U” was 25 years coming.

  • I don’t know I still get from out of towners that DC is the Murder Capitol and if I leave there how have I not died yet…

    In my relatively short time here (it will be 6 years in September) I think I’m not really qualified to answer this question. I do marvel, though at the changes I see on U street just in the past few years. It went from, in 2007 when I moved to the area, a hipper, quieter alternative to louder places to go out, to a pretty loud place itself. Just in the past two years dozens of bars and restaurants have opened, and even though some have closed and empty storefronts remain, it’s amazing how quickly things have changed and how successful new businesses have become. Just thinking about how Ben’s has changed in the past few years: from a landmark and a sort of tourist destination to a place that regularly has tourist buses and lines out the door, it’s a bit crazy.

  • I’d have to say H st NE, although it’s still a work in progress. I’ve been visiting my fiance who lives near H st back in 2003 and there wasn’t anything on H st NE to warrant a visit other than cheap booze. Now that I moved down here, we frequent the street for their awesome restaurants and bars. It’s definitely gonna be the next U St soon

  • Dupont, really. Just a few years ago, it was junkie heaven; where white kids from Bethesda and Vienna came to get their smack, and where you’d see h-ed out junkies shooting smack in the tunnels under the circle. It was an absolute shit-show. Then, it suddenly, it was the hot spot in town. Now, it’s basically old hat. (“Wanna go to Dupont?” “Meh. Let’s hit H street.”) All in just over a decade.

  • Oh, and runner-up, for most visible change almost overnight goes to the Columbia Heights corridor. Jesus, that turned from a bunch of boarded-up storefronts and a huge hole in the ground to vibrancy like magic!

    Third: Chinatown. Nice not to get shot on my way to greasy noodles. Or the Rube Tube, as it turns out.

  • When I moved here in 1999 friend of mine insisted I needed to buy a place in ColHgts so I went to check it out one sunny Sunday afternoon. I turned my car onto Park Road from 14th street and it was obvious I was in heavy gang territory. As I drove by people would shove their hands under their shirts and I did not know what was going on until I saw a glimmer of a pistol handle under the shirt. Needless to say I ended up bying a condo somwhere else. In 2004 I had to get out of the little boxy condo in Arlington and I went looking for a townhouse and got lost and ended up at 14th and Park. Believe it or not, in 2004 things were thousands of times better than 1999 and now, even with some of the problems that are holding out, I am amazed at how far ColHgts has come.

    China Town is amazing too, but the difference is Chinatown was pretty much a ghost town bakc then.

  • Ahoy !

    I remember well as a kid in the late 1970’s how the Willard Hotel and The Old Post Office were vacant and boarded up. So in terms of size and scope, in the public sector, certainly the redevelopment of Pennsylvania Avenue from the District Building and the Ronald Reagan Complex all the way down to the conservatories of the U.S. Botanic Garden by the Capitol Building would be the most incredible transformation.

    In private sector Washington, everything that’s happened from Millie and Al’s and the old Showboat Lounge on 18th Street in Adams Morgan to Ben’s Chili Bowl and the Lincoln Theatre at 12th and U Streets, NW.

    The next half century will see the most amazing transformation in the areas North of Union Station all the way to Catholic University and Petworth. God give us all good health.

    (It’d go a lot faster if we’d all make it more hospitable and inviting to the doers, and stop carping and being so critical of the risk takers that often pledge all that they have to better themselves and our city, like the two brave men that yesterday transported a great old Diner from upstate New York.)

    Tantum Eruditi Sunt Liberi

  • When I moved here in 88…I was told not to wander past 14thNW…I now live on 1st NW.
    Even thought the names of the places change Adams Morgan still seems unchanged to better no worse.

  • Despite how crazy DC seems sometimes, there has been a massive decrease in crime since I moved here in 1992 (I lived in Arlington first, moved into the city in 94). The Wash Post printed the photos of all the murder victims in the paper from ’92 on New Years Day – very close to 500 homicides, triple what it is today. There were some horrific crimes. At the same time, when Marion Barry was mayor, the city services were abysmal…people complain about how it is now, but back then the trash barely got picked up, potholes didn’t get filled and the city streets were like a 3rd world country. DMV is like a fantasy dream world of joy compared to what it used to be like.

    I’ll also second early commenters on the transformation of Chinatown – it was all boarded up buildings and wig shops when I first got here. And the old 9:30 club smelled like spilled beer and vomit!

  • Been here since ’79.

    I’m gonna vote for the fall of the Marion Barry regime. There’s still a good deal of his damage to undo, but without that POS out of the picture [for the most part] none of the development anyone has mentioned above would be possible.

  • I am surprised we have yet to get our first anti-gentrification rant about how much “character” the city has lost due to all these changes and how horrible it is that the “read DC” is gone, or something like that. I would have put the over/under on that at comment number five …

  • “real DC” that is … really, what has happened in DC is the same thing that has happened in the other major northeast cities with lots of high paying jobs — Boston and NYC in particular. DC just got a late start due to the Barry legacy, and had a lot of catching up to do, making the changes that much faster and more dramatic when they belatedly occurred …

  • The assumption is that we all came here from elsewhere. I was born in DC and still live here. I grew up in a (yes) Jewish area of far SE that technically isn’t Anacostia but off of Wheeler Road before Southern Avenue. We moved to another neighborhood in the late 50s (I’m such a geezer). After nearby high school and college, I moved to Adams Morgan in the 70s. It was very bohemian in a rundown sort of way with the Ontario Theater (el cine Ontario) and the Cafedon on Columbia Road. Then I lived in Mt Pleasant, which was dirty, rat-infested and if it was hip, again it was bohemian. Which is to say if you wanted to have children and raise a family, if you had any middleclass upbringing, you’d never think to buy a house and settle down there. Sure, Adams Morgan, Mt Pleasant, Dupont, were good for group houses. But getting married and raising a family? Straight to the clean, safer suburban though boring areas. As for Columbia Heights and Petworth? Unheard of. Until the last 15 years. Truly amazing transformation. As is the majority black and middle class transformation of Prince George’s County which has heavily white and redneck for decades.

  • This is such a bittersweet question. While 99% of the changes are definitely for the better, and as someone who’s not interested in being part of a neighborhood in transition, and prefers a slower, quieter place to call home – of course I’m happily surprised by so much of the change that’s taken place since I first moved here in the early 90s. Even in the 7 years I’ve been in this house, watching the Hill and H St. change and improve has been amazing.

    But it’s the change in downtown that I still find startling. I remember going to the old 9:30 club (or, in fits of early college confusion, the Fifth Column or the Vault) and being scared for my life and thinking how my parents would die if they saw me sharing the sidewalk with junkies and hookers, regardless of how awesome whatever show I was waiting to get into was going to be. Worse, I remember going to Tracks probably in my first week of college, and getting hopelessly lost wandering around SE. Now, I look at those places and see fancy office buildings and Cowgirl Creamery and a baseball stadium. (although, I think there are newer, equally cheesy clubs in the old Vault and Fifth Column now… I have no idea – I’m far, far too old for that sort of thing)

    But, as important as it was to clean up downtown, I can’t help but feel that I lost some old friends. The Crow Bar, the 15 Minute Club, the Insect Club and the old 9:30 were the places where I grew up and what defined DC for me for so many years that I can’t help but look at the shiny buildings that have taken their places with just a smidge of sadness and nostalgia for the grittiness that was.

  • I would wager to say that DC has gone through the greatest transformation of any US city over the last 10 years. If you want to take a trip down memory lane, check out this (almost historical) site- In rough order, these areas have undergone the greatest transformation:

    1) “Downtown!” Roughly speaking, the area from Metro Center through the Mt Vernon Triangle. What an unbelievable a positive change. What was full of seedy shops, boarded up buildings and an ugly office ghetto has been transformed into one of the more vibrant US downtowns (US downtowns in general are ghost towns, still). It’s amazing how much it’s changed, and there’s still meat left on this bone when they start building on the old convention center & the convention center hotel plots.

    2) Columbia Heights- This was previously a bombed out area of the city, with empty lots and trash strewn about. If you had showed me ten years ago what it’s turned into, there’s no way I would have believed you. It was also, by statistics, the most murderous area of the city (which explains a lot today). It gets some crap for having “chains” but the degree of (smart) investment that has gone into CH has been nothing short of spectacular.

    3) Old “Near Southeast”- What’s often left out in the continual (and unfair) bashing of the Nats stadium area is just how barren, devoid of people, and unsightly that area was just 5 years ago. While I admit to dropping in to a club or two down there, it was by no means a good area. Some forgotten housing projects, empty warehouses, and a few auto body shops. It’s turning into a nice little “satellite” downtown and looks 1000% better than it did. Add some restaurants and bars, and that area is somewhat vibrant.

    4) U Street- The U Street of the 80’s/90’s was not a pretty one. It still had some vibrancy, as there were stores, bars, and shops open, but still lots of burned out shells like you still see (unfortunately) today.

    5) “NOMA” See Near Southeast above. Noma was more or less a collection of parking lots and warehouses up until three years ago. The name sucks no doubt, but the look and feel of the area couldn’t be more different than it was when I was growing up.

  • I haven’t heard anyone talk about the Insect Club in AGES. I don’t think I lost any old friends besides DC Space though, those places were great for what they were, but the rampant racism and self-hating-racism of the Barry Administration kept the city and its residents down and kept DCPS churning out illiterate kids with no hope. Obama has given people hope and sometimes hope comes in the form of a clean chain restaurant without bulletproof glass.

    I remember going to the BBQ Iguana right off 14th St and it was a hell hole, people got shot on 14th St that night and there were both crackheads AND junkies right in front of the place wondering what was going on. I walked into the 7-11 and it was like Night of the Living Baseheads. Not 3 years later Dante’s restaurant was an anachronism.

    I still think though that the change that happened in Chinatown was the biggest change in the city. There was NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING like Chinatown anywhere in the region. Chinatown reminds me of Manhattan now- sports, big stores, lots of bars and restaurants and people, people, people walking everywhere. In the 1980s I’d drive to Manhattan to find anything like that.

    Prior to that, the major changes in the city were the opening of the metro stops. Bethesda went from a sleepy semi-rural, countryish hippy enclave populated by Emmylou Harris and Mary Chapin Carpenter into a wealthy suburb. I remember when Bethesda was basically like what Takoma Park is now, but with more Jewish culture. So Bethesda and Rosslyn changed drastically in the late 1970s.

    Do people today even know that at 8th and H St NE in 1986 someone’s mother was attacked by a group of young teenagers and raped to death with a broom handle?

  • You should mention overlooked parts of the city, or stuff that you expect to explode in the next few years. Let’s say N. Cap. With all the residential change in bloomingdale, eckington, etc. It has to be one of the largest untapped parts of the city. Maybe Brookland, CUA area is a close second

  • Remember when the Guardian Angels came to Columbia Heights? I heard it was the first place outside of NYC for them to come..

  • the development surrounding the ch metro. i moved here nearly 4 years ago when they were demolishing the area. to see what’s been built and how the area has transformed has been nothing short of amazing.

  • Here since 1993 and I’m going to vote for snow plows…in the big storms of 1996, the city had two and one wasn’t working….

    Of course we don’t get much snow anymore (or at least it doesn’t seem like it) but the snow plow speaks to a larger point that the city has come a long, long way (largely thanks to the Williams administration) from where we were.

  • Biggest change? Gotta be reputation. As others have noted here, DC was and remains in some people’s mind, the “murder capital of the world”. My family is from the west coast and has never been here. My mom cried when she found out I was going to move from the burbs and live in DC proper – she was terrified I would be killed cuz its “the murder capital of the world”.

    She first made a visit to my place (capitol hill) last year. She was awestruck by the history and vibrancy of the neighborhood. She left here a changed person. The “murder capital of the world” was now “cute”!

  • the Fuller murder at 8th and H NE is now widely believed to be a fabrication by police.

    Fighting for Justice in the Catherine Fuller Murder Case
    As a reporter at the Washington Post, Patrice Gaines spent six years (1995 – 2001), investigating the 1984 killing of a black woman. What she found convinced her that eight young black men now serving 35 years to life for the killing are innocent. Based on new evidence discovered by Gaines’s investigation, the Innocence Project of the National Capital Region has taken on the case and is fighting for a new trial for the young men.

    The basic details of the murder are:
    Catherine Fuller, mother of six, was walking from the store to her home in Northeast Washington, D.C on October 1, 1984, a busy, rainy afternoon. As she walked through an alley, someone brutally beat Mrs. Fuller to death, robbing her of about $50 in cash.

    Police said a gang hit Mrs. Fuller, then dragged her deeper into the alley, where they kicked and beat her to death. Police also said someone used a stick to sodomize the woman. Initially police rounded up more than 13 black youths. Eight months after the killing, they charged 10 youths in the murder. Eventually, two became police witnesses and received lesser sentences; the other eight were charged, found guilty and sentenced to 35 years to life.

    From the beginning, some of the details in the police version were baffling. No one in the neighborhood had ever heard of a gang in their community. There was no physical evidence—no blood or hair from the suspects and no weapon, not even the stick police said was used to sodomize the victim. The killing supposedly took place about 4:30 p.m. on a day when government checks are delivered and people in the community run to the store and the bank, yet none of the adult residents heard or saw anything. Witnesses were teens, most of them already known to police because they had committed other crimes or were waiting to go to court on pending charges.

    Years after the murder and trial, with the help of Washington Post lawyers, Gaines and another reporter were able to obtain the police files. Through these files and interviews with so-called witnesses, she turned up new crucial evidence:

    • All witnesses except one admitted to lying, saying police threatened them with murder charges unless they became witnesses against the defendants.

    • A frightened witness went to police three weeks after the murder to say she was in the alley when the killing occurred. This woman, Ammie Davis, a heroin addict in her 30s, said she and a friend were shooting up in the alley when her friend jumped Mrs. Fuller and beat her to death for drug money. Police did not investigate the woman’s claims. Some weeks later, the man she accused of the murder shot Davis to death. The man had a lengthy record and a reputation for violence. He was serving time for Davis’s killing and about to be released when he died of sclerosis of the liver.

    • Three other teens in the neighborhood purchased Mrs. Fuller’s wedding ring the night of her murder. They bought it for $5 from a couple in their 30s on the same block where Mrs. Fuller was killed, about an hour after her body was found. The next day, after hearing about the murder, the youths took the ring to Mrs. Fuller’s husband. Police were called—and again they did not follow standard procedure. Police questioned the teens and released them. Police did not search for the couple in the 30s, nor did they show the youths photos so they could identify the couple. Instead, the teens said police scared them into silence by threatening to make them a part of the gang and charging them with Mrs. Fuller’s murder also

    Judging from police actions and considering the new evidence, it appears police made up their minds early, locking in on one possible scenario regarding the killing, and they ignored any evidence that did not fit this scenario. Today, seven of the youths remain imprisoned. The eighth died of an aneurism while in prison. Still, his mother fights beside the other mothers, with the hope that all of their sons will soon be free from prison and from their erroneous convictions as murderers.

    From –

  • Without a doubt – my front yard. Oh goodness the change I’ve seen there! And I made it happen with my own head and hands…

  • My first vote is also for Chinatown, because the first time I walked around there (after moving back to DC after grad school) I remember feeling totally disoriented, it was so different. My second vote is for the 14th St corridor — including U St, CH, and Logan. Maybe I was a scaredy-cat back in the day, but back then I never wandered east of 16th St.

  • Its definitely chinatown/U street tie for me. I lived off New Hampshire and V 8 years ago and I wouldn’t walk down U after sundown… gunshots out the window… the usual stuff. Then, my rent slowly started creeping up and I got priced out of the area… this is back in the day when the mcdonalds on 14th and U didn’t have any seating just places to stand and eat and the “ellington” was just a vision in some developers dreams. Its crazy to walk down the street and see all the boarded up buildings now vibrant shops, eateries.

    I do however miss the Subway on 14th and U where Marvin is now located. The guy loved me there and would load up my subway stamp card with every purchase… god bless him!

  • I hadn’t heard of Petworth until I moved here. Does anybody care to comment how much it has changed in the past 10-15 years?

  • when “Variety Deli” closed … everything changed.

  • The Catherine Fuller murder is not “widely accepted” to be a police fabrication.

    Patrice Gaines is a former heroin addict and heroin dealer turned inner city crime apologist. I do not remotely trust her. Not remotely.

    The fuller murder has some conspiracy theorists up in arms, but none of the commentary about it rises to the level of legitimacy let alone widely suspected, except in the anti-gentrification community where such awful crimes could NEVER have been perpetrated.

    I submit that the Patrice Gaines of the world are EXACTLY the problem with the old DC- they mishandle and confuse the story so that in their minds no one could have committed the crime and the victim is likely still alive.

    I am dealing with this issue right now where my neighbors are trying to claim that the perpetrators of the crime and the only people on the street at the time of the crime “just couldn’t” have done the crime- as if the victim shot himself 30 feet from the bullet casings.

  • I moved to DC in ’98 and visiting friends couldn’t get over how far 18th St. had come since the early 90s. When I visit AM now, I’m amazed at how little has changed there in the past decade, especially compared to some of the surrounding areas like U St. & CH.

    I’ll put in a nod to Barracks Row SE, which was really seedy as little as 7 years ago. I vividly remember being repulsed at witnessing someone taking a dump in a doorway on the main drag of 8th St. in the middle of the day. I s*@! you not.

  • This may be an unpopular opinion, but over the past 10 years here, I think DC has changed for the worse, and I’m ready to move away.

  • we have a black president now.

  • Anon 11:46: Why? I’m honestly curious.

  • I think SE has changed the most. I’ve lived in the DC area all my life and it wasn’t until the last few years that I would even consider living in SE. It was just the place you avoided because it was the “bad part of town”. For that matter I’m pretty sure everything that wasn’t NW was the bad part of town. Not anymore though.

  • When we moved here 12 years ago, my then-bf (now dh) got an offer to rent a condo with a colleague near Union Station. He went to look at the place and was skeeved by the neighborhood. Now we live in the same area. and paid too much for our house.

  • I’m anon at 11:46, and I’ve watched over the past decade the transformation of the city as a small southern city with charm into a city full of big box stores, transient residents, rising gang violence and an intangible loss of character. It’s become everywhere USA over the time I’ve been here, only more violent. I’m now ready to move away to a city that has more of its own character, things to distinguish it from any other. Perhaps here in the U.S., perhaps out of the country.

  • The closure of most areas near federal buildings:

    Closure of Penn. Ave in front of Whitehouse, as well as E (g?) St, and the Ellipse.
    – Normal people used to be able to park on the ellipse & then play sports there.

    Closure of public areas around the capitol: No more nice views from the west side (or sex in the bushes for that matter.)

    Closure of ….. Repeat Ad Nauseaum.

  • @am2o

    You probably haven’t visited this area in a while, because much of that area you’re describing is entirely accessible. You can walk freely through Lafayette Park, around the Ellipse and most of 1600 Penn is easily accessible to pedestrians. During the Bush years this area became a DMZ. It was great to walk around there freely yesterday and even hear protesters outside the WH.

    That’s actually the best change that comes to my mind

  • Complaints about the big box stores…sigh. If you have a vision of DC as some retail Utopia with mom-n-pop stores and everyone shops in their neighborhood, you’ll have to go back to about 1950 to find it. Petworth old-timers will tell you about the day when the local stores were thriving…it’s only the last 40 years or so that the only shops to survive are liquor stores, barber shops and funeral homes. There is so much more retail in DC than there used to be and that’s a good thing. I also think a lot of local businesses who get pushed out of places closer to downtown will come to neighborhoods further east and north, and that will be a good thing for us. As far as I’m concerned the DC of the 80s or 90s where you had to get into your car and head to Montgomery county to buy something as simple as a trash can (yes, Thank You Target for coming here!)…these aren’t days to remember with nostalgia.

  • MAN! remember when there was so little down town traffic that F St didnt go all the way through? It was a freaking plaza between 9th and 7th. I used to go to a record shop in the basement of the building that would later become the spy museum. oh those were the days(ze).

    Or when E St Expressway meant something and you could go from the Roosevelt Bridge to 9th street in a blink of an eye.

    Chinatown and Columbia Heights get my votes for most change since 1990. Bethesda changing is a little before my time.

  • @Anon 12:46, those areas have always been pretty pedestrian friendly (even during the Bush years) – I assumed what @am2o was referring to was back when we could drive and park on Penn in front of the WH. It’s funny remembering what a pain in the a** it seemed like when they announced they were closing the street there, and now (although, it’s still a pain in the a**) it’s so ingrained and I’ve met several people who never knew you could once drive right past the WH, making Penn a fairly convenient option for cross town travel.

    This reminds me of when Fourth of July on the Mall didn’t used to suck, when people would haul couches and kegs out there and The Law turned a blind eye.

  • 12:21:

    DC was never really a southern city. As kids we used to say it had Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm. I really don’t believe anyone moved here and said, “how southern.” I mean, Southern compared to Boston, but not compared to Charleston.

    DC is LEGENDARY for having transient residents. The only residents that weren’t transient were some African-American families, but even there most of the long-term residents I know long lost their kids and grandkids to PG County. But even still almost every single one of my friends from high school moved to a different city, primarily New York and Los Angeles. My parents moved here in the 1960s and most of their coworkers moved here then and most moved out by 1982. One gets their PhD, moves here to write their policy book, then gets tired and gets that teaching job at the University of MidwesternState.

    DC’s gang problems are much less now than they were before. Even 17th and Euclid with all its problems is so much less of an issue now than it was back then. Gang violence SUCKS right now, but I remember a time where the police would show up on our block several times a week. At best, the years around 2004-2007 were pretty good, but DC in 1987-1989 was a hellhole.

    If you were to say that the DC punk experience was much better in 1991 than it is now, I’d have to agree- with the cleaned up blocks also comes expensive door prices and a lack of experimentation. However the same thing happened to NYC during these same years. I have been told that London is a lot less Londony and Paris is less Parissy. Keep Austin Weird exists because Austin is getting less weird. I think that this was all the effect of the Seinfeld and Friends revolution, where living in the city appeared vital to so many people that they moved there and 10 years later they’re 35 and they will force the police to clean up everyone on the street at the first violent rape.

  • Black President in the White House.

  • @Nichole

    Not really. A large part of Lafayette Park was fenced off from Penn Ave in the post-9/11 era. There were tons of barriers herding pedestrians to the north side of the street. I also remember when it was accessible to traffic, but I liked it better when it was used as an ad hoc roller hockey space pre-9/11

  • I amazed at how my hairline receded as my waistline expanded.

    Oh and 14th St.

  • saf

    I’d have to write a book. So many changes, some good, some bad.

    DC is the same city that called me to stay in 1983, and a totally changed city. And I still can’t imagine living anywhere else.

  • bigzom25 – i fail to understand why the fact “we have a black president now” makes a difference?

  • Lot of great stories, but Penn Quarter. Easily.

  • am2o: hear, hear. The road closures around the White House and the west front of the Capitol sadden me every time I’m nearby.

  • I remember when a visit to Ford’s Theater was considered a visit to a risky neighborhood. And that was really only 12 years ago. Just imagine how awesome Petworth can/will be in 10 years or so…

  • i’ve been here since ’92, and the whole CITY seems to be rising out of the ashes. downtown, U street, 14th street–everything’s better and livelier and way less scary. one of my kids was upset when i moved to the “murder capitol of the US.” actually, i think the crazy DRIVERS are the scariest.

    when i moved here, marion barry was mayor and bill clinton was about to be elected president. now barry is in dialysis, clinton is going to haiti, and BARACK OBAMA is our wonderful president!! Change!!

  • I’m with Matt G – front yard all the way. But seriously, Chinatown and Columbia Heights by far in my druken mind have had the most change over the last 10 or so years..

  • though i’m still upset that Coco-loco left chinatown and RFD moved in with their awesome beer selection but horrible food…

  • In the mid-1970s, I had opportunity to roam and observe DC several times during visits to relatives. Among the things I remember were:

    (1) Metro, in particular the Red Line, was still under construction and had yet to open.
    (2) International Square on K Street was being built, as was Washington Square at Connecticut and L St. These were important building that jump started the revitalization of the West End business district.
    (3) Drug paraphernalia–bongs, pipes, and so forth–was sold openly (and legally I believe) by street vendors on several downtown corners.
    (4) Men with white gloves who operated elevators. (This may still be the case today at the Ring Building at 18th & M Streets).

    In the late 1980s, I moved to DC. The city seemed to be on an upswing, but violence due to the crack epidemic was escalating to astounding levels. On many, many weekends, five, eight or more people were regularly gunned down. It was a very scary, dangerous time with the number of murders approaching 500 a year. Watching the nightly news was like observing a war zone, but one that was just blocks away. On Mondays, the Post would detail the carnage in little paragraphs listing the victims, or with a major story in Metro if an exceptionally murderous weekend occurred. A siege mentality swept across the city, and many residents left the city or were planning to do so. But development continued apace downtown, and even picked up a bit, while most residential neighborhoods were struggling to hold on to gains made earlier in the decade. Some notable happenings were as follows:

    (1) The Park & Shop strip shopping center in Cleveland Park (one of the first of its kind in the country, by the way), which had remained vacant and desolate for a decade or more was redeveloped by Douglas Jemal in the late 1980s. Cleveland Park folks!
    (2) During a huge snow storm either in the late ’80s or early ’90s, I was driving along M Street toward Georgetown. But traffic was diverted at 23rd Street because a foot (or more) of snow still remained on M Street beyond 23rd and into Georgetown; the city had thrown up its hands and had given up attempting to clear the streets! Congress had to spring into action and eventually the Feds and their equipment made the roads passable.
    (3) The Clifton Terrace apartment complex in Columbia Heights (between 14th & 15th Streets) was notoriously known throughout the city for its shocking level of gun violence, with incidents that seemed to happen every other week or so. Gawd! Columbia Heights was a place you just didn’t venture to. The Potomac Gardens housing project on Capital Hill was likewise known; eventually a prison-like perimeter, security fence had to built which remains to this day.
    (4) The Trinidad neighborhood or a adjacent area acquired the nickname “Little Saigon” because, well, you know … bang, bang, bang!
    (5) In the late 1980s, Dupont Circle, Adams Morgan and Mount Pleasant were the neighborhoods that were considered up and coming. Logan Circle and its charming housing stock was shaky at best.

    Has DC changed dramatically and for the better in the last 20 years? Damn straight!

  • Plenty of bigger changes are discussed in this thread, but two things stand out for me, both within the last ten years. For many years I’ve lived near Eastern Market and commuted by bike to Howard University. Ten years ago I seldom saw a white face north of F Street NE; now whites and Asians are an established part of the mix everywhere along my ride. (By a couple years ago lots of the dogwalkers were white. Now a lot of the white dogwalkers — two in a single block in Bloomingdale, on a recent ride home from work — are carrying infants.) Meanwhile, 8th Street SE used to be a sort of neighborhood secret — there were always decent restaurants there, but only people within walking distance knew about them, or could even tell they were there. Then suddenly there were a lot of new ones and all, new and old, had sidewalk tables, and now so many people come from far away that it’s impossible to park nearby, as I discovered trying to pick up milk at the 7-11 on my way back from getting my daughter at the airport. Slightly inconvenient, but as the daughter said about the reason for it, i.e. the vastly greater activity on Barracks Row now than formerly: “It’s really kind of cool.”

  • looking toward the future, I hope that Georgia Avenue will be next greatest change in DC

  • We would visit DC a lot when I was a kid in the late 70s/early 80s. My mom would talk a lot about visiting DC when she was a child, and would always point out how sad all the run down houses on 16th St were, and how she remembered them being so grand. That certainly changed, a long time ago.

  • This is IT strip club on 14th street, this was the first and only strip club that I ever visited. A friend of my dad’s took me to the club. I am now married with a couple of kids. Barry was also a frequent visitor to the club also the Peoples Drug store at 14th street thomas circle. DC has really changed for the better. I am looking to purchase a home but I am having a tough time paying over 450k for a home. I just think the homes are too expensive, and most home owners refust to take care of their properties.

  • My first day in DC, in around ’93, a new co-worker took me to Soul Brothers pizza at 14th and U. Seems they were calling it “The New U” then.

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