Kate on Bringing Stooping Back to P Street by Danny Harris

Kate 1, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

Danny Harris is a DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories. In September, he launched People’s District, a blog that tells a people’s history of DC by sharing the stories and images of its residents. Every day, People’s District presents a different Washingtonian sharing his or her insights on everything from Go Go music to homelessness to fashion to politics. You can read his previous columns here.

“I have lived in DC for 5½ years now. I love my apartment and my location, but I don’t love the neighborhood. You know, people have a real pride about living in a place like Mt. Pleasant. But, this specific neighborhood doesn’t even have a name. We don’t know if we’re Logan Circle or Dupont Circle. It is total Puggleville. People are out walking their puggles all of the time and no one makes eye contact. There is no neighborhood feel to it.

“I love to walk. I go walking every day for at least an hour, and I walk up around Mt. Pleasant and even in the back parts of Adams Morgan. Right around dusk, especially in the summer, people are all out stooping. They’re all hanging out, pouring wine for each other and just being buddies with whomever is around. It is this whole feeling of community that is the reason why I love DC. DC is a place where 5½ years in, you can feel like you know so many people. I can’t walk outside without running into people. But, I don’t get that sense where I am living; it feels very nondescript to me. There is not a real sense of identity for this area.

“So, I went back and forth for a while about whether I should move to Mt. Pleasant. Then I realized that I could just be my own agent of change, and I started stooping. I have friends over for dinner a lot and we started a stooping routine, just hanging out on the stoop with a glass of wine. I started buying a pack of cigarettes in case people want to stoop out with that. And it’s funny, it freaks a lot of people out, especially in the twilight hour. People are super confused about why two people would be sitting outside chatting. I mean, I’ve never seen anyone stoop on this street. But, I think that I am the only person in the building who knows my neighbors’ faces. You get to hear so many stories from hanging out here. I heard this great story about my neighbor interviewing Woody Allen the other day. But, it’s still just friends that come by, no strangers, that’s the goal. People are very focused here and they miss the opportunity to just chill out.

“People are down on DC because it is not New York, because it is not big enough and because it doesn’t have a lot going on, but I think that is what DC has going on. It gives you the opportunity to make it a small town for yourself. In such a transient city, you need to set roots. That’s why I stoop.”

Read more about finding the right stoop and the games you can play on them, including stoopball, here.

52 Comment

  • Great feature. I don’t know her, but Kate seems awesome. Stoop it up, girl!

    Addendum rant. People who complain about this city incessantly should stop complaining and leave immediately- it’s not hard to do, and there’s nothing worse than raining on someone else’s parade. It’s hilarious to me how many people crave authenticity for themselves (after growing up in X nondescript suburb) and try to find it by going to NY or LA. ha!

  • argh…i just hate it when people say this is a transient town…

    look people, its only transient if you hang out with people who only here temporarily.

    i’ve been here 19 years and just about 100% of my friends are people that have been here that long…


  • I would stoop all the time if cute people like Kate were always on their stoops!

  • Kate is GR8!

  • Isn’t ‘stooping’ Yiddish slang for sex? And isn’t “… DC-based photographer, DJ, and collector of stories…” slang for “trust fund baby”?

  • I’m almost positive I lived in the top floor apt of that building in the photo in 2003 – 2004. My girlfriend and I used to hang out on our fire escape and have little picnics, booze and watch the city go by. Then in 2006 I planned an elaborate ruse to get her back out on to that fire escape so I could propose to her. The tenant of the apartment – a total stranger – happily obliged to let me use her place and the plan worked like a charm. It was really fun and all these folks on the sidewalk started cheering when they looked up and saw the proposal in action. I knew most of my neighbors and thought it was a great place to live. I still love walking by the old crib and looking up at that fire escape.

  • “Stooping?” Really? Ugh. That is what you do when you tie your shoe.

    The term you are looking for is “porch sitting.” Google it. There is even a book:


    I fully approve of trying to inspire your neighbors to be more friendly. I am a huge porch sitter myself. I even used to live in Mt. Pleasant… it’s true, there’s a wonderful porch sitting culture there. Same in my new neighborhood in Columbia Heights. Actually I thought it was pervasive throughout DC, so I’m surprised to hear people don’t do it down there in the swamp.

    But please, please stop saying “stooping,” it sounds both awkward and offensive, perhaps because of the yiddish shtupping as pennywise said.

  • Nice story, thanks for sharing. What’s with all the anger this morning people?

  • GR8 story by K8 – and it’s her story and she can stoop if she wants to.

  • “he can stoop if she wants to”

    …she can leave her friends behind. Because her friends don’t stoop.. and if they don’t stoop..

  • Thanks for the fun story, Kate. And thanks for doing your part to make DC a better place. Please continue to call what you are doing whatever you want to call it and ignore those who have nothing better to do than criticize your choice of words.

  • Oh lighten up Marcus Aurelius. Don’t you have something better to do than criticize people who debate “stooping” vs. “porch sitting?” Is it possible that there was a little bit of tongue-in-cheek there?

  • jaime,
    no, its stooping, cuz its on a stoop.
    and also cuz thats what we all call it.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I call it stooping too. Actually stoopin’ we spoke of the joys of stoopin’


  • I just want to know if its a sex club 😉

  • “no, its stooping, cuz its on a stoop. and also cuz thats what we all call it”

    I thought Kate was the only one that did it. Except in Mt. Pleasant, where they have porches.

  • @PoP – that’s because you’re from New York. Read the fourth comment:


    Down south we call ’em porches.

  • This doesn’t really line up with my experience – I walk through Mt. Pleasant all the time, at least twice a day, and have long been struck by the fact the no one sits on their front porch. All these beautiful houses, all these beautiful porches, and they go unused.

  • A porch is not a stoop is not a lanai is not a terrace. Kate is not porch sitting because she is not sitting on a porch. She’s sitting on a stoop, ergo stooping.

    Great story Kate – way to be the change you want to see in the world.

  • Article on stooping as a social device:

    Thanks, Wiki.

    Also, dictionary.com defines porch as an exterior appendage to a building, forming a covered approach or vestibule to a doorway.

    A stoop is not a porch. A porch is covered. See? Dictionary.com says so. And if it’s online, it must be true.

    People with porches, porch sit. People with stoops, stoop. End of discussion.

    Is “person who sits on princeofpetworth.com and has no work to do all morning except post comment after comment” *also* slang for “trust fund baby”?

  • In all seriousness, stoop and porch are synonymous. At least according to dictionary.com.

    Wikipedia says that “stoop” is a regional term used mainly in New York.

    You are free, of course, to call it whatever you want. But I will never stoop to that level.


    stoop2  [stoop] Show IPA ,
    a small raised platform, approached by steps and sometimes having a roof and seats, at the entrance of a house; a small porch.


    “There are numerous words used mainly in New York, mostly associated with immigrant languages. For instance, a “stoop” (from Dutch), is the front steps of a building entrance”

  • Pennywise FACED

  • “Is “person who sits on princeofpetworth.com and has no work to do all morning except post comment after comment” *also* slang for “trust fund baby”?”

    And the award for ultimate hyprocrite goes to… the guy who posts a comment criticizing someone for having nothing better to do than posting comments on a blog, and actually references dictionary.com just like the other guy did simultaneously!! Pot, meet kettle.

    And now, back to spending my trust fund.

  • Don’t forget that in Mt Pleasant many of the “Stoopers” are drug dealers. There is a reason that people have banded together to stop this from happening and it’s because after 5-10 years I became smart enough to realize that guys on the stoop and sidewalk are only there to sell drugs or roll dice or meet people to do the same.

    the good people were acting as a mask or human shield for the bad people to hide behind. Once the good people got back to their porches and off the steps and sidewalk then the police were able to target the drug dealers who were there all along.

    Stoop all you want, but if there’s a shooting you know why.

  • @neener….

    ummm… I read that three times and I honestly can’t figure out if you are joking or not.

    If you aren’t actually joking, then you really need to lay off the LSD because the world makes a lot more sense when you aren’t tripping your nuts off.

  • The invasion of the tiger mosquito may end porch sitting as we know it. Who wants to sit outside covered in DEET?

    My porch goes unused for much of the year for this reason. Not wanting to be unsocial, but not wanting to fight the swarms of skeeters (who don’t seem deterred even by DEET).

  • Man neener you are such a downer!!!!

    In my neighborhood we are lucky to have porches and on a nice afternoon I can step outside and say hi to my immediate neighbors who shout out to me. I love the action and the talk from porch to porch to porch as the whole community looks out for the kids playing on the sidewalk and street.

  • trust fund baby is an insult? embrace diversity folks. dont blame a kid for being born into what they have.

    and a stoop is different than a porch. down here in the older parts of the city we mostly have stoops. wardman house tend to be a big exception to that.

  • I used to stoop daily outside of 1435 N. Best way to meet folks. I got to hang out with some of the seniors at the complex next door and hear some fun stories, meet more of the people in my building, and have random conversations with people passing by.

  • I am sure if @Alex had ever inherited any money, that he would give it all to charity.

    Though honestly I am not sure why wasting time on the internet would be a sign of having a lot of money. Its usually quite the opposite, a sign of unemployment and no money to do something any better than read blogs all day which is free.

  • big stoop problem in DC: mosquitoes.

    The wife and I would hang out for a long time on the front porch and bought fake-wicker chairs to do it, and talk to neighbors, dog-walkers, etc.

    But about 15 minutes after we sit down, we realize we’ve both been bit 100 times by the skeeters.

    I’m thinking a screened-in porch is counterproductive to the neighborliness aspect of porch-sittery.

    What do you do to prevent mosquitoes from destroying the social fabric of our neighborhoods?

  • Citronella candles + OFF! Deep Woods bug repellent have always worked wonders for me. Just don’t get too close to the open flame when you are doused in the bug spray!

  • Nice find/recommendation on the referenced blog as well, I really like it!

  • I patio sit, as I have a patio rather than a stoop or a porch. When I lived in Baltimore, we sat on our stoop. Oddly, we never turned it into a verb.

    I am blessed in that I don’t often get bitten by mosquitos, and the few times a summer that I do, I’m not allergic, so they don’t itch. That said, my neighbors who often patio sit with me are not so lucky. I bought citronella tiki torches that attach to the fence with c clamps, which make a big difference. I think I’m going to get a firepit this year which will also help. It seems like anything that burns citronella oil is better than citronella candles, and I also have one of those Off! lantern things. The neighbors bought those Off! clip on things this year and seemed to find them helpful.

  • Andy, install a ceiling fan on your porch ceiling. Mosquitos have a harder time landing on you if the air is moving.

  • I tend to avoid the stoop because I usually don’t want to associate myself with the type of people who sit on stoops. Kate looks like she could be trouble. I am not saying she isn’t nice, but just that she might be a little too edgy for me. I’ll take my couch and safety, thank you.

  • My apartment building has a set of retirees who hang out on the front driveway area all day. And I mean all day, morning to night! It’s nice to come home and have someone to greet you at the front door.

  • PoP, Thanks for adding these stories to your website. Just checked out the People’s District site and it is nice to see so many DC voices talking about this town. Makes me feel like despite my many years here, much of the city is still foreign to me. I look forward to reading more of Danny’s stuff here and on his blog. Now, off to kick it on my stoop!

  • I just wanted to give a big shout out to everyone who has been commenting. I always get a chuckle reading the comments. However, today’s comments on this story is HIlarious. And I agree, Kate looks like a whole lot of trouble…Just look at that evil “friendly” stoop’n grin.

  • I used to live in that apartment building – on the second floor and I had the orange curtains in the bay window. I actually started smoking on that stoop too, what a small world! Never had a mosquito problem out on those front steps. When I lived there I didn’t really meet other people in the building but I’d hang out with my gays on 17th Street all the time and I’d see them walking by occasionally when I sat outside.

    After my year lease was up, I decided to move to Columbia Heights because I wanted a backyard and a more neighborhoody kind of feel. That limbo area between Logan and Dupont was a destination for stroller pushing couples, yoga mat toting singles, and whole foods (whole paycheck) shoppers. Not many bike riding, bar hopping, crafty bastard loving stoopers in the old hood so off to CoHi I went. Its where I learned about DC mosquitos, met some of the coolest neighbors ever, and I wasn’t the only one on the block stooping.

  • Oh, and Abdo really needs to do something about the ivy on the building. Its getting a little out of control!!!!

  • I’m jealous that Kate can sit on her stoop/porch/whatever with a glass of wine. It’s not as easy to do that out in the open up in Petworth.

  • Stoop in the naaame of looooove.

  • Great post! We’re all about our porch. we call it porchin’ it. Or if we’re having a glass of wine, Bar Buchanan (of course, i live on Buchanan St), so i’m down with those with a stoop calling it stoopin’ — whatever you want to call it, it’s awesome. We love our neighborhood for the great porches and the great people hanging out on them!

  • Nice post. My little sis did a photo series on stoop culture in DC a few years ago. She seems to have taken it down from her website; I’ll have to find it in my archives and see if she’ll let me post it somewhere . . .

  • People are down on DC for not having enough things to do? Are people really that unimaginative and lazy? I did 2 awesome things this weekend that I had never done in my 6 years of living in DC. People need to stop whining and get out and explore.

  • saf

    MBK – “It’s not as easy to do that out in the open up in Petworth.”

    Why not? We sit on the porch with drinks all the time.

  • yeah, wtf is MBK talking about. i never sit on the porch without a drink. hell, you can walk down the street drinking a beer. just look at the tree boxes.

  • It’s a problem when the cops roll up and tell you to empty your beer bottles. It happens.

  • on your own porch? did you look at them wrong?

  • It hasn’t happened to me, but it has happened to some of my friends on the stoop. I’m in an apartment building, so I guess the outside “stoop” areas of the building can be considered “public space”. I’m sure it’s different for people sitting on their own porches (at least I hope so!)

  • a stoop is generally “public space”, especially in the older parts of the city where owners only own up to the facade. the stoop and front patch of yard is city owned. part of the “public parking” as they say. a porch is often more architecturally associated with the house and police may think of it differently.

    and no, you can’t legally drink in public.

    most of the time cops will only target those they see as trouble makers.

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