More Great Before and After Photos From Columbia Heights/Mt. Pleasant


A reader sent in the photo above from 15th and Irving taken in Feb. 2004. It’s now Capitol City Charter School and looks great:


These photos always boggle my mind. Feb. 2004 was not that long ago. I really do appreciate all the positive change that has occurred. Sadly, sometimes it’s easy to forget.

15 Comment

  • I believe that this school is actually at 16th and Irving, isn’t it?

  • Prince Of Petworth

    No it’s actually right where 15th starts. But the street’s angled so 16th St. is just a few yards beyond.

  • Indeed. Make that 15th and Irving then.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    hahaha. Ah, I think you’re right, that is Irving! Will fix right now. Thanks.

  • I miss the Wilson Center, but I’m sure the new school is better for the community.

  • I was starting to explain Petworth and DC as a whole to a new Chinese visitor, but it was hard to put into words. It’s like giving bad directions: “And if you walk past the new condo building that used to be a vacant lot, you’ve gone too far.” Luckily, she brought an old map of Metro that didn’t have the Columbia Heights or Petworth metro stops, so maybe she gets the idea.

    I didn’t even breach the topic of how you can even make a living as a full-time blogger in this neighborhood, which I bet you couldn’t have done when I moved here 10 years ago.

  • Anon: Funny, I was gonna play the part of the nostalgic old punk — Many hours spent sitting on the front steps waiting for shows to start (building still looks bizarre without ’em) — so many crucial shows (and a truck-load of desperately un-crucial ones) seen in there. But all good times.

  • That used to be a post office, right? It was closed and covered with graffiti when I moved to the neighborhood.

  • City Paper article from 2001 about the sale of the Wilson Center:

  • I believe the Columbia Heights post office is long gone. If I’m not mistaken, it was on the site of what is now DCUSA.

  • Is it fair to simply call what’s happened in Columbia Heights “positive change”?

    All the redevelopment has its benefits, but is it positive change for the people who have been forced to move out of the neighborhood by the rising cost of living?

  • @Chris Lewis – yes, it is a fair assessment, especially when viewed on a long-term level. Very few residents were actively displaced; most of the new construction was on vacant lots, and none of the large affordable housing complexes were closed. Columbia Heights was historically a densely populated, middle-class neighborhood with a thriving retail and entertainment strip. The riots of the 1960s let to a historically brief period of artificially low economic activity, with the resulting crime and blight. The period of redevelopment beginning with the Metro construction has simply restored Columbia Heights to what it once was. Yes, maybe a few retired long-time homeowners could no longer pay the real estate taxes, but hopefully they all cashed in at the height of the market and made a killing. There are literally thousands of affordable housing units preserved in the neighborhood, from the Cavalier Apartments, to Columbia Heights Village, Trinity Towers, etc, so I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.

    Also, regionally, it was important for dense residential and retail projects to be clustered near the Metro station here, and each new development here is potentially one less greenfield in the exurbs paved over and developed in a sprawl-type manner. Quite frankly, it would have been even more environmentally friendly if even larger, taller residential buildings were constructed on those vacant lots, because the region as a whole is growing quickly, and suburban sprawl development is a very bad thing for the planet.

  • “There are literally thousands of affordable housing units preserved in the neighborhood, from the Cavalier Apartments, to Columbia Heights Village, Trinity Towers, etc, so I wouldn’t lose too much sleep over it.”

    Yeah, and those places always get such great press…not.

    Redevelopment is the best thing to ever happen to Columbia Heights. I don’t see how anyone can argue that a perpetual ghetto is a good thing for any of the parties involved. Like you said, if the homeowners were smart, they cashed out at the right time and benefited from this most of all.

  • @Chris Lewis – I was forced to move INTO the neighborhood in 1987 because I couldn’t afford anywhere else. I bought on a bartender’s income. Anyone could have done the same. Everyone knew metro was coming and things would change. Lots of people were being “forced out” back then too – by crime and general crappiness. I kind of like how things turned out.

  • I remember going to a rave in that building in 1990. Oh lord I’m getting old!

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