Sign of the Times – Preserving History in Columbia Heights

A reader was nice enough to give me a tour of their renovated house in Columbia Heights and I was blown away by this sign.

It’s so easy to forget how things used to be…

I thought it was brilliant how they preserved and displayed this board formerly covering up a front window of the house:

16 Comment

  • I could seriously use some National Gaurd help cleaning my house.

  • Things have changed, but they haven’t changed enough.

  • Not “that” long ago!

  • Gentrification Art. Let us never forget…

  • could somebody remind a transplant exactly what this is referring to?

    • Riots in 1968 after Martin Luther King was killed.

      • Barry wasn’t elected Mayor until 1978 – so this has to be from later than that.

      • Can’t be from the 1968 riots, or at least this sign is from later – Barry wasn’t mayor (the first time around) until 1979.
        Maybe the city used the National Guard more than 11 years after the riots as workers to stabilize (clean and barricade) housing damaged in the riots or maybe just general decline?

      • WRONG. Marion was JUST getting started in 68

        • and what i mean by “just getting started” was getting arrested for not obeying a racist cop on the corner of 14th and U. It’s where he “got started” in politics. With the SNCC.

      • brookland_rez

        Looks to me like the DC Government used the DC National Guard to secure vacant/blighted properties, probably in the 80’s.


    Not that long ago…people don’t realize how much rebirth many NW DC neighborhoods have undergone after basically being burned down twice. If you didn’t see U street, Columbia Heights, Mt. pleasant beforehand, you’d never know…

    • Yeah – remember when U St was “the New U”? Not that long ago – early 90s – but it’s been a world of change since

  • Is this the usual sign that the city government puts onto abandoned buildings that they boarded up?

  • It would have been neither the 1968 riots nor the 1991 riots. For one thing Barry was mayor neither in 1968 nor in May 1991 when the Mt Pleasant riots occurred (Sharon Pratt was mayor at the time). For another thing, National Guard troops were only called in for the 1968 riots.

    The design of the sticker and the historical context suggest that the sign was placed during Marion Barry’s 1995-1999 term, a period during which the National Guard had been called in to help control the city’s crime and drug problem.

  • That is a relic from the notorious “Crack Era” in DC. The National Guard used patrol Columbia Heights on the weekends. They had the huge flood lights setup on every corner. Crack houses that were raided got shut down with one of those signs. They probally purchased a former crack house. This happened in the 1980’s.

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