Very Cool Series of Then and Now Photos by number7cloud

Photo ‘Being There: Then (1979) & Now, 14th St & Rhode Island NW’ by PoPville flickr user number7cloud

“Still shot from the movie “Being There” filmed in 1979. Until fairly recently, Caribou Coffee was on this corner. 14th St, you’ve come a long way!”

Photo ‘Then & Now: after the 1968 riots 7th St NW’ by PoPville flickr user number7cloud

Photo ‘Being There: Then (1979) & Now, M St NW’ by PoPville flickr user number7cloud

“A still shot from the movie “Being There” filmed in 1979″

28 Comment

  • Very, very cool. Keep it up!

  • Yeah, things were grim in the 1970s and 1980s, but not sure things are any better now that a class of rent-seeking lawyers, lobbyists and “consulting” firm executives have taken over — dare I say, occupied — the city’s inner neighborhoods, forcing the working man to commute for hours on buses from exurban Maryland and Virginia. The riots and violence of the 1970s and 1980s in DC were symptomatic of pround socio-economic dissaray and inequality that — though the symptoms are now displaying themselves in Ferguson and Detroit rather than DC — still plagues this sick nation.

    • Surely you troll, jamesbeaz.

      The District and the region certainly have issues – affordable housing being a big one – but I can’t take anyone seriously who doesn’t think DC is, on balance, a much better city now than it was in the 70’s and 80’s.

      And yeah, I was here (starting in ’78) and am old enough to remember.

      Wonderful then and now pics. Really great stuff.

    • jim_ed

      *facepalm* Yeah, no difference at all between the ~100 murders a year now and the 300+ the city averaged in the 80s. Or the middle class flight. Or the crack epidemic. Someone opening an artisinal bakery in Shaw is basically the same thing.

      • You’re putting words in my mouth, Jim. Also, what is an “artisinal (did you mean artisan?) bakery”? Is it simply a bakery selling the normal, non-manufactured/toxic products — at extremely high prices — that bakeries in the rest of the world produce for everyone.

        The problem is that the improvements in DC have been generating returns only for the gentrifying class. In other words, those making a lot of money. And, even in those neighborhoods (i.e. Shaw), you still see crooked sidewalks, shootings, and gross social deprivation that you can’t find in other first-world capital cities in neighborhoods with similar housing prices.

        Let’s take some pictures of Anacostia from 1978 and 2014 — oh, we’d just need one, because the neighborhoods haven’t changed.

        • It is absolutely false to say that the improvements in DC have been generating returns only for the gentrifying class. I have many neighbors in Columbia Heights who have lived there for 20-30 years and very much appreciate the increased safety and higher values of their properties. These are middle class people who lived through it all and have told me that the neighborhood is better now. And, everyone shops at Target, regardless of economic status.

        • I’d wager Anacostia has changed more than Georgetown has between 1978 and 2014.
          Well, ok, if you include the Georgetown waterfront, maybe not….

        • What’s dissaray? Pround? Did you mean…?

    • Accountering

      Well, if you aren’t sure things I better, I will speak for most of us, and say that things are UNDOUBTEDLY better. The city was a crime ridden burnt out dump for many years, and has made massive improvements. Sorry you don’t see that.

  • tonyr

    I feel the same way about Sarajevo, I remember the early 1990s: the frisson of danger in being shelled constantly, the mass killings, rapes and ethnic cleansing, so much more fun in those days.

    • DC was hardy “Sarajevo” in the 1970s/1980s. 14th ST and Columbia Heights were still real neighborhoods full of real people — albeit real people suffering from a country’s barbaric racism, incarceration policies, war against drugs, and spending on Vietnam instead of itself. Sometimes I’m disgusted by my neighbors. And, yes, I live in Shaw.

      • jamesbeaz, I’d be interested in hearing any concrete suggestions you might have on ways to improve the city, even though other readers will probably rise up to disagree with me for asking. You don’t seem to be calling for a return to the “good old days,” but are advocating for a certain “realness” you suggest is in decline with the influx of “the gentrifying class.” Is there anything you’d recommend to keep this “realness” intact? (From a Shaw neighbor who would probably disgust you, but who is genuinely interested in dialogue.)

        • Absolutely — first of all, DC would implement a commuter tax so all the Bethesda/McLean multi-millionaires who drive (well, a few take the metro) into the city everyday — via SUV or large sedan — could contribute to ameliorating our extreme poverty by funding additional social programs: universal pre-K, more generous Medicaid coverage/ACA subsidies, improved infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks, streets, intra-DC transport). In addition, landlords would be disciplined with 21st Century — meaning, fair for both landlords and tenants — rent control policies, such as those being implemented in Paris ( We would also focus on increasing the supply of housing, which would drive down housing costs (yes, some owners might not get quite as rich from flipping their rowhouse, but more middle-class families could afford homes) by removing the height limit in certain sections of the city, as well as allowing increased density. (Again, yes, certain rowhouse-owning elites would have to deal with their neighborhoods becoming more dense with a few more, taller apartment buildings around metro stations and bus routes. While we’re at it, we’d remove the insane minimum-parking requirement — for all new construction — so car-free, lower-income folks wouldn’t be forced to subsidize the cost of an underground garage for their neighbor’s SUV. Last, but not least, we’d probably implement a kind of millionaire’s tax — or tax on wealth — to help support the social programs/infrastructure that would not be entirely financed by my tax on commuters working in DC and living in Virginia and Maryland. If we’re talking me getting everything I want, I’d also throw as many barriers up to personal gun ownership as possible. This is how we get a better, fairer, safer, healthier, more pleasant DC — for everyone.

          Unfortunately, our dysfunctional, right-wing Congress would throw a fit about many of these proposals (so, too, would many of the provincial-minded Americans who inhabit DC and don’t understand that the government has a role to play in making cities better places to live), but in an ideal world, they would all be implemented.

          • I think these are all very compelling proposals, and quite concrete. For whatever it’s worth, I think people here would be very open to talking these kinds of options through and might even get behind you on them if the ideas weren’t initially presented with as much apparent antagonism directed at people who some of us (including me) identify with. For example, I own a rowhouse in DC and if I’m being honest with myself, that absolutely makes me “elite.” And a gentrifier too. But just because I have the means to own a (small) Shaw rowhouse doesn’t mean that I want to crush DC’s poor and middle class. I don’t. It bothers me a lot that this is the effect I and people like me have and I wish I could think of ways around this. In my own ideal world, DC would be/stay accessible and not push long-time residents out of the city. But since we’re living in the world as it is, not either of our ideal worlds, I think it’s good to focus on the things we actually can do, while pushing to do even more. And try like hell to get along in the meantime. Could we agree on that last point?

          • Wow. Just. Wow. So once you’ve transferred ALL the money to poor people so they don’t ever, ever have to work again, what happens?

          • Shunt the earners out of the city so we can all live the good life!

          • FWIW, I didn’t say I -agreed- will all of these proposals. For example, I think the tax-the-millionaires approach seen in countries like France has helped to gut that country’s economy. But I think that anyone willing to actually get in the weeds to talk about tangible solutions to this city’s very real problems should be lauded for it, even if we disagree on whether they’re the right approach.

            As a city, we seem to be all-too content to accept slogans in place of actual policy discussions. At the mayoral debates, it has shocked me to see what passes for “debate.” Alice Deal for all? But HOW?

            Forums like PoPville are places to potentially raise the bar and I hope we’ll do that. Ideally in a civil way.

        • I can give you a rundown of his socialist views and save you the headache of the dialogue. He will talk about how bad it is that DC doesn’t spend ungodly amounts of money repaving the sidewalks with cobblestone, making the streets narrower and eliminating parking in favor of better bike paths, etc. Because, you know, owning a car is bad. He will complain about the difference in social status a lot. He will cite random cities in Europe as the gold standard for utopian living which DC should strive for in an attempt to show you how worldly he is. It will wrap up with him claiming offense at something you say and call you a racist or a classist, or both, and say he wants to vomit.

        • Just wanted to contribute this interesting article regarding gentrification in DC in case anyone is still reading this:

          • Thanks for this. I’m still reading this thread and am partially commenting here to keep “bumping” it into the recent comments section on the home page.

            This link gives me a lot of food for thought, that’s for sure. I’m bookmarking it for a more thorough read this weekend.

          • My quick-and-dirty reply is that I’m -still- left thinking “what choice do I have?” While I think the article somewhat brilliantly pinpoints the state of affairs in DC and the ethos of aspiring young people in the middle class, it does so without presenting much of an alternative (unless the alternative is Marxist revolution, which I personally would not advocate). While the essay seems to be a cogent description of the problem, I would love to debate some real-world solutions.

          • I would also say that it’s pretty clear the article is written by an academic, and one who seems himself as being above the fray somehow, rather than being right there in the muck with the rest of us.

            The other comment I would offer is that this statement seems far too tidy an explanation: “A powerful capitalist class of bankers, real-estate developers, and investors is driving gentrification, using a mixture of huge loans (to which only they have access) and government funding to push land values higher.” The term “driving” to me suggests far, far too much agency on the part of these parties, who wouldn’t be in business if it weren’t for a lot of other factors. Such as a broader trend of upwardly-mobile young people choosing to live in big cities instead of the suburbs where they grew up. And the expansion of jobs in cities (and DC, in particular). And the relatively strong economy of DC as a whole.

            I’m just getting started. But the main point I would make is that vilifying banks, investors and developers doesn’t really address the bigger questions at hand here.

          • I wonder if the proletariat could try rioting and burning down entire square blocks to drive all that evil capital back into the suburbs? Worked last time.

  • Most of the comments in this post remind me of @Blithe’s on-point RRAR today:

    “Perplexity: Reading through some of the comments from yesterday. It’s amazing how different our world views can be. And it startles me how little empathy people can have for others whose life experiences are very different from their own.”

    And I think the photos are awesome.

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