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Friday Question of the Day – Trying to Better Understand DC

by Prince Of Petworth October 25, 2012 at 10:22 pm 130 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user ユミYUMI

Dear PoPville,

Reading the post about Red Apron butchery applying for a liquor license got me thinking about a question I wanted to pose to the community. I was in NYC this weekend and, as always, am astonished at the hordes of (seemingly) independent, unique restaurants and retailers on every block of Manhattan. It is something that we in DC don’t seem to have nearly as many of outside of small concentrated.

Now, this isn’t meant to be a DC vs. NYC debate – what we have here is completely different and I love this place and am rooting down for the long haul. Rather, I want to know from an intellectually curious perspective what the urban planning/economics/societal reason why one walkable, urban city can sustain a bagel shop and Chinese restaurant on every block but another can’t? Is it density? Lower commercial rents? Government incentives/barriers?

And then there is the followup observation I have regarding prices – I found that I could get breakfast or take a taxi in NYC for FAR less than it costs here in DC. It was amazing the price differences that I saw. So the question again is why the price disparity from what is supposed to be an equally exorbitant and expensive city to operate in? Increased competition? More customers?

If I had to venture a guess it would be a density game that we are starting to see play out in DC on strips like 14th street and H street that are going crazy. That coupled with the fact that DC’s recent development wave is happening about ten years behind NYCs. But I would love to hear more informed opinions on it.

And, really, I just want to be able to get a bagel and coffee combo delivered to my front door by a nice man on a bike like I saw happen Saturday. That would enable my weekend laziness as I settle into winter hibernation mode.

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