Despite its current real estate boom, D.C. is still a big, scary place to some people. Washington Post writer Clinton Yates published a piece today where he recalls walking through Northwest D.C.'s Columbia Heights section—which has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past six years or so—and noticing a piece of paper on the ground.
Written in all caps and underlined was "ANACOSTIA," which is a historic D.C. neighborhood. Beneath it were the following notes:
BAD AREAS — No MLK St., No Benning St. and No Minnesota St. SLIGHTLY BETTER AREAS: Northeast — a lot of vacant areas. Branch Ave. + Pennsylvania Ave.
The other side of the paper, titled "Columbia Heights South," was a map with a series of highlighted listings apparently based on a Google Maps search that featured single family houses or new condos. Yates hilariously called this newbie artifact "a gentrifier’s chart to buried treasure," but noted that the discovery disturbed him just a bit. He's justified in being bothered.
He guessed that maybe the person was house hunting, but it's pretty funny (and a bit embarassing) that they couldn't identify Martin Luther King, Jr. AVENUE, Benning ROAD or Minnesota AVENUE. Is the rest of D.C. so scary that it's only worth knowing the correct names of certain streets? Has the fear of the unknown confined people to one quadrant of the city, even though random, unecessary crime goes down in Northwest as well? Is all of this a culmination of what #NewDC represents?
Census Bureau statistics show that D.C. experienced an influx of new residents from other states between July 2011 and July 2012. That will likely continue, especially considering the "gentrification overdrive" that's happening on 14th Street NW and because D.C. is apparently great for twentysomethings. While new residents looking to pay too much for newly renovated condos are certainly welcome, let's hope they're brave enough to venture beyond Northwest, or eventually get to that point before they relocate.
There are pots of gold for gentrifier's located in other sections of the city—they're called history and culture.
[via Washington Post]