DC Is Blooming. No Turning Back.

DC in bloom, April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

National Mall, April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

April 6, 2014, Washington, DC: It’s baseball season, the sky is blue and the blossoms have finally made an appearance. What more could a girl ask for? It’s walking weather here in DC, and we walked for hours this weekend — to Hill East’s Pretzel Bakery and around Lincoln Park, home from Nationals Stadium and through Eastern Market, down Capitol Hill onto a crowded National Mall, to Taylor Gourmet and back again. This year the transition from winter to spring in the city is sweeter than ever. After all, we waited a long time for it. Can you believe it was snowing last Sunday? It appears we’re all doing our best to forget.

Eastern Market April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

DC in bloom, April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

DC in bloom, April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

US Capitol, April '14, Photo: Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

 

Before Photos: Breaking Ground on DC’s Southwest Waterfront

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

March 16, 2014, Washington, DC: Redevelopment of DC’s Southwest waterfront is set to begin with groundbreaking on Wednesday, so I wanted to be sure to spend a few moments today taking “Before” photos of the soon-to-change scene. On a grey day with more unwelcome snow on the way, I ventured over to Hains Point to snap shots of the Southwest waterfront from across the Washington Channel. This is a section of skyline that will be altered dramatically starting this week and continuing for years to come. I’ve grown to love this corner of the city over the last three years, and I’m rooting for its success as it transforms from underutilized, prime real estate to a vibrant urban waterfront.

At midday, DC Sail teams are practicing on the Channel against the backdrop of Arena Stage and Cantina Marina. They navigate cold waters in the foreground of relocated houseboats and the slips they’ve vacated at Gangplank Marina a couple hundred yards west. I imagine how this scene might look on a cold March day several years from now: I contemplate whether the apartments one block off the Channel will still have water views and whether development here will have succeeded in steering clear of generic. I hope I’ll stand in this same spot then, documenting a waterfront that’s full of eclectic people who call this neighborhood home as they go about their Sunday routines in downtown DC.

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Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC. Photo: Kate Gallery

Emerging from Hibernation

Photo by Kate Gallery, Neighborhood NomadsMarch 4, 2014, Washington, DC: You can hear a snow day before you see it. That busy city street out the bedroom window is still, too still, the moment you open your eyes. Something is off kilter and a peek through the blinds confirms it. It’s a weekday morning in the city and not a neighbor is in sight upon a hushed blanket of white.

But this morning those days are behind us. They must be. It is time. The neighborhood sounds different — the passing of tentative cars, the crackle of salt beneath heavy boots, a bird chirping and engines warming as the scraping begins. Washington is moving on. It is ready for St. Patrick’s Day and one more hour of daylight, for riding bicycles and Nationals’ Opening Day.

I feel disconnected from my Washington in winter. Cold days and early nights interfere with the way I interact with my surroundings. Instead of walking three short blocks to the Metro at Eastern Market, I get in the car out front and blast the heat. Instead of exploring new restaurants and visiting friends in other neighborhoods, we stay indoors or choose the closest place in sight. Our social scene slows to a crawl, the circle through which we move tightens to near suffocation. In the indoor exercise classes that replace outdoor runs and rides, I’m reminded that stillness can be more difficult than movement, on both our muscles and on our minds. This winter’s stillness has been excruciating.

But soon the ground will thaw and I won’t mind walking to the Metro or waiting for the bus. I might wander through the city without shivering, no specific destination planned. Not long now before those of us who have spent months hibernating will emerge back into the city and find it just how we left it, full of fascinating people and movement and life.

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Photo by Kate Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

Trudging: A Photo Shoot

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January 21, 2014, Washington, DC: We went trudging today before sunset. Authentic, bundled, Chicago-style trudging. We went trudging to reestablish some sort of connection to the outside world. We went trudging because a glorious long weekend with today’s snow day tacked on for good measure was starting to feel like a waste with coughs, colds and throat lozenges stacked up like a barricade at the front door. We wrestled past the obstacles and trudged out onto the silent street, following a path of green lights and walk signs throughout the neighborhood.

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When we arrived in Lincoln Park, we were pleasantly surprised. Many other people had trudged there too.

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They’d trudged past the beautiful snow-covered apartment buildings and homes lining the park.

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Past the stores with Christmas lights and a firepit smoking outside.

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They had trudged there with their strollers.

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And their footballs.

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And their sleds.

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Some had trudged to Lincoln Park searching for adventure.

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Most, it seemed, came searching for interaction.

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Everyone, it appeared, was seeking connection.

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We trudged here to break the isolation of January.

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If just for a few minutes before turning around, uplifted, and bouncing back home.

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Neighborhood Nomad: Stuart of Broad Ripple

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Photo Credit: Justin Vining

This is one in a series featuring neighborhoods and the people who love them. Would you like to participate? Click here for more information about contributing to Neighborhood Nomads.

January 12, 2013, Washington, DC: “It’s all cyclical, right?” Indianapolis resident Stuart Drake and I are talking about how our choices concerning where to live often mimic those faced by our parents. Stuart’s friends and family constantly ask him when he, his wife, toddler and dog will leave the city and move to the suburbs. And Stuart and his family very well might. But Stuart also feels a tremendous pull towards his urban neighborhood of Broad Ripple– the very same neighborhood in which Stuart’s parents asked themselves these questions decades ago before packing their bags.

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Best & Worst of 2013: The View from the Neighborhood

Supreme Court, DOMA, March 27, 2013, Photo Credit: Kate Barrett Gallery, Neighborhood Nomads

December 31, 2013: It was the year tragedy blanketed Boston and royal baby fervor gripped London, the year Toronto cringed with embarrassment and New York embraced pedal power. It was the year that wrapped with good people like Nelson Mandela and Pope Francis winning the day over less admirable personas like Miley Cyrus and Lance Armstrong. But for all the far-flung ruckus, it was a year in which we didn’t need to look far for national and local headlines. In 2013, the scoop was right here under our noses within a two-mile radius of home.

Inauguration 2013, Washington, DC

The Renewal: Inauguration Day

President Obama was sworn into his second term in office on January 21, 2013. About one million people attended the festivities.

Related Posts:
Miles from Monday: Inauguration Day (January 21, 2013)
Inauguration Through the Eyes of a DC Neighbor (January 19, 2013)

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Supreme Court, DOMA, March 27, 2013, Photo Credit: Kate Barrett Gallery

The High Point: Supreme Court Gay Marriage Arguments

In March, two watershed gay marriage cases were argued back-to-back before the Supreme Court. I snapped this photo of plaintiff Edie Windsor, the woman challenging the Defense of Marriage Act, leaving the Court on March 27, 2013. The gay marriage victory came down in June; in December, Windsor was named TIME’s #3 Person of the Year behind Pope Francis and Edward Snowden.

Related Posts:
Two Moments, One Movement (March 27, 2013)
Big News in the Neighborhood (March 26, 2013)

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The Fire: Beloved Local Business Goes Up in Flames

A massive fire at Frager’s Hardware, a 93-year-old Capitol Hill institution, devastated the neighborhood on June 5, 2013, just as I was exiting a nearby Metro station. The store has since set up shop on the empty lot at Eastern Market, the same lot that became a temporary home to the market after its own fire in 2007.

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Rallying Around Frager’s (June 8, 2013)

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The Water: Kayak Rental Opens on the Anacostia River

While the Nationals didn’t provide the Navy Yard with any welcome headlines this summer, investments in the adjacent Anacostia River most certainly did. In late July, Ballpark Boathouse began offering the river’s first kayak rentals, a highlight among many commitments to DC’s other river.

Related Posts:
A Warm Welcome to Ballpark Boathouse (July 20, 2013)
This is Our Anacostia River (May 24, 2013)

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Navy Yard DC

The Tragedy: Navy Yard Shooting

On September 16, 2013, a gunman killed twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard. Neighborhood schools and businesses were locked down as the tragedy was unfolding, giving the local community its own brush with the workplace and school shootings that have hurt far too many in recent years.

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Glimmers of Hope on the Hill (October 4, 2013)

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The Dysfunction: Government Shutdown

Plagued by an inability to compromise, the US government shut down from October 1st through October 16th, 2013. The shutdown furloughed approximately 800,000 people and cost an estimated $24 billion. It also left neighbors growing beards and looking for drinks, and drew attention to DC’s lack of autonomy from the federal government.

Related Posts:
Shutdown in the City: District Blues (October 8, 2013)
Shutdown in the City: An Ugly Sight (October 1, 2013)
Same Old Song and Dance (September 26, 2013)

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The Projects: VA Ave. Tunnel

Construction projects in fast-growing Washington, DC packed local headlines in 2013. Among them is community concern over the reconstruction of the CSX Virginia Avenue Tunnel that runs nine blocks between the neighborhoods of Capitol Hill and Navy Yard. Health and safety worries about carrying hazardous materials through an open trench, as well as concerns about a potential lack of access to the neighborhood during construction, brought neighbors together for a notable meeting in late November 2013.

On tap for 2014: Far more conversations about neighborhood health and safety, drama and milestones, development and density, connectivity and public space, including projects at Eastern Market Metro Plaza, Hine School, 11th St. Bridge Park and more… 

Christmastime at Eastern Market

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December 29, 2013,  Washington, DC: My neighborhood wears this season well, from head to toe, beginning to end. It starts dressing up for the occasion the moment we down the pumpkin pie and return to Capitol Hill after Thanksgiving and doesn’t change out of its party clothes until now, in preparation for a low-key New Year’s Eve.

For weeks, large decorative icicles dazzled the streetlamps on 7th. Neighbors gathered to light the community’s Charlie Brown tree on the plaza at 8th and Santa came to Barracks Row. A smattering of snow decorated our shared red bicycles, and men from Maryland and Virginia farms hauled in Christmas trees for sale at Eastern Market. In the leadup to Christmas, we watched from the window of our new home as families dragged wreaths and trees of all sizes down the cobblestone street. From the window, we saw partygoers in sparkling dresses enter the market’s illuminated event space late at night.

And then we observed the parking spots open up, the city empty and the quiet descend. When we woke up the day after Christmas, the men with their trees had disappeared overnight, leaving pine needles wedged in the market streets.

Just yesterday, the neighborhood began to stir back to life. Today, people and cars again fill wet city streets, and with a magnificent and dizzying season behind us, the rest of the regulars are returning home.

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