Neighborhood Nomads
places we belong

Tag: Washington DC

Snow Day Reading: On Street Life, Hipsters and Brunch

jason grant a place called home

February 14, 2014, Washington, DC: I’m continuously inspired by the writers and thinkers who record their observations about the power of place and our changing cities. Two years ago, I posted a list called, ‘Writing About Place: A Reading List’ on my blog, Neighborhood Nomads. I’ve updated it intermittently in the Comments section since, and invite you to comment with your own recommendations today.

Here are some of the words that have crept up since my last update, now added to the running list. They’re long overdue odds and ends, all worth a read on an icy winter day…

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)


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)



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.

Related Posts:
Rallying Around Frager’s (June 8, 2013)



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)


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.

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



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)



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… 

Endless Summer, DC-Style

potomac river, august 2013

September 4, 2013, Washington, DC: Who says summer has to end so abruptly? Just because pools close and schools open doesn’t mean we can’t hang on, with as tight a grip as possible, to all that is good and happy about June, July and August. Outside this evening, my street is absolutely buzzing with the buggy sounds of summer and the night sky remains bright as we walk around the block after dinner. Just like summer, crowds have gravitated to the benches outside Pitango Gelato with their strollers and bicycles parked nearby, while others sip white wine outside Montmarte and a musician entertains on the corner by the Metro. A few miles away, DC’s urban rivers are open for business and will stay that way awhile longer, with kayak and paddleboard rentals available until sunset for at least another month or so. Tonight it’s a relief to know that scenes like this one that I photographed Monday on the Potomac will remain fixtures here in Washington until well after Labor Day. Tonight, walking up 7th St., it’s comforting to recall that this is what a flawless night at the height of summer feels like in many less humid parts of the country, and that there’s no need to rush ahead into the shorter days of autumn.

Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads:


A Warm Welcome to Ballpark Boathouse

Ballpark Boathouse, July 2013, Washington, DC

July 20, 2013, Washington, DC: DC’s first kayak rental facility on the Anacostia River opened today and needless to say, I am so excited. The dock is tucked right there in the shadow of Nationals Park and it’s called Ballpark Boathouse. Seriously. These are a few of my favorite things. As I paddled back into the dock this afternoon, I could hear a test run of the National Anthem beginning over the loudspeakers in preparation for this evening’s ballgame. Immediately, all of us there began excitedly brainstorming about enjoying night games on the water. When I lived in San Francisco, I thought McCovey Cove just outside the ballpark was one of the coolest spots in the city, and now we have someplace similar to paddle in DC.

Not only does Ballpark Boathouse combine some of my favorite elements of DC life, it’s also the result of a year of hard work by many, including Neighborhood Nomad David Garber. About a year and a half ago, David contributed to the blog to share why he loves where he lives, and we can now count Ballpark Boathouse as one more reason to spend time in Navy Yard. It’s been uplifting to see this neighborhood adjacent to my own developing in recent years and I’ll certainly be taking advantage of someplace to paddle closer to home.

Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads:

Ballpark Boathouse, July 2013, Washington, DC

Miles from Monday: Someplace to Float

north beach, md, summer 2013July 15, 2013, Washington, DC: A sandy beach is all we’re after. Nothing fancy, just someplace to float outside the city on a slow, hot Saturday. Somewhere that doesn’t require an overnight trip or Friday night traffic on the Bay Bridge or driving 115 miles to the nearest stretch of Atlantic coast. We’re looking for someplace where the water is wider than our urban rivers and we can vacation for the day, but be home by dark.

Our search brings us to Maryland’s western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, to a pair of old summer resort towns just 31 miles from the front door.

Gaia’s New Mural on Barracks Row

Gaia mural, Barracks Row, Washington, DC, May 2013

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

May 7, 2013, Washington, DC: Talented street artists Gaia and Nanook recently completed this massive mural on the side of a building in my neighborhood on Barracks Row. The newly opened Persian restaurant Tash and Asian restaurant Nooshi now feature this image of a woman with fish and fishing boats flowing into her hair, a piece as vibrant as city life itself on this DC main street. Because not many people experience their surroundings like this — from atop a ladder, creating large-scale art that the neighbors will see everyday, I suspected 24-year old Gaia might have a unique perspective to share with Neighborhood Nomads. When he replied that, “The fish were a delight to massage into the wall,” those suspicions were confirmed.

Read on for more from this artistic neighborhood nomad…

Cranes, Change and Buried Treasure

Construction at The Maples, Washington, DC, May 2013

Construction at the Maples/Friendship House on Capitol Hill, May 2013. 

May 3, 2013, Washington, DC: The cranes went up about a week ago, and as far as I can tell the heavy lifting began yesterday morning, 5 a.m. We awoke to powerful construction noise that lasted just 10 minutes or so, and this morning at precisely 7 a.m., it began again. A changing streetscape is something we’ve grown accustomed to seeing, but this time we’ll also hear it. We’ll listen to the transformation of the historic property known as the Maples and later the Friendship House as it morphs into condominiums throughout the seasons ahead.

In the few years we’ve lived nearby, the place has been vacant, a spooky old home that makes kids cross to the other side of the street on Halloween. But the old mansion has a long and incredible history on Capitol Hill, recorded by groups like the Capitol Hill Restoration Society, the city’s Historic Preservation Review Board and the Library of Congress. In the 1790s, its original owner, Captain William Duncanson, was one of the first landowners in the nation’s capital; others who lived there include Francis Scott Key, Senator John Clayton, and my personal favorite, Emily Edson Briggs, the first female newspaper correspondent to cover the White House — Lincoln’s White House, that is. Rumor also has it there’s a hidden wine cellar deep underground there, and the moment I hear anything about it from the construction crews or anyone else, I’ll be sure to let you know. DC tour guide Canden Schwantes told me about it a few weeks back and thus far I’ve just found this newspaper article from 1970 to fuel my fascination with the possibility of nearby buried treasure.

Cranes on the horizon. There’s not much room left for them in dense places like Manhattan, but here in D.C., they still stop traffic on Massachusetts Ave. near Chinatown and dominate the O Street Market project, and serve to mark the spot in places like this one, where land is full of history and treasures, and transformation is underway.

Do cranes often appear on the landscape where you live? And have those of you in Washington heard stories about the hidden wine cellar?

Related Posts on Neighborhood Nomads:


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