Because my brother will be going to India soon for an internship, my brother, sister and I decided to have as sibling get together yesterday in my sister’s neighborhood, which is conveniently located three blocks from the Eastern Market Metro Station. We decided (well, I decided) it would be wonderfully efficient to combine sibling bonding time with some orange line urban exploration, so I asked my sister to take us on an unofficial tour of her neighborhood. We could say she was the location scout. My brother, owner of a big fancy camera, was the cameraman. And because I’m the oldest and inherently bossy, I nominated myself for the position of artistic director of the project. So thanks to my brother and sister for all their help!
I couldn’t find reliable demographic data for the Capitol Hill neighborhood but Wikipedia informs me that Capitol Hill “…is one of the oldest residential communities in Washington, and, with roughly 35,000 people in just under 2 square miles, it is also one of the most densely populated.” The neighborhood is just east of the Anacostia River, lies in the northeast and southeast quadrants of D.C, and has a very “neighborhood-y” feel to it: Lots of rowhouses, a scattering of grand-looking old homes, stone churches, pocket parks, low-rise apartment buildings and tree-lined streets. Whenever I visit my sister, I feel like I’m in a yuppie Brooklyn neighborhood, full of older couples with young children, dog walkers and young urban professionals getting brunch on Barracks Row. Then of course, there’s Eastern Market, the city’s oldest public market, home to a farmer’s market, indoor food market, arts and crafts market and flea market. Judging from the crowd this past Sunday, this is where well-to-do white people come to gather so they can experience neighborly and community-type feelings. You can see the results of my neighborly and community type feelings here.
I found an interesting Washington Post article on the changing face of Capitol Hill while researching the neighborhood. Although the article is a couple of years old, it does a pretty good job of discussing the racial and economic shift that Capitol Hill has seen over the last decade. An example? In 2000, the neighborhood was 84% black and 12% white. In 2010, it was 44% black and 47% white. And if my neighborhood stroll was any indication, I’d say the percentage of white residents has probably increased signficantly since 2010. I think this is pretty representative of what’s happening in D.C east of the Anacostia River, where many historically black and Latino neighborhoods are gentrifying at an alarming rate, mostly because long-time residents are being priced out of their own neighborhoods. It is a privileged minority (well, majority now it seems) who can afford to pay $1,700 for a tiny one-bedroom English basement. I’m not judging…I’d love to have a cramped, dark basement apartment if I could afford it, though I have to admit it makes me more than a little anxious to think about the fact that D.C’s demographics are changing so quickly. I’m prone to nostalgia and the thought of a neighborhood’s character being irreversibly altered so quickly makes me a little uncomfortable. There are no easy answers, but that’s a matter for another blog post. Too read about and see pictures of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, click here.