My brother and I decided to do a bit of urban exploration yesterday. Originally we were going to meet up with a hiking group, but I got up too late and this didn’t happen (strangely enough, this happened in Ellicott City too). But we decided to make a day of it anyway and did a little Mount Pleasant, Adams Morgan and Capitol Hill exploration. But before I get into all of that I’d like to take a moment to introduce my brother to my blog because he is part of so many of my urban exploration weekend expeditions. My brother is a recent college graduate (urban planning) with a penchant for NPR, documentaries and anything city-related. Like your average D.C type, he is politically liberal, well-informed about international affairs and national politics, ethnically ambiguous, generally stylish and impeccably dressed. Except for one thing. In winter, my 23-year-old brother refuses to leave the house without his I Love Snow hat. It does not say I love snowBOARDING or anything like that. Just I Love Snow. He claims it’s the greatest, warmest hat in the world and doesn’t seem to mind that this is the kind of hat an unfashionable baby might wear. But anyway, here’s my cartoon blog brother:
When I was little I hated D.C. And I hated it for this reason: Every time I’d go into the city with my family it was to visit some museum or monument so I thought D.C was a place of massive, boring buildings and too much grass. I don’t know if you’ve seen the National Mall, but that’s a lot of open space and grass and I couldn’t help feeling the city had more in common with a giant soccer field than an actual city. I’d been to places like Montreal, Quebec, Boston and New York, so I felt I was being ripped off in D.C. All these other cities got glam, glitz, skyscrapers, cool people walking around, high building density and hipness, and we got too much grass, block-ish, Acropolis-like monuments and buildings, people with fanny packs and cameras walking around and very little denseness. In other words, it just didn’t feel like a real city. I’m not saying I have anything against tourists. I’ve been one many times…I just mean that D.C felt more like a place you come to visit than a place you’d actually want to live in.
But as I’ve grown older and discovered that D.C is more than the National Mall, I’ve started to like it more and more. The fanny packs and big tourist groups are mostly limited to the Mall area and no, there aren’t any skyscrapers, but there are interesting neighborhoods and cool little buildings and rowhouses…and while I wouldn’t use the words glam, glitz or even hip to describe D.C and DCers (though some might argue there are small pockets of hipness) there are a lot of diverse, intelligent, interesting, well-educated people walking around. I’m not quite ready to use the word character and D.C in the same sentence, but I would venture to say D.C is starting to develop a personality. Not a particularly cutting-edge personality, but if you’re into NPR, politics, Anne Taylor, J-Crew, marathons and/or world domination, it’s a nice place to be.
My brother and I my enjoyed our walk through residential Mount Pleasant, the Adams Morgan restaurant/bar strip and the Capitol Hill flea market and surrounding neighborhood. There is something very energizing and even refreshing about being in an urban environment. I don’t mind the suburbs as much as I used to and I’ve come to appreciate the tranquility, safety and relative affordability of the ‘burbs, but as a 20-something (ahhh almost 30-something!) single woman, I think I’d find city life more stimulating, entertaining and fulfilling in many ways. Now I just need to find a way to make it happen on my county employee salary, no easy feat when you consider the average rent for a modest one-bedroom apartment is almost $2,000! Which means that if I were to rent an apartment in D.C I’d pay rent and do absolutely nothing else for the rest of the month. Maybe it’s time to look into a part-time job?
During this particular trip to D.C I observed several interesting facts:
1.) A lot of trees in D.C still have leaves. Out where I live they’re all bald. D.C is usually a few degrees warmer than Centreville but who would have known a few degrees makes such a big difference?
2.) Thanks to Zillow, I now know D.C real estate is very expensive. I knew this before, but now I really know. A 500 Square foot one-bedroom condo in a neighborhood I’d like runs about $450,000.
3.) Brunch has apparently become the weekend religion of the urban elite thanks to all-day mimosas and omelettes. While I’ve always known people liked brunch, I never realized it was Such a Big Deal. Every little tiny restaurant we passed had a board advertising their brunch specials!
4.) There are several used bookstores in D.C. This leads me to ask a.) Does anybody actually buy paper books? and b.) How much money can they possibly make and is it actually enough to cover their rent?
And now, some pictures: