BED Exterior

Exterior shot; taken across the street from hotel
Exterior shot; taken across the street from hotel

Coming from AU, I took the Red Line on the metro from the Tenleytown station to the Farragut North station and walked the rest of the way to the Westin City Center hotel. On the walk to the hotel, there were several fast casual restaurants along with coffee shops and other hotels. Just from being in the neighborhood one would notice that this area’s main focus is for business. There are not many family-orientated or children-friendly establishments. It is clear that people come to this area for professional reasons.

Although the hotel is now named the Westin City Center, screen-shot-2016-12-12-at-10-14-14-pmat the time S Street Rising took place, it was the Vista International Hotel. In 1996 the hotel was converted to the Westin and then renamed in 1998 the Wyndham Washington D.C. It wasn’t until 2005 that the hotel went back to being the Westin.

Located on M St. NW, the building was constructed in 1982 by Holle and Lin Architects PC Smith-Williams Group. Since its establishment, it has experienced many renovations; most recently in 2011. Castaneda was at this location for a drug buy but while there he learned mayor Marion Barry had been arrested there after being caught by the FBI for narcotics charges. Both men thought that this hotel was a suitable location to conduct illegal activity as it is unsuspecting. The hotel is located in an area where drug dealers and crack smokers and not often found.

Additionally, this hotel is an expensive place to lodge. At $302 being the average cost for a nights stay, typically affluent individuals or those on business are spending time in this hotel. The atmosphere of the location also plays into the lavish ambiance. From the exterior I notice the fourteen floors that comprise the building. It is easy to see into the lobby from the street at the doors are all glass. This style is carried through in the rest of the structure. Glass windows go all the way up the front of the building.

There were not many obstacles present when entering the building. The lobby was easily accessible to the public. However, you could not access the upper levels without being a guest at the hotel.

 

Works Consulted

LaFraniere, Sharon. “Barry Arrested on Cocaine Charges in Undercover FBI, Police Operation.” Washington Post. Web.

 

Wikipedia. “The Westin Washington, D.C. City Center.” Wiki. Wikiwand. N.p., n.d. Web.

Digital Archives

Exterior shot; taken while standing in front of building
This photo was taken as I approched the building. It is a shot of the front of the hotel. From this angle you are able to see the entryway and first few floors of the hotel. This is most likely close to where Castaneda was stationed when he heard about Barry.
I took a picture from across the street to have a better view of the entire building. While gathering this I noticed how vast that hotel was. It’s fourteen floors were much easier to see. This perspective made it much more apparent that this is a high end location that wealthier people would visit.
This was the first picture I took when arriving at my location. I ha not yet realized the scope of the building when I approached it from the side. The sign made it apparent I was in the right spot. It wasn’t until I got closer that I was able to see the size and structure of the hotel.
This is a photo of one of the streets next to the hotel. You can tell that this is more of a business oriented location based on the buildings on this street. Many of the other streets looked similar to this one.

RA: Urban communities make up for suburban failures

While most view the suburbs as an ideal place to live and raise a family, Fleming points out the flaws of the seemingly perfect living environment. At the beginning of Chapter 5: “Suburbia” in his work The City of Rhetoric he discusses the historical context of Section 8 housing and describes the criteria necessary to qualify for the program. It is essentially a government subsidization (a voucher) to provide housing for low income citizens. This was put in place so that those living in housing complexes in the central city could leave and move to places with better housing and education in addition to less crime (93). Fleming notes that even when given the opportunity to leave the communities, people were still inclined to choose a residence in the same area or others similar to it. However, this did not remedy the problem of racial and economic segregation. It only perpetuated the issue and most believed that the true solution would be to provide housing in the suburbs.

Northern suburbs of Chicago.
Northern suburbs of Chicago.

Fleming defines the suburbs in a multitude of ways but comes to the conclusion that the suburbs are less populated, less crime ridden and most often residents with higher incomes and newer homes. It is based on a sense of community and the American idea of privatism. At the same time those that live there are criticized for reaping the benefits of a centralized government, good schools, paved roads, clean air, while disliking it at the same time (96).

Fleming chooses to examine Chicago when looking at the contrasts between the different types of  “suburbs.” He believes that Chicago is a good example of the “decentralization, fragmentation and polarization” that has taken place in the “civic landscape” (98). The development of the varying characteristics, mainly income and quality of living in the suburbs, caused many disparities to become apparent. For instance, the educational institutions in the more affluent suburbs received significantly more funding and resources despite having smaller populations than those in the low-income suburbs.

Cabrini Green housing complex
Cabrini Green housing complex

When trying to provide solutions to these issues, more troubles arise. Fleming points out that when multifamily complexes are proposed in the suburbs most often the land costs are too high and the zoning/ tax policies prohibit the constructions. As a result, these affordable housing units are placed in the suburbs with the weakest economies (103).

Schaumburg, Illinois illustrates Fleming’s ideas about the effects of suburban development. It is however referred to as an edge city: “intensely planned, job-rich, low-density communities (106). They are most often placed near or next to highways and allot a large portion of space to office buildings. Fleming points out that this contributes to social polarization. There are so few minorities and so many private interests. Since the town was established it had experienced growth in population but not in diversity. Typically white, middle-class citizens inhabited the area. This type of suburb proved the disparities Fleming had argued about this type of living.

In the conclusion of his chapter, Fleming states that with the vouchers provided through Section 8, people should be able to choose to live wherever they choose. The suburbs should be open to all of those that wish to live there and should not be limited to one race, income, age etc… However, if this is the case then those living in the suburbs now will leave and develop a more exclusive and less inclusive place to live. He ends by saying that a suburb in not an ideal public sphere and that the city is most often the more practical solution to the many problems facing the living environments of low-income citizens.

RA: Role of physicality in relationships

In his text City of Rhetoric, David Fleming suggests that our physical place in this world plays a role in our function in society. Where we situate ourselves results in the formations of different groups of people. Most often these are based on socioeconomic class, ethnic background and even political ideology. We see that this association of like people has an effect on the ability to connect with one another and create an inclusive space. Fleming begins to examine the different types of areas people live in in his chapter entitled “A New Civic Map for Our Time.” He begins by discussing the importance of being an active member in your given society; Fleming writes, “it does not matter where you are a citizen, just be one” (37).  People most often consider political participation important when it deals with a national scale, however, Fleming finds it most important to be active in your local surroundings. Each person experiences a very different political environment based on where they live. Those in largely populated areas have a set system in place to govern and are often able to participate in public discourse as a result of the wide variety of ideas and beliefs filling the area. As for those situated  somewhere with a smaller population they often have their own people governing and are sharing similar belief systems with one another. In this case there tends to be less space for debate; the citizens share their living environments along with their belief systems.

Fleming takes his ideas regarding geographical position and begins to examine their impact on our rhetoric. His implication that we are a nation-state, appears to affect our development of linguistic understanding as a society. The political forces that drive our government are the same that drive our educational institutions. Fleming notes that in schools, the current events discussed and the history lessons taught are centered around national politics rather than more local issues. This issue is paralleled in the teaching of reading in writing although in a different sense. He explains this by saying, “because of the centralized nature of the publishing industry…composition was largely the same wherever it was taught, a sameness that was…specifically American” (39). This instruction did not take into account the many different subcultures that had emerged in the millions of neighborhoods these students descended from.

Tadic, Nenad. The Power of Neighborhoods. Digital Image. Gapers Block. N.p. 21 February 2104 Published. Web. 2 October 2106.

Fleming goes on to discuss the impacts of urbanization. The development of these areas subsequently resulted in the development of neighborhoods; people choosing to live in the same vicinity as one another based on likeness. Fleming says this was a result of the heterogenous nature of the urban environments. A sense of “complexity” and “intermingling” had been established in these places and people needed to created a more “rational” community (46).  By creating these neighborhoods people were able to establish a small space within a larger one; which goes back to Fleming’s ideas mentioned earlier. A dilemma is presented in this situation; how can democracy be established and public discoursed be conducted? Smaller democracies promote public participation and a feeling of a shared common good whereas larger democracies allow for diversity and individual freedoms. Fleming proposes a solution: the city. This remedies the division between the vastness of the nation and the seclusion of a neighborhood. It unites the two and allows for a more cohesive functionality. Flemings ideas are later explained through examples, such as the city of Chicago, and he proves that the landscape of a city remedies the issues mentioned earlier while also creating new ones.