Project II: Mapping Commonplaces

Over the course of this semester, I have done extensive research on the Shaw/U Street neighborhood in Washington D.C.  I begun research on this area by visiting a location selected from Ruben Castaneda’s book S Street Rising.  The location I chose was The O Street Market, which was recently renovated into a Giant Supermarket. While visiting this site, I photographed it’s interior and exterior, and observed the surrounding area.  For my final project I created a presentation to illustrate my commonplace’s connection to the Shaw neighborhood.  I also created a google map to locate places connected to my commonplace.


Below are links to each part of my project

Interior Archives

Exterior Archives

Annotated Bibliography

Final Project: Mode 1

Final Project: Mode 2

Final Project: Analysis

Project II: Mapping Commonplaces Analysis

Through researching and visiting my site, I discovered strong racial and class tensions between members of the Shaw community.  As the Shaw neighborhood undergoes rapid development, older residents feel as if they have lost their voice. Looking through testimonies of residents, and scholarly articles, I discovered there has been a shift in the identity to the neighborhood to the dismay of its older residents.  What was once considered the center of African American culture in Washington D.C, Shaw has seen an influx of affluent white residents.  I discovered that all members in the community connected through the celebration and preservation of Shaw’s African American culture.

For my first mode, I looked at how my commonplace could be found at specific sites, and how these sites have evolved over time.  Through research and my own understanding of Shaw, I found that my commonplace is connecting through history.  I made a prezi as one of my modes to illustrate my commonplace as Shaw has evolved over time.  Through the use of pictures, videos and text, I created a loose timeline of events. As the presentation progresses, the viewer can see Shaw’s African American origins, urban decay, then the area’s revitalization.  Pictures found in my research are used to help the reader visualize these changes and the shift in Shaw’s identity. I also use quotes from residents in the area to express the attitude of different groups regarding these changes.  To represent my common place in this prezi I included examples of where my commonplace can be found in the neighborhood.

For my second mode, I made a google map.  I thought that a map would be helpful in representing my project because my commonplace relates to places in the built environment.  Each point on the map correlates directly to places mentioned in my prezi presentation.  


Because my commonplace is abstract, I thought it would be helpful for my audience to see a map of places where my commonplace is materialized in the built environment.  Both modes, follow three examples of where my commonplace is.

I identified The O Street Market (now City Market on O) as an example of where commonplace is used by the area’s new residents.  The O Street Market is considered a historic site in Shaw, and was a place for everyone in the community.  As part of the area’s redevelopment, the old O Street Market has been transformed into a Giant Supermarket catering to the area’s new population.  However, developers maintained the markets original historic structure connecting the old and the new.  I also used Carter G. Woodson’s home as an example of my commonplace through the lens of Shaw’s older residents.  Carter G. Woodson is an essential figure in Shaw’s history.  The National Park Service has been restoring his home into a place where residents can come to learn about African American history.  This historic site allows for older residents to teach newcomers about the history of the neighborhood, and engage with one another.  Another example I use is Howard Theater.  Howard Theater was considered the center for African American culture in its formation.  As the area is revitalized, the famous theater has been renovated and reopened.  The historic theater is now a place for all members of the community to come together and experience Shaw’s culture.


Through mapping these locations, I wanted my audience to see how divided groups can find common ground.  The African American population of Shaw is becoming increasingly marginalized in a place that was once their own.  In order to help bridge these two groups, I found that they can connect through preserving Shaw’s history.

AB: Revitalization

Meyer, Eugene L. “Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood Is Remade for Young Urbanites.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Dec. 2015. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.


In his New York Times article “Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood Is Remade for Young Urbanites,”  Eugene L. Meyer describes how the historically black Shaw neighborhood is now becoming a home to many white middle class millennials.  The author explains how urban development in Shaw has brought the area many new businesses and high rise apartments.  The author provides pricing for these new living spaces, and quotes those working for the development companies.

I will be able to use this article as an argument source to provide a different opinion on the controversy surrounding the development projects in Shaw.  I will be able to use quotes from executives working for the development companies to offer their perspective on the revitalization of Shaw. With the little mention of the area’s previous residents, I will use this source to show that there is little public commentary on the negative implications of these developments by the developers.  

Angerer, Drew. Intersection of Florida Ave and 9th Street NW. The New York Times, December 2, 2015.

I can use this picture to show how these new development buildings look in the Shaw neighborhood, and compare its design to the older infrastructure.

AB: Historic Sites as a Commonplace

Bordeaux, Sarah. “A Place at the Table: “The Role of Historic Sites in Gentrifying Neighborhoods. Our Stories: Shaw through the 1970s,” The George Washington University,  2015, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.


In her scholarly article “The Role of Historic Sites in Gentrifying Neighborhoods. Our Stories: Shaw through the 1970s,”  Sara Bordeaux uses the Shaw neighborhood as a case study to examine the function of historic sites in transitioning areas.  Through her research findings, Bordeaux proves that African American residents in the Shaw neighborhood feel as if they are being displaced, and their history is vanishing as the area is becoming revitalized.  As a solution to this problem Bordeaux concludes that it is vital to find spaces rooted in the “built environment” where people can visit to learn about the neighborhood’s African American history and the narratives of residents in Shaw’s past.  She argues that these exhibitions will act as a gathering place for community members to confront the issues of gentrification and give a voice to those who feel ignored in the rapidly changing neighborhood.


I will be able to use the research found in this article as a method source to analyze how the museums and historic houses can be used as a common place in the Shaw neighborhood.  I will be able to use the authors examples of common places in places like New York City, and explain how they could benefit Shaw.  I can use Bordeaux’s research to show how these spaces could relieve tensions between the area’s old and new residents.

Cotter, Holland. Weeksville Heritage Center. Weeksvillhc, Fig 6, Programs and Research, November 23, 2014.

I will be able to use this image of a black heritage exhibition in Brooklyn as a visual aid for the type of commonplace that would benefit the Shaw neighborhood.


AB: The Food Mirage

Brooks, Lauren A. “Food Deserts, Gentrification, and Public Health Nutrition: A Case Study of the Shaw/U-Street Neighborhood of Washington D.C,” The George Washington University, 2016, ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global.

In her scholarly article “Food Deserts, Gentrification, and Public Health Nutrition: A Case Study of the Shaw/U-Street Neighborhood of Washington D.C,” Lauren Ashley Brooks uses the Shaw neighborhood to show the effects of food shortages in gentrified areas.  Brooks explains how new high end grocery stores built in gentrifying areas has prevented its lower income residents from consuming healthier foods.  She describes these new grocery stores as a “food mirage” for the long-term residents because of their inability to afford their more expensive prices.  

I will use this article as a Method source to analyze controversies surrounding the site I have chosen in Shaw. I will be able to apply the conclusions found in this article to compare the positive and negative affects of my sites recent restoration into a Giant supermarket. 

AB: Who is Shaw?

Sheir, Rebecca. “Shaw’s Roots: From ‘Heart Of Chocolate City’ To ‘Little United Nations’.” WAMU, 4 May 2011. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

In her article “Shaw’s Roots: From ‘Heart Of Chocolate City’ To ‘Little United Nations’,” Rebecca Sheir describes the history of the Shaw neighborhood in its early days, and then shows how it has changed throughout the years.  Sheir explains how in its formation, Shaw was a primarily black neighborhood and was historically known as the “Black Broadway.”  Through sequencing the neighborhood’s history, the author explains Shaw’s deterioration, and its recent restoration.   She concludes that even though Shaw is losing its identity as the heart of “black Washington,” the area’s diversification and revitalization has created a diverse community.

I will be able to use this article as a background source to explain Shaw’s history, and how an African American community was established there.  The article will allow me to describe Shaw’s identity and how that identity is shifting.  I will also be able to use this article as an argument source to argue the importance of maintain Shaw’s African American history as the neighborhood changes.

Scurlock Studio Records. Newsboys and others in front of the Howard Theater c.1936., Archives Center, National Museum of American History.

I can use this image shown in the article to provide a visual aid for background information on Shaw’s history.

AB: Old Confronts New

Gringlas, Sam. “Old Confronts New In A Gentrifying D.C. Neighborhood.” NPR, NPR, 16 Jan. 2017. Accessed 20 Apr. 2017.

In his NPR article “Old Confronts New In A Gentrifying D.C. Neighborhood,”  Sam Gringlas analyzes the tensions between Shaw’s old and new residents through anecdotes and information on the areas development.  Through interviews, Gringlas shows how the old-time residents struggle to maintain Shaw’s history as the area changes. The effects of these new developments on the demographics in the area, as well as the shift in businesses, is illustrated through a combination of facts and observation.  However, Gringlas also concludes there are benefits to the new revitalization of the area because the shifting demographics have allowed people with different identities to come together and connect.

I will be able to use this article as an argument source to suggest both positive and negative effects of the development occurring in Shaw.   It will allow me show the importance of Shaw’s history to it’s original primarily African American population.  I can also use this article as an exhibit source to provide examples of the importance of maintaining Shaw’s African American history and culture. 

(Raquel Zaldivar NPR)

I can use this image from the article to illustrate Shaw’s celebration of its African American history through a mural painted in it’s historic district.