Tag Archive: 7th&OStNW

Essay 2: Mapping Commonplaces


In Ruben Castaneda’s book, S Street Rising, he talks about the cocaine epidemic in all over Washington, DC. Some of the addresses mentioned were places to find drugs, prostitutes, and other extreme things. For my class project I decided to use the address of  7th and O street Northwest. This building located in that specific address was built in 1881 and it is one of the three 19th-century public market buildings still standing in the city because of its gothic revival details. It was used as a community market when a group of displaced vendors selected the land after Boss Shepherd demolished the original Northern Liberty Market in 1872. By having all of the public in that specific area the land area began to rise as the new market was being constructed making the are more interesting. Serving the community soundly from the time of its opening, it gradually fell into disrepair and it became the market in Northwest Washington was a symbol of urban decay and dysfunction. Apparently without major structural problems, the building was emptied of tenants. several months prior to construction in anticipation of its transformation into an upscale shopping center when the unthinkable happened.

The building is part of the Shaw community and because of the years past this building had been developed into a Giant supermarket, which is a huge change because this is a more complex market that was before in the area. What was before the O Street market a place, where city residents stopped to grab some wings for dinner turned the are into a more vitalized and common grounds for the residents. Like Fleming talks about in his book City of Rhetoric that the communities in Chicago have a commonplace where people with different interest and ideals have a safe place to get together and can interact. Like those commonplaces, Fleming found around Chicago I believe that they also exist in the District of Columbia specifically, in this location in the Shaw area. There might be many more in Shaw, but after visiting 7th and O Street and reading about the past I realized that this might be one.

For the resident of Shaw this place isn’t just where they might spend time grocery shopping, but a place where it is common grounds. There Martin Luther King Jr. protested and shootings occurred. I think this community might change because of social interest and real state increases and some of the residents are forced to leave, but deep down when everyone looks or thinks about the O Street market they will remember all the good and bad things that happened during their time there or even be nostalgic about what happened to a family member before.

Essentially, I would like to talk about the gentrification process and focus my project on that because many of the residents of Shaw have been forced out of their family homes because of the increase of the land and the new “hip” places opening around. When I arrived to the place I noticed that to one side of the building is the Kennedy Recreation Center, which has been part of the community for more than 30 years now and also a park. But to the other side of the building a “modern-type” building stands with many others. As I walked by both sides of the Giant building I could notice the difference between those two streets. Where in one side there were people that appeared to be part of a less socio-economic class than from the newly part. In this part of the street I could only see old stores or many rundown buildings, but crossing I saw a lot of advertisements for new studio apartments in the City Market at O complex. The difference is very distinguished, which isn’t a good thing because residents have been pushed away. I plan to see how these new stores that have opened are attracting a new set of people and forcing the old ones to leave.

I can’t believe how this place that was known as the crack home in the 90s in now known as safe place to live. Just because new restaurants, coffee shops, stores, and apartment homes opened up makes it safer? To further our understanding of the phenomenon of “gentrification” I will focus on  Shaw, a neighborhood in Washington, DC. Using Reuben Castaneda’s narrative from S-Street Rising I am able to understand the neighborhood’s economic downfalls from the crack epidemic. Many journalists have accredited Shaw’s revitalization to a simple term, gentrification. However, after my visit, I realized the flourishing phenomenon could not be narrowed down to one mere word. In fact, it is a complex concept requiring understanding because it is not just occurring in DC, it is occurring in every major city in the United States and in my final project I intend to exhibit key places that have made Shaw change in this specific area.




Annotated Bibliography 9 and 10



Ledbetter, Danielle. “Is D.C. Still the Chocolate City?” Truth Be Told, 10 Nov. 2015, http://truthbetold.news/2015/11/is-d-c-still-the-chocolate-city/.

In their article Is D.C. Still The Chocolate City authors Danielle Ledbetter and Kaylah Waite give the history of Washington D.C. being one of the “blackest” cities in the United States since the 1970s this reiterating the fact that was is seen today does not match the history of what D.C. has been. Ledbetter and Waite explaining the story behind the nickname of “Chocolate City” for the nation’s capital explaining how the Shaw area was “booming” with black businesses. There are such phrases as “white flight” “The Plan” and “take back” explaining how the idea of white families and individuals moving into areas such as Shaw has been something that has been occurring since the 1950s. The idea of displacement then has is not a new twenty-first century phenomenon rather, it has been happening is the dawn of the “Chocolate City” era and now the population has just gotten larger. Phrases such as “black constituents” are used to explain in thorough detail of the mass of minority individuals and families that walked around the areas where nowadays might not be more than a handful of minority families in sight.

I would use this particular article for the statistics that has within in to help the reader actually visualize the differences throughout the years of the displacement that has gone on in areas such as Shaw. Having such article use the nickname of “Chocolate City” to be the name of D.C.is almost surprising and knowing the story behind that is an important part of the telling the stories of my built-in environment.



Schwartzman, Paul. “A Bittersweet Renaissance.” The Washington Post, 23 Feb. 2006. washingtonpost.com, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/22/AR2006022202508.html.

In this 2006 article, Bittersweet Renaissance Paul Schwartzman interviews natives of Washington D.C. neighborhoods such as Shaw giving them a way to discuss the changes they have seen in they have seen in their neighborhoods and the effects of such changes. Schwartzman breaks down such interviews into subsections that help the reader understand the processes of the changes. When it comes to the “Vanishing Culture” the idea and power of money when it comes to the changing of the neighborhoods around the metropolitan area and the impact it has not only on the people but also on the areas history.

I plan on using this as part of my multimodal final project as direct quotes to help the audience understand the standpoint that many natives have concerning the changes in their area.  To have different direct statements and testimonies from natives that grew up in the area before and after the changes that it is undergoing would help my audience understand that this is a serious matter that affects individuals greatly.

Digital Archive Interior and Cultural 5


O St. Market 1987. Picture retrieved from Google Images

I also found the picture below in Google Images just like in my fourth digital archive, which was taken the day when the famous shooting occurred where a child was killed. I like how this picture shows how the employees were ready to work and it also shows kind of how it was every day in the market. But sadly the event counter effect this picture.

Digital Archives Interior and Cultural 4


Homeless in O St. Market. Picture retrieved from Google Images

I found this picture in Google Images and it is across the street from the market several years ago I assume because of the quality and also the architecture of the building behind them. I find this to be a very interesting picture because when I went to 7th and O street I didn’t see any groups of people on the streets, actually, the streets were spotless no garbage and no graffiti. This gives a whole new meaning to describing how was the neighborhood and how it has evolved.

Digital Archives Interior and Cultural 3


Giant Supermarket Day. Picture taken by Isabel C. Polo 2017

This picture is similar to my second digital archive, but I chose to include this picture as part of my digital archives because it is day time, one could better appreciate the details on the ceiling, the columns, and also the workers in their environment. I find this picture to be interesting because it could be before opening hours and it shows these two men are preparing the store for customers. In the far end there are some rays of light coming from the ceiling, which looks interesting and also to the right of the picture one can see the “O St. Market” sign.

Digital Archives Interior and Cultural 2


Giant Supermarket. Picture taken by Isabel C. Polo 2017

In the picture one can see how the O street market is right now. If one looks closely, one could observe how the ceiling is not new, therefore, meaning that this building has restored and preserved making it more important in our history. Also to the left some of the columns are made out brick, I suppose this was intended to stay the same as before. This picture is interesting because the architecture has a mixture of modern and gothic architecture.

Digital Archives Interior and Cultural 1


Picture retrieved from website FOX46

In this website, I found information about a shooting early this year. I find this to be relative and useful to support my paper because it gives examples of the shootings that have been occurring in the same area, proving that nothing has changed with time. This gives evidence to the cultural part of my essay, which will be very helpful.

Digital Archives: Exterior & Political 5


O Street Market taken by Isabel C. Polo 2017

This is the building found in the interception of 7th and O St Northwest as one can witness the structure is made of red bricks and the roof has two tones of gray bricks. The building is located on a corner and it seems to be accessible by many doors that surround it, but actually, there is a main entrance located in the gray building to the left. By standing here, it occurred to me that this building has not changed much through the years because it is one of the few brick buildings standing in that area, the other buildings are built with and glass.

Digital Archives: Exterior & Political 4


O Street Market Side taken by Isabel C. Polo 2017

Right in front of the O Street Market, I noticed there was a man and woman that appear to be Jehovah Witnesses. For me it is kind of interesting to see hot they stand in this part of the street because I consider this part kind of the old part where nothing much happens. In contrast, at the end of the street is where all the newly renovated buildings are and more hip restaurants and cafés are.

Digital Archives: Exterior and Political 3


Houses near 7th and O St (Google Images)

Something that I started to notice was the separation between the newly renovated houses and the old houses and the impact that it gives to my visual eye to see this change to noticeable. They were either on the opposite side of the street or a group of them would be all together and then the next group would be all modern. It was almost as if the groups of houses were being renovated by sections of the streets. Which makes you think, what will happen with the architecture of the street in the future?