The block of buildings with S Street running along the bottom, bordered by T Street on top and squeezed in by 6th and 7th Street on the sides presents one of the most up and coming parts of DC. Sitting directly across from Baldie’s house and the New Community Church, it is an intriguing contrast to the history of the area. Walking along the streets allows one to easily see the modern and lavish accommodations. As one steps out of the metro, they are greeted by the grand, glass building home to the United Negro College Fund and Teach for America. Peering into their lobby, it is decorated with ornate tiles, minimalist coffee tables, and every shred of modern art at their disposal. Just up the road is a gym called Solidcore Shaw. At first sight, this business is probably the greatest variation from the former Shaw. It’s sizable windows allow one to see the blue neon lights and the hottest new forms of workout equipment. Moving on, one will come across an establishment by the name of Eat the Rich. This is a dimly lit, swanky oyster bar in the heart of a once impoverished neighborhood. Next door lies the Calabash Teahouse & Cafe covered in ornate Indian-style furniture and paintings. None of these enterprises would have been around during the earlier years of Shaw.The one business I was able to spend an extended amount of time in was the Right Proper Brewing Company located on the corner of T & Wiltberger, situated directly beside the Howard Theater. The interior of the building is unique from some of the other businesses in the area because it has kept many pieces of the original interior. The inside is dimly lit, with low hanging lights and a small candle at each table. The tables and chairs are made crudely out of wood and metal; the smell of aging cheese from the cheese counter wafts through the air. The sound of lively conversation fills the building. A brief glimpse through the restaurant’s website gives a basic history of the building. The Brewing Company was constructed on the remnants of Frank Holiday’s Pool Room, a spot once remarkably prominent to the neighborhood’s African-American community. This prominence has been confined to a colorful mural on the wall, all that remains of the former pool hall, stated in an almost condescending way online. The building is adorned in bizarre artwork, the only violence left on S Street being captured in the depiction of a fox shooting lasers out of its eyes with two pandas fighting in the background. The entire feel of the place seems like it is ignoring, if not mocking the history of the community much like the other businesses have popped up and destroyed the history and culture of the region. Unfortunately, I was unable to gain access to the interior of Baldie’s home, but there some assumptions we can pull from the exterior and the area in general. The presence of crime bars on the windows means that the current resident is still worried about the possibility of crime on S Street. This might signify that the inhabitant was around during the troubled past of the block. Many of the weeds and moss on the porch is unkempt, which could indicate the interior is not well taken care of either. The shutters are do appear fairly modern and add a touch of friendliness to the building. Taking this into account, coupled with the price of the unit and the recent renovations of many neighboring buildings, we can deduce that the inside has most likely been redone to some extent. The home of the former drug dealer has most definitely changed from the days when Baldie was alive.
Shaw has changed. The once vibrant neighborhood was ravaged by the 1968 riots which left the community susceptible to takeover. As the world changed around them, the residents were pushed out by massive increases in rent price and the high cost of living. In fact the cost of housing in Shaw is 161% higher than the national average with the cost of living being 51% higher. The massive changes the area has seen over the past two decades is shocking. With the people gone, the legacy of a proud community has been relinquished to the walls of the buildings where they once stood.
Meyer, Eugene L. “Washington’s Shaw Neighborhood Is Remade for Young Urbanites.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 1 Dec. 2015, http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/02/realestate/commercial/development-redefines-character-of-washingtons-shaw-area.html?_r=0.
This source describes how the Shaw neighborhood has been redone for the new, young tenants moving to these areas. Especially in the S street neighborhood, many glass-clad coffee shops and bars have popped up at former residences of black businesses. These places all have similar interiors and can give us a small look into what has changed and what has remained the same.
Stacy, Christina Plerhoples et al. “Gentrification and Business Changes: A Lack of Data for Sound Policy.” Urban Institute, Urban Wire, 4 Aug. 2015, http://www.urban.org/urban-wire/gentrification-and-business-changes-lack-data-sound-policy.
This article provides graphs and statistical information regarding business changes in the Shaw/S street area. It maps the influx of new business in the area since the early 1990s and what types of businesses arrived. The total number of businesses has been on a steady rise. The number of full service restaurants has actually fallen. The most notable is the massive increase in limited service business, especially from 2003 to 2004. This is most likely due to the rise of coffee shops, for young urban dwellers arriving in the area, replacing older businesses.
Cheston, Thor. “Our Story.” Right Proper Brewing Company, 2013, www.rightproperbrewing.com/about-us/.
This webpage belongs to the Right Proper Brewing Company. The page explains the history of the company and some of the features along with it. It goes into detail about the history of the building which has proven useful when comparing it to the historical building. It provides all of the information needed to get a full understanding of it’s changes.
Areavibes. “Shaw, Washington, DC Cost of Living.” Cost Of Living In Shaw, Washington, DC, Areavibes, 2015, www.areavibes.com/washington-dc/shaw/cost-of-living/.
This website gives information on the cost of living and housing in Shaw. It provided basic statistics used in the paper to contrast how the area used to be. Along with this information, it lists interesting comparisons of basic amenities from milk and shampoo to transport and healthcare between DC and the rest of the United States.