Ana Lezama and I went to visit our sites together the week before Thanksgiving Break, when we found out that our sites are very close together. At noon, we got to Ana’s site, Lafayette Square Park. After taking a couple of pictures of the site, we posed in front of the White House and ended up at the Renwick Art Gallery, that is only a few minutes away. It was beautiful looking and learning about the history of Washington D.C. After walking around and absorbing it all in, it was time to go to my location. It wasn’t too far of a walk, only about 20 minutes or so. I took a few pictures of the street corner between 13th and M street and went inside the Thomas Circle Apartment complex that I had visited earlier. (I didn’t talk to the reception this time). We walked to Thomas Circle and looked at the National City Christian Church. We then took an über to Starbucks, ordered coffee and sat at a table by a window and worked on our built environment descriptions together. We actually stayed there until late afternoon. It was an overall very fun day, and I’m glad I found someone to explore my site with. It definitely made the project a lot more fun!
The corner of M Street and 13th street is a beautiful area, unlike what was described in the novel S Street Rising by Ruben Castaneda. When I first arrived at my site, one of the first thoughts that struck me was how rich everything was. The people walking around the area were also relatively rich, (or at least they looked the part). The corner is populated with beautiful green trees– that is, until fall season begins– and is a relatively quiet area. There are numerous buildings around the corner, mostly offices and apartments, aside from a huge area built like a hotel right on the corner, known as “Thomas Circle Apartments”. I’ve also noticed that most of the buildings on this street are made of brick, which could show that When visiting the site, I noticed that there were cars parked all down the street, showing that this area must be very popular. There are virtually no bars or restaurants or anything food related on the specific corner, or a couple of blocks down 13th street for that matter. A less than two minute walk away from the infamous street corner, there is Thomas Circle.
Thomas Circle, present time
Thomas Circle is also known as a traffic circle that became very developed from when it was first built, in the mid 1860s. Thomas Circle was first used as a roundabout to stop people from driving too fast when they went by the street, but it soon developed into something much bigger than that. Luther Place Memorial Church was built right behind it, giving the area a beautiful view. A very big and elegant hotel is located diagonal from the church. This attracted many wealthy citizens to this part of town. Then, Thomas Circle itself started to undergo construction. There are now flowers planted in the circle, making it look more like a fairy-tale garden rather than a “prostitute hot-spot”, as Castaneda described in his novel. This location shows how overturned the city has definitely become gives a rise to the theme of the novel as a whole. It is evident by Ruben Castaneda’s description of not only this location but the description of most locations in Washington D.C. that he didn’t believe that these places would ever be as developed as they’ve become today.
This also relates to City of Rhetoric, by David Fleming. In the novel, Chicago is described as a place that is split in two, between the poor area and the rich area. Throughout the novel, David Fleming made it sound like the ‘north side’ of town had no hope and could never be as evolved as the ‘south side’. That is, until a building known as Cabrini Green came into place and started to turn the city around. This building was supposed to help the members of the community to live a normal life with the same privileges as anyone else. After many struggles to get the town’s and the people’s attention, Cabrini Green finally became more and more developed and soon turned into a very nice part of town. There is a building just like this in this part of town. Although I wasn’t able to get too much information about it, I saw on google earth how underdeveloped it was in 2007 and how great it looks now. This shows how much a location can change.