Shaw: Rise of Gentrification


A Rhetorical  Analysis on Shaw’s Rise in Gentrification

The latest news in metropolitan cities, like Washington D.C., is the concept of gentrification. While most may not understand the phenomena, journalists have dominated the conversation by addressing its social and economic implications. While this method may seem reasonable, journalists have oversimplified the phenomena to one term, gentrification. Journalists covering the topic have essentially disregarded a conversation urban-planning scholars have been having for the last four decades, resulting in an appeal to emotion by journalists. Ultimately leading to the failure of acknowledging the underlying issue, and essentially providing a one size fits all blanket solution by labeling it gentrification. A complex concept simplified to one word is injustice to people directly affected by this phenomena, and for society to understand for human beings to normalize it and one day historicize it.

To further our understanding of the phenomena of “gentrification” I will focus on the Washington D.C. neighborhood, Shaw. The focal point of my essay was inspired by former Washington Post journalist, Reuben Castaneda’s memoir “S-Street Rising,” where he explored O’Street NW, Washington D.C.– where five kids were shot from a gang-related drive-by in 1991. Like the journalists of today, Ruben Castaneda highlighted a fatal, crude, and gruesome narrative applicable to a time where Washington D.C. acquired the nickname “murder capital” for its astronomical high crime rate, which had a strong association with drug trafficking. Shaw, a historically African American neighborhood, was once home to segregation and an African-American renaissance before plagued with crime, crack abuse, and gun violence. For example, Shaw post-civil rights movement and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr led to an uproar of protests which set the stage for decades of poverty to overtake and crime to flourish during the 1980s and 90s (Lewis and McKenna 1). However, in the past decade, Shaw has experienced an economic turnaround, a shift in demographics, and redevelopment in infrastructure. 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 D.C., it is occurring in every major city in the United States. To further explore Shaw’s flourishing phenomenon, I have applied associate law professor Sarah Schindler’s concept of architectural exclusion.

Applying Schindler’s method of architectural exclusion I explore local eateries and their menus, along with exploring the accessibility to public transportation in the area. To do so, I  rhetorically analyze the way Shaw is marketing economic turn around and shift in demographics using Washington DC’s official travel website. Using the travel website, I explore the rhetorical techniques in Shaw’s gastronomy culture–and how it is being used to appeal to both tourists and young, affluent professionals. To explore the phenomena of gentrification I then further my understanding of where this phenomena may be headed. To conclude, I apply Schindler’s method of architectural exclusion to Shaw’s neighborhood, furthering my understanding of the neighborhoods physical barriers and accessibility.


 Economic Turn Around & Shift in Demographics

Washington DC’s official travel website has an interactive web page for each neighborhood in the district including Shaw. The website’s target audience are both tourists visiting the district, and new working class professionals residents interested in immersing themselves in the District’s culture, and it The travel website provides the uniqueness of each DC neighborhood including the activities, events, and gastronomy culture each neighborhood has to offer.

Figure 1. Washington DC’s official travel website: Shaw’s neighborhood web page discusses the area’s rich African-American history during the roaring 1920s, and its current gastronomy, music, arts, and night-scene culture.

The creators of the website were rhetorical strategists and were particular on how they wanted Shaw to be marketed and perceived.  For those who are unfamiliar with the area and solely rely on the website will never know the role Shaw played during the civil rights movement and DC’s crack epidemic. In fact, Shaw’s webpage romanticizes the area’s rich African-American history during the roaring 1920s, which implies the area once had its epoch of glory but has since faltered which may explain why the website uses phrases including, “… Rapidly developing downtown zone.” (Shaw, 2017).  The website also fails to mention why the area has become a tourist attraction in less than a decade or what forces led to its “revitalization.” Only mentioning the area’s rich early African American history implies a decline in the area’s cultural richness and prosperity during the 1950s-2000s.

Figure 2. Between the intersection of 7th St NW & Q St NW, Washington, DC 20001.  Two different eateries– (the left) representing the restaurants receiving reviews, ratings, and website attention; (the right) representing the affordable to go fried food eatery.

Washington DC’s official website promotes Shaw’s newest cafe’s, restaurants, bars, clubs, and high-end shopping centers.  In fact, Shaw’s web page promotes local eateries, theaters, bars, and clubs by embedding hyperlinks to every establishment mentioned in the website. Hyperlinks make the website easily navigable to local establishments and accessible for an individual to access and view a restaurant’s menu, hours, and specialties. However, the downfall of  Shaw’s website is its failure to incorporate non-new establishments, like the restaurant ] Tiki Seafood. Figure 2 depicts two eateries in Shaw– the restaurant to the left, Dacha Beer Garden, is featured on the D.C. website, while right across the street, Tiki Seafood, is not mentioned once which makes it clear that D.C. is selling a narrative aimed towards young, affluent professionals, not accentuating or marketing pre-existing food establishments. The marketer’s strategically incorporated adjectives with positive connotations to describe Shaw, especially when it comes to its gastronomy scene like “sizzles,” “historic,” “quirky” and ” historic.” For example, “The dining and bar scene in Shaw sizzles, with new spots opening up on 7th and 9th Streets and in the neighborhood’s quirky, historic alleyways” (2017). The adjectives used are associated with positive connotations. Repetition of adjectives with positive connotation can be found throughout the web page describing Shaw; For instance, the creators or marketers of the website have a labeled Shaw in four simple adjectives: “Shiny,” “Hip,” “Historic,” and “Buzzing,”, each adjective not only represents Shaw to tourists but also for potential residents. These four adjectives are associated with positive connotations which may be a true concept for some living in Shaw, particularly newcomers.

The sentence dedicated to Shaw’s gastronomy uses asyndeton, the rhetorical device in which an author strategically chose to eliminate conjunctions.  The omission of conjunctions allows the author to make a speech more dramatic and effective by speeding up its rhythm and pace, for example:

“Hot tables include Espita Mezcaleria for inventive southern Mexican cuisine, The Dabney for Mid-Atlantic seafood and southern sides cooked over a wood fire, The Red Hen for wood-fired Italian cuisine in a rustic, homey environment and Thally Restaurant, a laid-back New American concept with a homespun soda operation.” (Shaw, 2017).

This sentence is linked by four commas with the omission of conjunctions, which forces the reader to speed the pace of reading, and is an effective way of placing emphasis on the myriad of cuisine Shaw has to offer. Rather than saying, Shaw offers a four distinct types of cuisine the writer strategically used commas, and omitted conjunctions to quicken the pace, which creates a chain of the different types of eateries.

The web page has one sentence dedicated to mentioning local eateries, and as noted earlier, the web page fails to mention pre-existing establishment like the  Tiki Carry Out (see Figure 1) but promotes Dacha Beer Garden building as the webpage’s wallpaper. To grasp a better understanding of why Tiki Seafood and many pre-existing eateries alike are not mentioned on Shaw’s web page is through a rhetorical analysis of Tiki Seafood and Dacha Beer Garden food menus:


Figure 3.  Courtesy of Menu Pix.The image above is Shaw’s eatery, Tiki Seafoods,  take out menu.

Figure 4. The image to the above is Shaw’s eatery, Dacha Beer Garden,   take out menu.

Tiki Seafoods’ one and only menu is a tri-fold carry out a pamphlet which offers six different categories– “Chicken Wings, Beverages, Breakfast, Sandwiches, Sandwiches & Subs, Specials, and Side Orders.” Unlike Dacha Beer Garden’s 5 categories– “Appetizers”, “Brats”, “Skewers”, “Entrees”, and “Slides”. Tik’s tri-fold pamphlet has an orange checkerboard accenting its borders with food caricatures, including double-decker burger, french fries, rootbeer float, eggs, and bacon. The cheapest priced item is a small beverage for .85 cents, and the most expensive item is ten pieces of chicken wings for $8. Hamburgers on Tiki’s menus are $2.39, however, compared to Dacha Beer Garden a hamburger is not only $15, but it also not called a hamburger not a beef burger.  The cheapest items on Dacha Beer Garden’s can be found under the “Sides” category for $5. Also, the Dacha Beer Garden’s background is an attractive woman’s face with short hair, who looks like she stepped out of the roaring 1920s. The background is identical to the iconic mural on the side of Dacha Beer Garden’s brick building. The aesthetics of Dacha Beer Garden’s menu elegantly uses a bright cherry red to highlight the five categories, additional fees, and traditional daily events. The prices in  Dacha Beer Garden menu are whole numbers, while Tiki Seafood’s  menu has low and estimated prices. Both establishments are right across the street from one another, but each establishment addresses two different audiences. For instance,  Dacha Beer Garden has more healthy options and is pricier compared to Tiki Seafood. The economic disparity struck me, considering the two eatery establishments are across the street from each other.

Where is this Phenomenon headed?

A few reasons why gentrification is inevitable is beginning with Shaw’s marketing, which is a clear depiction of what Washington D.C. hopes the area to be, including displacing locals. It is an inevitable process, and while it is truly young, affluent professionals are the future,  the reason for many of them flocking to Shaw are the same reasons many locals living there flocked decades ago– job availability. The same reasons why a new influx of young people are moving into Shaw is the same reason African-American professionals moved in decades ago. The housing market in Washington D.C. is flourishing, and a few reasons for this phenomenon is gentrification, a limited amount of space increasing competition for house purchasing and newly available jobs in the area. Gentrification is a complex and messy process, but it narrows down to location, placement of transportation, infrastructure, and financial feasibility.

During my visit to Shaw, I walked on V Street, currently the home to many new restaurants and apartment complexes, and I saw visible evidence of the change that has occurred in Shaw. While there I observed the tension between local natives and newcomers/tourists as they were exiting a restaurant with take-out containers in their hands.  The young group of affluent professionals coming from Dacha Beer Garden were walking down the street passing a group of older African-Americans folk sitting on the sidewalk. As I was walking by, I was inclined on recording the encounter, once I heard an older black gentleman with a “Seals,” discussing how he is treated unfairly as a black veteran, and how much change Shaw has undergone since the 90’s. As soon as he mentioned the 90s, I connected the dots, because in 1991 the Green line was established, and for the very first time, Shaw had its own metro stop, which allowed the once isolated area to be easily connected to different neighborhoods in different wards.

Figure 6. Courtesy of the Greater Greater Washington the image above depicts an animated slide show of D.C.’s Metro before the Green-Line.

Figure 5. Courtesy of the Greater Greater Washington the image above depicts an animated slide show of D.C.’s Metro after the Green-Line.

After my encounter, I quickly realized what I had experienced was the product of architectural exclusion.

Applying Architectural Exclusion

So far we have discussed the social constructs of society: both financial and cultural environments in Shaw. However, the cause of economic turnaround is a shift in demographics and redevelopment in infrastructure is architectural exclusion. Schindler’s concept of architectural exclusion is concerned with the placement and location of infrastructure that physically separates and inhibits access (Schindler 19). Shaw is in prime real-estate for young, affluent newcomers that work near the national mall considering it is nearly 15 minutes away. The placement of transits, highway routes, bridge exits, and road infrastructure is the main cause for both social seclusion and economic exclusion. In the last decade, Shaw’s has experienced an entirely new facelift about its built environment. For example, when using Google Maps tool to compare what the area near the metro stop station looked like in 2007 to now, one can notice the newly painted bike lanes, and a new library right off the metro stop. What may seem like nuances to an individual strolling by the neighborhood may not notice the crowd of people it attracts and excludes.

Shaw’s has improved its built environment from newly paved streets, new sidewalks, new traffic lights, and easy access to transportation. A visible contributing factor to recent redevelopment in Shaw is the easy access to transportation, which explains why the area near the metro is covered in new paint, newly paved streets, and right off 7th Ave where new restaurants dress the strip. The newly built environment and location must do with the metro station built in the 1990s and young affluent professional flocking to Shaw (Lewis and McKenna). Using several concepts from Schindler’s article, “Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment,” I assessed the environment I was visiting. Schindler emphasized the importance of law, but ultimately she believed architecture was more powerful than law, and the reason to why architecture is more important is because law is, “less explicit, less identifiable, and less familiar to courts, legislators, and the public” (1941). Thus, far, I focused on the social and economic impacts that have resulted from gentrification, but I have yet to explore the impact architecture plays in Shaw, rather than mentioning Shaw’s metro-line and its placement and impact to the community. On my visit, I stayed on the lookout for physical barriers because it is known architecture has been created above the law to restrict access to certain areas of a community through the incorporation of low bridges, road closings, construction of walls, placement of transit, highway routes, etc. I did notice a few road closing signs due to construction, and I noticed the placement of transportation was right next to the library and a walkable distance from 5th street where all the restaurants are located.

Figure 6. Shaw’s one and only metro station, 1701 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001.

I cannot claim or generalize all journalists to have simply covered the social and economic aspect. In fact,  BBC journalists Lewis’s and McKenna acknowledge a contributing factor to Shaw’s drastic change in culture is due to the construction of the metro line, which allows for Shaw to be connected to the rest of DC  (1).Schindler believes government can regulate infrastructure and architecture, which shapes an individual’s experience and behaviors. However, I noticed infrastructure’s role in society is often overlooked by locals because the economic disparity present and social interaction with new neighbors are hostile. For society to understand the underlying reason, news watchers and reader alike must hold their information accountable to reporting underlying truths because the root of the cause will enable individuals to understand better and address the issue. In this case, individuals must be aware of the power of placement of architecture and its power to dictate human behavior. To further explore the phenomena of gentrification in both Shaw, and similar metropolitan neighborhoods it imperative for more urban planning scholars to apply Schindler’s method of architectural exclusion when discussing gentrification.  Another potential area to explore are laws set in place to protect public housing, tenants, and house owners from losing their homes to high property taxes, and if such laws exist, how effectively are they being enforced?

Works Cited

Carey, James W. “A Short History of Journalism for Journalists: A Proposal and Essay.” Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics, vol. 12, no. 1, Jan. 2007, pp. 3–16.

Duggan, Paul“In Gentrified Shaw, Old-Timers Offer Advice to Young — and Sometimes Naive — Newcomers.” Washington Post,–and-sometimes-naive–newcomers/2016/11/20/a1247940-ada4-11e6-a31b-4b6397e625d0_story.html. Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

Fleming, David. “City of Rhetoric: Revitalizing the Public Sphere in Metropolitan America.” David Fleming: 9780791476505: Books, Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.

Gallaher, Carolyn. “Do Efforts to Mitigate Gentrification Work? Evidence from Washington DC.” Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research 28 (2017).

Green, Rodney D., et al. “The Indirect Displacement Hypothesis: a Case Study in Washington, DC.” The Review of Black Political Economy (2017): 1-22.

Gringlas, Sam.“Old Confronts New In A Gentrifying D.C. Neighborhood.”, Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

   Hochschild, Adam. Journalists and Historians Can Learn from Each Other. 15 Mar. 2002,

Lewis, Aidan, and Bill McKenna. “Washington DC from Murder Capital to Boomtown.” BBC News, BBC, 6 Aug. 2014, Accessed 27 Feb. 2017.

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

Osman, Suleiman. “Gentrification Matters.” Journal of Urban History, vol. 43, no. 1, Jan. 2017, pp. 172–179.

Restaurant Menu | MenuPix. Accessed 24 Apr. 2017.

Rogers, Allison. “The Real Estate Market That Defies the Trends.” Time, Time, 5 Jan. 2012, Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.

“Shaw.”, 17 Feb. 2017, Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. Accessed 25 Feb. 2017.


The Checklist for Essay 1

(Put an X next to each line that you have accomplished or taken a look at). Put this at the end of your Google Doc version.)


  1. X_______ I have done a rhetorical analysis of text that helps my audience understand my Built Environment using a combo of CATPA, Aristotles Ethos/Pathos/Logos, Kantz’s Encoder/Decoder/Reality/Gaps, Chronos/Kairos. In other words, I have followed the directions (if the directions aren’t followed, then the essay clearly cannot earn 300 points, the minimum to Credible).


  1. ___X____ I have developed my own rhetorical stance by creating a They Say / I say, which I have distilled into the following sentence: _While ________________, this essay aims ________ (or something like this).


  1. ____X_____ I have incorporated images, links, video, and or sound to enhance my essay’s rhetorical appeal. I have also captioned the images and properly cited them.


  1. ____X____  Introduction (See “Indicating Who Cares?)
    1. _____X_______ Does it have a stated aim or goal?
    2. _____X_______First sentence: does it stake a claim, a point of controversy, or lead to a “They Say”?


  1. _______X_______ I have smoothly incorporated textual evidence (This is “Skillfull”-level writing, 376 -500 points)


From Gerald Graff’s, They Say / I Say:

    1. _____X_____Choose “quotations wisely, with an eye to how well they support a particular part of your text [or argument].” Make sure your quote relates to the topic sentence in some way.
    2. _____X_______Surround “every major quotation with a frame explaining
      1. A) _____X______whose words they are,
      2. B) _____X________what the quotation means, and
      3. C) ______X_______how the quotation relates to your text.”
    3. ______X________  Remember:  “What ‘they say’ must always be connected with what you say.”


  1. ______X______Check Citations and WC page (This is Credible-level requirement).
    1. _______X_______ Formatting.
    2. ______X_________ In-text citations’ relationship to WC page.


  1. _____X_______Check   for Major Errors (no more than two / a page)
    1. ___X______Frag.: Although I’m home; I’m here to say.
    2. __X_____CS: I am home, I’m here to stay.
    3. ___X______FS: I am home I’m here to stay.
    4. ___X_______SV: The teacher, along with the students, are here to stay.  (should be “the teacher, . . ., is . . .”
    5. ____X________PN AGR: Before a student registers, they should (should be “students” or “she”). General Motors is a big company. They always . . . (Use Control F and search for “They,” and “This”)
    6. _____X_______ Dangling Modifiers /Misplaced Modifers: Before walking away, the breakfast was good (the breakfast can’t walk). You fix these by either adding a “doer” to the DC or changing the IC’s doer to agree with the DC.


    1. _____X______ Apostrophe: Hoskins’ class (should be in  MLA, Hoskins’s class).


  1. _____X________I have marked the comma patterns on my google doc version of my essay. (50 point penalty for not doing it)


  1. ___X____I also marked the comma patterns on two of peers’ essays as instructed.   Peer 1 ____Fabiola________   &  Peer 2_______Jade______ (If you missed that draft day, you won’t have any names to fill in here).


  • DC, IC. As I walked down the street, I thought about how happy I was.

IC, DC:. I went home early, which rarely happens these days.

    • IC, and IC. Bob likes Sarah, but he doesn’t like Sam.
    • Sub, describe subj, Verb . . . Sam, whom I like very much, leaves work early every day.
    • X, Y, and Z. Jane likes chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla icecream.


  • Intro element, IC: exp: however, I still love you. OR I, however, still love you.



  1.     _X__   Use the “Literary” Present Tense as Baseline (Aspect).
    1. A. Thomas Jefferson believes that “” ().


  1. __X__Topic Sentences  (Goes to Unity / Competent level)
    1. ____X___ Does it stake a claim?
    2. __X___Does the claim clearly relate to the aim?
    3. __X____Does it lean into the paragraph itself?
    4. ___X____ Does it transition from previous paragraph?


  1. __X___Conclusion  (See Establishing Why Your Claims Matter)
    1. __X___Does it answer “So What?” or establish why your claim or the debate matters? Or present some hypothetical conclusions? You could also put your discussion into a larger context?


  1. Posting to WordPress:
    1. ___X____Category = “Essays”
    2. ____X____hyperlinks and multimodal (images / sound / video /and so on) presentation
    3. ___X____ Shared gdoc with with “Editing” privileges.
    4. ___X____Submitted link to Edspace post
    5. ____X____I have bolded my subjects and underlined my verbs.


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