“From Edgewood to the Edge of the World”: An Exterior Description
In Ruben Castaneda’s S Street Rising: Crack, Murder, and Redemption in D.C., a vague introduction is made about an area of Washington, D.C. A statement made that a part of town was so violent at a time that it was known as “Little Beirut” is more than enough to spark interest, considering that Beirut is a known place of terror in the world (Castaneda). Beirut experiences killings of innocents in the hundreds at a time due to terrorists, specifically suicide bombers (Barnard). The “Little Beirut” mentioned in the book is also known as Edgewood, a small suburban neighborhood located in Washington, D.C.’s Northeastern Quadrant on the Red Line’s Rhode Island Metro stop (“Metro – Home Page”). Originally, Edgewood was known as a farmland estate located in Washington County outside of the Washington City limits. Edgewood was bought under Abraham Lincoln’s administration by Salmon P. Chase, the U.S. Treasury Secretary in 1863 (Deutsch and Henderson). Edgewood was created as a segregational Ghetto, creating a decline of advancement within the community for years to come due to lack of available support.
While Edgewood isn’t a popular, tourist location like downtown D.C. areas, there is a strong sense of character about the area. It is urban, yet suburban. It is industrial, yet residential. Most of the homes are connected to each other with just a front yard, almost in the manner of a small brick version of a brownstone in New York City. The apartment complexes are relatively dated and bland, with the exception of the newly renovated Edgewood Terrace apartments and up and coming condominiums across the metro tracks. Each home still has a sense of identity to them, creating identity through furniture on the porch of different colors and styles. You can tell that this part of town was not meant for the wealthy residents of Washington, but for low-income families. This is evident due to the structure of homes and complexes that are dated with poor care. The Edgewood Terrace apartments are a central focal point in the area, housing a large amount of residents of the area. Most of the businesses in the area are very middle-class, affordable. Specifically, there is a run down shopping mall that is slowly drifting into abandonment.
In regard to social gathering buildings, there are two different Baptist churches right across from Edgewood Terrace that seem to be friendly options for community events. The street style of the residents is very original and classic. The residences display a sense of character about them, just as they are walking along the street carrying on their daily lives. Residents don’t seem to be worried about how in-touch they are with the latest trends, but however are concerned with what is comfortable and efficient. While in S Street Rising it is noted that the area is one of the most violent parts of The District, that was written over 20 years ago. It seems as if much of the violence is slim, almost being non-existent at this point.
The most intriguing part of Edgewood is the art murals that stand high in the air, visible from the metro tracks and station. Known as From Edgewood to the Edge of the World and created by Open Walls DC, this group mural is a space for local street artists who have an interest in promoting art and creativity in Washington, D.C. (“DC Murals”). The colors on the mural are bold and stand out, creating original styles. Located behind the run-down shopping mall, this site was absolutely breathtaking to see. The talent that is expressed and displayed, is free. The community created this site for the promotion of their artistic culture. Known as the largest mural in D.C., the mural deserves more advertisement and recognition. Tourists and residents need to feel the culture of these parts of the city that are often forgotten. Even though the mural is breathtaking to see, getting a full view requires walking behind the ran-down shopping center. The mural is in a very unusual spot, but this is intentional due to how the D.C. Murals initiative operates. Intentionally putting art in odd places, the wall behind the shopping center was an ideal location.
While this area was charismatic, it seemed to be a bit off the grid. There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of people around the streets like downtown areas. In addition to the lack of people, there was also a lack of traffic. Edgewood seemed more targeted as an artistic, affordable residential area, rather than an area meant for large groups of people. While on the opposite side of the metro tracks tall condominiums in Brentwood were under construction, Edgewood was staying true to its row house styled streets. Observing this, a question came to mind. Why does Edgewood seem to not be advancing? While there is the Edgewood Wall available, it is fading. The houses are old. The shopping mall is decaying and businesses are fleeing. The answer, I found, is that Edgewood enjoys its character (Reinink). The people enjoy the simplicity within a city. Edgewood is affordable area in a city, all while not feeling like a city, but more of a community.
Digital Archives from Edgewood: Washington, D.C
“From Edgewood to the Edge of the World” is the very first thing you see as you come up onto the group of murals on the wall secluded behind the Big Lots and shopping complex in Edgewood. Explaining the nonprofits involved, along with personal sponsors, this is the beginning of the wall, showing that it is aging and not being kept up. Paint is chipping away and it’s gated off at night.
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world” is a quote on a section of the wall that is directly up front by the introductory title picture of the wall. I think there is a sort of significance with this quote and where it is placed. The wall is not created for high class artists to come out and make the region feel foreign and misplaced. This art is completed by local young artists that put time, passion, and effort into their work. It is meant to encourage and help the community to grow and most importantly show them that they too can leave their mark.
Coming directly off the newly renovated bridge that leads the metro stop to Edgewood, there is this box. Located near benches on a walking trail, these books are placed to be taken and replaced, all at the hands of a non-profit. This caused me to question who’s idea was it to put this here? When was is placed here? How often is it used? Do the same books stay or are they always changing? This brought me to the conclusion that I am going to have to return to Edgewood before my final draft to answer these questions.
Edgewood Commons other known as Edgewood Terrace Apartments is newly renovated and seemed to still be improving. Serving as a focal point of the neighborhood, this was a key feature in the concept of how the neighborhood is slowly evolving into a more modern area, trying to keep up with the rest of Washington. Right on the other side of the metro there were other buildings being renovated as well, validating this point.
This is probably by far one of the coolest experiences I had in Edgewood. Coming off the metro, onto the bridge, you pass over a trail. Looking dead on to the trail you are unable to see what is written here, but if you look at the trail in the right angle, you can see what is covered. It seems as if someone wrote “Who are you today?” followed by an unknown mural on the trail. I couldn’t see it upon my first arrival, but I could see it when I left by the way the light was hitting the pavement.
I thought this was an especially interesting piece of the Edgewood Wall due to one eye being brown and one eye being blue. I don’t understand the significance of this, but I loved it. This mural is one of the older original ones, as you can tell through the fading of the colors and the chipping away of the paint.
As mentioned throughout the other pictures, this is a picture of the newly renovated bridge that connects the Rhode Island Metro station to Edgewood. As you can tell it is extremely modern and new, rather than old, like other parts of the area. Obviously, throughout the area there are significant renovations going on, proving the attempt at modernization of the area.
“Another Wall Punished” states a quote on this part of the wall. In this section, the walls begun to get much shorter in comparison to the original murals. This mural is fresh and new and as you went down further on the wall, there is even a mural of Prince in the wake of his recent death. Rather than having paint chipping away like the other ones, the fresh murals served as a reminder that this project is ongoing, growing, and evolving.
Located right off the bridge to the metro, this bulletin board has features on it that range from community activities, to Graffiti lessons, to farmers markets, to job opportunities. I thought this was a very interesting spot to place this board considering it is literally the first thing you see, yet there aren’t many flyers. Then, I realized that the bulletin board is locked, therefore most of the flyers must need to be approved.
A Divide Between Culture and Capitalism: The Rhode Island Metro Station Interior Description
In Washington, D.C. a common form of transportation is the Metro Rail System. With commuters coming from all around Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, the need for a safe, efficient form of transportation is vital. While each metro station in downtown, urban Washington, D.C. have a similar look, the Metro stops in the more suburban parts of Washington, D.C. move outside, taking a break from the familiar darkness commuters face. With underground Metro stations looking like somewhat of a bomb shelter built for the Cold War, outdoor Metro stops allow passengers to pass through stations of scenery rather than total blackness as the trains travel.
On the Red Line of the Metro, one of the last stops in Washington, D.C. includes the Rhode Island Metro Station, located in a small area of town: Edgewood. It is immediately recognizable as a large commuter stop due to the four story parking garage located beside the station. The station, sitting high up in the air allowing views of Edgewood and Brentwood, is as clean as a passenger can expect an outdoor metro station can be, still plagued with the vague smells of oil and hot metal. There is a recently renovated black, modern bridge connecting the platform to a trail with metal sculptures built by local artists, as well as a run-down shopping center that only has a few shops left in business. While this Metro station seems as if it is just another stop along the line of routine commuter’s life, this station has different aspect to it.
As you arrive to the Rhode Island Metro Stop going in the direction of Glenmont, on the left, passengers catch glimpses of color as the train slows on the tracks. Immediately upon first arrival of the station, the colors of a 275-foot long mural catch passengers’ eyes. The art, while aging, is breathtaking. From Edgewood to the Edge of the World is a D.C. Murals art initiative to bring the Edgewood community and its artists together for the beautification of the area. Being known as one of the last things D.C. commuters see on their way out of the city, the Rhode Island Metro Station serves as a landmark that Glenmont direction-bound commuters remember.
While on the left side of the Rhode Island Metro Stop there is a renovated bridge connecting a run-down shopping center with a culturally diverse mural, the right side is plagued with brand new apartment buildings being built, along with shops that are corporate owned. Looking as if it came out of one of the wealthiest suburbs of Washington, D.C., the right side of the Metro stop upon arrival looks out of place when compared with the left. Upon this observation, it seems as if the Rhode Island Metro Station serves as a divide in the community. One side, being renovated into a modern, upper-class hotspot conflicts with the opposite side, which has a direct focus on the artistic character of the area.
Coming down from the platform, passengers have two options, take the recently renovated bridge towards the run-down shopping center plaza or cross the street to a modern, corporate built environment. From the metro station, the right side, while appealing to commuters and some residents, does not reflect the true culture associated with the area. Looking to the left, true D.C. culture is evident. Not only is it evident through the glimpse of 20-Foot high murals and sculptures, but also through the simple observation of the community board present when exiting towards the left side. These opportunities include: Graffiti Lessons, Piano Lessons, Farmers Markets, Biking Classes, and Financial Budget Tips.
Overall, observing the Rhode Island Metro Station, evidence concludes that it serves as a divide in the community. With one side being turned into a suburban, corporate owned landmine, the other is rich in D.C.’s artistic culture. It seems as if the Metro Stop is a stable, non-changing landmark that observes the changes this area is facing. With modern renovations of low-income apartments and new complexes being built, this area is facing a drastic period of change. So, as Metro commuters travel through the Rhode Island Metro Station and as time moves on, will the corporate takeover find its’ way to the opposite side of the tracks? And if this happens, what will happen to “From Edgewood to the Edge of the World”? Will it be covered? Removed? Forgotten? The answer to these questions are unknown for now, but they definitely serve as evidence of the divide that The Rhode Island Metro Stop has become.
Life on the Edgewood: A Digital Analysis
Immediately, upon entering the blog “Life On the Edgewood”, it is evident to be a space created for community conversation and the sharing of events. A generic, pastel blue font choice labeling “Life on the Edgewood” across the top of the blog immediately allows the visitor of the site to recognize that the blog is not purposed for aesthetic, but rather for information.
There are three tabs located at the top. The home page has community event posts available in chronological order, along with a word bank that is used for tagged posts. The word bank enlarges the words based on the amount of blog posts available for that particular tag. This is utilized for easy access to conversations and events regarding specific topics in Edgewood, additionally letting residents and visitors of the site know what is popular and being discussed.
While the website is open to anyone, it is prominently meant for residents of Edgewood. Notably, this is proven through the two additional tabs available at the top of the screen. A tab that is specific to businesses of Edgewood fails to mention businesses that are corporately owned chains. Rather than giving advertisement and information about businesses that are nationally available, this site solely gives information about businesses that are Edgewood based.
In addition to the tab with businesses, a tab labeled “ANC5E10” is misleading upon initial glance. Once clicked upon, the tab leads to an additional blog spot page that advocates politically to elect an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner of Edgewood, Sally Hobaugh. After doing further research, I found that “Life On the Edgewood” is actually ran by Hobaugh. Hobough is on the Edgewood Civic Association Board, along with The Friends of Edgewood Recreation Center. Along with being on the board of these programs, she also is in charge of the Edgewood Monthly Cleanup, created by Hobough in 2008. (“Sally Hobaugh – Greater Greater Washington”)
After further roaming the website, I found that the blog posts date back to 2010. The archived blog posts are easily accessible through the tab located beside the word bank. With archives by year and month, this blog serves as a gold mine for information about Edgewood and its development throughout the years. From past crime stories to housing prices, this website has it all. Through the depth of the posts and genuine interest in the community Hobough has, the blog is created so that members of the Edgewood community have a reliable source of information to events as well as news involving Edgewood.
Washington, D.C., while a diverse city, does have forgotten parts. Many people visualize downtown Washington whenever they think about Washington, D.C. Rather than thinking about the artistic street culture that some of these neighborhoods have to offer, many people indulge themselves in popular city culture. Monuments, nightlife, and political dominance are all brought to mind whenever Washington, D.C. is mentioned. Things such as the Edgewood Mural, community movie nights, and bald eagle watching advertised in blog posts are not.
Ultimately, Hobough has true intentions of creating a strong community in Edgewood. Through the organized clean ups and up to date information regarding the area from past and present, true passion for Edgewood is recognizable. The blog spot is not meant to make the area seem appealing to outsiders, but rather bring residents of Edgewood together. Often, areas of town – especially in larger cities – are disconnected from each other. Large cities commonly do not have similar characteristics to small towns. It is rare to know your neighbors on a first name basis. Through the resources and posts on this blog, Hobough seems to be promoting just that in Edgewood. Not only is she promoting a strong community, but she is using her voice to better the area from what it was once known as.
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Barnard, Anne. “Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten.” The New York Times 15 Nov. 2015. NYTimes.com. Web. 16 Nov. 2016.
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Reinink, Amy. “Edgewood Remains Affordable but Is Becoming Newly Desireable.” Washington Post 24 July 2015. Web.
Rogers, Jenny. “Edgewood: More Substance Than Style.” UrbanTurf. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.
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Zak, Dan. “A Boundary Redrawn: Edgewood Mural Is Largest Ever in Washington. August 23, 2009. Web.