U Street

In my semester long project I chose to research the famous U Street Corridor. Visiting clubs and resturants on U Street, I have grown fond of its beautiful culture and muscial scene. I learned about its rich history as a African American community to a riot-stricken desserted drug market. In my research I provide many documents, pictures, stories, and lives. Adding to the interest, I also partied hard in many of the places I have researched. Finally, I have comprised a semester long project about the beloved U Street and learned to appreciate what it offers.

Annotated Bibs

Exterior Descriptions

Interior Descriptions 

Mapping Commonplaces

Mapping Commonplaces: How U Street’s past shaped its future

Map: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/2/viewer?hl=en&authuser=2&mid=1PkLaNoA2uZaw8Z0Ep63eu0E_IAk&ll=38.91717533568296%2C-77.03167324999998&z=15

The U Street Corridor is a very fascinating spatial network that has experienced many changes. Throughout its history the corridor has seen the height of jazz to record high crime rates and,most recently, a multicultural utopia. Now, when I refer to the corridor as a utopia, I try to exemplify the fresh look of U Street as a melting point. The reason for comparing its culturality to a utopia is to help my audience of travelers and tourists understand the recent change it has experienced. Once the change is understood, it can be investigated and studied to see how the past of U Street beautifully shapes the method that was used to implement its change. The argument is not designed in such a fashion which praises the culturality of the new U Street while mocking the African American ghetto of the old U Street. Rather, it portrays the network which was created in the old U Street in order to explain the multicultural change which has occurred. Of course, such a network can be used at the discretion of the neighbourhood’s officials and was conspicuously used to model the means through which the change was facilitated.

Communion on U Street

To better understand the point of my research, you must understand the rhetoric which was present before the contemporary U Street. Firstly, lets go all the way back to the jazz age of U Street and understand how it emerged as an African American community. As Brianna Thomas put it in her article on “The Washingtonian,” “the neighbourhood hummed day and night.” The interesting mystery was the reason behind all the unity and communion. As Brianna Thomas explains, the neighbourhood had almost 300 businesses all run by black people, many of which were in turn supported by the same people. But, it wasn’t the myriad of businesses which kept the community together in harmony, it was something more magical.

Music trembled through the streets day and night, literally exemplifying the “humming” phrase Thomas used to describe the vibe of the community. Specifically jazz was the unifying music that acted as a honey which attracted every single bee or in this case, person, to the honeycomb. In this situation, the honeycomb is the various famous jazz clubs in which black people met and harmonized over the sweet sound of jazz. The early jazz clubs were literally basements with jazz musicians and instruments, which occasionally served beverages. Further down the road, the predominantly black community realized their love for food, as well as music, and began producing famous restaurants where most of the community would meet. Eventually, the two titans of community, jazz and food, became one when many jazz clubs started to offer food and live music. The black community loved the idea so much that the corridor started to flood with music lovers, food lovers, and lovers of social communion. The U Street Corridor was finally coined “Black Broadway” and continued to flow with black musicians and black artists.

Dessertion on U Street

Zooming a little further in time, the community which boomed with so much life and union turned into a drug market. Furthermore, it was a deserted neighbourhood which housed drug lords and gang leaders in abandoned homes for no charge. All of this change and turmoil was finally seen by the neighbourhood’s leaders. These leaders looked at the deserted neighbourhood and started to come up with ideas which would help the well being of the neighbourhood. The first thing they did was create housing projects which served to be very affordable for the residents around U Street. With minimal success, this idea was halted and leaders started to look elsewhere. Although not expressly stated, leaders started to become desperate to rebuild their neighbourhood. Finally, they looked to the past for some answers and the past answered. According to her article about U Street on “The Atlantic,” Garance Franke-Ruta explains how leaders lowered property taxes and rent to encourage the middle class people to move to U Street. Sooner or later, the plan worked and the neighbourhood started to repopulate. With the repopulation of different peoples, along with the low housing costs, new businesses started to open their doors. Through different combinations of music, food, and culture, venues started to open and fill with different and unique cultures.

My research is provided to explain how the rhetors of the past shape the contemporary U Street Corridor. Using a few famous landmarks, such as Ben’s Chili Bowl and Twins Jazz, I portray the new cultural venues as deviations of these past venues. Through my four rhetors of music, food, culture, and change, I construct a CLS which is derivative of the eternal network of the corridor. Even though I explain my rhetorical situation above, I try to let the commonplaces speak for themselves and make my audience ask themselves: What was before?

 

Works Citied:

12, Briana Thomas on February, and 2017. “The Forgotten History of U Street.” Washingtonian, 12 Feb. 2017, https://www.washingtonian.com/2017/02/12/forgotten-history-u-street-black-broadway/.

Franke-Ruta, Garance. “The Politics of the Urban Comeback: Gentrification and Culture in D.C.” The Atlantic, Aug. 2012. The Atlantic, https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/08/the-politics-of-the-urban-comeback-gentrification-and-culture-in-dc/260741/.

 

Solutions to Architectural Exclusion

Exclusion by the first amendment: Freedom of speech

In the context of exclusionary techniques used by cities and towns, it may be beneficial for them to rethink their exclusionary infrastructure in order for a economical gain. In her “Architectural Exclusion”, Sarah Schindler describes ways to alleviate the harms of existing architectural exclusion and ways to prevent it in the future. Beginning with an incentive for city legislators and local governments, Schindler proposes a change in the design of a city in order to provide more jobs and promote the travel to a city or town. She continues with possible solutions which she then evaluates in the present reality to show how probable they actual are. Excluding judicial solutions due to ambiguity of legislation, Schindler then turns to the root of legislation: Federal, State, and local elected officials. Moreover, she turns to administrators who conduct a detailed environmental review to expand their review in order to consider the project’s impacts on the exclusion of certain underrepresented groups. In addition, Schindler pressures legislatures to construct an act similar to the Disabilities Act in which individuals with disabilities are accommodated in order to experience normal civic life.

Although few,  legislators have indeed taken into account the effect of architectural exclusion and prohibited its existence. On February 11, 1994, President Clinton issued Executive Order 12898: “Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations.” The order basically called attention to low-income environments and urged federal agents to attend to their effect on the minority community. It required federal agencies to adopt strategies which address environmental justice concerns within the context of the respective agency operations. Although non-binding and moderately effective,  the order showed the issue which Schindler presents was acted on by a president; consequently showing that the issue of architectural exclusion is not invisible.

Works Citied:

Arthur Totten, Bill Dickerson. NEPA Executive Order 12898. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2014-08/documents/ej_guidance_nepa_epa0498.pdf. Accessed 1 May 2017.

 

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/architectural-exclusion. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.

Law as a factor in Architectural Exclusion

Village of Arlington Heights Homes

Throughout history, law has been used to exclude certain undesirable members of a community from certain parts of the community. In her article “Architectural Exclusion” Sarah Schindler has noted that courts and legislators have often seen architecture and design as ambivalent in the context of excluding individuals from certain areas of a built environment. She starts out with examples of racial zoning and racially restrictive covenants which the courts disapproved of to show that at least some form of exclusion was not tolerable. However, Schindler goes on to describe a method of exclusionary zoning, where municipalities have a minimum square footage and a minimum lot size to make homes unaffordable for poor people and minorities. For example, she extends her argument to the supreme court and quotes their opinion on such a matter explaining that the court required the plaintiff to have intentional discrimination in order to show strict scrutiny. Moreover, legal scholars have touched on this sort of exclusion and have found it hard to prove intentional discrimination, therefore proving the ambiguity that the courts present in the context of this matter.  

In many court cases throughout history, methods of exclusionary zoning have been tried but to no avail. In the court case “Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp,” the Metropolitan Housing Development Corporation sued for  declaratory relief. Moreover, it claimed that the denial of rezoning was discriminatory in nature and violated the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Fair Housing Act of 1968. However, the Supreme Court held that the corporation failed to prove that discriminatory purpose as a factor in the zoning of the village and therefore remanded the case. Finally proving that lawmakers and housing authorities have found loopholes around the law in order to discriminate against certain individuals.

 

Works Citied:

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/architectural-exclusion. Accessed 12 Feb. 2017.

Village of Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp | Casebriefs – Part 2. http://www.casebriefs.com/blog/law/property/property-law-keyed-to-cribbet/discrimination-against-groups-of-people/village-of-arlington-heights-v-metropolitan-housing-development-corp/2/. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Practice of Architectural Exclusion

 

Jewish segragation in Europe

Authorities of municipalities have used a number of exclusionary techniques that have a purpose to keep certain people out of areas. In her “Architectural Exclusion”, Sarah Schindler touches on the specific technique of physical barriers, which several different groups of legal authority use to exclude people. Schindler begins with the fact that several law officials and authorities collaborate with architects and engineers to loop around the law to make it physically difficult for people to access certain locations. For example, architect Robert Moses was quoted on his idea to restrict buses 12 feet and higher from accessing certain bridges from Long Island to Jones beach. Moreover, Schindler explains that this way the architect used physical barriers to restrict people who use public transportation to access Jones beach. Furthermore, Schindler goes on to provide examples of transit stops, highway placements, and street designs to explain how these authorities barricade places from certain people. Ultimately, Schindler shows us how architects and law officials collaborate in order to create subtle barriers which separate people.

This kind of exclusion is not only present in modern times, but also in the history of built environments. According to Professor Monika Richarz, she writes in her article about jews living in Europe in the 19th century and being utterly segregated. She tells us that not only were the jews not allowed to trade and lend money, but also they were prohibited by leaving their community during certain times of the day. For example, she writes that in Tsarist Russia jews were sentenced to live in certain barricaded areas which were like present day ghettos. Looking closely at the issue of exclusion through architecture it becomes more and more evident in the context of undesired individuals.  
Works Citied:

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/architectural-exclusion. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.

Richarz, Monika. History of Jews in the 19th Century and Early 20th Century. http://www.un.org/en/holocaustremembrance/docs/pdf/Volume%20I/The_History_of_the_Jews_in_Europe.pdf. Accessed 1 May 2017.

Architecture as a regulation

Manhattan, NY is separated from the 3 boroughs by water

Throughout history, people have constructed cities and social norms in such ways which discriminate against undesired groups and make it very hard for them to access the other side of town. In her article “Architectural Exclusion” Sarah Schindler exemplifies the apparently hidden, yet obvious, role that architectural and design play in the behavior of people in a space. At first, Schindler addresses the seemingly obvious role architecture plays by giving us an example where a park bench has armrests, which serve to keep homeless people from sleeping on public benches. However, she then describes that basic geographical and planning scholars do not express concern about architectural importance in the exclusion of groups in a space. Schindler then tells us how obvious the role of exclusion is in the circle of legal scholars. For example, she quotes legal scholar Lawrence Lessig when he writes about a situation where a highway divides two neighbourhoods. Although subtle and not easily noticed, the role architecture plays in exclusion is well known between many legal scholars and authorities.

An example of exclusion through architecture is the well-known island of Manhattan. In the city of New York, there are three boroughs which surround Manhattan. These three boroughs, Brooklyn,Queens,and Bronx have a high population of minorities which work at low-income/skill jobs and create a lot of crime. In order to separate these minorities from the scholars and skillful people, Manhattan was made to not be easily accessed. Having less than 10 bridges and tunnels connecting Manhattan and the other three boroughs, people in each borough would think twice about getting on a train or buying a car to travel to the island. Therefore, the deficit of connecting bridges or tunnels exclude people from the other three boroughs from entering the island of Manhattan.

 

 

Works citied:

Schindler, Sarah. Architectural Exclusion: Discrimination and Segregation Through Physical Design of the Built Environment. http://www.yalelawjournal.org/article/architectural-exclusion. Accessed 30 Apr. 2017.

“Manhattan.” Wikipedia, 30 Apr. 2017. Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Manhattan&oldid=778043782.