The Wharf is a massive development in Southwest Washington that after more than ten years of construction is now almost complete. When finished it will encompass 24 acres and contain over three million square feet of retail, residential, and entertainment space along one mile of the Washington Channel.
On a nice sunny day, we headed down there with our friend Charlet to get some fish and chips at celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsay’s latest addition to his restaurant empire. His drawing power was clear from the long lines outside the newly opened restaurant. The fish and chips were sadly mediocre and seriously over-priced.
Much better to spend your money at other end of the Wharf, where the original fish market still survives.
Or to eat at Fabio Trabocchi’s Del Mar, a Spanish seafood restaurant which is always near the top of the District’s best of lists.
Or if you are not in the mood for seafood, there are plenty of other restaurants and bars to tempt you.
Or you may want to just go for a stroll, hang out and enjoy the views of the boats and the new buildings, or even go for a swing.
And if you find yourself down there in the evening you may want to go to a show at The Anthem, one of DC’s prime entertainment venues. Sadly, you are too late to catch the Trampled By Turtles show.
At 4:57 pm on Monday, June 22, 2009, a Washington Metro train rear-ended another stopped train, killing nine people and injuring at least eighty more. One of those killed was Cameron “Ty” Williams who had been a colleague and friend of Mal’s in the 1990s. They bonded over music as Ty tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Mal of the greatness of rap, lending him CDs and video tapes (remember those) of his favorite rap artists. Mal was reminded of Ty today when we came across Legacy Memorial Park that is located near the site of the crash and is dedicated to the lives lost in the collision.
Next to the Park was one of the largest community gardens that we have seen during our walks.
Befitting a grey misty day that can only be described as Northern European, the walk turned out to be quite somber as we moved on from Legacy Memorial Park to Rock Creek Cemetery and then Soldiers’ Home Cemetery. Rock Creek Cemetery, established in 1719, includes over 86 acres of natural and rolling landscape. Lauren’s mother, who grew up nearby, remembers going for long walks through the cemetery with Lauren’s father when they were still dating. Many prominent Americans are interned on its grounds, including two famous men of letters, Gore Vidal and Upton Sinclair.
Directly across the road from Rock Creek Cemetery is the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery. It is one of only two national cemeteries administered by the Department of the Army, the other being Arlington National Cemetery. Buried in the cemetery are many famous American soldiers, including Thomas Boyne, Benjamin Brown and John Derry who were all Buffalo soldiers. Buffalo Soldiers was the nickname given by the Native American tribes to the African-American regiments that were formed in 1866 to fight in the Indian Wars. They are also the subject of Bob Marley’s song “Buffalo Soldier”. Marley identified with the Buffalo Soldiers as examples of black men who performed with courage and valor and persevered despite endemic racism and prejudice.
Also buried in the cemetery is Agnes von Kurowsky, an American nurse during World War I who was the basis for the character “Catherine Barkley” in Ernest Hemingway’s, “A Farewell to Arms”.
Dotted throughout the District are a number of forts that were built during the Civil War to protect the capitol. Fort Slocum, named for Colonel John Slocum who commanded the fort, was the home of 25 artillery pieces. Now it is a quiet park.
We are constantly surprised at how many small store front churches we come across during our walks. Here is another, The Faith Full Gospel Deliverence Church of God.
Riggs Park, also known as Lamond Riggs, is a residential neighborhood in the upper eastern part of the District. Back in the 1950s is was a predominantly Jewish neighborhood, sometimes called the “Little Tel Aviv” of DC. However, in the 1960s the majority of the Jews in the neighborhood sold up and moved to suburban Maryland. Now the neighborhood is the home to a large middle-class black population. Here is a sample of some of the homes we passed by.
Washington DC is split into northeast, northwest, southwest and southeast quadrants, with the Capitol building being the center point. The dividing line between the east and west side of the city is Capitol Street, which runs all the way from the Maryland border in the north to the Anacostia River in the southern part of the city. South of the Capitol it is called South Capitol Street. North of the Capitol it is called North Capitol Street. Here is a photo of the upper most part of North Capitol Street. Much like a river, it starts out narrow and quiet at its source before gradually broadening into a busy six lane thoroughfare as it proceeds on through the city.
The street signs in the city indicate which quadrant you are in (NW, NE, SW, SE). Here, two street signs on opposite sides of North Capitol Street, indicate that you have crossed over from one side of the city to the other.
We passed by a number of churches in the neighborhood. This was one of the least attractive that we have walked by during our travels.
And this is one of the smallest.
We also passed a couple of public charter schools. Friendship Ideal elementary and middle school follows the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education that developed in Italy after World War II. Under this approach, the teacher is considered a co-learner and collaborator with the child and not just an instructor. Teachers are encouraged to facilitate the child’s learning by planning activities and lessons based on the child’s interests. The school has about 135 students.
Perhaps surprisingly, since most of the area’s Jews left the area over fifty years ago, DC’s only Hebrew Language Immersion Public Charter school is also in the neighborhood. Sela Public Charter School gets its name from the Hebrew word for “rock” or “foundation” and is one of the top ranked charter schools in DC. The school itself does not appear to be particularly Jewish. In fact, it prides itself on its diversity with 57% of its 260 students being black, 27% white, 12% hispanic, 2% asian, 1% native American, and 2% multiracial.
In Washington, D.C., the north-south running streets are numbered, the east-west running streets are either lettered ( C, D, E, etc.) or named (Garrison, Harrison, Huntington, etc.) and the avenues that run diagonally through the city are named after states. Today, we walked mainly on four avenues, Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois and Colorado. For those of you who have wondered why Arkansas and Kansas are spelled almost identically but pronounced differently (Arkansaw and Kanzis), the answer is apparently due to Kansas being the English plural pronunciation of the local Kansa tribe, while Arkansas is the french plural pronunciation of the related Arkansa tribe. In French, the final plural syllable is not pronounced, hence Arkansaw rather than Arkanzis.
Here are some of the homes we passed along the way.
The local Twin Oaks community garden was one of the more charming we have come across, complete with covered picnic tables, and colorful beehives.
There are a lot of schools in the area, including the stately Powell elementary school. Built in 1929, it is named for William B. Powell, the city’s superintendent of public schools and co-founder of the National Geographic Society. It is a bilingual school (English and Spanish), which seems fitting for an area with a strong hispanic presence.
If like Napoleon, you’ve reached your Waterloo, you may want to send an S.O.S out to A.B.B.A.’s church. You may just end up having the time of your life.
If only every day was like this, Washington DC would be a far better place to spend the summer. With temperatures in the eighties and no humidity, it was very pleasant returning to the streets of Petworth and Brightwood Park.
As we have noted in prior postings, the neighborhood is primarily made up of row houses with a sprinkling of single family homes and small apartment buildings. Here are some of our favorites.
Some of the homes had quirky flourishes.
Petworth sports some pretty traffic circles. Grant Circle is named for Ulysses S. Grant, the 18th President of the United States and the commanding general of the Union Armies in the Civil War. The circle has a tragic history. In 1906, while excavating a sand pit at the circle, sand banks caved in around several workers. James Major, an African-American worker, was buried in the sand and killed.
On the edge of the circle is Petworth United Methodist Church. The octagonal shaped Tudor Gothic style church was completed in 1916 and is said to patterned after the style of the period of John Wesley, founder of Methodism.
Along the way we passed some classic cars.
For the kid whose finances don’t run to a pink cadillac, there is alway a red shopping cart.
This in one of the most attractive lending libraries we have come across, complete with rooftop garden.
On a rare DC summer day when it was actually bearable to be outdoors, we continued our exploration of Petworth and Brightwood Park. There were the usual assortment of row houses, including the now familiar grey ones that signify a recent renovation and the occasional individualist who splashes out with a vibrant color choice.
Some of the residents appeared to have an affinity for big (and not so big) cats.
This somewhat eccentric house with its bright green turret looked as if it would be at home in a children’s book.
There were a number of small, independent and quirky stores, bars and cafes along Upshur Street.
It’s sunflower season here in DC, which brightened up the streets as we passed.
This sunflower was absolutely massive, although you can’t tell from the photo. The flower head itself was over twelve inches across.
The classic car of the day is this two tone VW beetle.
An interesting way to store bikes, were these two locked and hanging half way up a stop sign.
16th and 14th Street Heights / Petworth (June 19, 2022)
There are a number of large stately homes in the 16th and 14th Street Heights neighborhoods.
But primarily the neighborhoods consist of terraced homes.
Running through the neighborhoods is the 14th street corridor, lined with restaurants, shops and a graffiti museum.
There are a number of small parks, including this one with its interesting installation by Jerome Meadows and David Driskell called “Together We Live, Together We Rise”
We were surprised to find a number of large elementary schools in the neighborhood. Yesterday we walked by John Lewis Elementary. Today we walked by Dorothy I. Height Elementary School, named after another Black civil rights activist. Height (1912-2010) is credited as the first leader in the civil rights movement to recognize inequality for women and African Americans as problems that should be considered as a whole.
It’s always good to color coordinate your clothes with your mode of transportation.
Petworth is a residential neighborhood with a mix of terraced houses, single family homes and small apartment blocks. It gets its name from the 205 acre Tayloe family estate that was located in the area. The estate was likely named after the town of Petworth in West Sussex, England.
We walked by Hampshire Gardens which has the distinction of being the first fully developed garden apartment complex in Washington. Occupying an entire block, it was built in 1929.
Today’s classic car was a Rolls Royce.
And the quirkiest was this bright red van.
We also like these two classics from different eras, the Cadillac which looked as if it had seen better days and the brand new Mercedes.
We have seen many renovated schools during our walks but this may be the first newly built school that we have come across. Named for the African American civil rights activist and politician, John Lewis, who died in 2020, it is also one of the most beautiful schools we have seen.
We noticed a number of homes in the neighborhood were being used as churches.
In the backyard of one of the homes was this rather interesting and somewhat scary sculpture.
Today, we explored Southwest DC with our friends Jon and Elissa who live in the neighborhood in the River Park development. Designed by renowned mid-century modern architect, Charles M. Goodman, in the 1960s, River Park was one of the first developments in Washington D.C. to be racially integrated. The units, with their barrel-shaped roofs and aluminum trim, are decidedly futuristic. Walking among them, we also felt they would be right at home in Copenhagen or Berlin or some other northern European city.
Right across the street from River Park are some of the District’s oldest residential buildings. Wheat Row is a row of four late Georgian style townhouses that were built in 1794-1795.
One of the joys of these walks is coming across surprising memorials. The Titanic Memorial, standing next to the Washington Channel, was erected by the Women’s Titanic Memorial Association and was unveiled in 1931. It was designed by Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney and sculpted by John Horrigan. It is dedicated to the men who perished on the sinking ship so that the women and children on the ship could survive.
Decidedly more quirky, was this sculpture of a bird made out of discarded plastic bottles. It was sitting outside the Matthew Henson Earth Conservation Center. Henson was an African-American explorer who accompanied Robert Peary on seven voyages to the Arctic. He is best known for his participation in the 1908-1909 exhibition that claimed to have reached the geographic North Pole on April 6, 1909.
We walked down toward Buzzard Point where the Anacostia River meets the Potomac River. Much of the point is occupied by Fort Lesley J. McNair. The fort has been an army post for more than 200 years and is named for a general who was killed in action by friendly fire in Normandy, France, during World War II. Among its historic claims to fame is the fact that four of the conspirators accused of assassination Abraham Lincoln were hanged on the premises, including Mary Surratt, the first woman ever to be executed under federal orders. Today, the fort’s tenants include the National Defense University, the Inter-American Defense College, and the United States Army Center of Military History. The fort is surrounded by the long high brick wall and photos are forbidden.
For much of the twentieth century and into the twenty first, Buzzard Point was a light industrial area with construction, demolition and fuel companies dominating the waterfront. However, like much of Southwest, it is now undergoing a transformation. Audi Field, the home of DC United, the District’s professional soccer team, opened in 2018. We were actually at the first-ever match held at the field, which ended in a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps before a sellout crowd of just over 20,000 spectators. Starring for DC United was Wayne Rooney, the iconic English player.
At the tip of Buzzard Point, overlooking the confluence of the two rivers, is a new development, which includes a great restaurant called where we enjoyed a very pleasant lunch. Aptly, its name is The Point D.C.
Not much more than a baseball’s throw or a soccer ball’s kick from Audi Field is Nationals Park, the home of the Washington Nationals, Washington D.C.s major league baseball team. The stadium, with a capacity of 41,339 opened for play in 2008.
The stadium has attracted a lot of development, with new buildings and restaurants and bars, springing up around it on an almost daily basis.
Also recently opened, is the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge with its elegant arches. It is a fitting memorial for Douglass, the African-American social reformer and abolitionist, whose home was just across the bridge in Anacostia.
Near Nationals Park we passed by this church offering a Nats Mass. The team could certainly use some help. They are currently one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball.
Washington is a city of back alleyways. This is one of the most attractive that we have come across, lined as it was with trees.