Day 105

Columbia Heights (October 17, 2020)

Our good friend Nick joined us on today’s walk as we continued making our way through Columbia Heights.

We passed by two schools with impressive front entrances, Banneker and Cardozo High Schools.

We have spoken about Cardozo in a previous blog entry but were surprised to find another public high school so close by. It turns out that Banneker, named for Benjamin Banneker, an African-American scientist, surveyor, almanac author and farmer, was originally the neighborhood Junior High School. Banneker who lived from 1731 to 1801 famously called out Thomas Jefferson for his ownership of slaves. In a letter written to Jefferson on August 19, 1791, Banneker wrote:

…. Sir, how pitiable is it to reflect, that altho you were so fully convinced of the benevolence of the Father of mankind, and of his equal and impartial distribution of those rights and privileges which he had conferred upon them, that you should at the same time counteract his mercies, in detaining by fraud and violence so numerous a part of my brethren under groaning captivity and cruel oppression, that you should at the Same time be found guilty of that most criminal act, which you professedly detested in others, with respect to your Selves.

Banneker High School is now a magnet high school and is considered to be one of the top high schools in the region because of its strenuous curriculum and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs. It currently has approximately 450 students.

We passed by the home of another anti-slavery activist, Mary Ann Shadd Cary. Shadd Cary (1823-1893) was an American-Canadian anti-slavery activist, journalist, publisher, teacher, and lawyer. She was the first black woman publisher in North America and the first woman publisher in Canada. She was born in Wilmington, Delaware but moved to Canada with her family after passage of The Fugitive Slave Act in 1850 which required that all escaped slaves, upon capture, be returned to their owners, even those living in free states. However, she returned to the United States during the American Civil War where she recruited soldiers for the Union. She taught, went to Howard University Law School, and continued advocacy for civil rights for African American and women for the rest of her life.

Sometimes we come across a building that stands out as being somewhat different than its neighbors. The Manhattan is one of those buildings.

Feeling a little hungry by this stage we dropped by Washington’s top rated middle eastern restaurant, Maydan.

During the pandemic many of the District’s restaurants have opened outdoor tables where patrons can dine more safely. Maydan has the added advantage of being located at the end of an alley that it has appropriated for diners.

Unfortunately, Maydan was not open so we headed to nearby Franklin Hall for what can best be described as bar food.

The find of the day was, undoubtedly, a one-block street, running between Florida Avenue and W Street. 12th Place is perhaps the prettiest and certainly the most colorful block we have come across during our walks. We spoke to a friendly resident who gave us some of its history. He said that the small houses were originally built for staff from nearby Howard University but at some stage it had become mainly Jewish. However, after the 1968 riots, many residents departed for the safety of the suburbs. The street, like much of the surrounding area, became run down and was known as a place to acquire illegal drugs. Now the street has seen a resurgence. So much so, that despite their small size, houses on the street can sell for as much as $800,000. The neighbor told us that the street is sometimes known as Skittles Place, after the popular colorful candies. It’s definitely an appropriate nickname.

Speaking of colorful, we liked this home’s front steps.

And this home’s front door.

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