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Late Monday Tidbits: Starting 2014 Off Right (Kind Of)
Jan 6, 2014 6:47 PM
Trying to start 2014 off right--even if it means posting a few things I didn't quite get to in 2013.
* ANC: Ed Kaminski has resigned as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 6D02, the area basically from the ballpark northward to the south side of I Street. A special election will be in the offing before too long.
* METRO: Via CapBiz, Metro has put out "development concepts" for the five station sites it is touting to developers. However, when it came to the Navy Yard/Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L, there were no pretty drawings, just a suggestion to acquire the privately owned lot next door, and that maybe a project with ground-floor retail would be nice, too. If you want to know the increasingly long history of WMATA's attempts to find a developer for this land (and get a new chiller plant as part of the deal), here's some reading for you.
* BALLPARK SQUARE: New fence signage along 1st Street north of Nats Park touting the Ballpark Square residential/hotel/retail development, "delivering in late 2015." There do appear to be building permits for the residential and hotel parts of the development currently working through the pipeline, though there is No Time To Lose to hit that "late 2015" date (and co-developer McCaffery hedges a bit with "early 2016"). I will note, though, that there is something kind of missing in the rendering shown on the fence signage. (Hint: It's L-shaped, and is by a different developer, and is supposed to start soon too.)
* WAYBACK: The Hill is Home's "Lost Capitol Hill" series looks at the Anacostia Engine House, located at 8th and Virginia for most of the years from 1839 until the glorious arrival of the Southeast Freeway in the 1960s.
* NO, REALLY: My latest excuse explanation for my decreased blogging output. (Though if you follow JDLand on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this.)

Color Images of 1990s Near Southeast From Above
May 31, 2013 9:34 AM
Thanks to a tweet from Martin Austermuhle (back in March, but I've been busy), I've added a new batch of shots to my page of 1990s Photos of Near Southeast.
It's really just one photo taken at helicopter height from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at the Library of Congress, but since it is available as a 72 MB .TIF, I was able to zoom in for some looks back into the years right before I started my own photo journey. Judging by the landscape, the best I can say is that it was taken sometime between 1992 and 1999.
Go to the page to see all of them (with explanations of what you're seeing), but see if you can figure out what you're looking at in these captionless sneak peeks:
They certainly trump the black and white overhead photos taken at about the same time that are also on my page, though at least those have some views that the trees obscure in these new ones.
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More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror

Google Updates DC Satellite View; Compare It to Past Images
Jan 31, 2013 10:59 PM
A few weeks ago, Google updated its satellite images of the DC area, including of course Near Southeast.
It appears to be from early October 2012, perhaps Oct. 13, since there's an event at the Yards Park that could be Snallygaster, plus the postseason signage is on the Nats diamond, and the trash transfer station's final demolition is just underway.
As I've done with each new image since 2002(!), I've posted it on my Images from Above page, where you can choose to display multiple versions going back to 1949(!!) to compare them.
I also always highlight the changes from the previous image, which in this case means the completion of Capitol Quarter's second phase, the Teague-Yards bridge, the Florida Rock site clearing, the 11th Street Bridges construction, and more.
If you want to zoom into the historic images, Google Earth allows you to view archival versions. (For the record, I love the ghostly images of Nats Park under construction in the 2006 shots.)
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Happy Anniversary to Me: A Decade of Photos and Blogging
Jan 18, 2013 10:04 AM
(Warning: Navel gazing ahead!)
Even in my semi-retired state, I'd like to believe it is still worth noting that Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of my first real photographic excursion* south of the Southeast Freeway, when on lark on a cold Sunday afternoon I had my husband drive me around while I took some furtive shots with an early generation digital camera.
There was no rhyme or reason to the pictures I took, and there certainly was no grand plan that I'd spend the next decade amassing more than 60,000 additional photos** of the changes and events along the path of Near Southeast's redevelopment.
All I knew was that were some plans to redevelop the neighborhood, especially the areas along the water as well as the public housing project a few blocks south of my house. I thought it would be cool to have some "before" photos, especially having watched other areas of the city change so radically from what I had first remembered as a high schooler and then college kid in the 1980s, venturing to the original 9:30 Club or the Tiber Creek Pub. I put a few of them up on my web site (already called JDLand, I'll have you know), mainly so that my dad could see them.
When I took these pictures, the notion of a baseball stadium anywhere in DC, let alone on South Capitol Street, was still thought of as a "maybe someday" dream, not anything that was actually only five years from opening. There was no hulking US Department of Transportation on M Street, and no public access to the entire 55-acre Southeast Federal Center with its long stretch of Anacostia waterfront. There were no parks, though there were school buses! And there were certainly no brightly colored townhouses selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There were a couple of new office buildings built a few years earlier when NAVSEA moved to the Navy Yard, and one additional one was under construction. There was a banner announcing a coming shiny new apartment building at New Jersey and K, which my husband and I laughed at every time we saw it--who would ever want to live THERE?.
There were a lot of small businesses, a number of carry-outs and market/liquor stores, four gas stations, concrete plants, auto repair garages, warehouses, Metrobuses, and of course nightclubs, gay and straight. And a lot of trash-strewn empty lots.
I look now at the photos from those early years, and it just doesn't seem like it can really have been 10 years. I remember when the boarded up gas station at 3rd and M was demolished in October 2003, thinking "FINALLY!"
I remember working up the courage to go to public meetings, and feeling like a dingbat trying to explain who I was ("yeah, so, I have this web site, and I, like, take pictures and stuff?").
I remember walking around the neighborhood for hours on Sunday mornings in 2006 and 2007, rarely crossing paths with another human.
I remember the exhaustion of the all-details-blogging about the construction and opening of Nationals Park, especially at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. I laugh about how my fraidy-cat tendencies were shoved aside while I traipsed around the site in a hard hat (me! in a hard hat!), sometimes climbing rickety ladders, to get to spots where the best pictures would be had.
I think about how it seemed like the documenting of the stadium's birth was the main subject of this site, and yet I realize that I've now written about the neighborhood for almost as long with the stadium open as not.
I imagine I should have some grand What It All Means theory, for the neighborhood, or for "citizen journalism" or "hyperlocal blogging," or my life, or whatever. But, mainly I'm lucky that the stars aligned to have this particular neighborhood undergo such a transformation, in a way that tied in with my history-journalism-photography-web development backgrounds (and my obsessive-compulsiveness).
I do think it's been shown, though, that a project like this isn't as easy to replicate as it might seem (so maybe I did deserve that award!).
I'm also lucky that so many people have helped me along the way, with information, tips, tutorials on commercial real estate development and construction, and zoning, and urban planning, and all the other things I really knew nothing about before I started down this path.
And I'm really lucky that over the years people who have stumbled onto the site have found it interesting, which is what has pushed me to keep going, even if it's in a somewhat less-than-optimal fashion right now. Because, really, all I wanted was some cool pictures to be able to look back on.
Without getting into detail, my pulling back somewhat has definitely been the right thing to do, and the times when I go days or even weeks without posting aren't really just me being lazy. But the funny thing is, I still research and track all the minutiae the same way--it's just that final step of writing it out that I can't always get through.
I think, though, that 2013 is going to have a lot of the "milestones" that still propel me to post--restaurants will open, other retail may come along, and maybe some buildings will get started. And there still will be pictures to be taken. Because, even if I wanted to, I don't think I could ever really stop watching the neighborhood change, and if I'm going to watch it, and photograph it, I might as well keep blabbing on about it, and might as well share it with anyone still interested.
So go look at the pictures from January 19, 2003 (and all the others that I've put online), since that's what this was really all about. And accept my deep appreciation for being along for the ride.
*I say "real excursion", and date the blog's anniversary to Jan. 19, 2003, because that was the first time I took photos and then put them on the web, and really began this life-consuming project. But I need to note that I did also take some photos of the neighborhood back in the fall of 2000, during the reconstruction of M Street and the Navy Yard's renovation for NAVSEA, with my old film camera--but I forgot about them and didn't even develop the film until sometime in 2004 (hence the rotten quality!).
**Only about one third of the photos I've taken are actually on the web site, by the way.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror, JDLand stuff

Nationals Park, Five Years Ago Today
Sep 1, 2012 11:42 AM
Today is the five-year anniversary of one of my most favorite JDLand-related days ever, a gorgeous end-of-summer day when I got to traipse into all corners of Nationals Park, which was at that point just under seven months away from opening. Everyone was still concerned about whether it would open on time, but I spent most of my time marveling at the progress in comparison to what had stood there less than 18 months earlier--and being wowed by my first visits to the viewing platform above Potomac Avenue and all the other views looking out at the surroundings from the upper decks.
Back in this era, I wasn't doing single-page photo galleries on days like this, so I tossed together this new gallery of the best shots of the day. It's interesting to think about everything that's changed in only five years--not only the field itself, but the team on the field, and everything surrounding it.
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More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror, Nationals Park

New Glimpses into the Getting-a-Bit-Distant M Street Past
Aug 23, 2012 9:29 AM
A most interesting and welcome present arrived in my inbox recently: a reader passed along four photos taken in 1990 or 1991 shot from what clearly is the old Defense Mapping Agency/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building at 1st and M, looking out over the streetscape of a veeery different neighborhood than what exists today. It was during the construction of the Navy Yard Metro station, and you'll see what a war zone M Street was for drivers and pedestrians.
There's familiar sites from the early days of my photo archive--Normandie Liquors, the On Luck Cafeteria, Capper/Carrollsburg, the school buses at Canal Park, and more, but there's also landmarks I either never got to photograph (like the old Tracks nightclub at 80 M) or only barely caught (like the Aamco station at New Jersey and M). The Ellen Wilson apartment blocks just north of the freeway on 6th Street are even visible.
But don't stop with the color photos at the top of the page. The rest of the page has a series of overhead images from the Library of Congress archive, taken in 1992, showing many of the same locations as the "new" color shots, along with some other spots, matched where possible with my images of the not-yet demolished buildings. I posted them almost two years ago, but I'm sure they're new to plenty of people.
If you happen to have taken any photos of the neighborhood from pre-2003 that you'd like to share, I'd love to see them. Feel free to pass them along via whatever venue you might prefer--Facebook, e-mail (dc at jdland dot com), Flickr link, etc.
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More posts: Canal Park, Capper, photos, Rearview Mirror

Who Lived On Your Block--Or In Your House--in 1940?
Apr 4, 2012 9:02 PM
You may or may not be aware that this week the National Archives posted online the 3.8 million pages that made up the 1940 census. They aren't yet searchable by name, but they are browsable by "enumeration district." This means that if you don't mind waiting for huge images to load, you can in essence wander from street to street and find out all manner of information about the people who lived there 72 years ago.
Since I've had a little bit of experience with census digging (I did a lot of my family's geneaology back in the early 2000s, before I began some other project that soon sucked up all my free time), I took a few minutes and found the links to the five enumeration districts that cover Near Southeast, along with the map that shows their locations.
So, if you live in Capitol Quarter, ED 204 covers you (from 2nd to 5th and Virginia to M). ED 203 goes east from 5th to 11th, while ED 205 includes all the blocks between 2nd and South Capitol north of M, for you Velocity/Onyx/CHT/Capitol Yards folks. ED 206 goes from M to the Waterfront and over to what's now the WASA site, while ED 207 covers the Navy Yard, which at that time ran from New Jersey Avenue to 11th. (It's actually funny how those boundaries from 72 years ago do a pretty good job of reflecting how the neighborhood's various sub-areas are still seen today.)
This was more than 10 years before the Cappers were built, but the neighborhood wasn't exactly a rich enclave. Plus, not many houses that were standing in 1940 remain in existence today, so only a few people will get the fun of seeing who actually lived in their house back then. But I thought one or two people might enjoy wandering through the many pages to get a feel for the people who lived in Near Southeast as World War II was looming. (You'll probably want to use the Questions Asked page to guide you across the columns. Note that the street name is written vertically in the first column, with the house number next. And the pages don't always perfectly follow the grid, so you may need to page through much of the ED to find the spot you're looking for. Plus, the image display is really cruddy right now, so using the option to download an entire ED and then browsing with the image viewer on your own computer might be preferable.)
Please post in the comments anything interesting you find--you'll make an old lady historian very happy.
(And I guess I might have to dig up the same information for earlier censuses. Not tonight.)
PS: If you don't live in one of these EDs, you can wander through the city map to find yours.
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More posts: census, Rearview Mirror

Rearview Mirror: Photo Gallery, Five Years Ago Today
Feb 10, 2012 1:16 PM
I usually just toss these out only on Twitter every so often, but after sneaking a peek at my February 10, 2007 photo gallery (thanks to that "This Day In Near Southeast History" box on the JDLand home page), I thought that it merited an actual blog post.
Early 2007 is the optimum time for seeing the last vestiges of the old neighborhood west of New Jersey Avenue juxtaposed with the stampede of new construction. There's a lot of "holes in the sky" where we're now used to seeing 70/100 I, 909 New Jersey, Onyx, 100 M, 55 M, Velocity, and 1015 Half.
And there was this big project underway south of N Street:
There's even images that surprise me, like seeing the South Capitol Street viaduct again (it was demolished five months later). And, of course, Normandie Liquors still stood alone.
Over the next four months, demolition would clear 25 buildings directly north of the ballpark, including all of the remaining night clubs from the neighborhood's old days (Wet, Edge, Club 55, the Nexus Gold Club, and Nation). Construction would begin on 55 M and Velocity, and 70/100 I, Onyx, and 100 M would come out of the ground. And the US Department of Transportation opened.
There's a lot going on in the neighborhood once again these days, but it'll never be anything like 2007 and 2008. So check out both pages of the gallery, and prepare to be amazed! (Or not.)
UPDATE: It might also be interesting to look at my gallery from one year later, Feb. 10, 2008, to really get a sense of how much things changed in 12 months.
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More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror

Happy 20th Birthday, Navy Yard Metro!
Dec 27, 2011 10:59 AM
If you're looking for an excuse to have a celebration (and who isn't in the long, seven-day slog between Christmas and New Year's), you can raise a glass on Wednesday to the 20th birthday of the Waterfront, Navy Yard, and Anacostia Metro stations, which opened on Dec. 28, 1991.
Not surprisingly, it was the arrival of DC's subway in Anacostia that was the main focus of opening day celebrations: "At long last, after two decades of planning and delays, site squabbles and legal hurdles, Metro's Green Line came to Anacostia yesterday and Anacostia rolled out a green carpet of welcome," reported the Washington Post.
But, a few days earlier, the Post published a piece focusing on what changes the new Navy Yard station would bring to its surroundings:
"Metro's newest neighbors on downtrodden M Street SE have been coping for months with the dust and shambles of tunnel construction by holding onto one hope: Maybe Metro can make things better."
"'I hope that it will stop the drug traffic,' said Ann Mose, a secretary at an Aamco Transmission shop just a few yards from the new Navy Yard stop, which is at M and Half streets SE and New Jersey Avenue. 'I know one thing: Metro and the police are going to have their work cut out for them. People are scared.'"
Then, see if this part sounds familiar: "About two years ago, the biggest names in Washington real estate bought up acres of vacant lots and ramshackle warehouses there in anticipation of a mini-boom town of offices, town houses, retail stores and recreation areas to be spawned by the arrival of the Metro. In the past year, as financing for speculative development has dried up, buyer enthusiasm has ebbed."
The article then speaks of the plans to redevelop the Southeast Federal Center with 1 million square feet of office space for 23,000 federal workers at agencies like GSA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Navy, and perhaps FEMA.
"But today, as Metro cars rumble through test runs on the new extension of the Green Line, those dreams seem obscured by drug traffickers who walk undisturbed up and down M Street, in the shadows of boarded-up buildings that neighbors call crack houses, from which Metro workers solicitously warn visitors to stay away. [...]
"Between that and the subway stop is public housing. Trash piles up on the sidewalk. Hypodermic needles are discarded in open lots.
"'You've got to be something of a visionary to see what this is going to be like in five to 10 years,' GSA administrator Dick Austin said. 'There are a lot of those who are skeptics and say it's not going to happen.... Did you ever see the movie 'Field of Dreams?'"
And, in referencing the commercial developers who had bought up much of the land in the neighborhood, the article says: "Their hopes[...]: that the lackluster waterfront from Buzzard Point to the Washington Navy Yard could be turned into the Tysons Corner of the 21st century."
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More posts: Metro/WMATA, Rearview Mirror

NGA Move From 1st and M to New Springfield Campus Underway
Apr 4, 2011 8:35 AM
It can be hard to get much information when you're dealing with one of the more cloak-and-dagger-y agencies of the US Government, but word is filtering out that the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency has begun the BRAC-mandated move of its employees from the windowless fenced-off building at 1st and M SE to its $1.7 billion new Campus East facility in Springfield.
According to NextGov, the first of NGA's 8,500 employees arrived at their new home in January with more continuing to make the move, and I've confirmed that this includes some employees from the Near Southeast location as well as NGA's other locations in Bethesda, Reston, and Ft. Belvoir. The moves are happening in a staggered fashion, working toward the required "fully operational" date of September 15 in Springfield. (You can see construction photos of the new campus on Flickr, or learn more about the history of NGA via Wikipedia.)
The 1st and M building, known as Building 123 213 in Southeast Federal Center parlance, is the northwestern-most portion of the footprint of The Yards, and the long-term plans for the site are for new office space with ground-floor retail. Perhaps once NGA has completed the move there will be a freer flow of information about the site (if the building will be torn down or used for other purposes in the interim, if the fence will come down, etc.). It also is more than likely that there are other somewhat shadowy outfits operating in this space as well, and I'm not sure whether they're heading for even more shadowy pastures elsewhere during this move.
But the departure of NGA is a step toward replacing the armed encampment one block from Nationals Park with something a bit more welcoming--and I'm sure the building's security folks aren't terribly unhappy about no longer being surrounded by red-clothed hordes (toting cameras! the horror!) 80 days a year. (I will admit to once starting to point a camera at a few of the guards behind the fence--without coming close to squeezing the shutter--just for the fun of showing the people I was with how quickly the guards would reach for their guns.)
It's not like there's ever been a whole lot of detail about the goings-on on this corner: the Post reported back in 1964 that the CIA moved into the renovated Naval Weapons Plant warehouse in January 1963 with "no announcement, no little ceremony, no welcome-to-the-great-southeast-sector fanfare." There also hadn't been any announcement in November 1961 when the GSA awarded a no-bid contract to get the building renovated.
(Current residents and observers will get a kick out of the Post's 1964 description of the building's surroundings as "liquor stores, run-down shops, a railroad spur, and, right around it, a formidable chain link fence topped by five rows of unfriendly barbed wire," which WaPo said made "the six-story cream-and gray building [...] positively glamorous" in comparison.)
If you look at this map of the future layout of the Yards, you can see the 1st-and-M site at upper left, with plans for three buildings and a new east-west street (which this map says will be called Quander Street) about halfway down the block, along with the new "1 1/2 Street SE" running north-south from Quander to N Place.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror, The Yards, Yards/Parcel A/NGA

Wrapping Up Dad's Memories of Capitol Hill: The Late '60s
Feb 25, 2011 12:10 PM
My dad has handed in the final installment of his memories of life on Capitol Hill, this time covering the very tumultous late 1960s. While there are plenty of good memories (and home movies!)--swimming at the Skyline Inn, birdbath martinis at the Market Inn, the Gangplank, and my brother's days attending the nascent Capitol Hill Day School--Dad's essay focuses in large part on the 1968 riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the impact it had for people living on the Hill.
We left the Hill--and Washington--in late 1969 when Dad took a job in Chicago, but we returned to the area in 1977, living in Chevy Chase but always keeping our ties the Hill strong, both professionally through Dad and my brother's jobs and then personally when I moved to the Hill in 1994.
When my now-husband and I bought our house in June 1995, right as DC was hitting rock bottom and just before the financial control board was instituted, most of our friends were more than a little concerned about our decision, especially given that this was how many people thought of Washington outside of far Northwest and the National Mall. But Dad and Mom certainly approved of my decision to put down stakes back in the neighborhood where their life together--and my life!--had started.
So, this brings this nice wintertime diversion to an end, and I hope people have found it interesting. And maybe it's spurred a few of you to get your parents' memories of your childhood neighborhood (wherever it may be), and maybe some longtime Hill residents have shaken loose a few of their own recollections while reading this. (I know I've gotten a number of "Yes! The Oakland Inn!" responses.)
Thanks for doing this, Dad, and now go get back on your bike: spring is coming.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Dad's Rearview Mirror, Con't: Buying a Home, 60s Style
Feb 11, 2011 2:42 PM
Dad's been under the weather for the past few weeks (for the first time in about 30 years), but is thankfully feeling better and has now passed along another batch of memories of life on Capitol Hill.
This time he's written on a subject matter that's almost on-topic for JDLand: residential real estate, with a lot of detail from when he and my mother purchased 127 E St., SE, in early 1964. (He even dug into his files and found the paperwork from the sale, which amounted to all of about four pages, which I've included.) And he recounts a trip through the city bureaucracy to build the garage that's still out back of 127 E today--it wasn't smooth sailing, but I bet it was still a lot easier than it would be now!
He also talks a bit about the old Weisfeld's Market, from when it was at 131 E St. More recent Hill citizens may remember Weisfeld's in its later location, at the corner of 4th and E, where the Capitol Supreme Market now operates. There's also talk of The Rotunda, and a first mention of Mr. Henry's, which he says helped "extend the boundaries of where Hill people felt comfortable going." You know, alllllll the way out to 6th and Pennsylvania, SE.
I also took the opportunity to add some multimedia offerings to give everyone some looks at the 100 block of E during the mid-1960s.
Thanks again to Dad for taking the time to write this all down. Maybe when I get him and Mom down to the neighborhood for a baseball game this year, we'll set up for a bit beforehand somewhere (Das Bullpen?) and interested parties can swing by to chat.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Dad's Rearview Mirror, Continued: Hill Life, '61-'63
Jan 21, 2011 1:54 PM
It's becoming a Friday tradition (think of it like the magazine that comes in your weekend paper) -- my father has sent along another batch of memories of living on Capitol Hill, during the Kennedy years of 1961 to 1963. He even briefly mentions Near Southeast (mainly to say they hardly ever ventured south of Virginia Avenue), as well as lots of other landmarks of the city at the time, like the Marine Barracks, the beer garden at Griffith Stadium, biking to DC Stadium to see the Redskins, and the various places in Maryland and Virginia that he bowled. (Bowling was very big at the time, and a good way to meet chicks, as he explains. One bowling beauty in particular caught his eye.)
There was also touch football, which of course was practically a requirement during the Kennedy era (and I've added a home movie clip to make this a true multimedia offering). He also talks about the old Oakland Inn just over the line in Maryland, famous for its fried chicken and to which I even remember being taken once when I was probably in junior high.
And, sadly, as with any memories of the era, it includes the events of Nov. 22, 1963.
I just can't help but picture the cast of Mad Men as I read all of these! I'm passing the comments that people have sent back to Dad (and I think he's peeking in as well), so thanks for the continued indulgence--I think it's a nice little side project during the less newsy winter months. And it's especially nice for me since I don't have to do the writing. Or pay him. :-)
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Eight Years of Watching Near Southeast Change
Jan 19, 2011 9:56 AM
Like a batty old relative pulling out the photo albums for the umpteenth time, I'll take a moment to mark today as the eight-year anniversary of my tracking the changes that were starting to take place south of the freeway. The 63 photos I took while Mr. JDLand drove me around aren't a complete archive of every building in the neighborhood at that time, because frankly all I was doing that day was getting a few shots for myself and not planning the launch of an obsessive compulsive project that would suck up almost all of my free time and energy for years to come. But I came home and put them on my web site so my father could see them, made up a page with some links so I could easily go back to sites to check for updates, and off we went.
And now maybe it's just as noteworthy to mark Jan. 19, 2003 as the day I took the shot of the Little Red Building standing alone, since that's become the somewhat iconic shot of where the neighborhood was compared to what it was about to become.
Anyway, it's been quite a ride for eight years, with a lot of words and a lot pictures (about 50,000 of them), and I hope that people are continuing to find the site useful and interesting. Thanks for reading, commenting, and sending me news and tips! Hopefully 2011 will be a bounty of news and happenings.
[PS: Is it a sign of a marriage that's getting long in the tooth that I swore the anniversary was actually tomorrow until I saw the "Today in (Recent) Near Southeast History" box on the right side of the home page? So--oops--I guess my State of the Hood is going to be posted on my eight-year-and-one-day anniversary. And I'll also note that today is not the actual JDLand.com anniversary, because I've had my own web site since late 1994 and bought the JDLand domain name in 1996. Old-timers may remember that I didn't even give my Near Southeast stuff the main JDLand.com URL until 2007.]
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More posts: Rearview Mirror, JDLand stuff

Off-Topic Rearview Mirror (Cont.): More Hill Memories
Jan 14, 2011 12:28 PM
It's almost the weekend, there's not much news, so it's as good a time as any for another installment from my dad of his memories of living on Capitol Hill in the 1960s. JFK's run for the presidency and inauguration, the Monocle, Mark Russell at the Carroll Arms Hotel, Capitol Hill "security," run-ins with the construction workers building the Rayburn House Office Building, becoming a Hill biker, forays into Southwest, and cases of beer stashed in snowbanks are on the menu for this latest entry looking at life the early 1960s. And there's more to come, because Dad is now really getting into his "writing assignment." I'm really enjoying reading these, and I hope one or two folks out there are as well.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Off-Topic Rearview Mirror: Family Memories of the Hill
Jan 9, 2011 11:01 AM
As I've always tried to emphasize when I'm asked about the origins of JDLand, I'm a historian at heart--I love knowing about how areas I'm familiar with looked and functioned in the past, especially the more recent past, when you can still see of few of the strings tying that era to the present day.
This is very much the case for me for Capitol Hill, land of my birth, and I'm lucky enough to have two very good resources to turn to whenever I want to hear some good stories about what my neighborhood was like back in the Mad Men era: my mother and father. Jim and Shirley each moved to DC in 1959, got married a few years later, and lived on the House side of the Hill until 1969, and it's no secret that they look back upon those years with great fondness.
Since I'm all about documenting stuff before it disappears, I recently asked Mom and Dad if they would write up for me their memories of what it was like to live on the Hill during the 1960s. Luckily it's the offseason for both bicycling (Dad) and golf (Mom), so they agreed to squeeze some writing into their schedules, and while the resulting reminiscences are mostly for the family's benefit and enjoyment, I thought that some readers might find them of interest as well, and since the web site has infinite space, and since it's wintertime, when news is slow...
First up is a short post by my dad, talking a little about when he moved to the Hill in 1959, living in the 400 block of New Jersey Ave., SE., with his brother, for $100 a month. (I also tossed in at the bottom some of the home movies showing Hill scenes, most of which I've linked to before, but I figure some multimedia can't hurt.)
If you have questions for Dad about his post or just want to pick his brain for other memories of his, post here in the comments, and I'll make sure he reads them and replies. He's already working on his next offering, so maybe some queries from the peanut gallery will rattle loose some additional nuggets to pass along.
(And hopefully before too long I'll get a submission from Mom, so that she can tell the stories of shopping at Weisfeld's when it was still in the 100 block of E and how Mrs. Weisfeld would just write what you owed on the back of a brown paper bag, and then give you a bill at the end of the month. But I don't want to steal her thunder.)
UPDATE: Like his daughter, Dad has discovered that writing about something interesting can take on a life of its own--he's submitted his second post about the Hill in the early '60s, with tidbits on the Kennedy inauguration (and its accompanying snowstorm) and the construction of the Rayburn House Office Building, along with a few famous names, memories of biking around the Hill, and even a little bit about Southwest. I'll post it in a couple of days.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror

Pre-Weekend Cleaning Off of the Messy Virtual Desk
Oct 1, 2010 11:50 AM
Here's a bunch of little items that aren't ridiculously newsworthy, but that might be of interest. Since it's Friday and many of you actually have lives, I suggest reading a few at a time, and keep coming back over the weekend until you get through all of them. Some I've already passed along via Twitter (which you can also follow by being a Facebook Fan of JDLand), but some are surprisingly fresh. Here goes:
Top items:
* The process that will beget the new Southwest Waterfront is now underway, and SWill at Southwest: The Fabulous Blog With the Funny Name (did I get that right?) reports on this week's public meeting by the developers. Current plans call for 560 residential units, three hotels totalling 600 rooms, 840,000 square feet of office, 335,000 square feet of ground floor retail, some sort of music hall / museum / maritime education offering, 2,500 underground parking spaces in five garages, and 400-500 marina slips, with 60 percent of the site area being public space.
* Back before 1015 Half Street was a slow-to-finish office building, it was an old industrial building that in 1995 became the Capitol Ballroom and then eventually the Nation nightclub. But from its construction in 1931 until it was sold at auction in 1992, the southwest corner of Half and K was home to the J.E. Hurley Machine and Boiler Works company. And thanks to the Kinorama Flickr stream that took the Twitterverse by storm this week, here's a shot of the Hurley building, undated but probably in the early 1990s. The outlines of the more-familiar Nation building are clearly visible.
* Pastor Mark Batterson, writing about the National Community Church's purchase of the Miles Glass site at 8th and Virginia, says that they are looking at some of the adjacent properties as well. "Our current lot serves our current purposes, but when we think in twenty year terms the additional lots would give us more upside potential."
Calendar items:
* On Friday, Oct. 8, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Race for the Cure will be holding its opening ceremonies at Nationals Park. It's not just for participants, and friends and family are also being encouraged to attend. Walkers will start arriving around 6 am, with the opening ceremony beginning (with "community stretching" at 7 am). Afterward, the participants will begin their 60-mile walk (though I can't find a map to figure out their route). More information about the opening ceremonies and race here.
* Mayor-in-Effect Vince Gray is having a series of town halls during October, with the Ward 6 one scheduled for Oct. 27 at 8:30 pm at Eastern High School, 1700 East Capitol St. NE.
Tidbits:
* Because I'm worried that the Marines' hunt for a new barracks site isn't engendering enough conversation around here, I'll point people to Norm Metzger's report on last week's Community Leadership Group meeting that I wrote about here.
* The Examiner did a Three-Minute Interview with Sam Fromartz of the Virginia Avenue Park's community garden.
* It's time once again for the Capitol Riverfront Perception Survey. Tell 'em what you perceive.
Off-Topic:
* I've written a few times about my interest in Detroit, and whether it can come back from so far down. If you haven't been following along, here's a great essay with lots of photos, written by David Byrne. (Yes, that David Byrne.) (thanks to reader EH)
* And, for the ultimate Friday time-waster, here's my bottlecap chasing cat that thinks he's a dog.

My First Hood Photo Trek, 10 (!) Years Ago
Sep 30, 2010 12:55 PM
While I officially date the start of my blogging about Near Southeast as being January 2003, that was not when I took my first photos around the neighborhood. In the early fall of 2000, I grabbed a camera (a FILM camera!) and drove south of the freeway, around the neighborhood whose name I didn't know, to take some pictures. I had no plan to do anything with them; in fact, the prints quickly got filed away and I didn't even remember having them until I stumbled across them in 2004. The film I used was bad, so many of the shots barely came out. I don't even know exactly what day it was--judging by the color of the trees, it could be late September or early October. But, despite all of that, the 24 photos I took, now 10 years ago, mark the beginning of my very strange and unexpected odyssey.
I had spent almost no time below the freeway since buying our house on the south side of Capitol Hill in 1995 (the area's reputation and lack of any amenities gave us no reason to). But in 1999 and 2000, the 3rd Street on-ramp for the freeway was being rebuilt, which forced us to drive to South Capitol Street to get on the westbound freeway. We usually crossed over on K Street to New Jersey, and often got a good laugh when we'd see a sign draped on the southeast corner of the intersection touting a new multiunit residential building "steps from the Capitol." "Dear God, who would ever pay big bucks to live down HERE?" I remember saying to Mr. JDLand on more than one occasion. (So much for vision.)
But I was still aware of the changes that were being talked about for the area, along with the first mini-building boom already underway: the construction was almost finished at the Navy Yard to house the NAVSEA operations, and we could see 80 M and 300 M rising up as we drove on the freeway, and I even remember being aware of the streetscape improvements being made to M Street (curbs, bricked medians and crosswalks). So I took a bunch of photos, and promptly forgot about them. And then started the tracking for real in early 2003, this time with a digital camera in hand.
Even though the pictures are pretty cruddy, they're still worth wandering through. Try not to look at the locations, and see if you can figure out where they are; then click on the icon to see what's happened to these spots in the intervening decade.
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More posts: Rearview Mirror, JDLand stuff

Updated Satellite Image of Near Southeast
Sep 30, 2010 10:55 AM
GGW sent out the alert this morning that Google has updated its satellite images of DC, giving us the first overhead images of Near Southeast since Spring 2008. I've added this (somewhat washed out) view to my Satellite Images page, where you can compare it to images from Google and other sources from 1949 (!), 1988, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. (But you'll also want to visit Google Maps to be able to zoom in on the latest image to get a better view.) Considering that the 2008-10 time frame will be looked back on as the era of the Economic Downtown, there are still plenty of changes to see, including the first phase of Capitol Quarter, the Yards Park and Diamond Teague Park, the construction of the new 11th Street Bridges, and the completion of a number of office and residential buildings north of Nationals Park. (The stadium looks kind of cool from on high as well.) And the lack of schoolbuses at Canal Park!
Comments (6)
More posts: Rearview Mirror, JDLand stuff

Tidbits: Spiffying Up the NJ Avenue Underpass; CSX Archaelogy Digging; More Near SE History
Sep 7, 2010 9:09 AM
A few things to pass along as we kiss summer goodbye (yes, I know it technically doesn't end for another few weeks, blah blah blah):
* The Capitol Riverfront BID is applying for a DC Public Art Building Communities grant to get funding to "improve the look, feel and experience of traveling into and out of the Capitol Riverfront along New Jersey Ave., SE, while also creating unique gateway art that represents the identity, sense of place and community in the Capitol Riverfront neighborhood." They will be presenting their concepts at the Sept. 13 ANC 6D meeting, with applications being due on Oct. 13. If the project is selected to receive a grant, there would be public meetings sometime next year to "refine" the concepts, with hopes to complete the project by fall 2011. Though I can't imagine why anyone would want to beautify THIS!
* I'm not seeing this on the posted agenda yet, but a reader reports to me that CSX will be making presentations to ANC 6B's Planning and Zoning Committee tonight (Sept. 7) and the full ANC on Sept. 21 about a permit the freight company is apparently requesting to conduct an archaeological survey of Virginia Avenue Park prior to their planned expansion of the tunnel that runs under the park.
* Tonight you might see some folks with clipboards hanging around the Navy Yard Metro station entrances; they will be part of the Public Transportation Takes Us There petition drive by the American Public Transportation Association, trying to convince Congress to pass a long-term surface transportation funding bill. For the point of view of someone who has signed the petition, read this recent Richard Layman post. (I am wondering, and have no answer, whether this is the bill that CSX has been looking toward [along with other public money options] for funding the rest of the National Gateway project, which includes the expansion of the Virginia Avenue Tunnel.)
* You may have seen commenter MJM referencing recently his newfound obsession with the history of Near Southeast, and now he's put up a blog where you can share in the fruits of his research.
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