Monday, November 30, 2009

Dupont Circle, Washington, DC

Dupont Circle, once the center of the wealthy at the turn of the Twentieth Century, went through a period of decline in the 1950's, the stately mansions being carved up into boarding houses, until it was reborn in the 1960's as the center of DC counterculture.It has now so heavily gentrified that the word hip and subversive have long since moved on to other neighborhoods to the east and north.But nonetheless, the neighborhood boasts some fantastic architecture, including many mansions that have either been restored as embassies or have seen new life as the front of stores or restaurants.Below is just a preview of the many amazing mansions that line the streets of the area.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Washington Coliseum

It's hard to believe, but the run down building viewable from the railyards heading into Union Station in DC was the site of the first live concert by the Beatles in the United States. Used a trash transfer station until new regulations forbade its use for that grimy purpose, it apparently serves as a parking lot on the original ice rink. One time I glimpsed traces of the arena seating on the walls. And they don't even have a plaque.See it from the air here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The University That Ate Foggy Bottom

Foggy Bottom in Washington, DC used to be a blue collar neighborhood just to the west of the White House, complete with lumber yards and gas storage tanks. Modest rowhouses lined the streets, and it was a relatively inexpensive tract of land, until George Washington University moved in.Ironically, the university moved because the expensive neighborhood of Columbia Heights, the university's original home, caused the school to look for cheaper digs, thus the move to Foggy Bottom.Ironically, Foggy Bottom skyrocketed in value due to its close proximity to downtown, while Columbia Heights shrank into obscurity.The Washington Post gave GW the moniker "The University That Ate Foggy Bottom" in recognition of the enormous amounts of land acquired by GW.Much of what is left in Foggy Bottom has now been bought by the university, or it has its eyes on it.Here is a wonderful Italianate mansion that is now the headquarters of campus police. Below is a surviving intact alleyhouse, which was very common in the neighborhood.The building below was owned by a mentally unstable old woman, who passed away a few years back; the university snatched it up and restored it as offices.The white building at the end of the block is the Jefferson Lee, a flop house where they periodically had to remove bodies from. Don't get me wrong, Foggy Bottom is now an expensive neighborhood, but traces of its gritty past remain.This picture shows the headquarters of my Master's program, but when I went to GW it was in another building.Foggy Bottom is strange mix of the past, ugly new highrises built by GW, and a little bit of everything in between.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Washington Circle, Foggy Bottom and the West End, Washington, DC

Washington Circle sits at the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue, New Hampshire Avenue and K Street in the heart of downtown. It was once lined with rowhouses, but now only one block still retains its original appearance.K Street is carried under the circle in viaduct, where speeds often reach 65 mph in a posted zone of 35 mph.But oh how wonderfully the rowhouses that are left still retain their original appearance. Built as really one large building, they avoided the wrecking ball and constitute a 100% intact block of rowhouses.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Eastern Market, Capitol Hill, Washington, DC

Eastern Market is an anchor of the Capitol Hill neighborhood, and after suffering a devastating fire a couple of years ago, the mayor was out front the next day promising to rebuild.To be honest, I bought a lot of fruit that looked good the day I bought it there, and the next day it would be rotten. And while it's a traditional market so desired by urbanists, much of the produce was trucked in from other countries.The new Eastern Market is nice and clean, and overpriced. I am sure residents of Capitol Hill still either love or hate their local institution.Here is the interior, completely restored to its previous appearance, with a lot of the grime gone.

A Blog detailing the beauty of St. Louis architecture and the buildup of residue-or character-that accumulates over the course of time.