Recently, I walked through the Sunday-quiet streets of Ivy City DC, and I heard bits and pieces of a story being told by two distinct voices.
The first voice is the one at the top of the hill– the narrative told by the glittering new development taking root at the Hecht Warehouse–possibly the only place in the poet-baptized Ivy City where huge green clumps of the invasive plant grow. It’s a new voice, and a nice one: Quality stores have steadily been arriving, and people have been moving to the apartments inside the old warehouse. There is a feeling of community being fostered by new businesses, new restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and by Union Kitchen. The area is in the process of being loved.
The second voice is a whisper– the whisper of Ivy City itself. That little whispery voice keeps a tidy house. It prays on Sundays. It keeps the corner store open. It puts up with the DPW vehicle storage station and its Diesel growling and lets the wanderers sleep late in its parks.
The whisper is not flashy. The whisper is barely audible, and at some point, it might go quiet and disappear altogether.
A city needs pockets of whispering silence to remember its essence.
Gateway to Heaven Church. I’ve been obsessed with this building for a while because LOOK AT IT. It’s really adorable, and I would appreciate any architectural historians in the area to give me a shoutout and tell me what I’m looking at. (#DCChurches)
The Ivy City market (corner of Kendall Street NE and Capitol Avenue NE) is pretty cute on the outside– I especially like the cheerful graffiti that decorates it. I shared a similar photo on Instagram and a friend remarked, “I reckon having a Do Not Enter sign isn’t good for business?” It was very quiet for a Sunday, but it looked like there were people inside– I was mostly interested in the exterior, so I did not venture in. Perhaps this calls for another expedition. (#GraffitiMakesThingsCooler)
A view from the top of Ivy City through 16th street NE, toward West Virginia Avenue NE and Mt. Olivet cemetery. The streets are unevenly paved and gritty, owning to years of general neglect and the fact that the most demanding residents were snowplows, street sweepers and garbage trucks. #potholepalooza?
The Alexander Crummel School. Once it served African American children, but it might become condos– much like many other school buildings across the city. According to a Hecht Warehouse resident’s rumor, it might become a recreation center: while this is a worthy goal, it’s just not as profitable as fancy new housing. (#CONDOS)
Someday soon, the colorful crates bordering New York Avenue NE will be replaced with “Hecht Town,” whatever that is. I assume this may be where the Zara or the Gap will go, per the recent Washington Post article. Too bad. I like those crates. Can’t we find some sort of crate home or tiny house proponents to build a tiny-crate-house Hecht Town? (#NotTrendyEnough)
Fancy outdoor timepiece by Shinola Detroit. Shinola Detroit is fancy: Their main DC store is housed in a former homeless shelter on 14th and R Streets NW (14th Street is no longer crumbling and instead it’s HOT HOT HOT). I’m happy that the Shinola is helping rescue the city of Detroit and its manufacturing legacy with its luxury brand. However, I do wonder how many people in Detroit can afford Shinola products. Is that a non-sequitur? Here’s another: isn’t it funny that Shinola was a brand of shoe polish from upstate New York and that it went out of business? And that someone decided that, hey! What a great name for a luxury brand, Shinola! And that the rest is history? (#AGentrifiedDC)