I spent this weekend Staycationing in D.C. . . . Watching baseball. Being a tourist. I was struck by how much the city has changed in the 15+ years I've lived here.
I moved to D.C. in 1995, and spent three years at law school at George Washington University in "Foggy Bottom." I lived in a studio apartment about 4 blocks from campus (interestingly, in a building across the street from my current office). Back then, when one crossed Pennsylvania Avenue after, say, 7:00 pm, heading up New Hampshire towards the residential areas of the city, the streets were empty. I could walk home from the library at night and barely see another soul. I remember going out to the local bars on Thursday night (Buffalo Billiards . . . The Front Page, et cetera). We had a friend -- we'll call him Eric (because, like, that was his name). He lived on 15th and K Street. When we left the bars late a night, he'd throw on his backpack and literally RUN the three blocks or so to his place, on the theory that no one would put the effort in to mugging him if they had to chase and catch him first. And, god forbid you walked easterly down Pennsylvania avenue towards the capital. At night, and especially on the weekends, anything east of, say, 15th street was a giant homeless shelter. A good place to get hit over the head. I can remember walking to the Macy's at Metro Center on the weekends and being virtually alone with the vagrants. And Chinatown was no place for a reputable person to spend time. And the area south of the capital, along the Anacostia river, was a barren and scary land.
Fast forward to 2015. I feel like the entire city has pretty much transformed. Eric would look like a fool running home from the bars to 15th/K Street nowadays. Hell, the entire Mass Ave corridor has gentrified nearly down to Union Station. And Chinatown is Disney Land, thanks, largely, to the Verizon Center which brought professional sports from Landover, Maryland to the center of the city, and, along with it, residences, businesses, restaurants, bars and everything else. I grabbed dinner at around midnight, Saturday night, at a joint in the area, and walked back to the hotel afterwards without a care in the world. That walk would have been a non-starter 15 years ago. And the area south of the Capital, along the waterfront . . . thanks to National's park, the same type of redevelopment that transformed Chinatown is happening along the river. What use to be industrial warehouses, dilapidated row homes and homeless is now new restaurants, $800,000 one-bedroom condos and parents pushing kids in strollers. What use to be closed businesses and empty streets on the weekends is now bustling with sidewalks full of tourists and residents. In short, this is not the same city I moved to in '95.
Anyway, I'll leave you with some photos of my weekend:
Friday Night Game
The W Hotel - my home base for the weekend
Doors of the Justice Department
National Mall from afternoon run
Suprem Court from Capital Grounds
'86 World Series Hero (Ray Knight)
Rockies warming up
Great Night for a Ball Game