Friday, December 19

WHAT TO CALL THE HOOD

Came across this in the Hill East listserv, bringing to mind a time back the in 1960s when your editor - egged on by an Alinsky trained organizer - renamed the area for the purposes of his new community newspaper: Capitol East Gazette. The Capitol Hill Restoration Society hated the term Capitol East and many white Hillers didn't appreciate being dumped into a neighborhood that was 75% black. At that time, Capitol Hill generally referred to an area that stopped at Lincoln Park. It's nice to see the struggle still going on.

Living south of what I had thought of as Hill East but across the freeway (and thus psychologically disconnected) from the Navy Yard (and not really close enough to Barney Circle), I always wondered what my neighborhood should be called. A realtor told me it used to be called "Pipetown" for the workers at the Navy Yard but no one uses that any more. "Capitol Hill" didn't seem right but when I asked my neighbors who had lived here for years what to call it, they all said "Capitol Hill." My neighbor, who has lived on this street all his life, calls the neighborhood Capitol Hill but he did say that it used to be called "Southeast." I'd be happy to go with Southeast just to be a contrarian but I don't think the trend is going in that direction. - Amy H

For what it's worth, I live at 16th & D St SE, and my property tax assessment classifies the neighborhood as "Old City I." This isn't dispositive, but I'd be interested in seeing how the city government ID's neighborhoods. - Everett

It may show how long we've lived here, but I always understood Capitol Hill ended at Sixth street and so that made those of us in the seven hundred block on the far eastern edge just beyond Capitol Hill. I think people never have any clear idea. -S. Giesecke

There is the Barney Circle group and a group representing Kingman Park. Both are specifically locales in the general mix of eastern Capitol Hill area. There is also the Capitol Hill Restoration Society that looks out for many interests, including outside the Historic District, but its focus still is the Historic District, I sense. Then there is the Hill East Waterfront Action Network which -- I believe I can say this accurately as a founder of the group -- does not claim or try to represent a specific neighborhood but instead has participants who represent a range of interests and live in a variety of places. But what about the immediate neighborhood west of 19th Street? - Jim Myers

You live in a community, Jim. DC is such a parochial little town, that the issue of a few blocks to the east or west, or north or south of an invisible dividing line, seems to irk people to no end. And to no use, other then to claim ownership of something that doesn't exist.

Instead of people trying to figure out if other people 'belong' to a 'named' community (ungated, and unincorporated, so there is no 'ownership' of the name or designation) or are eligible to comment or post on a listserve or not, they should welcome the active interest, if not the active participation, of people who feel part of a community.

The definition (and designation) should be as (reasonably) flexible as the Constitution, which most rational people acknowledge was written at a certain time and place. . . as broadly as possible. . . and thus lends itself to reinterpretation to reflect the changing times, mores, and circumstances the country faces (within rational limits). Otherwise one ends up like Scalia, drawing lines that aren't there just because the definition wasn't precisely laid out for him over 200 years ago, when an issue (or area) didn't exist. - Dana Wyckoff


On the bright side
, I was told by a PEPCO employee the other day that 18th st SE did not exist. We argued about it for about 10 minutes before he finally said "Sir, you can call me back when you have a real address." I guess I'm nowhere. - Apollo

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