Explorations of D.C.

Exploration 5 (Takes place after we changed our focus to public transportation): 

This past weekend, Pendleton and I traveled around D.C. by methods of public transportation in order to interview some of the workers in D.C. We took the G2 bus from Georgetown University to DuPont Circle in order to interview the bus driver. We then went to the DuPont metro station in order to interview one of the worker’s there and got her take on the metro system and the nature of the riders on the metro. Next, we ventured to a bus stop where there is a bus that travels from D.C. to NYC daily and spoke with the bus driver, who gave us great insight on the amount of people who take this low cost method of travel to another major city in the U.S. Finally, we took a cab back to campus in order to speak with a cab driver about his experiences in order to compare it to that of an Uber driver’s. Finally, when we returned to campus we went to the BikeShare stand and decided to call the company on the phone in order to get their take on the usage of bikes as a method of transportation in D.C. and how the company interacts with its customers. Some of the things we observed during this outing was the disparities and lack of interaction amongst people who utilize public transportation and the willingness of the workers to comment on their experiences and thoughts on the public transportation, generally all of which were pleasant, yet they all had a sense of tension and frusteration towards the system.

Check our Instagram for the pictures and the interviews from our exploration!

Exploration 4: Glover Park

This Sunday I took a walk into Glover Park to explore. While Glover Park is considered one of the newer residential areas for young adults, it is also an area full of thriving restaurants and businesses. Living in Glover Park can be expensive and the apartments and townhouses are generally occupied by a family or a group of young adults. This area has recently been revitalized after being stripped of a prostitute ring operating out of a store and the installation of small chains such as Chipotle and Jimmy Johns, as well as a large Whole Foods, a baseball field, and Guy Mason public school. There is definitely a concentration of white people in Glover Park, but one can easily find a large grouping of Spanish men and women outside of the Consulate- General of El Salvador each morning searching for work. The disparity amongst the Spanish population and white population in Glover Park can be startling when you walk past the Consulate and it made me think of Jacob Riis’ How the Other Half Lives and the division amongst the white population and “the other half.” This economic and racial disparity is something that is not new to D.C. and is easily observable throughout differing parts of the city, especially in the newly gentrified areas such as Shaw. Here are a few pictures from Glover Park:

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Exploration 3: Dupont Circle to Logan Circle 

This past weekend, I went on a walk with members of my class and my professor from Logan Circle to Dupont Circle. We followed the route that the protagonist, Mr. Stephanos, of Dinaw Mengestu’s book The Beautiful Things that Heaven Bears walks at one point and stopped at each block along the way in order to read passages from the book while comparing them to the block or corner where he speaks about in the book. This book takes place years ago, so there were obvious changes in the neighborhoods, yet some things remained the same, including the Chinese restaurant Yum’s on the corner of P and 14th street.

We started at Logan Circle, which in the book was a neighborhood recently facing an immense number of evictions because of elevated rent due to the gentrification that was starting to take effect on the neighborhood. The houses then were mostly crumbling and boarded up, yet today most of the houses are recently renovated and much more modern looking, while still maintaining the classic style of the brick townhouse common to D.C. from the past. I noticed while walking around Logan Circle that most people sitting around the now very scuffed up General Logan statue were younger and typically sitting alone or with their family reading or enjoying the weather. The statue although the center piece of the circle did not seem to be the object of people’s trip to the circle. I think most people wanted to find a nice place outside close to home to enjoy the fall weather, which Mr. Stephanos frequently did as well. Logan Circle I also noticed was very residential, something that seemed typical of the novel.

We walked the blocks from Logan Circle to Dupont Circle enjoying the new housing and the busier corners such as 14th/15th and P. Lots of people were outside walking around or sitting outside at restaurants. I definitely noticed that a lot of the housing was recently built or renovated and the organic grocery stores the protagonist describes as being built, but there were definitely still dilapidated playgrounds, houses, and graffiti that reminded me of the population and neighborhood that Mr. Stephanos describes pre-gentrification.

We finally made our way to Dupont Circle, a very lively and commercial area of D.C., which was full of people, noise, and activity. I noticed that the benches around the fountain in Dupont Circle were all attached and that people were connecting and interacting more as opposed to the singular benches in Logan Circle that acted as a dividing force amongst all of the people. The circle was physically full of cars and the surrounding areas were definitely a result of gentrification. New businesses, buildings, housing etc. can all be found in Dupont Circle, yet some elements such as the metro station and the bank have been there for years.

These two neighborhoods are prime examples of gentrification in the city. Logan Circle definitely has not experienced the revival of energy that Dupont Circle has as a result of the influx of a new population, which makes Dupont Circle a more desirable and exciting place to be in my mind. I would highly suggest walking down P street between these two neighborhoods in order to experience the changes in these neighborhoods.

Check out my Instagram about the walk for suggestions about things to do in these areas:

Also, here are some pictures from the walk: https://instagram.com/p/9UsPjTrsWK/?taken-by=our_dc

Logan Circle:

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14th and P (featuring Yum’s restaurant, a noted place in the novel):

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Whole Foods (presumably one of the organic grocery stores on P street Mr. Stephanos speaks about being built):

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16th and P (the corner where Mr. Stephanos says he can see the White House, which you can see if you look closely):

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Dupont Circle:

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Exploration 2: Chinatown 

Chinatown in my opinion tends to be overlooked, but is home to a bustling new area of restaurants, shops, and lots of foot traffic. Living in D.C. my whole life, it was not until recently when Chinatown came onto my radar, so my family and I decided to take a trip there last weekend and truly explore over our fall break. We walked for blocks up and down the streets poking our heads into small Chinese restaurants, reading menus posted outside restaurants, looking in store windows, and ended the evening by attending the Capitals season opener game at the iconic Verizon Center. We ate at one of the new hot spots right by the Verizon Center called Graffiato and shared small plates of pizza, pasta, and delicious cheeses. Chinatown is full of culture and is home to some interesting places like the Spy Museum, Metro Center (a central metro stop), and is right around the corner from another area called Penn Quarter, which is also full of amazing restaurants.

Activity Suggestion: a sporting event such as a Capitals Game at the Verizon Center (upper level tickets are usually inexpensive) or the Spy Museum

Restaurant Suggestion: Matchbox (best sliders and pizza) or Ping Pong Dim Sum (small Chinese tapas)

Here are some photos I took (one of which is my dad being interviewed by a local radio station):

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*Speaking of D.C. sporting events, I also highly suggest attending a Nationals Game down by the Navy Yard in the spring time down at the new Nationals Park stadium, which is right along the bend of the Anacostia River. There are stunning views and the new stadium is full of energy during the baseball games while also being a quintessentially American activity that is extremely fun to attend with friends!

Exploration 1: Adventures in the Suburbs of D.C. 

Over the past weekend, I was out an about around D.C. exploring some of my favorite spots, but especially two places in particular: Old Town in Alexandria,Virginia and the Billy Goat Trail along the Potomac River. Although these two places are not in the city of D.C., these two extremely different places have become a hub of lively energy on the weekends and great places to go with the influx of new fall weather. Old Town is right over the bridge in Virginia and has become known for its boutiques, restaurants, and brick townhouses, making it seem like a cozy, little town despite being right outside of the big city. It is a great place to explore on the weekends and has become the new home to many people in their twenties.

Old Town activity suggestion: rent a bike and explore King Street

Food Suggestion: Sugar Shack Donuts or Virtue

Shopping Suggestion: 3 Sisters (reasonably priced and perfect clothing for young women)

Here are some photos I took:

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My second adventure this past weekend was to the Billy Goat Trail off MacArthur Boulevard. A quick 15 minutes away, the Billy Goat Trail is the perfect ways to get outside and explore while also discovering the natural beauty that lies around D.C. Having hiked the trail this past weekend with some friends, I loved seeing that the trail was packed with people hiking, kayaking, or just laying on the rocks basking in the sunlight. This hiking trail has become an amazingly trendy weekend outing for people in the area and I highly suggest it- it’s amazing.

Here are some photos I took:

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Check out this Washington Post Article about the Billy Goat Trail (link also in Instagram post): http://www.washingtonian.com/blogs/getaways/great-walks/billy-goat-trail.php

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