Archive for the ‘Random Observations’ category

BP Station at Georgia and Park Road Replacing Underground Tanks

August 1, 2016

If you have passed the BP gas station on the corner of Georgia Avenue and Park Road recently, you’ll have noticed that bays are fenced off and there has been some excavation at the site. In reviewing permit applications, I confirmed that the gas station is replacing its underground storage tanks.



While many corner properties on Georgia Avenue have been used as gas stations over the years, this corner is the oldest. The first gas station on this site was a Lord Baltimore Filling Station which opened in 1927. The drawing below shows what the station looked like at that time.

Lord Baltimore Filling Stations Georgia and Park

New Fencing Surrounds ‘The Heights’ Outdoor Patio

July 11, 2016

Over the past few weeks, I noticed that The Heights restaurant (located at 14th Street and Kenyon) has fenced in their outdoor seating area. I guess the low wall and shrubbery weren’t creating enough of a barrier between the diners and those who sit on the wall.





The Tiber Creek Seeps Are Active If You Want to See Them

June 15, 2016

I’ve posted about Tiber Creek before, and how a few of the seeps that are located just inside the Soldiers’ Home’s fence along the Rock Creek Church Road are still visible if you know what you are looking for. Right now they are active and you can see the water draining into the brick gutter that was created years ago to drain the water down towards the pond near the old Park Road gate to the southwest.

Below are two short videos showing two of the three active seeps.

1930 Photo of Soldiers’ Home Dairy Captures Use of Milking Machine

April 22, 2016

While milking machines have been in common use since the 1920s (with the first practical milking machine developed in the 1890s), I’m guessing that its introduction at the old Soldiers’ Home Dairy might have occurred around 1930 based on the photo below.

Mechanical milking

The  photo was taken at the Soldiers’ Home Dairy on November 20, 1930. The caption states: “Adolph Schneider, dairyman at the United States Soldiers’ Home Dairy, does his daily crossword puzzle while the mechanical maid milks old Bossy. The cow is one of the herd said to be the best Holstein herd in the Country.”

Recent Street Art Features Clinton and Trump

April 14, 2016

I saw several examples of this street art, featuring Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump ala The Shining, pasted around Columbia Heights last weekend. They’ve been posted in other areas of town as well. Its been a while since I’ve seen any good street art so I appreciated coming across this.


Is There a Practical Way to Encourage More Businesses to Shovel Sidewalks During Snow Events?

February 17, 2016

(Example of unshoveled sidewalk at H&Pizza during the January blizzard (from Twitter))

Shoveling sidewalks continued to be an issue during the Presidents Day Holiday snow and ice event, reminding me that not everyone took the time to shovel their walkways. While it can be difficult at times to clear snow from sidewalks immediately after a snow event — and the two feet we received in January was a major challenge — most residents and many businesses did an overall good job of clearing the sidewalks.

One question that I’ve been asked a couple of times is: “What about businesses that are open for business but don’t shovel their walks, shouldn’t they be held to a higher standard?” While I’m not sure if there is a practical way to address this issue, I do personally feel that if a business has enough staff on site to open, they definitely should be able to shovel their sidewalks. Currently those who do not shovel their sidewalks risk being fined (seniors and those with disabilities can register for an exemption), but I’m unaware of anyone actually receiving a fine. This is not surprising as the city’s primary focus will always be clearing the streets to maintain public safety and restore normal transportation operations.

If the District actually had the people necessary to issue fines for unshoveled sidewalks, fines for unshoveled walkways at businesses open and operating could be doubled as an incentive … but then again, fines aren’t always the right way to go. Perhaps a better way to go would be to focus on getting the Georgia Avenue Main Streets up and running. A Main Streets could take on the responsibility of coordinating the clearing of Georgia Avenue’s sidewalks during bad weather.

Hopefully we’ve seen the end of snowy weather for the season and we can find a solution prior to the next season.

Wishing Everyone a Prosperous, Happy 2016 — Some Priorities for the New Year

January 4, 2016

With the start of a new year, its a time to both reflect on the past and prepare for the future. In doing so, I feel focused on where my energies will be concentrated over the coming year — and that is with Quality of Life issues. To me, everyone deserves to live in a safe, prosperous, and beautiful community. What that means may be slightly different from community to community, but overall I think there are more threads in common than those that differ.

Public Safety: While I don’t write much about public safety, it is actually among my top concerns. There are many ways to achieve safe communities, and while much of my most public work is intended to do this (in part) in the long run, the work I do behind the scenes often has more of an impact in the here and now. Safe communities are created and maintained by engaged residents. Knowing and building relationships with the police officers in our area, attending Police Service Area meetings when they are scheduled, and keeping MPD informed are critical. There have been many occasions when I’ve had to reach out to both MPD and DCRA based on information that has come to me so that vacant properties could be secured to prevent illegal activity. I will continue to do this in the new year.

Trees: Park View actually has a large tree desert in the center of the neighborhood. I’ve been working on solving this problem for a long time. Aside from restoring the tree canopy and beautifying the community, trees also make blocks more enjoyable to walk in the summer — and blocks with a lot of activity also tend to be safer as there are more eyes on the street. On December 4th, I joined Casey Trees on a walk through of much of the neighborhood. Beginning this month, I’ll be reengaging with Casey Trees to develop a strategy to tree-up the community. Stay tuned for more posts about this as we solidify a strategy.

DDOT, Parking, Bike Lanes: DDOT is in the final stages of their East-West traffic study (expect public engagement meetings in the coming months). The primary routes through the neighborhood in the study area are Harvard Street, Columbia Road, Irving Street, and Kenyon Street … and north/south roads that feed into them. I’ve already begun a dialogue with DDOT regarding some of the longstanding problems we have with traffic in Park View, including the need to address speeding on Park Place and ideas for improved and dedicated bike lanes. I also plan to dig deeper in the parking issues related to the Georgia Ave. Metro station.

Working drawing showing restoration of Park View field house.

Working drawing showing restoration of Park View field house.

Park View Rec Center: Continuing improvements of the Park View Rec Center is high on my list right now. Thus far, we’ve improve the fields and have just completed the restoration of the field house 2 1/2 years after I successfully advocated for funding. I believe there are still opportunities for improvement at the center and have begun those conversations. Figuring out long-term programming of the rec center is important, especially as the neighborhood considers planning and designing new permanent park space in the community.

Redeveloping Park Morton: This is the single most important issue before the community this year. While there are critics of the current efforts to redevelop Park Morton, I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t support the proposal as it is very similar to a plan I first proposed in November 2013 — a position I came to support after several meetings with Landex and an acute understanding of the challenges preventing the project from moving forward at that time.

Redeveloping Park Morton as a mixed income community without displacing current residents improves the quality of life for every resident in the neighborhood. This furthers the city’s commitment to housing affordablity all along the affordability spectrum. Replacing the current Park Morton development with buildings that are more connected to the overall community will improve public safety by eliminating streets and alleys that dead end. Also, the redevelopment has a strong commitment to creating community park space which will enhance and expand the recreation space that currently exists in the neighborhood. For the community to achieve the best results in this effort we need solid, dedicated community engagement.

DCRA/Preservation: Finding a balanced path forward for new development opportunities in a century old neighborhood is important to me — and important to many neighbors I’ve talked with over the years. I do not believe that everything old deserves to be preserved. Nor do I believe that everything old is necessarily disposable or obsolete. The truth of the matter is often somewhere in between. Ideally, new construction would weave into the fabric of the neighborhood and make the neighborhood better. I do believe we have seen some of this … but we have also experienced much that has negatively impacted the community. This is why there must be continued and steadfast engagement with DCRA, and those who have oversight over DCRA, to ensure that new development is correctly permitted, complies with zoning laws and building codes, is safe, and doesn’t damage neighboring property.

There are many, many other important issues beyond the few I’ve listed … and I am just as committed to working on each and every issue as it arises.

With this, I thank you all for your community engagement and wish you all the very best of New Years!


Interesting Sheet Music from 1920 Features U.S. Soldiers’ Home

July 29, 2015

I recently found a nice old piece of sheet music from 1920 for the song The Starry Banner. What was neat about the sheet music is that only two of the pages are needed for the song, with the other pages showing people, buildings and narratives related to the Soldiers’ Home. I’ve scanned a few of the pages below to convey the content.

Starry Banner



New Little Free Library on Park Road

June 25, 2015

A new Little Free Library has recently popped up in front of 453 Park Road. I’m continually fascinated by them and especially love their artistic qualities. In June of 2014 a Little Free Library was added to the community garden at Bruce Monroe Park as well.

Little Free Library

Late 1920s Photo Shows Houses Near Lincoln Memorial

June 5, 2015

Here’s a photo of the Lincoln Memorial from ca. 1928 that I think is interesting. It was taken from the window of an apartment building called The Riverside — which appears that it was located on C Street, possibly where the State Department is today. The view is to the south.

Lincoln Memorial 1938

What I like most about the photo isn’t the subject of the image (which is the monument) but rather the view of 22nd Street. I also like that in the background one can see the early construction on the Arlington Memorial Bridge which helps date this to around 1928 or 1929.

Below is a close up of the houses, monument, and bridge construction. The street in the distance is Constitution Avenue (then B Street) and just to the south of the houses you see a trace of Upper Water Street which no longer exists.

22nd street

While this part of D.C. has been massively reconfigured over the years, the block of 22nd Street, NW, still exists between C Street and Constitution. The eastern side now has the National Academy of Sciences and the land where these houses were now contains the American Pharmacists Association.

The detail from the Baist map below shows this area in 1919, giving an idea of all the roads that have been closed, the buildings that have long since been razed, and how the area has been built up over the years. The houses pictured above are located on the northwest corner of the 22nd and Upper Water streets in the map below.

Upper Water and 22 streets(This 1919 map detail shows a largely undeveloped area around today’s Constitution Avenue and 22nd Street — among the few structures are a mix of houses and industrial buildings.)

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