Greater Greater Washington

History


Riotous Then and Now: Seventh and N

1968 riot aftermath, 7th and N Streets7th and N streets (2010)
Historic image (left) from Library of Congress. Photo by Warren K. Leffler.

The early part of this month marked the 42nd anniversary of the 1968 riots here in the city. As such, I think its only fitting to close the month out with an image taken on April 8, 1968, showing the aftermath of a section of Seventh Street. Many areas that were hard hit resulted in large tracts of empty land. Some of these tracts later became housing developments such as the southwest corner of Seventh and N Streets, NW.

Kent Boese posts items of historic interest primarily within the District. He's worked in libraries since 1994, both federal and law, and currently works on K Street. He lives in the Park View neighborhood, and is the force behind the blog Washington Kaleidoscope

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How'd you determine the location of the photo on the left? I ask because we have a copy of it hanging in Capital City Diner, but haven't been able to figure out the exact location (the caption from LOC didn't provide much insight).

Many thanks,

Matt
Capital City Diner

by Matt Ashburn on Apr 30, 2010 4:46 pm • linkreport

When you go to the LOC site and download the TIFF, you can read the street sign in the background which is N. I recall I may have cross referenced it with a similar image at the Historical Society of Washington, DC, to verify it was on 7th and the direction of the view.

by Kent on Apr 30, 2010 4:59 pm • linkreport

Scary image.

I think many of us worry about our current politics - all the primal screaming and general obnoxiousness - and think that we are in some unusually bad time for this country. Yeah, we've got troubles, but compared to the late 60s, early 70s, the early 30s, and other time were real tough - probably a lot worse.

Thanks for posting something to make us think

by DavidDuck on Apr 30, 2010 5:55 pm • linkreport

I think it says something that they replaced a commercial street with housing that specificially doesn't have any commercial relationship with the street at all. Black and sterile - but must have looked really rational on some '70s planners map. I grew up in NYC in neighborhoods were there was always commerical space at the street level of apt buildings - I can't imagine having to walk countless blocks in search of commercial needs. I'd never really paid much attention to the pre-riot 7th st before - but what they replaced it with is tragic.

by andy on Apr 30, 2010 6:36 pm • linkreport

To further answer the initial question, here is the other image I used to determine location (and its in color) http://www.historydc.org/Do_Research/research.asp?ID=158048&IMAGE_NUMBER=ALL

It is listed as being on the east [sic] side of the 1300 block of Seventh, view to the southwest.

by Kent on Apr 30, 2010 6:48 pm • linkreport

I think it says something that they replaced a commercial street with housing that specificially doesn't have any commercial relationship with the street at all. Black and sterile - but must have looked really rational on some '70s planners map. I grew up in NYC in neighborhoods were there was always commerical space at the street level of apt buildings - I can't imagine having to walk countless blocks in search of commercial needs. I'd never really paid much attention to the pre-riot 7th st before - but what they replaced it with is tragic.

When the prior commercial tenants had their businesses destroyed by their customers, what businesses would have any interest in locating there? It's no wonder no one but the government housing authorities had any interest in that wasteland. And just who is this conspiratorial "they" you speak of?

by Ferdinand Bardamu on Apr 30, 2010 9:29 pm • linkreport

LOC link is broken -- has an extra "/" at the end.

by Scott F on Apr 30, 2010 11:32 pm • linkreport

I never understood the logic behind setting fire to your own neighborhood. I would suck and being a rioter.

by Fritz on May 1, 2010 8:28 am • linkreport

Fritz, probably the reason you set fire to your own neighborhood is because most of the businesses are not owned by residents living in the neighborhood and because it's a heck of a lot of easier for spontaneous moments of rage to happen right where people are. Could you imagine the logistical nightmare of trucking thousands of young, angry mobs of people out to McLean or Bethesda or even Chevy Chase to strike out at "the man" there in his spread out shopping malls and expansive housing developments (and could you imagine the extensively brutal police/military response to something like THAT?). Besides, this was the rioters' known environment and the built up rage that sparked the late 1960's riots was rooted in the poverty, atrocious living conditions and lack of opportunity where the rioters lived.

by Mike on May 1, 2010 9:06 am • linkreport

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