Posts about Pleasant Plains
Carry out restaurants have been part of the fabric of Washington for decades, prized for their low prices, speed and long hours. With menus that run on for pages and pages, many break norms, serving Chinese food, fried seafood and sandwiches under one roof.
And although development has brought in new restaurants and businesses along the U Street corridor, on 14th Street Northwest, and in Logan Circle, carry outs are holding on. Of the those listed on the popular user review site Yelp, at least 24 carry outs are still operating in Northwest.
"We've been here since 1968. I don't plan to go anywhere," said Henrietta Smith, who owns Henry's Soul Cafe on U Street.
Named for Smith's father, Henry Smith, the restaurant is famous for its stick-to-your-bones comfort food and sweet potato pie, which was profiled by The Washington Post in 2007. "Mr. Henry can't cook, so he had to have other people cook," Smith said. Her brothers own the store's 2 other locations, at the intersection of 4th and K Streets NW and in Oxon Hill, MD.
While she said that the new restaurants are competition for her business, Smith sees the changes on U Street as a good thing. "The neighborhood is more diverse now," Smith said. "You're dealing with all walks of life." She has been able to rely on a steady flow of regulars, who come to 17th and U from all over the DC area for her smothered pork chops, fried chicken and ribs. "You don't forget where home is," she said.
One of those customers is Darren Snell, 47. Snell has been coming to Henry's for 21 years, and said that not much has changed. "The meatloaf still tastes the same today as it did back then," he said.
Smith said that gentrification has made the area more diverse, which bodes well for Henry's prospects going forward. "The regulars are still coming and the newcomers are coming too," he said. "[Henry's] isn't going anywhere."
In Logan Circle, Chong Hu, 58, has no plans to close her business, The Carry Out Deli. Like Smith, Hu said that loyal customers have helped her stay afloat for the last 27 years.
Lily Pilgrim, 84, lives two blocks away from the Deli and stops by 2-3 times per week. "[It's] much better and cheaper than any other restaurant on P Street," she said.
Pilgrim is bullish on the Deli's chances of staying open. "[Hu] has the same customers over the years. They go out of their way to come here. It should be here for a long, long time," she said.
Hu sees both the pros and cons of development. As office buildings on 14th were replaced by condos in the last few years, the lunch crowd has died down dramatically, cutting into her profits. "My business is real slow," Hu said. "Now everyone goes to coffee shop."
But, on the positive side, there are "no more drunk people," Hu said. In the 1980s, "every day I called the police," she said. For her part, Pilgrim, who has lived in the area for 30 years, said that she used to avoid walking down 14th Street because it was too dangerous.
Brendon Miller, public affairs director for the city's department of small and local business development, said that new development does not automatically result in an outward flow of small businesses. "You've got small businesses that come in and you've got small businesses that depart. It's cyclical," he said.
And some small businesses, like Henry's and the Carry Out Deli, have reached "institution status," which helps them stay open in a changing landscape. "The business owners take the time to identify with the folks coming through the door, and to sort of cultivate repeat customers," he said. "It's got to attract people from the neighborhood."
A few carry outs have left the area for various reasons. Yum's, which used to sit at the intersection of 14th and Wallach streets NW, was recently demolished to make way for an upscale apartment building. It will reopen soon in Pleasant Plains, a neighborhood east of Columbia Heights. And the Mid City Deli, which neighbors The Carry Out Deli, closed its doors in June 2012.
City health inspectors have played a role in shutting down some carry outs, at least temporarily. Before becoming a hole in the ground, Yum's was cited for two health hazards and closed for a day. And in April, the Mid City Deli was closed twice for a variety of health hazards.
China Dragon Carry Out, which sits at the intersection of 11th and P Streets NW, was recently closed "for gross unsanitary conditions, operating without a license, [having] an improperly trained manager and failure to minimize insects."
Alicia Davis-Coates, 39, said that she looks for information about health inspection-related closings in the newspaper when deciding where to eat. Her carry out-of-choice is Yum's II on 14th Street. A resident of Fort Totten, Davis-Coates said that Yum's II is worth the drive.
"The food is fresher. You can actually see them make it," she said on a recent Friday night, take out bag in hand. "And they've never been shut down."
Ward 1 is DC's densest, and gentrifying row house neighborhoods make up the majority of the ward. Retail, parking, and transit are all key issues in its numerous commercial corridors, and local ANCs play a big role.
ANC 1B will be losing one of the city's best ANC commissioners, Brianne Nadeau, who turned a commission that faced financial irregularities into a solid neighborhood organization. Plus, she pushed hard to extend the 15th Street bike lane northward into her Meridian Hill Park district of 1B05, one of many great examples of how an ANC can be a very positive force in its community instead of either obstructing or doing nothing.
1B02 covers the east side of 14th Street above and below U. Incumbent Peter Raia has worked very hard for the neighborhood, but has been too obstructionist on business growth in the area. While Aaron Spencer seems like a good candidate, we prefer Tucker Gallagher, who lives car-free and talked about promoting a neighborhood that's lively 18 hours a day.
Incumbent Deborah Thomas has strong respect from her constituents in 1B04, centered around 14th and W. She has worked hard to represent the many residents of her district, including families, seniors, and lower income people, who are able to stay in the community despite the economic pressures toward displacement.
She is a single mother, and gives a voice to groups who are underrepresented in traditional community structures. ANC 1B and the residents of the neighborhood benefit from participation. Her opponent, William Girardo, would probably also make a fine commissioner but has few neighborhood accomplishments on his resume.
We support Brittany Kademian in her challenge to Juan Lopez for 1B07 northeast of Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park. Residents and even the manager of a condo building association in the district say they were unfamiliar with Lopez. His partner also filed a challenge to Kademian's nominating petition.
Meanwhile, Kademian herself wants to raise the accessibility of the ANC in the area, tutors local students, bicycles and supports a bike lane on 14th north of U, wants improved lighting to reduce crime, is passionate about the environment, and more. Plus, she has gotten the greatest number of commenters to vouch for her in our discussion threads.
To the east, RT Akinmboni (1B08) has been a positive influence on the ANC; her opponent, Ahnna Smith, is a Teach for America alum new to the neighborhood who we hope to see get more involved in local advocacy.
We support Lauren McKenzie in the open seat in Pleasant Plains' 1B09; the other candidate, Shahrzad Rastegar, does not seem to have any email address listed or any information online.
Bill Brown, the commissioner of 1A06 east of the Columbia Heights Metro, is excellent, serving on the DC Pedestrian Advisory Council and bringing his strong passion for pedestrian issues as well as his expert grasp of other topics to his role on the staff of presumptive Council Chairman Kwame Brown.
We are very excited that contributor Kent Boese is running (unopposed) in northern Park View's 1A08. In the central Park View 1A09, Sam Moore is challenging incumbent LaKeisha Thomas. While Thomas is not ANC 1A's best most thoughtful commissioner, her experience going to school in and living in the neighborhood is valuable, and she wants what's best for the neighborhood.
Moore seems very promising and supports transit and smart growth, but we're a little nervous about the way he said he'd fight a Starbucks on Georgia Avenue when Georgia needs whatever successful coffee shops it can attract and ANC commissioners need to avoid the temptation to micromanage their commercial corridors too much. We hope Moore stays involved as well.
In Park View's southernmost district, 1A10, Howard student Jonathan Madison deserves the seat over longtime incumbent Lenwood "Lenny" Johnson. Madison has shown a tremendous amount of energy in this race by attending block parties and knocking on doors. Johnson, meanwhile, has often been divisive and is seen as something of a loose cannon. He forwards private disputes to the Columbia Heights listserv and long refused to register a firearm.
We've heard good things about both Jose Sueiro and Olivier Kamanda, vying to succeed Bryan Weaver in the central Adams Morgan district 1C03. Kamanda, a former Hillary Clinton speechwriter and journalist, has Weaver and ally Mindy Moretti's support, while some other 1C Comissioners are behind Sueiro. Sueiro has been a good problem solver in his role as head of the Association of Park Road Businesses, but made some troublesome comments about parking at a Columbia Heights performance parking meeting. Therefore, we give the edge to Kamanda.
In Mount Pleasant, a number of commissioners are not running for reelection. Phil Lepanto, an excellent commissioner who is very supportive of non-automobile options, is sadly not running again, but supports Ben West as a write-in in his district, 1D01. China Terrell, a staffer for Tommy Wells, also will be a promising addition to the commission, replacing outgoing Commissioner Dave Bosserman in 1D05.
Laura Phelan is the only name on the ballot in 1D02, a small district at the northeast corner of the neighborhood. Phelan is well-liked and will make a good commissioner to replace Oliver Tunda, who is also not running again. Phelan faces a write-in from Adam Hoey of Mount Pleasant Main Street, but we think Hoey can best serve the neighborhood by continuing in that role.
In 1D06, along the neighborhood's southeastern edge, John Craig is running as a write-in against incumbent Angelia Scott, who rarely attends meetings and is not often reachable. She served briefly as chair but gave up because it was too much of a time commitment. Craig, who wants to reform the ANC's transparency and work better with business, would do better.
Gregg Edwards (1D04) is an extremely smart person who has a number of very clever ideas to address neighborhood problems. However, sometimes he lets the value of his particular idea interfere with the pragmatic need to build consensus and community. He and fellow Commissioner Jack McKay promoted a great "pedestrian encounter zone" plan for Mount Pleasant Street, but which in practice mostly served to threaten progress on other street improvements for which Mount Pleasant Main Street had already secured grant money.
Edwards also stands up strongly for the proper role of the ANC, which by law deserves "great weight" from city agencies. That is usually interpreted to mean that, at the very least, agencies must respond in writing to points made by the ANC, though often they do not. Edwards is right about the proper role, but his zeal to push this process often again interferes with moving issues forward in the neighborhood, and has often led to tension when other groups take the initiative.
Phil Grenier, who has worked with Mount Pleasant Main Street, would be more pragmatic and we support him. It's too bad this race has gotten framed as businesses versus residents and especially lower income residents, since a thriving business corridor in Mount Pleasant would benefit all residents.
The historic image below dates to January 5, 1921, and shows the aftermath of a motor collision at Columbia Road and Sherman Avenue.
The crash involved Battalion Fire Chief Timothy J. Donohue, who was injured, receiving a cracked jaw, several broken ribs and lacerations on his face, head and body. Donohue was 63 years of age at the time. He rallied and recovered from his injuries.
Donohue officially became Battalion Chief in 1916 after 32 years of service. By November 1, 1921, he had retired from fire duty.
Thanks to additional funding, DC's Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) has added a second basketball court, two tot lots, and more landscaping to the park that will temporarily fill the site of closed Bruce-Monroe Elementary School in Park View. There will also be a small parking lot due to zoning requirements.
Click to enlarge. See also this Site and Utilities Improvement Plan from DMPED.
When a revised design was presented to the community on March 31, 2010, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) only had $500,000 to work with and only truly proposed building a tennis court, basketball court, and installing a security fence around the property.
On May 26, 2010, Councilmember Jim Graham announced that an additional $1.5 Million had been secured for developing the site. At last night's Georgia Avenue Community Task Force meeting, DMPED project manager Andre Byers presented an updated plan that also dates to May 26.
Work on phase one is scheduled to be completed by mid- to late-July. The initial development will not include water or lighted courts. The only lighting that will be in place will be for security purposes.
An area will be reserved for a future urban garden, and the athletic courts have been relocated along Columbia Road to free up the northwest corner of the property for a farmers market. Due to zoning restrictions, only the property along Georgia Avenue can be used commercially. The remainder of the property is zoned R-4 residential.
The second phase will include water and lighting for the entire site. There will be no designated lighting for the athletic courts. Programming and permitting for the second phase will occur while the initial development is underway, and may even begin before the first phase is completed.
Finally, a building of some sort will be located at the center of the property to support educational programs and other community needs. Whether it is a trailer or permanent structure does not appear to be settled at this time. When pressed on how the $2 million was to be used, Byers responded that it was all allocated for construction, development and programming.
The current budget does not have specific line item allocations. Once completed, the site would be operated by the Department of Parks and Recreation, and maintenance costs would need to come from them.
"Old Main" was the first building to be erected for the newly created Howard University. It was designed by Rochester, N.Y., architect Henry R. Searle Jr. in 1867, who also created the master plan for the university grounds.
It was a composite of styles, mainly Gothic and Second Empire. The overall impression was to convey a moralistic message. The structure had thirty-six rooms, including the offices of the president and chief administrators. Two mansard-roofed pavilions were at each end, and the main entrance was located in the center of the facade within a six-story octagonal tower. The tower rose to a height of 185 feet and contained the university bell after 1872.
The auditorium of the old Monroe School ca. 1950 (left) and today (right). The Monroe School was built ca. 1899 and located west of, and on the same property as, the current Bruce-Monroe School. Reflecting Washington's segregated history, the Monroe School was built as a White school. It was changed to a Black school in the mid-1940s and ultimately was desegregated with the rest of the city's schools.
The school was used through the spring of 1973. Starting in the fall of 1973, the Bruce and Monroe Schools were closed and children started attending the new Bruce-Monroe School. Today, that school is in the process of being razed.
Remarkably, the auditorium from the original school still remains.
The historic image is from the Smithsonian Institution's Scurlock Studio collection in the Archives Center, National Museum of American History. More images below.
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