Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Whoa: check out a fascinating circa-1990s website about Columbia Heights


There's a time capsule of our neighborhood from the late 1990s out there: http://innercity.org/columbiaheights/ . The site, begun in roughly 1995 and mostly dormant since 2001, is a pretty fun nugget of history, both of Columbia Heights in that time and of late 1990s web design, a la Geocities and Angelfire. There are animated gifs, repeating colorful backgrounds graphics, frames and long lists.

But at the same time, the site really thorough and has a ton of information. The site has a business directory with a lot of long-gone establishments, which actually makes it seem like a really bustling area of small businesses: beauty salons, Christian bookstores, restaurants like Mr. Custard and the Waffle Shop (a former local diner chain, which also had a location across from Ford's Theater), even a Woolworth's variety store at 3200 14th St NW. The directory still lists Nob Hill, which was the oldest gay bar in the city when it closed. It was later replaced by Wonderland. It's interesting to see some of the places that are still around, like the Rib Pit at 14th and Quincy and Arthur's Grocery on 11th across from Room 11. There are a few new businesses in there too, so it's being maintained a little bit.

There's also an interesting history section that talks about the early days of the area (and they also agree with how I see the boundaries of the neighborhood), some audio interviews with local residents from 1999, news articles from 1995-2001 (I like this 1996 one about the construction of the Columbia Heights Metro, which also quotes legendarily terrible future ANC commish Lenwood Johnson), an interact page with surveys and such (unfortunately the other late 90s staple, the guestbook, isn't working.)

It's really a fun page to browse, there's so much content. The webmaster, named David McIntire, has clearly spent a lot of time on it, and with the design and the content it's really a trip back in time to before Columbia Heights became the big, busy commercial center it is now. I tried to email McIntire to ask about the site, but got a bounceback.

I first found the page on the Columbia Heights Yahoo Discussion Board, where I noticed the link listed as the "group website".

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dave was a stalwart in the neighborhood and was involved with many of the projects that led to the current Columbia Heights scene, including Save the Tivoli and first CH farmers market. He passed away in the summer of 2011. His innercity website was the first well organized web communication service for the area and was a work of passion and love for Dave. He is missed by those of us who've been here through the redevelopment of CH.

saf said...

But Elizabeth is still around.

Andrew W said...

Thanks for those updates, and sorry to hear that.