Friday, September 30, 2011

Panera opening moved to Monday at 6 am

Doh. A commenter mentions that a sign at the Panera in DCUSA says the opening will now be 6 am Monday.

Here's their menu. I wonder how their opening will affect the Uptowner?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Columbia Heights Fall Festival is this Saturday

Here's something to do this weekend:
The Columbia Heights Youth Club, Development Corporation of Columbia Heights, The District Church, DC Department of Parks and Recreation, and Columbia Heights Day Initiative invite you to the Columbia Heights Fall Festival on Saturday, October 1st, from 11am-3pm at Girard Street Park (1480 Girard St NW). Bring your family and friends and join us for a fun day of FREE food, face painting, moon bounce, candied apples, snow cones, popcorn, live music, games, and more!

For more information visit -
They have a Facebook page too. Maybe this can be mini-Columbia Heights Day, but hopefully with no hurricane.

More Heritage Trail signs in the neighborhood -- the Georgia Avenue/Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail

Time to learn more about where you live. Kent over at the Park View DC blog reports that the signs for the new Georgia Avenue-Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail are going up. Nice to see this. There's more information on the ECAC website, including the sites and the route Cultural Tourism DC's site. Sylvia Robinson reports that 11 of the 19 signs have been installed.

Great to see this kind of thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pres. Obama delivers speech at Banneker High School: live right now!

 He's back! In what is something like his 10th visit to Columbia Heights, President Obama is addressing students at Banneker High School about education. It's live right now!

Here's more from the Post. I firmly believe that Columbia Heights is the president's favorite neighborhood in DC.

Georgia Avenue Task Force meeting tonight!

Time to learn about what's happening in the neighborhood. Just got this from the GATF folks. Here's their website.
The next meeting of the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force is this Wednesday September 28th at 7pm at the G II Restaurant at 2632 Georgia Avenue (Georgia and Fairmont).  All are welcome.
In Other News:
- The next community meeting of the ANC Redistricting Task Force is tomorrow, Tuesday September 27th at 6:30pm at the Columbia Heights Youth Club, 1480 Girard St. NW.  The Georgia Avenue Task Force has proposed a 5 ANC Ward, with the fifth ANC centered around Georgia Avenue.  Pros and cons of this and other plans will be discussed, and you will have an opportunity to speak up for an ANC for Georgia Avenue. 
- Save the date of October 15th at 11am for the launch of the Georgia Avenue/Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail at Howard University Hospital front lawn.  Postcards are available for distribution.  Contact Sylvia @ (202) 462-2285 or if you can help with flyering.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Design event at The Dunes tonight

Just got this press release, sounds interesting. My place is mostly early 21st-Century Ikea and Craigslist, but hey.
Mid-Century Madness: Exploring DC's Love Affair with Mid-Century Modern 
The Dunes 
1402 Meridian Place NW, Top Floor 
Washington, DC 20010 
Tuesday, September 27th, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM 
Details and RSVP: 
Mid-Century Modern (MCM) is undeniably one of the most popular design styles in the DMV. Is our love of this period justified? Or do we simply lack options? We'll pose these questions and more to our panel of design experts! 
Suzanne McLees, Former Northeast Manager of Design Within Reach and resident of Hollin Hills, an award-winning MCM community 
Michael Shapiro, MCM real estate guru and author of the popular blog Modern Capital
Robert Chapman, Owner of Archer and MCM furniture expert (Formerly of Modernicus)

Has Columbia Heights made it?

Last Tuesday at about 7 pm, I was going to Target and heard a lot of noise up at the Civic Plaza at 14th and Park. I walked up there, curious to see what it was, and it turned out to be a big protest against the execution of Troy Davis with about 50-100 people holding signs and chanting, encouraging cars to honk and passing out flyers.

This really struck me -- it's the first big protest or rally I can remember that I've seen in the neighborhood, and it wasn't about something specific to the neighborhood. The organizers obviously wanted to get as many people to see them as possible, and they could have chosen a spot downtown like Freedom Plaza, the Capitol, near the Supreme Court or any number of other common locations for protests. But they didn't -- they figured there would be so many commuters and residents and shoppers and people just hanging out in Columbia Heights that they'd get the most response in our neighborhood.

I think that says a lot: the neighborhood has grown so much that big public events are now staged here. That's wild. It's almost like we're a downtown now, a major draw for people. There isn't much in the way of 9-5 jobs, like offices, but there are enough stores and restaurants and people that people are just here.

Interesting stuff. I think this is a good thing.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Panera in DCUSA opens on Friday

Panera 3
Sandwich time. Work inside the Panera on the Irving Street side of DCUSA (next to IHOP) has moved really quickly. I stopped by on Saturday and spoke to a worker there who was setting up, and he said they'll be open this Friday. The sign is up too.

Are you looking forward to it? I've never been but I know there are some Panera fans out there.

Here's a couple other shots of the interior.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Thefts through the window: be careful

Something to be on the lookout for: thefts through the window. A friend recently had their iPhone stolen through their window while it was sitting on a table plugged in.

The window was open but had bars, and the crook punched through the screen and fished the phone out by the cord. This is new to me: something to be mindful of if you have anything normally near windows -- either make sure it's not visible or put it somewhere where crooks can't reach it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ANC commissioner Lenwood Johnson: worst listserve user ever?

Neighborhood listserves can be interesting places. You can learn a lot and often get into silly arguments. However, ANC 1A10 commissioner Lenwood Johnson is taking it to new lows, including calling other commissioners "low-lifes" and constituents "bitchasses," all while CCing lots of listerves for some reason. Maybe he thinks CCing everyone will get him more support. In fact, it seems to be having the opposite effect.

Here's the recap: at a recent ANC meeting the folks from Room 11 were talking about expansion (more on that later). They hoped for a vote, but one didn't take place. Owner Paul Ruppert emailed commissioners William Brown and Kent Boese to ask about it, and Boese responded to Ruppert and the other ANC commissioners:
Mr. Ruppert,
I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. I've been trying to track down various commissioners on this but have not been successful.
Here is what I know.

1) While we were able to add the amendment of your VA to the agenda of the last ANC meeting, but the time we got to that item Commissioner Lenwood Johnson had left the meeting reducing the number of commissioners present to five. We need at least six for a quorum. Because of this, we were not able to take a vote.

2) I have not seen the amended VA, nor am I familiar with the wording of the change. During this period I trust you, Commissioner

Sheldon Scott, and Commissioner Bill Brown can get together to make the necessary changes and have everything wrapped up as quickly as possible.
I appreciate your position and regret the hassle.

Regards, Kent
Lenwood Johnson of ANC 1A10 then replied to all and CCed the Columbia Heights listserve (which wasn't on the previous emails) with this gem:
Commissioner Boese,

You're a lowlife! I was under no obligation to stay until the very end of the meeting. Other commissioners left before the meeting's end; why couldn't I?

--Lenwood Johnson, ANC 1A10
Nice. After that, a number of other people responded aghast: "Wow.  This is how our elected officials communicate with one another in a public forum?" and so on.

Another person emailed Johnson directly with:
I'm not sure which is more embarassing to me as a resident of the District: that our tax dollars are controlled by someone as petty and ridiculous as you, or that you're too inept to use email without broadcasting to an entire list-serve.
To which Johnson replied, again CCing the Columbia Heights listserve AND the Ward One listserve:
If I were you, I wouldn't be embarrassed. If you need something to be embarrassed about, be embarrassed by your own bitchassness, which you have demonstrated in your email. Selah.
Okay. Then there was this response on the listserve:
Good morning,

"Bitchassness" is indeed quite embarrassing, Mr. Johnson. Thank you for bringing that to our attention with such eloquence.

On an unrelated note (not really)... how does one go about recalling a member of the ANC? Seems like now might be a good time to review that process. I wonder if Mr. Johnson has any information on this that he would like to share with his under served constituents?

Mike Henry
The recall process is detailed here: basically you need to get signatures of 10% of his ANC SMD. That shouldn't be too difficult. It also can't be filed within the first or last 6 months days of the commissioner's term. I'll help whoever starts the effort.

If you recall, CCing listserves with whiny complaints and petty insults is common operating procedure for Johnson, who has done it at least twice before over similarly petty matters. It's my belief that ANC commissioner Cliff Valenti resigned rather than have to deal with his shenanigans (though there may be other issues too.) Johnson was the only ANC commissioner I explicitly suggested you vote against in the last elections, too. Plus last year he claimed to have an unregistered firearm in his house.

Not exactly a paragon of good government here.

Cool history website: What Was There

Time for some history. The new Atlantic Cities website recently linked to a neat project called What Was There, which lets you overlay old photos onto Google Streetview and then fade back and forth and see the changes (or similarities).

There was only this one photo in our neighborhood, of an old People's Drug Store at 14th and Park, which today is where the DCUSA Vitamin Shoppe is, so I added about 6 more from previous history posts -- places like the Henderson Castle, York Theater, the old car dealerships where the Best Buy facade is now, and a few others.

Add your own! Or just browse, it's super interesting. I got most of mine from and the Library of Congress's American Memory a few other places.

UPDATE: Here's a more striking example from the Best Buy facade. There used to be used car dealerships, the Ding How Chinese restaurant, and an Esso station. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Very little progress on Z-Burger in the Tivoli Building

Z-Burger, the local burger chain that's coming to the Tivoli Building's old Nori space, looks like they are pretty far away from opening. Despite signs outside that say Summer 2011, the inside appears to have not changed in months. Doh.

I've reached out to them and their press people but no response so far. We'll see.

This space seems to be cursed or something -- Mayorga coffee didn't work out, they tried adding Korean food, that didn't work, then Nori, the sushi and Asian place, didn't work, and now Z-Burger is having issues. I wonder if the rent is too high or something.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hang out with Dave Eggers to benefit 826DC this Friday

It's time for a Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Philanthropy. Author Dave Eggers, who founded the 826 organization, will be at a fundraiser for 826DC this Friday. The event is at the Dunes gallery at 14th and Meridian, upstairs from The Getaway. The event is only $20. Here's where you can purchase tickets, and below is more info. There's also music from a member of Bluebrain and beer from Lagunitas Brewery.

If you aren't familiar with 826DC, it's a non-profit that tutors kids in reading and writing, and also runs the cool Museum of Unnatural History to help fund their activities. You can get involved too.

Eggers founded it and there are branches around the country. Here's a post I wrote when the Museum first opened.

KGB graffiti crew members arrested

Awesome graffiti
Looks like we may be seeing fewer graffiti tags around the neighborhood. DCist and the Washington Post report that MPD and the US Marshalls have arrested members of the KGB graffiti crew, which stands for Krazy Graf Brothers. Taggers arrested include Che, Aera KAE, Huf, Gator and G8R. I've seen tons of Che tags around; in fact today I walked past a garage that had Che written on it maybe 20 times.

As readers of this blog may know, I like some kinds of graffiti: funny stuff at Wonderland, the big, impressive murals that people have commissioned or that are on abandoned buildings or temporary construction like those wood planks lining construction sites.

But they stuff I do not like are the tags: gang tags like LC and CTU and these graffiti taggers' names. Basically they just write their names over and over everywhere. I don't really the see the point: great, there's that guy's name all over everything. Ok? Maybe this person is actually talented but I wouldn't know, because it's just a name.

If you see graffiti, you can report it by calling 311 or using the city's 311 website.

Monday, September 19, 2011

ANC redistricting to come? Meetings coming up

With the changes in populations around the district, there may be some redistricting of our Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, those elected bodies that advise the city council on local matters and also de facto control liquor licenses in their areas. Right now there are 4 ANCs, 1A-1D, with each having a number of single member districts (SMDs) which usually cover a few blocks. Your ANC SMD is on your voter registration card. The SMDs from each ANC come together and meet and discuss local issues.

There's a few proposals out there, from shifting around current boundaries to adding a fifth ANC, which would be 1E. I kind of like the 1E idea, which would cover the Georgia Avenue area.

Here's a website with more info and the various before and after maps, and there are meetings on the 22nd and 27th about the issue:
As part of the ANC Redistricting process, the Georgia Avenue Community Development Task Force is advocating for a new ANC 1E along the Lower Georgia Avenue corridor.  The proposed new ANC incorporates what is currently 1A08, 1A09, 1A10, 1B09, 1B10, 1B11 and 1B01.  The ANC 1E map that was approved by the Task Force is at and was sent to the Redistricting Committee in August. 
The 2nd Ward 1 ANC Redistricting public meeting was held last Tuesday.  A comprehensive set of notes written by Commissioner Brianne Nadeau are at   At this meeting, the Chair of the Committee, Alan Roth, proposed an unacceptable version of ANC 1E that had different boundaries and left out the southern end - LeDroit Park, including parts of Howard University.  You can see the maps that were presented at  It includes both a four and a five ANC Ward. 

The ANC Redistricting Committee is open to community feedback on these maps.  There are two meetings coming up:
Thursday September 22nd at 6:30 pm at the Columbia Heights Youth Club, 1480 Girard Street, NW
Tuesday September 27th at 6:30 at the Columbia Heights Youth Club, 1480 Girard Street, NW
The committee wants to hear from the public at these meetings so please try and attend at least one of them.  This process only happens once every 10 years and will be wrapped up by October 3rd so make sure the voice of Georgia Avenue is heard!

Dentist's office finally open on 14th near Dunkin

It only took a year, but the dentist's office finally opened in the Lofts of Columbia Heights building on 14th between Fairmont and Girard. I first reported on it in September 2010, and there's still supposed to be an urgent care clininc coming in (according to the sign.) That's been sitting vacant for about the same amount of time.

I guess it's good something is in, and dentist's offices are useful, though not much fun. Let's hope nobody gets a bunch of donuts as soon as they leave the office.

View Larger Map

Friday, September 16, 2011

New art market opening on Saturday, running til October 8

Art time -- a group called the Difusion Collective at the Latin American Youth Center's Centro de Arte are  hosting a new art market at the LAYC, 3035 15th Street NW, running every Saturday starting tomorrow, until October 8. Check out the flyer below. Great to see all these new arts events happening around here.

Flash sale at Past Tense Yoga

If you're into yoga, it's deal time: check them out.
The leisure suit. Pay phones. The mullet.
It's good to see some things go. But here's one you won't want to miss. Introducing the Past Tense Flash Sale. Get $5 off all workshops purchased this Friday (9/16) only by using the promo code Flash5 at checkout.

Upcoming Workshops
*Sept. 17: Yoga for Back Health 
*Sept. 24: The Chakras - Get Grounded
*Sept. 25: Yoga & Kayaking
*Sept. 25: Yoga & A Hike
*Oct. 1: Preparing for a Future Yogini
*Oct. 2: Yoga for Runners
*Oct. 20: Mastering Arm Balance
*Nov. 12: Healing the Heart Through Yoga
Unlimited purchase * Online sales only

Past Tense
3253 Mt. Pleasant. St. NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20010

National Symphony Orchestra in the neighborhood: want them to visit your group, school or venue?

So this is pretty cool: the National Symphony Orchestra is launching their NSO In Your Neighborhood program, starting with Columbia Heights. They'll basically be in residence in the neighborhood from January 3-8, 2012, and they need your help to give them ideas and requests of what they should do. They're taking requests for activities from groups (community organizations, schools, arts groups, etc) and places like venues or businesses, and the deadline is Sept. 23. Here's the press release. Sounds like an awesome opportunity for all kinds of shows, educational activities, and more.

NSO in Your Neighborhood: Columbia Heights
Call for Activity Requests

The National Symphony Orchestra will collaborate with community organizations to present a number of performances and educational activities in Columbia Heights January 3-8, 2012.  The NSO is accepting requests for activities from organizations and venues in and around Columbia Heights.  The deadline for submissions is Friday, September 23.  

For more information and to submit a request, visit or email Warren Williams at  Please spread the word!

Programs Offered:
  • Chamber Music Performances: Small groups of NSO musicians perform classical music for adults and/or family audiences.
  • Night Clubs: Classical music can be enjoyed everywhere. NSO musicians perform in relaxed night clubs or other small venues for intimate musical experiences.
  • "In-School" Ensembles: A small group of musicians perform and demonstrate their instruments for a school program. Best for grades 1-8.
  • Community Service Performances: NSO musicians perform at various community venues (churches, businesses, etc.).
  • Conducting: NSO conductors or musicians work with and conduct college or high school small ensembles, orchestras, or bands.
  • Sectionals/Coachings: Musicians work with a group of students who play the same instrument on current repertoire (e.g. the NSO clarinetist would work with the clarinet section of your ensemble).
  • Clinics: NSO members coach groups on musical topics (intonations, reed making, etc.).
  • Master Classes: Individual students perform for an NSO musician who then critiques the performance and offers constructive advice for an audience of other students and teachers.
  • Pre-Concert Events: NSO members hold lectures and panel discussions before NSO concerts for audience members.
  • Method Workshops: Popular workshops include Suzuki string classes or Alexander Technique.
  • Artistic Exchanges: Explore the diverse forms of music native to your cultural heritage and how it has influenced classical music (Native American drumming, Mariachi bands, etc.).
  • Music Appreciation Classes: NSO members introduce students to classical music in fun and interactive classes.
  • Instrument "Petting Zoos": Children get a hands-on experience with the various orchestral instruments.
  • Speakers Bureau: NSO members and staff speak at public events, at board meetings, with music teachers and principals, or at other special gatherings.
  • Arts Professionals Round Table: NSO staff members meet with other arts professionals to discuss topics of mutual interests and to share ideas.
  • Create Your Own: Have something else in mind? Come up with an idea or event and let us know! We will work to develop a program that suits your needs

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Black Eyed Susie hosting clothing swap on Sunday

Sounds like a good time to get some new duds or get rid of old ones: vintage shop Black Eyed Susie, at 3443 14th Street NW, is hosting a clothing swap this Sunday, September 18. See the flyer for more (click it for a bigger version.)

Back when Columbia Heights had a professional basketball team: go Palace Five Laundrymen!!!

Columbia Heights: pro sports venue. Our neighborhood used to be the home of pro basketball team called the Palace Five Laundrymen. Not the most fear-inspiring nickname, but we'll get to that.

I posted awhile ago about some cool old maps, and made a reference to the team, but I've learned a lot more recently. The team played in the American Basketball League from 1925 to 1927 and was called Palace Five because it was sponsored by Palace Laundry, which used to have a lot of locations in the area -- hence the nickname Laundrymen. One of the laundry's locations became the Adams Mill Bar (RIP) while another may have been at 14th and Harvard, if the reflection in the glass in this photo is the Urban League building.

Interestingly, Palace Laundry was owned by George Preston Marshall, the first owner of the Redskins. The team folded and/or was sold, becoming the Brooklyn Visitations. Maybe the the Laundrymen whetted Marshall's appetite for more successful pro teams? If so, Redskins fans should thank our local team. The Palace 5ive skate shop at 14th and Florida named itself after the team too.

The team played at the Arcade, a huge "amusement palace" on 14th between Irving and Park, where DCUSA is now. The place was crazy, with a 4,000 seat arena, skating rink, movie theater, 19 bowling lanes, dancing, 15 billiards tables, a soda fountain, wrestling matches, even a roller hockey team. I would go there in a second if this place still existed. Imagine if this place came back to DCUSA.

It started out as a car barn (where trolley cars go) and garage, and later added a market, then the huge arcade/movie/arena/etc. You can read a bit more about it here, and it's also mentioned on the Columbia Heights Heritage Trail. I plan to write a post about the place soon, and PoP wrote a brief one awhile ago. The building became the amusement hall in 1910 and was demolished in 1948.

So, back to hoops. I found these great shots of players on and the Library of Congress's website. The team finished 2nd and 3rd in their seasons, and in the first game they beat the Brooklyn Five 18-17. The knee pads are interesting. And I want a t-shirt of one of those logos -- anybody out there make shirts?
Funky Charleston with the ladies at the Arcade
Grody or Gerody, the team's center. Also in the top photo.
James Lemon of Central High's basketball team at the Arcade (I believe). Central became Cardozo High and Lemon later owned the Washington Senators baseball team. He sold them to Bob Short, who moved to team to Texas, where they became the Rangers.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Guy rides his bike with snakes around his neck. You know, no big deal.

One of the things I like most about Columbia Heights is that you always see random, interesting stuff. For example, this weekend I was walking at 13th and Irving when a guy rode his bike past me on the sidewalk. He had a live snake around his neck. It was pretty funny watching him ride down, as everybody who passed him would do a double take, some folks smiling and others looking scared or disgusted.

Personally I think this is pretty awesome. Clearly the snakes aren't dangerous, and he wasn't riding dangerously or anything. I tweeted about it and got a couple of responses -- a bunch of other people saw him, one person saw a guy on 14th with snakes on his arms a few months ago, and Miss Caterina actually stopped to talk to him: the snakes (there were actually two) are named Pebbles and Bam Bam, from the Flintstones, which is pretty funny, and he said they like bike rides. Who doesn't? I wonder if he shops at Mr. Larry's for snake food.

I wish I had enough time to get a picture, but you get the idea. Pretty cool.

Metrobus cutting 62 and 64 bus service at night

Metrobus 64 WMATA
Doh. If you live near 11th or Sherman and take the 60 buses, you may have a longer trip home at night. WMATA is planning on cutting service on the 62 and 64 routes during late nights, which are considered not very "productive."

I take these routes a fair amount, either coming home from work or going to or from U Street and points south, and they're pretty hand. The 60 buses are also way faster in the mornings than the 14th Street buses, but at least that won't be affected.

Let's hope these aren't cut too much.

Photo by Wayan Vota

Monday, September 12, 2011

Zeba Bar on 14th: good spot, lots of outdoor seating

On Sunday I finally had a chance to check out Zeba Bar, the new (ish) bar at 14th and Newton, and it's a pretty cool spot.

It's a good spot for sitting outside, there's a big front patio with 4 tables facing 14th, plus a back patio area, as well as an indoor space and a dance floor with a DJ booth on the second floor. The bartender said they have DJs play on Friday and Saturday nights upstairs. There's also food, mostly traditional bar variety (pizza, burgers, breaded and fried wings) but also with some Middle Eastern fare like hummus, eggplant dip, and a chicken kebab. I got the kebab, which comes with lettuce, tomatoes and yogurt sauce, and it was good stuff. Here's the food menu.

Drinks-wise, it's ostensibly a wine bar, but is really more of a neighborhood watering hole with some wine and good traditional cocktails like a Manhattan, mojito, etc. My buddy said the Firefly vodka ice tea was good. 

The bartender was a friendly guy, and they had a nice draft beer selection, like Abita Amber, Lagunitas Lil' Sumpin Sumpin, Bell's Oberon, Sierra Nevada, Chimay and some others. It was $4 drafts for all but Chimay when we were there, and they have a whole bunch of good happy hour deals (see here and here) plus new deals are posted on their Facebook page.

In short, it's a good spot. Go check it out. The address is 3423 14th Street NW.

Friday, September 9, 2011

MPD arrest Parkwood Place murder suspect

Good news. MPD announced that they have arrested the suspect of the triple shooting that killed two on July 9 on the 1400 block of Parkwood Place NW -- the shooting that was part of a rash of crime in July. Here's the release from MPD:
The Metropolitan Police Department announces that an arrest has been made in the double homicide shooting of 31 year old Dominique Barber, and 32 year old Jimmie Lee Simmons, and the shooting of 21 yr old Anthony Lamont Thomas which occurred on July 9, 2011, in the 1400 block of Parkwood Place, Northwest. 

Mr. Irving Harris Johnson of Northwest, Washington DC, was arrested and charged with two counts of Murder One While Armed, and one count Assault with Intent to Kill While Armed.  He was arrested this morning by the Capital Area Regional Fugitive Task Force.
Nice to hear that. Let's hope this is the right guy and he goes to jail for a long, long time.

Adams Morgan Day is Sunday

If you are really feeling a need for a neighborhood festival after ours was canceled due to Irene, get over the Adams Morgan on Sunday, for their 32nd annual Adams Morgan Day.

It's always a big, crowded, fun fest and goes from noon to 7 pm. There's food, music, crafts, and booths with politicians, organizations, and more.

Here's more.

City reports a lot more vacant property: where are the ones in our neighborhood?

Looks like the city is reporting about twice as many vacant properties as last year. The city maintains a list of vacant properties, which are taxed at 5 times the rate of regular properties, and this year there are 1350, up from 444 last year. There are also 243 properties classified as "blighted" meaning they're basically falling apart. Those properties are taxed at 10 times the normal rate. The rates, if you're keeping track, are $5 for vacant properties or $10 for blighted properties per $100 of assessed value, versus $0.85-$1.85 per $100 for most places.

Not sure if this means there's more vacant places, or what I would guess, that they're just enforcing it more. That sounds good to me.

Most of these places are residential properties, and the city has published a list. Taking the idea from the Park View blog, I made a map of all of the Ward 1 properties, below. Some of them are being renovated, but others are just abandoned. You can see that the northwest area of the neighborhood (i.e. Park View) has the most.

And here's the link to the data and map.

Columbia Heights Community Marketplace update -- rain or shine!

Here's this week's update for the Community Marketplace, which is going to be open until December.
Columbia Heights Community Marketplace
Saturday, September 3rd from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. (rain or shine)
Civic plaza @ 14th Street and Kenyon Street, NW

This week at the market:

Produce: New: broccoli. Continuing: apples, basil, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, grapes, green beans, eggplant, kale, peaches, peppers, plums, potatoes, onions, tomatoes.

Vendors: Bella Terra Family Farm, Chelsey Farm, Dragonfly Farm, Licking Creek Bend Farm

Fresh baked bread
Vendors: Bonaparte Breads and Upper Crust Bakery

Dairy products: Chicken and duck eggs, goat cheese, cheddar cheese, bleu cheese and yogurt.
Vendors: Bella Terra Family Farm, Chapel’s Country Creamery, Spriggs Delight Goat Cheese, Twin Post Farm

Meat products: duck, lamb, and pork sausage; lamb meat; sheep products, bison.
Vendors: Gunpowder Bison, Springfield Farm, Stachowski Brand Charcuterie

Specialty items: Fresh Crunch Pickles, Pleasant Pops

Fine Arts: Six artists, including painters and jewelry makers, will showcase their creations this week.

Community Service Organizations:
KidPowerDC will be at the market this week. For more info:
We the Readers will recruit literary mentors. For more info:

Thanks to this week's sponsors: Old School Hardware and PNC Bank.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Outdoor pools are closed for the season, but indoor pools are open

Not that you'd want to go today in today's crappy weather, but even if it's warm out, the city's free outdoor pools are now closed. Too bad, as they're a good time. However, there are indoor pools that are still open.

The closest ones to our area are Marie Reed in Adams Morgan (2200 Champlain) then Turkey Thicket on Michigan and I guess Takoma, which is Metro-able. Dunbar at 1301 New Jersey is also not too far, but it's temporarily closed.

Any other recommendations for pools to hit now that the season is over?

Big boom last night about 1 am?

Last night around 1 am I heard a really loud sound -- it was sort of like thunder, but much louder and more sudden, and seemed to last for 10 seconds. I went onto Twitter and saw lots of other people heard it -- some folks said they were woken up and others said car alarms were set off in Bloomingdale and Shaw. It seemed awfully loud and long for thunder, and I was pretty disconcerted.

Anybody else hear it? Any idea what it was? To me it sounded like it came from the west, but that might just be due to my windows.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Does your house back on Ecuador, Peluca or Basil Alley?

So this is strange. I was looking at Google Maps and saw some names I wasn't familiar with between 14th and 15th: there are three named alleys, being Ecuador, Peluca and Basil Alleys. I've never heard of those, and there are no Google results for them or anything similar. Ecuador kind of makes sense as it's next to the Ecuadorian Embassy, but the rest I have no idea. The city's GIS Data doesn't show them either. I wonder where they came from? Strange.

View Larger Map
Anybody ever hear of these? I looked around Google Maps and didn't see any other named alleys anywhere in the neighborhood. Pretty sure no houses front on them either, unlike those few remaining alleys with houses in Foggy Bottom, Capitol Hill, or Shaw.

Interesting history tidbit, alley houses used to be very common in DC, with the wealthier people living on the outside of the block and the poorer folks on the inside. Often conditions were pretty bad and they had a reputation for crime, and in 1934 Congress passed the Alley Dwelling Elimination Act, removing many of the houses. By the 1950s only very few were left, though they're becoming more popular. Here's a project at Bryn Mawr about DC's alley dwellings, if you're curious.

Get 2011 Columbia Heights Day shirts -- the CH Day that never was

Want to support next year's Columbia Heights Day? Or just get a funny local shirt? The t-shirts for the 2011 Columbia Heights Day (that being the one cancelled due to a hurricane) will be on sale this Saturday, September 10th, at the Community Marketplace on the Civic Plaza.

They'll be for same from 9 am to 1 pm, and the festival logo shirts and some DC flag CH Day ones will be available, as well as both in kids' sizes too. The DC flag ones are pretty cool, I've gotten some positive comments from random people on the street about mine from last year.

In addition, I was at Red Rocks this weekend for brunch and saw they had some for sale too.

Coffy Cafe crepe and coffee house on 14th looking at November opening

Good news: the folks behind Coffy Cafe, the incoming 60s/70s-themed creperie and coffee shop coming to the Samuel Kelsey building on the west side of 14th, just north of Park, are hoping to open later this fall. Here's what owner Philecia Harris told me the other day:
We now have our permit to build.  The contractors have already started clearing the space and are in early stages of prep work.  We should be starting the rough work electrical and plumbing within the next couple of weeks and be in the final stages by the end of this month or earlier in the next.  It still looks like a couple of months before we open.  We should hopefully be open by November.
I interviewed Harris a few months ago, and the place sounds really cool: different kinds of crepes made on demand, baked goods from family recipes, and a relaxed, home-y, 60s-70s vibe with period-style furniture and posters. I'm looking forward to it.

UPDATE: Their website isn't up, but they have a Facebook page.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Street Booze: Schlitz Malt Liquor with a straw


Spotted this Street Booze the other day on Girard between 11th and 13th, it's Schlitz Original Malt Liquor with a straw. I recommend going to the Schlitz website for overly fancy descriptions of the various kinds of malt liquor they have.

As for the straw, the only explanations I can think of are that sometimes you may want to be able to drink and walk at the same time, and some people think it gets you drunk faster. And in an interesting factoid, Wikipedia tells us that the earliest known drinking straw was used by the Sumerians in about 3100 BC, and was actually used for beer.

Curious about more Street Booze? Check out the archive.

"Greening Initiative" abandoned houses coming along nicely


You may have seen signs on abandoned houses around the neighborhood for the Greening Initiative: it's a program run by the DC Housing Authority to fix up DCHA-owned abandoned houses and rent them out as scattered-site public housing, with some being sold at market rate to fund the rest. I wrote more about it a few months ago. A number of those houses are in our neighborhood, and now, a few months in, there's some progress.

Above is 1334 Irving Street in 2010 and today. The house was featured in my Abandoned House Watch series in March 2010 and you can see it looks a lot better now. Other houses around the neighborhood are getting fixed up too, including one of the 2700 block of 13th. There are a total of 26 houses in the program throughout the city, funded by a HUD grant.

Nice to see this -- abandoned houses getting fixed up as affordable housing for people.

Nash's Sporting Goods is closing, big clearance sale ongoing

Nash's closing
We'll soon have one less local store in the neighborhood -- a reader tipped me off to store closing signs at Nash's Sporting Goods in the Tivoli building on 14th. I can't say I'm surprised, since Modell's Sporting Goods and Sports Zone both recently opened in DCUSA.

They're having a clearance sale now, including store fixtures if you'd want them, so it may be a good time to get some good deals. Shoes were 20% off the sale price already, and things are up to 50% off. They also have lots of t-shirts, jerseys for football, baseball, soccer and other sports, and other general sporting goods merchandise

The bigger question is: does it matter? A local store closed because they couldn't keep up with bigger chains, basically. I saw way more people in either Modell's or Sports Zone than Nash's so you could argue that they just did a better job. Do you think that's a bad thing?

I haven't heard anything about what's coming in or when they're leaving. Let's hope it's something good.

And I wonder what might close next? I like the Uptowner deli next to Nash's, but I wonder how business will be once a Panera comes into DCUSA. I generally don't see many people in there.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Yard Sale Roundup: slowing down in the fall

Looks like we're coming to the end of yard sale season: there are only 2 I can find around our area. Check them out:
  • Multi-family yard sale, 1334 Shepherd St NW, Saturday 6:30am (!) to 3pm: furniture, lots of kids' stuff, clothing, luggage, and more. Link.
  • Moving sale, 445 Newton Place NW in Park View, Saturday 9-11am: lots of furniture, art, office supplies, books, etc. Link.
Know of any others? Post them in the comments.

Uh oh: posters and signs now allowed to be up for 6 months

Doh. Just when it looked like there weren't tons of posters, signs, and wheatpastes around the neighborhood like in the past, DC Government just issued a ruling that most signs can be up for 6 months. Before they were limited to 60 days for signs that expressed an opinion but no limit to signs for candidates running in office in the future. Not anymore.

The ANSWER Coalition, a self-described anti-imperialist anti-war (and apparently pro-Qaddafi) group, is the worst of the postering groups, regularly leaving up signs for months and even years after events. This is one of my pet peeves. They also put posters on utility boxes and other city-owned property, often with wheatpaste, which is hard to remove. After much complaining by citizens, they seemed to get the message and got better at taking signs down.

But ANSWER and the another group, the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation sued the city over the rules. A US District Court judge agreed, saying that the two separate rules before were unconstitutional. He suggested the city make new rules, which they did: 180 days for any sign for an election candidate or an opinion. The city's rule does means that signs must be down 30 days after an event. However, they can be up for 6 months now. That stinks. Get ready to see lots more posters all over the place.

Football season is upon us: where to watch in the neighborhood

You may have noticed the Howard band practicing the last few days. That, plus the cooler weather, means football season is upon us.

There's now a few good spots to watch college or NFL games in the neighborhood, thanks to Lou's City Bar and the Blue Banana, our two sports bars.

Ruby Tuesday also has some TVs, as does The Heights if you want to go upscale, and Meridian Pint has big TVs downstairs. A little farther afield,  Ventnor Sports Cafe in Adams Morgan is a good bet.

In addition, Lou's is one of the official University of Wisconsin alum bars in town, the other being Hamilton's. They'll have deals all season long: $4 Leinenkugel bottles, $3 Miller Lite drafts, and $3 Brats and Tots.

And if you want to avoid sports altogether, Wonderland doesn't have a TV, while Red Derby and Looking Glass have one.

Any recommendations for football season in the neighborhood?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Teen struck by hit-and-run, dad chases and catches driver

Pretty crazy story from WJLA: a 15-year old girl was struck by a car at 14th and Spring on Sunday when she was walking with her family. The car jumped onto a curb, the dad was able to push his wife and son out of the way but couldn't reach his daughter. The crazy part his next: the dad chased the driver, grabbed the wheel and made the car crash.

The driver claimed his brakes didn't work. Police are still investigating, and the girl is in the hospital but will be alright.

In any case, if you're a driver, BE CAREFUL. And ditto if you're a pedestrian or bicyclist.

Hispanics leaving Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights, heading to Georgia Avenue

The Examiner has an interesting article from a couple of weeks ago about the Hispanic population in our area. In short, the Census shows that over the last 10 years, the population, of which Salvadorans are the biggest group, is moving to the east and north, out of Mt. Pleasant and western Columbia Heights and towards Georgia Avenue and Petworth. Experts attribute it to housing availability and cost.

The Post's great Census map site shows that in detail (above), with the tracts just east of Georgia Avenue with anywhere from 50% to 80% increases of Hispanic population and drops all over Mt. Pleasant and Adams Morgan.

It's interesting to think of what that means for our area -- fewer Latino businesses, perhaps, and more to the east and north. I know Park Road has fewer Latino businesses than it did a few years ago, for example, with places like Pho 14 coming in. And there's also examples of a shift to Latino businesses that cater to a broader population, like Paila Chilean Grill and Taqueria Distrito Federal. But I hope it doesn't mean we lose authentic places like El Rinconcito II on Park Road and El Rinconcito Deportivo on 11th.

Your thoughts? I plan to look more into the Census in the next few weeks too.