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Near Southeast DC Past News Items: Rearview Mirror
In the Pipeline
1244 South Capitol
Virginia Ave. Tunnel
New Douglass Bridge
Yards/Parcel O
JBG/Akridge/Half St.
Ex-Monument/Half St.
Chiller Site Condos
Yards/Parcel A
Yards/Icon Theater
1333 M St.
Capper Apts.
250 M St.
New Marine Barracks
Nat'l Community Church
Factory 202/Yards
Congressional Square
1000 South Capitol
SC1100
Completed
Southeast Blvd. ('15)
Parc Riverside ('14)
Twelve12/Yards ('14)
Lumber Shed ('13)
Boilermaker Shops ('13)
Camden South Capitol ('13)
Canal Park ('12)
Capitol Quarter ('12)
225 Virginia/200 I ('12)
Foundry Lofts ('12)
1015 Half Street ('10)
Yards Park ('10)
Velocity Condos ('09)
Teague Park ('09)
909 New Jersey Ave. ('09)
55 M ('09)
100 M ('08)
Onyx ('08)
70/100 I ('08)
Nationals Park ('08)
Seniors Bldg Demo ('07)
400 M ('07)
Douglass Bridge Fix ('07)
US DOT HQ ('07)
20 M ('07)
Capper Seniors 1 ('06)
Capitol Hill Tower ('06)
Courtyard/Marriott ('06)
Marine Barracks ('04)
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36 Blog Posts Since 2003
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Today marks what was probably the biggest event in the neighborhood until the Nationals moved to South Capitol Street: It was 200 years ago, on Aug. 24, 1814, that US troops burned the Washington Navy Yard to prevent it from falling into the hands of the advancing British forces during the War of 1812.
The US Naval Institute blog gives a rundown of the day in the form of a photo tour of current structures and locations inside the walls.* And the Post has a big piece on this part of the War of 1812 all around Washington. (Makes you wish the Anacostia RIverwalk Trail had been completed to Bladensburg by today.)
There are a number of events at the Navy Yard today to commemorate the day as I mentioned earlier this week, including a new exhibit at the National Museum of the United States Navy called "Defeat to Victory: 1814-1815," along with family activities from 12 to 4 pm, music by the Chanteymen, and gun demonstrations at the still-docked Pride of Baltimore at 1:15 and 3:15 pm.
Note that on weekends, access to the Navy Yard by visitors is via the gate at 6th and M, SE, and a government photo ID is required to enter.
* And the events of this day 200 years ago had a much longer-lasting effect on the neighborhood than people may realize. Quoting from the Naval Institute Blog:
"But what likely burned the backside of the Yard's commander, Commodore Thomas Tingey, even more was the discovery upon his return Aug. 26 that his house on the compound (known then as Quarters A, and known today as Tingey House, home of the Chief of Naval Operations) had been thoroughly looted and stripped of all hardware as well as doors and windows... not by the invading Brits, but rather by his D.C. neighbors outside the then short, wooden fence that marked and obviously inadequately protected the base's perimeter.
"Shortly thereafter Tingey ordered the fence around the Navy Yard to be fortified and increased in height to 10 feet."
Comments (2)
More posts: Navy Yard, Rearview Mirror
 

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History is in the air this week!
* SHIP DOCKING: The Pride of Baltimore II, a reproduction of an 1812-era topsail schooner privateer that bills itself "America's Star-Spangled Ambassador," will be docking at the Navy Yard from Wednesday, Aug. 20 through Monday, Aug. 25. Free public tours will be available from 1 pm to 4 pm each day.
In conjunction with the Pride's arrival, the U.S. Navy Museum is holding several events on Sunday, Aug. 24, including riverwalk cannon salutes at 1:15 and 3:15 pm. There will also programs in and around the Museum that day, including performances by the Chanteymen and more. (I'd link to a web page with details on the museum's offerings on Sunday, but can't find one anywhere.) Going to the Navy Museum requires entry at the O Street Gate on 11th Street, SE.
(And, on a side note, because I know people will ask, the Douglass Bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic from 2 am to 5 am late tonight/tomorrow morning to "allow water traffic to pass." Not a stretch to guess that these are related items.)
* SHINER LECTURE: Did you know that a slave named Michael Shiner, born in 1813, kept a diary of life in and around the Washington Navy Yard, where he started working as a child? It apparently recorded all manner of day-to-day observations of both citywide events and neighborhood details, and on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 10 am, there will be a lecture about the diary and its significance, given by Leslie Anderson. It's at 200 I Street, SE, so be sure to bring a government-issued ID to get in the building. The lecture is being presented by the Near Southeast Community Partners.
(A walking tour about the Navy Yard neighborhood of 1814 is happening at 11:30 am on Saturday, but it's all booked. Oops.)
UPDATE: One more bit of more recent history I can pass along. Not too different from my early shots, except to see that the site of the self-storage building wasn't quite so monolithic. And more gas stations, naturally.
Comments (8)
More posts: Events, Navy Yard, Rearview Mirror
 

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Trying to start 2014 off right--even if it means posting a few things I didn't quite get to in 2013.
* ANC: Ed Kaminski has resigned as Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for 6D02, the area basically from the ballpark northward to the south side of I Street. A special election will be in the offing before too long.
* METRO: Via CapBiz, Metro has put out "development concepts" for the five station sites it is touting to developers. However, when it came to the Navy Yard/Chiller Plant site on the southwest corner of Half and L, there were no pretty drawings, just a suggestion to acquire the privately owned lot next door, and that maybe a project with ground-floor retail would be nice, too. If you want to know the increasingly long history of WMATA's attempts to find a developer for this land (and get a new chiller plant as part of the deal), here's some reading for you.
* BALLPARK SQUARE: New fence signage along 1st Street north of Nats Park touting the Ballpark Square residential/hotel/retail development, "delivering in late 2015." There do appear to be building permits for the residential and hotel parts of the development currently working through the pipeline, though there is No Time To Lose to hit that "late 2015" date (and co-developer McCaffery hedges a bit with "early 2016"). I will note, though, that there is something kind of missing in the rendering shown on the fence signage. (Hint: It's L-shaped, and is by a different developer, and is supposed to start soon too.)
* WAYBACK: The Hill is Home's "Lost Capitol Hill" series looks at the Anacostia Engine House, located at 8th and Virginia for most of the years from 1839 until the glorious arrival of the Southeast Freeway in the 1960s.
* NO, REALLY: My latest excuse explanation for my decreased blogging output. (Though if you follow JDLand on Facebook or Twitter, you already know this.)
 

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Thanks to a tweet from Martin Austermuhle (back in March, but I've been busy), I've added a new batch of shots to my page of 1990s Photos of Near Southeast.
It's really just one photo taken at helicopter height from the Carol M. Highsmith Archive at the Library of Congress, but since it is available as a 72 MB .TIF, I was able to zoom in for some looks back into the years right before I started my own photo journey. Judging by the landscape, the best I can say is that it was taken sometime between 1992 and 1999.
Go to the page to see all of them (with explanations of what you're seeing), but see if you can figure out what you're looking at in these captionless sneak peeks:
They certainly trump the black and white overhead photos taken at about the same time that are also on my page, though at least those have some views that the trees obscure in these new ones.
Comments (3)
More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror
 

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A few weeks ago, Google updated its satellite images of the DC area, including of course Near Southeast.
It appears to be from early October 2012, perhaps Oct. 13, since there's an event at the Yards Park that could be Snallygaster, plus the postseason signage is on the Nats diamond, and the trash transfer station's final demolition is just underway.
As I've done with each new image since 2002(!), I've posted it on my Images from Above page, where you can choose to display multiple versions going back to 1949(!!) to compare them.
I also always highlight the changes from the previous image, which in this case means the completion of Capitol Quarter's second phase, the Teague-Yards bridge, the Florida Rock site clearing, the 11th Street Bridges construction, and more.
If you want to zoom into the historic images, Google Earth allows you to view archival versions. (For the record, I love the ghostly images of Nats Park under construction in the 2006 shots.)
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More posts: Rearview Mirror
 

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(Warning: Navel gazing ahead!)
Even in my semi-retired state, I'd like to believe it is still worth noting that Saturday marks the 10-year anniversary of my first real photographic excursion* south of the Southeast Freeway, when on lark on a cold Sunday afternoon I had my husband drive me around while I took some furtive shots with an early generation digital camera.
There was no rhyme or reason to the pictures I took, and there certainly was no grand plan that I'd spend the next decade amassing more than 60,000 additional photos** of the changes and events along the path of Near Southeast's redevelopment.
All I knew was that were some plans to redevelop the neighborhood, especially the areas along the water as well as the public housing project a few blocks south of my house. I thought it would be cool to have some "before" photos, especially having watched other areas of the city change so radically from what I had first remembered as a high schooler and then college kid in the 1980s, venturing to the original 9:30 Club or the Tiber Creek Pub. I put a few of them up on my web site (already called JDLand, I'll have you know), mainly so that my dad could see them.
When I took these pictures, the notion of a baseball stadium anywhere in DC, let alone on South Capitol Street, was still thought of as a "maybe someday" dream, not anything that was actually only five years from opening. There was no hulking US Department of Transportation on M Street, and no public access to the entire 55-acre Southeast Federal Center with its long stretch of Anacostia waterfront. There were no parks, though there were school buses! And there were certainly no brightly colored townhouses selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
There were a couple of new office buildings built a few years earlier when NAVSEA moved to the Navy Yard, and one additional one was under construction. There was a banner announcing a coming shiny new apartment building at New Jersey and K, which my husband and I laughed at every time we saw it--who would ever want to live THERE?.
There were a lot of small businesses, a number of carry-outs and market/liquor stores, four gas stations, concrete plants, auto repair garages, warehouses, Metrobuses, and of course nightclubs, gay and straight. And a lot of trash-strewn empty lots.
I look now at the photos from those early years, and it just doesn't seem like it can really have been 10 years. I remember when the boarded up gas station at 3rd and M was demolished in October 2003, thinking "FINALLY!"
I remember working up the courage to go to public meetings, and feeling like a dingbat trying to explain who I was ("yeah, so, I have this web site, and I, like, take pictures and stuff?").
I remember walking around the neighborhood for hours on Sunday mornings in 2006 and 2007, rarely crossing paths with another human.
I remember the exhaustion of the all-details-blogging about the construction and opening of Nationals Park, especially at the end of 2007 and beginning of 2008. I laugh about how my fraidy-cat tendencies were shoved aside while I traipsed around the site in a hard hat (me! in a hard hat!), sometimes climbing rickety ladders, to get to spots where the best pictures would be had.
I think about how it seemed like the documenting of the stadium's birth was the main subject of this site, and yet I realize that I've now written about the neighborhood for almost as long with the stadium open as not.
I imagine I should have some grand What It All Means theory, for the neighborhood, or for "citizen journalism" or "hyperlocal blogging," or my life, or whatever. But, mainly I'm lucky that the stars aligned to have this particular neighborhood undergo such a transformation, in a way that tied in with my history-journalism-photography-web development backgrounds (and my obsessive-compulsiveness).
I do think it's been shown, though, that a project like this isn't as easy to replicate as it might seem (so maybe I did deserve that award!).
I'm also lucky that so many people have helped me along the way, with information, tips, tutorials on commercial real estate development and construction, and zoning, and urban planning, and all the other things I really knew nothing about before I started down this path.
And I'm really lucky that over the years people who have stumbled onto the site have found it interesting, which is what has pushed me to keep going, even if it's in a somewhat less-than-optimal fashion right now. Because, really, all I wanted was some cool pictures to be able to look back on.
Without getting into detail, my pulling back somewhat has definitely been the right thing to do, and the times when I go days or even weeks without posting aren't really just me being lazy. But the funny thing is, I still research and track all the minutiae the same way--it's just that final step of writing it out that I can't always get through.
I think, though, that 2013 is going to have a lot of the "milestones" that still propel me to post--restaurants will open, other retail may come along, and maybe some buildings will get started. And there still will be pictures to be taken. Because, even if I wanted to, I don't think I could ever really stop watching the neighborhood change, and if I'm going to watch it, and photograph it, I might as well keep blabbing on about it, and might as well share it with anyone still interested.
So go look at the pictures from January 19, 2003 (and all the others that I've put online), since that's what this was really all about. And accept my deep appreciation for being along for the ride.
*I say "real excursion", and date the blog's anniversary to Jan. 19, 2003, because that was the first time I took photos and then put them on the web, and really began this life-consuming project. But I need to note that I did also take some photos of the neighborhood back in the fall of 2000, during the reconstruction of M Street and the Navy Yard's renovation for NAVSEA, with my old film camera--but I forgot about them and didn't even develop the film until sometime in 2004 (hence the rotten quality!).
**Only about one third of the photos I've taken are actually on the web site, by the way.
Comments (7)
More posts: Rearview Mirror, JDLand stuff
 

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Today is the five-year anniversary of one of my most favorite JDLand-related days ever, a gorgeous end-of-summer day when I got to traipse into all corners of Nationals Park, which was at that point just under seven months away from opening. Everyone was still concerned about whether it would open on time, but I spent most of my time marveling at the progress in comparison to what had stood there less than 18 months earlier--and being wowed by my first visits to the viewing platform above Potomac Avenue and all the other views looking out at the surroundings from the upper decks.
Back in this era, I wasn't doing single-page photo galleries on days like this, so I tossed together this new gallery of the best shots of the day. It's interesting to think about everything that's changed in only five years--not only the field itself, but the team on the field, and everything surrounding it.
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More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror, Nationals Park
 

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A most interesting and welcome present arrived in my inbox recently: a reader passed along four photos taken in 1990 or 1991 shot from what clearly is the old Defense Mapping Agency/National Geospatial Intelligence Agency building at 1st and M, looking out over the streetscape of a veeery different neighborhood than what exists today. It was during the construction of the Navy Yard Metro station, and you'll see what a war zone M Street was for drivers and pedestrians.
There's familiar sites from the early days of my photo archive--Normandie Liquors, the On Luck Cafeteria, Capper/Carrollsburg, the school buses at Canal Park, and more, but there's also landmarks I either never got to photograph (like the old Tracks nightclub at 80 M) or only barely caught (like the Aamco station at New Jersey and M). The Ellen Wilson apartment blocks just north of the freeway on 6th Street are even visible.
But don't stop with the color photos at the top of the page. The rest of the page has a series of overhead images from the Library of Congress archive, taken in 1992, showing many of the same locations as the "new" color shots, along with some other spots, matched where possible with my images of the not-yet demolished buildings. I posted them almost two years ago, but I'm sure they're new to plenty of people.
If you happen to have taken any photos of the neighborhood from pre-2003 that you'd like to share, I'd love to see them. Feel free to pass them along via whatever venue you might prefer--Facebook, e-mail (dc at jdland dot com), Flickr link, etc.
Comments (4)
More posts: Canal Park, Capper, photos, Rearview Mirror
 

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You may or may not be aware that this week the National Archives posted online the 3.8 million pages that made up the 1940 census. They aren't yet searchable by name, but they are browsable by "enumeration district." This means that if you don't mind waiting for huge images to load, you can in essence wander from street to street and find out all manner of information about the people who lived there 72 years ago.
Since I've had a little bit of experience with census digging (I did a lot of my family's geneaology back in the early 2000s, before I began some other project that soon sucked up all my free time), I took a few minutes and found the links to the five enumeration districts that cover Near Southeast, along with the map that shows their locations.
So, if you live in Capitol Quarter, ED 204 covers you (from 2nd to 5th and Virginia to M). ED 203 goes east from 5th to 11th, while ED 205 includes all the blocks between 2nd and South Capitol north of M, for you Velocity/Onyx/CHT/Capitol Yards folks. ED 206 goes from M to the Waterfront and over to what's now the WASA site, while ED 207 covers the Navy Yard, which at that time ran from New Jersey Avenue to 11th. (It's actually funny how those boundaries from 72 years ago do a pretty good job of reflecting how the neighborhood's various sub-areas are still seen today.)
This was more than 10 years before the Cappers were built, but the neighborhood wasn't exactly a rich enclave. Plus, not many houses that were standing in 1940 remain in existence today, so only a few people will get the fun of seeing who actually lived in their house back then. But I thought one or two people might enjoy wandering through the many pages to get a feel for the people who lived in Near Southeast as World War II was looming. (You'll probably want to use the Questions Asked page to guide you across the columns. Note that the street name is written vertically in the first column, with the house number next. And the pages don't always perfectly follow the grid, so you may need to page through much of the ED to find the spot you're looking for. Plus, the image display is really cruddy right now, so using the option to download an entire ED and then browsing with the image viewer on your own computer might be preferable.)
Please post in the comments anything interesting you find--you'll make an old lady historian very happy.
(And I guess I might have to dig up the same information for earlier censuses. Not tonight.)
PS: If you don't live in one of these EDs, you can wander through the city map to find yours.
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More posts: census, Rearview Mirror
 

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I usually just toss these out only on Twitter every so often, but after sneaking a peek at my February 10, 2007 photo gallery (thanks to that "This Day In Near Southeast History" box on the JDLand home page), I thought that it merited an actual blog post.
Early 2007 is the optimum time for seeing the last vestiges of the old neighborhood west of New Jersey Avenue juxtaposed with the stampede of new construction. There's a lot of "holes in the sky" where we're now used to seeing 70/100 I, 909 New Jersey, Onyx, 100 M, 55 M, Velocity, and 1015 Half.
And there was this big project underway south of N Street:
There's even images that surprise me, like seeing the South Capitol Street viaduct again (it was demolished five months later). And, of course, Normandie Liquors still stood alone.
Over the next four months, demolition would clear 25 buildings directly north of the ballpark, including all of the remaining night clubs from the neighborhood's old days (Wet, Edge, Club 55, the Nexus Gold Club, and Nation). Construction would begin on 55 M and Velocity, and 70/100 I, Onyx, and 100 M would come out of the ground. And the US Department of Transportation opened.
There's a lot going on in the neighborhood once again these days, but it'll never be anything like 2007 and 2008. So check out both pages of the gallery, and prepare to be amazed! (Or not.)
UPDATE: It might also be interesting to look at my gallery from one year later, Feb. 10, 2008, to really get a sense of how much things changed in 12 months.
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More posts: photos, Rearview Mirror
 
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