The unknown Anacostia


I am known for giving house guests, especially if they are from abroad, strange tours of random parts of the United States.  Yesterday it was a mix of Northeast D.C. and Anacostia.

Maketto on H St. offers Cambodian and Taiwanese cuisine in hip surroundings.  The Dolcezza factory near Union Market serves gelato without freezing it, so it is superior to the other branches, and Righteous Cheese is the best shop of its kind in town.  St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, in Anacostia, was the first federally supported mental hospital, dating from the 1850s; John Wilkes Booth spent time there.  The architecture looks like something from Shutter Island or a Stephen King novel, and if you are clever you can talk your way in through the front gate.  The Frederick Douglass House is the standard Anacostia site, worth more than one visit.  The Big Chair originally was an advertisement for a furniture company, but has evolved into an Anacostia landmark and it was renovated in 2006.  It since has fallen from the biggest chair in the world to no better than number three.  At The Big Chair Coffee and Grill, reopened by African immigrants I might add, drinks are remarkably cheap.

Overall Anacostia is improving at a rapid clip, with lots of new town home construction and even some shops.  In terms of greenery and views, it is one of the nicest parts of town and someday it will be very expensive indeed.


Anacostia being gentrified? That's a thirty year story in the making... who's the chair?

What about the other side of the coin?

As Anacostia gentrifies, former residents of Anacostia are pushed out of Anacostia and into neighboring Prince George's County.

That is, these former residents of Anacostia are immigrating to Prince George's County.

Since immigration is always and everywhere a good thing, this immigration of former Anacostia residents into Prince George's County is a good thing for Prince George's County and its residents, no?

Why is that where they're moving?

"[I]f you are clever you can talk your way in through the front gate." I am sure of it! But they will never let you out again.


"I am known for giving house guests, especially if they are from abroad, strange tours of random parts of the United States."

Are your house guests usually limited to those from Slavic nations or do you happen to have young middle eastern Muslim males of military age over? It seems like a lot of them could like being your house guest, or even resident now. I do hope you are considering it.

A lot of the "new town home construction" are mixed income developments. They house current public housing residents. It hasn't been a good experience:

Blogger bemoans lack of development and low real estate prices in Anacostia:

East of the River won't gentrify in any meaningful sense because it remains the affordable housing dumping ground of the city.

Show Me A Hero on HBO is a great mini-series on housing policy, and I'd be interested to see what the residents of NW DC would do if any amount of affordable housing was placed in those neighborhoods. It seems safe to say they'd react very badly, and that's why they never build any there in the first place, despite the low crime rates and good schools that would otherwise make it a great location for affordable housing.

How long would the low crime rates and good schools continue after the public housing was built?

From this study, it seems they would continue indefinitely.

Speaking of Gelato, that is a fad I really do not understand. Gelato has more sugar and less milk fat in it. Which ought to make it, if anything, cheaper, as well as less healthy (according to modern understandings of the role of sugar in obesity). I mean they frequently sell similar products at lower prices as "frozen dairy desserts" in the supermarket.

And yet, somehow these Gelato shops manage to get away with charging extra for it, and people lap it up like it was the greatest invention since the latte. There appears to be no good motivation for it except for the notion that it's Italian, and therefore, must be superior. I suspect that a bunch of marketing companies invented the whole trend when they realized they could just remain stuff that wasn't legally allowed to be called Ice Cream with a foreign-sounding word, and people would think it was better.

If you want to try something healthier, go for sorbet or frozen yogurt.

H Street NE and Union Market — two of the most happening neighborhoods in the nation’s capital — are hardly “random.”

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