The Daily Feed, We Green DC

Columbia Heights Farmers Market Opens Tomorrow

Photo courtesy of
‘Dreamy Creamy Chocolate’
courtesy of ‘Hoffmann’

Even the mayor will be on hand to welcome a new farmers market to the city tomorrow. The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace kicks off at 9 a.m. and runs until 2 p.m. at 14th and Park, across from Giant, Target, and Tivoli Theater.

At 11 a.m., Mayor Adrian Fenty, Chairman Vincent Gray, and Councilmembers Jim Graham and Kwame Brown will kick off opening ceremonies. Dancers and actors from the Dance Institute and Gala Theatre will perform; live entertainment will take place the first Saturday of each month and include activities like tai chi and cooking demonstrations.

Come every Saturday for fresh veggies and fruit (it’s berry season, you know), meats, breads, cheeses, flowers and beat-the-heat gelato–all grown and raised within 150 miles of DC.

Thrive DC, Miriam’s Kitchen and Christ House, three local homeless services, will be gleaning leftover produce to make meals for the homeless.

The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Petworth

Photo courtesy of
’1304 Monroe Street NW’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Welcome to this week’s Where We Live!  So far, this feature has taken us to every quadrant of the District, and soon, we’ll be expanding to include Maryland and Virginia suburbs.  But first, let’s look at a DC neighborhood that has a real sense of community: Petworth.  Read on to explore this fantastic community in Northwest DC.

History: Petworth was originally two country estates in Washington County, DC (not part of L’Enfant’s original city) owned by John Tayloe.  The city eventually expanded up to this area, and in the 1880s these two estates were purchased for development.  Seemingly overnight, a neighborhood popped up, with thousands of similar-looking brick rowhouses developed in the 1920s and 1930s.  This area was promoted as an ideal place to live, with the convenience of a streetcar (which ran from downtown up through Silver Spring and stopped in Petworth) but the parks and quiet residential nature of the suburbs. Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Not boo, book! Some Halloween reading by Eric Nuzum

Photo courtesy of erin m
courtesy of erin m

If you’d like a way to ease yourself into the Halloween spirit there’s a free reading tonight that might be right up your alley. Petworth’s own Eric Nuzum, author of The Dead Travel Fast, has another book in the works. Dead was about vampires and our obsession with them. Nuzum describes Bring Me to Heaven as a “ghost-themed memoir.”

No, I don’t know what that means.

What I do know is that he’ll be doing a reading, including material from the upcoming book, tonight at Past Tense in Mount Pleasant. The press release says some of the amusing stories he’ll relate will include:

• A night spent locked in an abandoned prison facility with a reputation for violent paranormal interactions
• An evening spent traipsing through the Gettysburg Battlefield in search of ghosts

And more. The reading is at 7:45 but you’re encouraged to come at 6:30 and join the happy hour yoga class.

Yes, Happy Hour Yoga. Look, I just report on this stuff, okay?

Past Tense
3253 Mt. Pleasant St. NW,
Washington, DC 20010

The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Columbia Heights

Photo courtesy of
’11th Street NW Rowhouses’
courtesy of ‘Mr. T in DC’

Another Friday, another neighborhood.  This week’s Where We Live focuses on a neighborhood that has reinvented itself over the past ten years, Columbia Heights. Columbia Heights has a lot to offer, from beautiful residential areas to the massive new DC USA development, and it’s got a pretty neat history too.  Read on to learn all about Columbia Heights.

History: Columbia Heights was originally a horse track and farmland directly outside the boundary of the City of Washington, and it was also the original home of Columbian College (which eventually became George Washington University).  In 1881, Senator John Sherman purchased a whole bunch of land in the area and named the development Columbia Heights, in honor of Columbian College.  In 1904, the college moved down to Foggy Bottom.  The federal government purchased some land and built Meridian Hill Park, and the area became an upscale neighborhood that attracted federal workers and military officers.  In the early 1900s Columbia Heights was one of the most desirable neighborhoods in the city, and attracted a number of notable residents.  By 1914, four streetcar lines connected Columbia Heights to downtown DC.

The neighborhood began to transform from a suburban neighborhood to an urban center in the early part of the twentieth century, with the construction of larger apartment buildings and the Tivoli Theater in 1924.  Columbia Heights was adjacent to the thriving black communities of Shaw and U Street, and became home to more African Americans during the first half of the twentieth century.  Then, of course, the 1968 riots happened.  Residents moved out, stores remained vacant for decades, and Columbia Heights lost its luster.

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Food and Drink, The Features, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Room 11

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

"The patio at Room 11" by squidpants, on Flickr

I’m not precisely sure why, but something about Room 11 reminds me of New Orleans. Not the crazy raucous Bourbon Street tourist madness that immediately comes to mind, but the lazy corner bar where the locals go.

Maybe because the actual space is so tiny, just a bar with an outside patio that dwarfs the inside. Maybe because the first night I was there, the clientele was such a fascinating mix of local characters. On one side, I could eavesdrop on the brothers Brown concocting their latest cocktail bar, on the other, a courtly group of GI Generationers enjoying the vino. The next visit it was the after-work young professionals crowd, enlivened by a dandy with a dog.

A complete cross-section of the Columbia Heights neighborhood? Well, not entirely. “You enjoying that wine and cheese?” a man sneered as he passed by.

But, no social commentary today. Let’s talk about that wine and cheese instead. Continue reading

Life in the Capital, The District, The Features, Where We Live

Where We Live: Mount Pleasant

Photo courtesy of
‘Shrine of the Sacred Heart’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

The diverse and eclectic Mount Pleasant neighborhood is the topic of this week’s Where We Live.  It was once a streetcar suburb and is now a mix of housing types  with a main street of its own.  It has great access to downtown and is right in between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights, two very developed areas, but it has retained a quieter residential character.  Read on to hear the very cool history of Mount Pleasant and what to check out next time you’re there.

History: The neighborhood dates back to 1727, when a large area of what is now Columbia Heights/Adams Morgan/Mount Pleasant was granted to James Holmead.  The area was named Pleasant Plains in 1750, and then became part of the District when it was established in 1791.  During the Civil War, the area was home to a hospital, and after the war the neighborhood became known as Mount Pleasant Village.  The area was separated from the rest of the District by rural land, as DC hadn’t grown into its 10-mile square yet, which is why Mount Pleasant doesn’t quite line up with DC’s orderly grid of streets.  In the 1870s, the area became the District’s first streetcar suburb, and many middle class residents moved in to take advantage of the quick commute to Washington City.

The area has changed a lot since then.  In the 1950s, the neighborhood became racially segregated, with many white residents leaving the city altogether.  The 1968 riots only made things worse, and the area entered a period of decline.  However, throughout the 1960s Spanish-speaking immigrants began moving to Mount Pleasant, establishing vibrant communities of El Salvadorean and Dominican Republic immigrants.  In the 1980s and 1990s, affluent professionals began moving into the area for its access to jobs downtown and its historic residential housing stock.  And today, the population is a mix of all those eras: approximately one third of residents are white, one third are African-American, and one third are Hispanic.

Neighborhood Character: Mount Pleasant has a strong historic residential character throughout the neighborhood and a pedestrian-friendly commercial strip along Mount Pleasant Street.  Rowhouses and smaller apartment buildings make up the neighborhood, and many historic structures from the early 1900s remain.  The area is very walkable, with strong transit access and a variety of neighborhood destinations.  In recent years, Mount Pleasant has been changing due to the nearby development of Columbia Heights.  Tim, author of the neighborhood blog The 42 and Mount Pleasant resident of six years, had this to say:  ” There obviously have been hundreds of changes, some from within and many from without.  We’ve been greatly affected by the development of Columbia Heights.  Most of that has probably been good for Mount Pleasant in terms of access to amenities.  On the other hand, we’ve seen stagnant development of out own commercial strip at the same time.”

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The Daily Feed

Bliss Out(side) in Mt. Pleasant

Photo courtesy of
‘Yoga time!’
courtesy of ‘lululemon athletica’

The first yoga studio in Mt. Pleasant has just opened opens soon, serving yogis at all levels, and it does sound fun. Classes include Strong Hold for athletic types, Virgin Yoga for newbies, and a jammin’ Friday Happy Hour with a Top 40, alternative or R&B soundtrack.

Past Tense is at 3235 Mt. Pleasant Ave., three blocks from the Columbia Heights Metro.

On Tuesday at 7 p.m., they’ll be having a free class outside at Lamont Park (17th and Lamont). And they’ll be taking pictures that they promise will not make your butt look big. Yay for yoga!

Update: They believe the studio will open June 25, so keep an eye on their site.

The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Today, I am 12

Modified Speed Hump Sign on Monroe Street NW, by Mr. T in DC

Modified Speed Hump Sign on Monroe Street NW, by Mr. T in DC

The photo is a year and a half old, but it just made it into our Flickr pool, so it’s new to me. And it entertained me thoroughly. If you can’t read the sign, be sure to click through. And I agree, Mr. T, the grammatical error just adds to the comic effect. I almost regret that it’s not immortalized this way in Google Street View. (Yes, of COURSE I checked.)

Food and Drink, Night Life, We Love Drinks

We Love Drinks: Commonwealth

Commonwealth

"Commonwealth" by Jenn Larsen, on Flickr

It isn’t Commonwealth’s fault that it has the single-most worst view of any bar in the city. Entirely fronted in high glass walls, it overlooks the ghastly architectural blight of DC USA, the single-most worst looking development in the city. Billed as a “gastropub,” that British trend of sexing up the old-school pub with better food than the usual slop, it splits the gastro to one side and the pub to the other, making for a bar area that seems an afterthought. However, even with those three design strikes against it, so far I quite like Commonwealth

As far as the pub section goes, once you get over the view it’s quite cosy, with small tables and a long leather-bound banquette. It’s been an accommodating space for both large groups and small duets. The beer list has selections from the U.S. commonwealths of Pennsylvania, Virginia and Massachusetts in addition to United Kingdom brews. This makes for seemingly strange bedfellows for the eleven drafts, like Michelob and Bellhaven Twisted Thistle, but I suppose it does make it easier for groups of friends with disparate tastes. There are also beer flights and nightly specials, and you can get a U.S. or a U.K. pint (one dollar more). The bottled selection offers about twenty U.K. and fourteen U.S., and so far friendly servers have been knowledgeable and helpful in navigating the choices. As I’ve said before, I know nothing about beer, so this is a plus for me. To date I’ve tried Samuel Smith’s Lager, Black Sheep Yorkshire Ale, and the reliable Smithwick’s Irish Ale to good success.

If you’re looking to nosh, the pub grub is interesting as well. Continue reading