Tuesday, September 06, 2016

T Street NW resident: "I have noticed the lack of neighborliness since gentrification has occurred."

See this 09-06-2016 comment:

Comment on the Sunday, 09-04-2016, post from the “resident of the unit block of Randolph Place NW”. 

I came to Washington DC almost forty years ago after graduating from college in a northern city, and, after living in Bloomingdale almost 30 years, with the exception of a few years overseas on assignment with DOD, I found some of your comments agreeing with what I have often thought in the last several years.  I am now considered one of the long-term residents of the unit block of T Street as there are only two or three families remaining that were here when I bought my house in 1988.  

I often wondered this summer whether there was truly a spike in the amount of robberies in Bloomingdale or whether it was just a better reporting.  All of us in Bloomingdale should thank Scott every day for his work and publishing of his daily blog.  I can remember before Scott’s work, the incidents of crime in the neighborhood were only passed through word of mouth.   In my almost thirty years in Bloomingdale, I was robbed only once on the street here.  My wallet was taken by a small gang of teenagers about ten years ago on my way home from work at about 6:30 P.M..  Although I made a police report, the only neighbors in Bloomingdale or on my block who were aware of my holdup were those whom I told myself.  Whether I was robbed in the midst of a crime spike of not, I never was aware.  I received a call a few days later from a senior lady who had found my wallet, minus the money, near the bus stop on North Capitol, which was one of the centers of illegal drug activity at that time.  If Scott had been publishing his daily blog, all of us in Bloomingdale would be aware of the crime situation at that time, including my small incident. 

I am not so sure I believe that the crime rate is due to gentrification because criminal activity certainly occurred frequently long before gentrification occurred.  However, as you stated in your letter, I have noticed the lack of neighborliness since gentrification has occurred.  When I first moved to Bloomingdale, one always greeted each other on the street, as you pointed out, whether you know or recognize the individual or not.  It was kind of a reflex action.  My wife has often commented that in those days it took a half an hour to walk to the corner because one chatted with all the neighbors all along the block.  This was very different from the city I grew up in the North.  Those days are long gone, unfortunately.  Nowadays, I find that the only people that will say hello or good morning are the older residents, which I have now become a member, I guess, since I am retired.  Although I have no evidence, I cannot help but think you were right that greeting one’s neighbors on the street, whether you know them or recognize them or not, is a first step to making a community and being civilized in a large metropolitan area such as Washington.  Many of the new young people Bloomingdale perhaps were raised in a suburb, or in the North, as I was, and were taught not to speak to or acknowledge strangers.  

Washington was a different world 20 years ago and it seems that some of the old customs are only still practiced by the older, long-term residents.  It is a shame.  I did not think your thoughts were “corny”, as you suggested resident of Randolph Place.  Your comments are probably what many of the long-term residents of Washington DC and Bloomingdale are thinking today in 2016. 

Thank you, again, resident of Randolph Place.  Your letter had many good thoughts.

-- A long term resident, now, of T Street.


  1. Great points about crime and how better reporting and more awareness makes crime seem more intense. However, I don't believe that the newcomers (this includes me) are solely to blame for any lack of neighborliness. I'm originally from the Midwest and still use the "country wave" in the city. Saying hello or striking up a neighborly conversation is a two-way street. It's our responsibility as current residents to welcome the new people to the neighborhood. Our neighbors on Seaton did a great job at this!

  2. I find white neighbors rarely say hello or nod when passing. It was common courtesy where I grew up and it saddens me every time it happens. Black neighbors will more likely say hello or even exchange pleasantries, but often you have to initiate. They seem surprised I would want to say hello. Say hello people, sheesh, if you don't the terrorists win.

  3. I don't think it is a race difference regarding "hellos" but perhaps one of where you grew up. I grew up in the south and we always say hello and I do the same. But I scared the beegeezers out of folks in Boston when I did that. One person literally jumped up in a startled state when I said, "good evening". I still greet people and I've met lots of my neighbors that way. But I will also respect others who do differently. We all walk different lives, experiences and levels of gregariousness.