February 25, 2015 - 11:23 am

Mayor Bowser promises action to fix the park field

A photo posted by @ericfidler on

Mayor Muriel Bowser attended last night’s meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association to announced her priorities and take questions from the audience.  During the question period, the Association’s parks committee chair discussed the shabby state of the field at the Park at LeDroit.  Ms. Bowser directed her two Ward One staff liaisons to add this to their “hotlists”.

The company that constructed the fields at the four-year-old park layered sod on top of construction fill that they piled over old asphalt pavement.  The result has been a patchy field with areas of dead grass and protruding construction material.  During the fall tree planting with Casey Trees, volunteers broke several pieces of Casey Trees’ equipment trying to dig holes into which the 45 trees were planted.

In May of last year, I led a neighborhood walk-through with then-Councilmember elect Brianne Nadeau and we stopped by the field to inspect its poor condition.  Don’t give up hope! The Civic Association is building a campaign to get the field repaired for good.

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February 23, 2015 - 11:31 am

Meet Muriel Bowser in LeDroit Park tomorrow night

Muriel Bowser

Mayor Muriel Bowser will attend the monthly meeting of the LeDroit Park Civic Association. Join us at the meeting tomorrow, Tuesday, February 24 at 7pm at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church (623 Florida Ave NW – enter at the back).

The Association will also vote on whether to oppose the application to build a roof deck and exterior stair at 1901 4th St NW.

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February 18, 2015 - 9:29 am

You can go far on a single Metrobus from LeDroit Park

Transit map for LeDroit Park

How far can you go from LeDroit Park on a one-seat Metrobus or Metrorail ride? Pretty far, actually. The map above illustrates all the bus lines and metro lines that run through or near LeDroit Park.  View an interactive version of the map.

Residents are fairly familiar with our Metrorail system, but may not know the far reach of the Metrobus network.  From LeDroit Park you can board a single bus and go to 14th Street, Dupont Circle, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, the National Cathedral, Union Station, H Street NE, Eastern Market, and Barracks Row and never worry about parking.  There are also several buses that go downtown to destinations like Chinatown, the Archives, Metro Center, Farragut Square, Foggy Bottom, and the Kennedy Center.

Here’s a breakdown of routes by the destinations they serve.

West to Shaw, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle, and Georgetown

Board the G2 bus, which originates in LeDroit Park. You can also use this bus to carry heavy groceries from the Whole Foods on P Street or the Giant at 7th & O Streets.

West and north to U Street, Adams Morgan, Woodley Park, the National Cathedral, and Tenleytown

Destination 90,92,93 96 X3 (rush)
Boarding point »  Florida Ave Florida Ave.,
New Jersey Ave.
Florida Ave
U Street Yes Yes Yes
Adams Morgan  90 & 93 Yes Yes
Woodley Park, National Cathedral, Tenleytown Yes Yes

North to Petworth, Brightwood, and Silver Spring

Board the 70 bus or 79 express bus on Georgia Ave. For longer distances, board the 79 at Georgia and Florida Avenues (northbound). This bus makes fewer stops and doesn’t run on Sundays.

To Union Station, H Street NE, Capitol Hill, and east of the Anacostia

Ranked in relative order of speediness to the destination:

Destination 80 90,92,93 96 X3 (rush)
Boarding point »  N. Capitol St. Florida Ave. Florida Ave,
New Jersey Ave.
Florida Ave
Union Station 1 1
H Street NE 1 2
Capitol Hill (the Capitol) 2 1
Capitol Hill (Eastern Market) 1 2
Capitol Hill (Barracks Row) 1
Capitol Heights 1
Historic Anacostia, Congress Heights 1

To downtown

If you regularly ride Metro, you know the subway system occasionally breaks.  If you’re looking for other routes to downtown or to other Metro lines, try these buses (ranked in relative order of speediness to the destination):

Destination G2 G8 80 70,79 90,92,93 96
Boarding point »  3rd St, Elm St, V St Rhode Is. Ave N. Captiol St. 7th St./Georgia Ave. Florida Ave Florida Ave,
New Jersey Ave.
Foggy Bottom 1
The Capitol 2 1
Chinatown, Archives 2 1
Dupont Circle 1
Farragut Square 1 2
McPherson Square 1 2
Union Station 1 1

See you on the bus!

G2

Note: X3 runs along Florida Avenue, but only during rush hour. 79 is an express bus (it skips stops) that doesn’t run on Sunday.

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February 17, 2015 - 2:03 pm

Shoveling your sidewalk becomes mandatory next month

Cooper Circle under Snow

LeDroit Park residents woke up this morning to find four to six inches of snow on the ground. Please be kind to your neighbors and shovel your sidewalks.

Next month DC law will change to require homeowners to shovel their adjacent sidewalks within eight daylight hours after snowfall ceases.

Photo: Snowfall from the storm that buried the region in December 2009.

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February 17, 2015 - 10:59 am

The McMillan Fountain’s sibling sits in New York’s Bryant Park

A photo posted by @ericfidler on

A few months ago I stumbled on this fountain, the Lowell Memorial Fountain, in New York’s Bryant Park. Something looked familiar about it. It turns out it was designed by Charles A. Platt, who designed the McMillan Fountain that once stood at the McMillan Reservoir.

McMillan Fountain

Back in 2011, we wrote about the McMillan Fountain, and how the lower half of the fountain now sits neglected in Fort Washington National Park.

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February 13, 2015 - 10:36 am

A bicentennial map depicts LeDroit Park in 1975

Bicentennial Map

DDOT posted this map of DC published in 1975 to celebrate the bicentennial.  The map includes a section on LeDroit Park.  Notice the groovy font, the “new” Howard University Hospital, the “nice old houses”, the long-gone bakery, and the “newly reopened Howard Theatre.”  The Howard Theatre had briefly reopened from 1975 to 1980.

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February 11, 2015 - 7:24 pm

How LeDroit Park’s demographics have changed since 1970

Since 2000 the census tract that includes LeDroit Park has grown more educated, more expensive, and wealthier. Meanwhile the tract’s total population held steady after decades of slow decline.  While the white population has increased, the census tract is still overwhelmingly black.

Governing Magazine recently ran a story on gentrification in DC and labeled Census Tract 34, which contains LeDroit Park and Howard University, as “gentrified“.  LeDroit Park has certainly changed over the years and I finally got around to compiling decennial census data from 1970 to 2010 as well as data from the American Community Survey.

Let’s start off with the biggest changes.

LeDroit Park is now better educated than the DC region and the nation

Data from Governing show that the share of adults age 25 and older who earned a bachelor’s degree more than doubled from 18.5% in 2000 to 64.9% in 2013.  In fact the neighborhood catapulted over the regional figure (48%) and the national figure (28.8%).

education_attainment

Home prices fluctuate more drastically in LeDroit than in the rest of DC

Data from NeighborhoodInfoDC show that until 2004, the median sale price of single-family homes in the neighborhood moved closer to the average of the median values of all DC census tracts.  The median price in LeDroit Park quintupled from 1996 to 2005, marking the greatest period of price appreciation.  Though prices fell a bit from the recession, the neighborhood’s median price is slowly converging on the District-wide figure.  (Disclosure: I do consulting work for the think-tank that produces NeighborhoodInfoDC)

median_sales_sf_homes

Note: 2009 data not available

Governing’s data of the median home value (both single-family homes and condos) show that housing prices nearly doubled from 2000 to 2013.

median_home_value

Median household income more than doubled from 2000 to 2013

(For comparison, median household income nationwide declined during this period.)

median_hh_income

LeDroit Park is still predominantly black

The population of LeDroit Park and Howard’s campus held steady since 2000 after decades of modest decline. Though the number of whites more than tripled and number of blacks fell 13% from 2000 to 2010, our census tract is still 79% black. A few years ago I got a limited data set of the 2010 Census from the Office of Planning and was able to separate LeDroit Park figures from the rest of the census tract that lies north of W Street.  Even then I found that the neighborhood was 70% black.

One popular gentrification narrative is that the process turns poorer black neighborhoods into wealthy white neighborhoods. While income and home values in LeDroit have soared, it still remains a predominantly black neighborhood.

pop_by_race

pop_change_by_race

Lil’ LeDroiters are becoming scarcer

From 1970 to 2010, the population of residents under 18 tumbled from 23% of the population (1,244 children) to 8% of the population (350 children). For comparison, DC’s under-18 population in 2010 stood at 17%.

age_distribution

Homeownership has expanded, the housing stock has not

This was one of the more surprising facts. Despite construction of numerous infill rowhouses (especially on the 300 and 500 blocks of U Street) and despite the conversion of many one-unit rowhouses into two-unit rowhouses, the total number of housing units is slightly lower than in 1970. Also, vacancy has been rising, which contradicts what I have seen since I moved here in 2009. Perhaps the vacancy numbers were driven by the remodeling of the 161 units at Kelly Miller or perhaps Howard University dorm rooms do not count as “occupied” since many are vacant during the summer.

housing_units

So what is gentrification?

The definition of gentrification is a matter of great debate, but Governing defined it as any census tract that met the following criteria from the 2000 Census to the 2010 Census:

  • It must start out poorer, i.e. “median household income and median home value needed to fall within the bottom 40th percentile of all tracts within a metro area at the beginning of the decade.”
  • It must end up pricier and more educated, i.e. “in the top third percentile for both inflation-adjusted median home values and percentage of adults with bachelors’ degrees.”

According to Governing’s analysis, our tract, like half of the other DC tracts that met the first condition above in 2000, satisfied the second condition in 2010 and thus gentrified.


Sources:

  • Longitudinal Census Bureau data (1970 – 2010) came from the US 2010 project, which used a peer-reviewed method adjust older tract data to conform to the latest tract boundaries.
  •  Governing, which used Census Bureau data.
  • American Community Survey, a Census Bureau project that collects detailed demographic data for years between and overlapping each decennial census.

Note:

Our census tract (outlined in blue) is larger than the neighborhood and includes much of the Howard University campus.

Census Tract 34

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February 05, 2015 - 5:10 pm

LeDroit Park’s water doesn’t come from McMillan

Utility Building at the McMillan Reservoir

The McMillan Reservoir lies just north of LeDroit Park and just east of Howard University. Don’t let this large and visible piece of water infrastructure fool you. The reservoir supplies water not to LeDroit Park, but to much of downtown, Capitol Hill, Southwest, the Navy Yard, and Historic Anacostia (see blue pipes below).

dc-water-map

According to a 1985 DC water distribution map, LeDroit Park’s water comes from a reservoir on Foxhall Road and a reservoir on the grounds of the Armed Forces Retirement Home (see the red pipe network).  These reservoirs, like all other reservoirs in the city, receive their water from the Dalecarlia Reservoir, which is run by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  The USACE pipes water to Dalecarlia from intake points at Little Falls and Great Falls on the Potomac.

Water distribution map

From Dalecarlia, water is piped to all of the secondary reservoirs, which typically sit atop highpoints in the city.  (In a previous post we covered the century-old, straight-line tunnel that delivers water to McMillan.) Gravity pulls the water down from each reservoir to neighborhoods at lower elevations.  Each neighborhood must be sufficiently lower than its supplying reservoir to receive enough water pressure at the faucet.

(I had difficulty finding these government maps, but found them at City Block.)

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February 03, 2015 - 3:32 pm

Meet me (and your neighbors!) at Costa Brava on Tuesday

LeDroit Park residents at Bistro Bohem

LeDroit Park’s next monthly happy hour will be at Costa Brava (1837 First Street NW) in Bloomingdale on Tuesday, February 10, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm.  We will be at the upstairs bar.  All neighbors are welcome to attend.

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February 03, 2015 - 10:30 am

Howard opens new buildings, reduces staff

New Dorm

Howard University is reforming its hospital while its rank as DC’s largest employer slips.  These changes come as the university looks to improve its academic program and its finances.

Financial difficulty is nothing new for Howard. In 2013 we reported that sequestration had cut its annual appropriate from Congress, enrollment had dropped, and one of its Trustees publicly warned of the university’s financial straits. Later that year, Moody’s downgraded the university’s bond rating from A3 to Baa1 as the hospital ran a $21-million loss.

The university furloughed staff and cut positions, but last year Moody’s downgraded the university further from Baa1 to Baa3, citing the hospital’s losses, which had increased to $37 million.

Since then the university has hired Paladin, a healthcare management consultancy, to reverse the hospital’s losses. University President Wayne Frederick recently told the Washington Business Journal that the hospital has made progress, particularly in billing more efficiently. (The fee-for-service model may be lucrative for healthcare providers, but the Obama Administration is trying to move the country away from it.)

Last week the hospital announced it would lay off 25 management positions and look to reduce staff further.

Meanwhile the university and its hospital have slipped in their rankings as DC’s largest employers.  Over the past ten years, the university fell from first to seventh while the hospital fell from seventh to fifteenth.

Employer 2004 Rank 2014 Rank
Georgetown University 3 1
Washington Hospital Center 4 2
George Washington University 2 3
Children’s Hospital 5 4
American University 8 5
Georgetown University Hospital 9 6
Howard University 1 7
Fannie Mae 6 8
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. 113 9
Allied Barton Security Services LLC - 10
Red Coats 40 11
Providence Hospital 10 12
George Washington University Hospital 18 13
Sibley Memorial Hospital 13 14
Howard University Hospital 7 15

But the outlook isn’t all gloomy. The university recently completed two new dorms on 4th Street just north of the neighborhood and is nearing completion of its top-notch Interdisciplinary Research Building at Georgia Avenue and W Street.

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