It looks like 2013 will be a harvest year for LeDroit Park residents as two new grocery stores open nearby. DCist broke the news that Trader Joe’s will open a store at the Louis building now under construction at the southwest corner of 14th and U.
Located at just under a mile’s walk from Anna J. Cooper Circle, the new store will provide another grocery option to area residents.
TJ’s prices are competitive with many other stores and the TJ’s specializes in unusual and somewhat exotic foods in addition to the usual staples. TJ’s main weakness lies in its produce selection, which, judging from experiences at the Trader Joe’s in the West End, is limited.
The store’s opening next year will also be accompanied by the opening of the 60,000 square-foot Giant at the CityMarket project at 7th and P Streets in Shaw. Once these two projects open, all the major grocery store chains in the area will be located no more than 1.1 mi. from LeDroit Park.
|Giant (opening 2013)||7th & P Streets NW||0.6|
|Trader Joe’s (opening 2013)||14th & U Streets NW||0.9|
|Safeway||5th & L Streets NW||0.9|
|Harris Teeter||1st & M Streets NE||1.0|
|Whole Foods||1400 blk. P Street NW||1.1|
Even still I dream of a full-service grocery store opening up at the long-stalled Howard Town Center project at Georgia Avenue and V Street. The project, in the planning stages for many years, has been perpetually delayed by disagreements between Howard University and its development partner.
The UPO building on Rhode Island Avenue used to be a Safeway many years ago. The site is large enough to be redeveloped into a modern, urban grocery store if parking is placed underground. In fact the second floor could house UPO’s offices.
Until those dreams come true, the nearest full-service grocery stores are a long, but manageable walk.
This photo, taken around 1910, shows the fire brigade on T Street just west of Anna J. Cooper Circle. The circle’s landscaping was much sparser then than it is today, but you will also notice that this was taken before the city altered 3rd Street to bisect the circle for several decades.
One will also notice the now-razed McGill house on the right side of the photo. That lot now hosts the rectangular brick apartment building that clearly never faced historic preservation review.
We haven’t been able to find any news stories explaining what exactly happened the day of the photo.
Is LeDroit Park a “food desert”? The phrase refers to a neighborhood where the nearest grocery store is more than a mile away. First, this metric would classify many of the tony precincts of Bethesda, Potomac, and McLean as “food deserts”.
Despite that, the metric isn’t entirely useless. Distance does matter greatly to populations who, for whatever reason, do not have cars. Groceries are heavy, after all.
Even still, WAMU’s recent characterization of LeDroit Park as a food desert is incorrect. In fact, you can plug in directions from Anna J. Cooper Circle, the neighborhood’s center, to the Giant at 8th and P Streets NW.
The distance? Under a mile. That’s about 15 minutes by foot.
In fact, if you’d rather take a bus, which we frequently do with groceries, the G2 runs every 30 minutes from LeDroit Park and along P Street. It passes not only the aforementioned Giant, but also the Whole Foods on the 1400 block of P Street. If you return in under 2 hours, the round-trip bus cost is $1.50.
This grocery store is slated to close soon so a new Giant, along with housing, can be constructed on the site. After that happens, the 3-year-old Safeway at 5th and L Streets NW and the 6-month-old Harris Teeter in NoMA will vie for the title as nearest grocery store. Each is exactly 1 mile away.
Furthermore, once the Howard Town Center project takes flight, it will feature its own grocery store. The project is about a half-mile from Anna J. Cooper Circle.
So there you have it. Within 1 mile of LeDroit Park one will find a Giant, a Safeway, and a Harris Teeter. That hardly qualifies the neighborhood as a food desert.
Who maintains Anna J. Cooper Circle? Well, many people do, and you can, too!
Join your neighbors tomorrow (Friday) at 5:00 pm to help plant some heucheras (pictured above).
We also learned that a group called Community Bridge has a contract with the District to maintain small parks and that they often clean up the circle, mowing the grass and pulling weeds.
The planting, however, is a resident-driven labor of love, so any help this Friday would be greatly appreciated. Bring your shovel if you have one.
Meet your neighbors and catalog trouble spots. LeDroit Park residents will gather at Anna Cooper Circle on Thursday, April 15, for an alleyway walk-through. The purpose is to alert our ANC Commissioner Myla Moss, Councilmember Jim Graham, and our accompanying MPD officer of any inadequate lighting conditions or other features that may attract crime to our alleys.
The organizer tells us, “while the safety walk has a serious purpose, it’s also a great way to meet your neighbors and find out more about LeDroit Park.”
LeDroit Park Safety Walk
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Meet at Anna Cooper Circle at 7 pm
“Of course, the storm is the big story, it is unbelievable. It actually paralyzed Washington more than Joe Lieberman. In fact, there was so much white powder in D.C., people thought Marion Barry was mayor again.” — Jay Leno, Dec. 21, 2009
We turned on our camera to discover a few more photos of LeDroit Park after the Snowpocalyse that ended the weekend before Christmas. Enjoy. (Click each photo to view a larger version)
* * *
Looking south on Fourth Street:
Anna J. Cooper Circle under snow:
LeDroit Park’s own painted ladies:
Icicles to kill!
View all our LeDroit Park photos— spring, summer, and fall, too!
You’ve seen the streetpole banners on Florida Avenue designating the area around North Capitol Street as Truxton Circle. But exactly where is the circle? The circle, pictured above, used to sit right there at the convergence of North Capital Street, Florida Avenue, Q Street, and Lincoln Road.
Urban planning blogger Richard Layman spotted a diagram of the old circle posted on the wall at the offices of DDOT.
In 1940 the District removed the circle and replaced it with a traditional intersection that failed, and continues to fail, to match the elegance of the original circle pictured at the top of this post.
A quick perusal of the DC Atlas, the District’s main online map product, reveals the circle’s imprint on the properties just north of Florida Avenue. It seems that the property lines still accommodate the circle.
Perhaps DDOT will one day resurrect the circle after its seventy-year absence. In 2006, DDOT restored downtown’s Thomas Circle to its original shape, eliminating the almond-shaped cut-through for Fourteenth Street. In the 1980s the District similarly restored Logan Circle, eliminating the Thirteenth Street cut-through. Here in LeDroit Park, Third Street bisected Anna J. Cooper Circle until the District in 1984 restored it to its original circular shape.
Careful observers occasionally spot the old street signs adorning a few of the light poles in LeDroit Park. When the neighborhood was originally planned, most of the streets were named after trees. LeDroit Park’s street system didn’t fit with the L’Enfant Plan in either name or alignment—much to the dismay of the District commissioners—and the street names were eventually changed to fit the naming and numbering system.
A perusal of old maps reveals that the street names changed over time, not all at once. Elm Street is the only street that has retained its name. Since your author lives on Elm Street he has learned to respond to puzzled faces that know that Elm doesn’t fit the street naming system: “It’s kinda like U-and-1/3 Street”.
Anna J. Cooper Circle didn’t have a name at all until 1983, when it was restored to its circular form after a decades-long bisection by Third Street.
Just outside of LeDroit Park, the city renamed a few streets as well: 7th Street Road became Georgia Avenue and Boundary Street, the boundary of the L’Enfant Plan, became Florida Avenue.
Here is a table matching the current street names with their previous names.
|Old Name||Current Name|
|Le Droit Avenue||2nd Street|
|Harewood Avenue||3rd Street|
|Linden Street||4th Street*|
|Larch Street||5th Street|
|Juniper Street||6th Street|
|Boundary Street||Florida Avenue**|
|7th Street Road||Georgia Avenue**|
|Oak Court||Oakdale Place|
|Maple Avenue||T Street|
|Spruce Street||U Street|
|Wilson Street||V Street**|
|Pomeroy Street||W Street**|
|(unnamed before 1983)||Anna J. Cooper Circle|
|* For a short period, 4th Street was called 4½ Street.
** Though these streets were just outside the original LeDroit Park, we have included them for reference.
Signs bearing the old street names have reappeared in the neighborhood, and according to the Afro-American, were put up in 1976: “The LeDroit Park Historic District Project was instrumental in getting the D.C. Department of Transportation to put up the old original street names for this Historic District Area under the present street name signs”.1
Unfortunately, some of the signs are showing their 33 years of weather, as this sign at Third and U Streets shows.
Eventually these signs will have to be replaced, but rather than placing the old names onto modern signs using a modern typeface, we suggest something that evokes the history without being mistaken for the current street name:
White text on a brown background is the standard for street and highway signs pointing to areas of recreation or cultural interest. Seattle started using the color scheme to mark its historic Olmsted boulevards and New York has long used the combination for street signs in its historic districts. The adoption of this style of sign would alert visitors and residents to the neighborhood’s historic identity while the different color and typeface would prevent confusion with the actual street names (U St NW in this case). Typographers would be pleased by the use of Big Caslon Medium, a serif typeface based on the centuries-old Caslon typeface.
- Hall, Ruth C. “Historic Project”. Washington Afro-American. 1 May 1976.