Two weeks ago, after my weekend in New York, I spent a weekend in DC, visiting two friends. You may remember my excursion to DC last year, in which I took a series of what I personally deemed lackluster photos that didn’t capture DC all that well. Again, this time I don’t think I’ve sufficiently captured DC, but I think I did a better job than last time. To me, DC is distinctive for 3 main things: outstandingly photogenic subway (I know, they call them Metro) stations with giant cavernous tunnels and epicly long escalators, strong bay window game, and the largest concentration of office buildings under 150 feet of any city. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up in the business district downtown frequently enough to take a lot of pictures there, but I did get some great shots of the subway tunnels and the classic DC rowhouse bay windows. Of all the cities I’ve seen, I’d say DC is right up there with Philly and San Francisco in terms of bay window game. DC’s bay windows, however, are distinct because they rise the length of the facades. Whereas Philly and Frisco have bay windows that extend out over the street, DC’s become part of the whole building. This is only possible because most of DC’s homes are set back from the street about 10-15 feet, with gardens in front. If those homes formed the streetwall, they would impede pedestrian movement, and most likely not be allowed.
Another thing i really love about DC is its diversity. Although it is gentrifying and becoming more homogeneous by the day, DC retains a diversity of restaurants and populations from around the world. In my one weekend, I visited Serbian, Russian, Ethiopian, Salvadorian, and Mexican bars/restaurants. DC’s ethnic communities, although scattered, are quite present around the city.
As much as I like DC, it’s quite different from the cities I’m more accustomed to, like New York, Philly and Pittsburgh. DC has been cleaned up quite a bit from its days of urban blight and crime-infestation in the latter half of the 20th century, as is happening with most cities these days. Not that that’s a bad thing, in fact, quite the opposite, it’s a great thing. But every time I visit DC, I’m shocked by how clean everything is. The sidewalks are even paved with bricks instead of concrete to mask their dirtiness in many neighborhoods. I don’t know quite enough about why the sidewalks are paved with brick, and whether or not this is a recent innovation or a tradition, but it always takes me by surprise. For being such an eastern city, with a well-developed subway system and largely urban, walk-able neighborhoods, DC is shockingly clean.
Also, continuing in my fairly recent tradition of taking pictures of old supermarkets, I present to you Brookville Supermarket in Cleveland Park. I was pumped when I stumbled across this one – the signage is wonderful, the aisles are low, and the freezer aisle consists of a uniform wall of glass. I do love old supermarkets. Note the Allen Ginsberg reference in the title of this post.
Stay tuned for photos of Philly coming soon!