In the mid-1970s I found an old diary in a house that was about to be demolished in Daytona Beach, Fla. The diary was written by a 24-year-old woman and it recounted her December 1905 trip on the maiden voyage of the ocean liner Carmania from England to New York.
In 2010, I posted a transcript from the diary and scans of various photos and other items. Last year, the woman’s great-granddaughter found the post and left a comment on the post. We began corresponding and I connected with other family members. Soon a plan emerged for us to meet and for me to return the diary to the family. Continue reading
Last year we moved back to Silver Spring, Md., after living for nearly four years in the Atlanta metropolitan area. Atlanta — the city and its many sprawling suburbs — is one of the most racially and economically divided places in the United States. That point was quickly driven home in our experience with Decatur, a suburb that is undergoing rapid demographic inversion and gentrification becoming whiter and wealthier.
Since 1980, Decatur has lost more than 60% of its African American population, mostly through displacement. That process and the complicated history the city has with Jews, African Americans, and the politics of history and memory is the subject of a book I am completing.
Northwood-Four Corners Civic Association newsletter editor Jacquie Bokow asked me to write about demographic changes in our neighborhood. This post is derived from the article I wrote for the October 2015 issue.
In the mid-1870s, the Pennsylvania Railroad consolidated its livestock operations in Philadelphia and built sprawling stockyards and a slaughterhouse on the Schuylkill River’s west bank. Now the site of Amtrak’s 30th Street Station, for nearly half a century, this area was Philadelphia’s version of Chicago’s Packingtown.
Philadelphia stockyards and abattoir shortly after they were completed illustrated in Hexamer’s General Surveys of Philadelphia, Vol. 12 (1877).
Before the Pennsylvania Railroad complex opened, hogs, cattle, and sheep were held and sold at independent drove yards along rail lines leading into the city. Many of the yards were located in West Philadelphia near today’s University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University campuses.
Avenue Drove Yard, near Lancaster Avenue, West Philadelphia (formerly Hestonville), c. 1867.
Salon owner Latosha Jackson-Martin interviewed by a local TV crew, April 2015.
Last spring a long-lived Washington, D.C., hair salon shut its doors after about 50 years in business, 27 of them in the 100 block of Rhode Island Ave. NW. Jak & Company’s owner spent a few weeks in the media spotlight after a Washington Post reporter spotted a letter taped in the storefront’s plate glass door.
The letter announced that the business was closing; gentrification was one of the reasons the letter cited.
The history of changes in people and businesses at the intersection of First and T streets NW in Washington’s Bloomingdale neighborhood includes a hidden history of ties to Washington’s African American underworld. Continue reading
In 2013, the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) evaluated recreation buildings in Montgomery County parks and recommended designating seven of them historic. The North Four Corners Local Park building in Silver Spring was not among the ones selected for protection under Montgomery County’s historic preservation law, Chapter 24A of the County Code.
Though county officials declined to recognize the North Four Corners building’s historical significance, that doesn’t mean the building doesn’t have a history and deep attachment to our community.
North Four Corners Park recreation building, March 2015.