In February 2013 I got an email from the Jacquie Bokow, editor of the Northwood News. “Hey, Dave! Do you know anything about the property at 503 Dennis Avenue?,” Jacquie wrote. The property is in our old Maryland neighborhood and late last year signs were posted that the property was under subdivision review and that the early 20th century home there may be demolished.
William Read house, December 2012.
The research I did on the 1939 World’s Fair Home and the neighborhood’s 1950′s cooperative subdivision included documentation on the pre-suburban properties prior to subdivision in the early 20th century. I wrote a brief article and sent it to Jacquie. It was published in the Northwood News in April 2013 and it is reprinted below along with additional illustrations not included in the printed version.
As I finish the edits on next Monday’s post on new Silver Spring McMansions, I put together this collage showing the older building stock in my North Four Corners neighborhood juxtaposed against a map with some of the earliest subdivision plats and their dates as an overlay.
Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s is a new exhibit opening Saturday at the National Building Museum and running through July 10, 2011. The exhibit includes a section on a house built in the North Four Corners part of Silver Spring: Washington’s 1939 New York World’s Fair Home. As far as the available evidence suggests, the Silver Spring developers who received a license from the New York World’s Fair Corporation were the only ones who built an exact duplicate using the plans and material specifications for the demonstration home that was on display in the Long Island fair in 1939 and 1940. Continue reading →
Okay, I know this is going to be a candidate for the most boring blog post ever. A bibliography? For real? As I try to get my head around Silver Spring’s skateboarding subculture. I am trying to build a bibliography of skateboarding culture and landscapes and I am casting a wide net. If you know of sources, hit the comment button or send me an email.
Last week the Washington Post reported on “slugging“: a form of cooperative ride sharing that combines attributes of carpooling and hitchhiking. Coincidentally, I was doing oral history interviews last week with several original members of a Silver Spring housing cooperative founded in the early 1950s by a group of federal workers who wanted to abandon their Washington apartments for suburban homeownership. Carpooling quickly became a commuting mainstay and it became a vehicle for creating social networks in the new subdivision and between emerging suburban developments. Continue reading →
Since July 2010, when the Silver Spring Civic Building and Veterans Plaza opened, a drum circle has gathered Saturday evenings. I wanted to see how the drum circle forms each week so I arrived at 6:30 PM to see how it comes together. Performances are complex social events. The activities leading up to the actual event can be as significant as the music or drama performed during the performance. With that in mind I tried to catch how the Silver Spring drum circle comes together as a performance. This video is compiled from clips I shot while watching the drummers and their audience gather between 7:00 and 8:20 PM in Veterans Plaza.
I am slowly getting around to revising my 2010 Vernacular Architecture Forum paper on Silver Spring’s 1939 World’s Fair Home. One of the areas that I was unable to deal with in the VAF paper was how the Silver Spring house differed from the one built in the World’s Fair Town of Tomorrow. This brief post is drawn from my ongoing work.
The Silver Spring drum circle reconvened last Saturday night. My BlackBerry (and its crappy camera) and I again wandered over to the drummers after catching the great show put on by Chicago blueser Joanna Connor. Note to self: Carry a real camera in Downtown Silver Spring.
Joanna Connor. Silver Spring, Maryland. July 31, 2010. Another Blackberry fuzz shot.
Silver Spring is an interesting place. I’ve lived here for nearly 10 years and I still feel like a newcomer. It is an unincorporated place in southern Montgomery County (Maryland) that hugs Washington’s angular northern boundary line. Unlike other places I have lived (e.g., Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta), there is no cohesive Silver Spring identity for the community as a whole or its various neighborhoods. It’s a place in search of a culture, it seems.
Two years ago the space where the new Veterans Plaza and Civic Building now sit was a patch of artificial turf that became a community gathering place. One year ago the spot was a construction site. County planners envisioned the new space as a performance space and a formal and informal gathering place. I wonder how this is going to develop and if Silver Spring will get the culture planners hoped for in building the new space. Okay, they’ve built it and people are coming: skateboarders, loafers, nappers, and voyeurs. And the drummers. Are the drum circles a transitional phase helping (through music therapy?) to move Silver Spring into a new direction? Or are they something else? I look forward to watching how things turn out.
I spent about 45 minutes at last night’s drum circle (it was more of a rectangle with an amorphous fringe) and I wish I could have stayed longer. I enjoyed the improvisation and watching the diverse crowd. I wonder how things turned out with the Krishnas who set up an informational table a few dozen yards away, complete with their own drum.