Ever wonder why some radio towers are painted in alternating bands of orange and white and others aren’t? The story behind the federally mandated paint scheme goes back to the earliest days of aviation and broadcasting.
Queen Elizabeth II visited Washington, D.C., in the spring of 1991. Her itinerary included parts of the Capital City typically avoided by most visitors, royal and otherwise. An affordable housing development in the city’s Southeast was one of the places Queen Elizabeth visited.
In 2007, I interviewed people who were involved in coordinating the visit and who were principals in the housing development. The Washington, D.C., Local Initiatives Support Corporation continues to post excerpts from the oral histories done to document their history. Continue reading
The Purple Line is a proposed 16-mile light rail corridor. Once completed, it will link suburban communities north of the nation’s capital in Maryland’s Montgomery and Prince George’s counties. First proposed more than a decade ago, state officials breathed new life into the project in 2007 to connect Metro transit stations in New Carrolton and Bethesda as well as the business districts between the two communities.
Planning for the project, including engineering and environmental studies, are underway. Construction could begin as early as 2015 if funding is secured.
The Purple Line will require multiple support structures and buildings, including 18 power substations, 14 signal bungalows (small buildings with radio and signal equipment), and a nine-story ventilation tower in Bethesda’s central business district. Residents who live along the proposed alignment told the Washington Post that they are concerned about potential impacts from the power facilities known as traction power substations. Continue reading
The riots that tore through Washington, D.C., after Martin Luther King’s assassination in April 1968 left many neighborhoods physically and emotionally scarred for decades. Columbia Heights was one of the most adversely affected. Continue reading
Suburbia is inherently automobile oriented. It is a cultural landscape dominated by strip malls, subdivisions, and clogged transportation corridors that demands deference to cars. The people who moved to the suburbs brought with them cultural traditions that included a wide array of religious beliefs. As ranch houses and more immodest dwellings sprouted in residential neighborhoods after the Second World War, churches, synagogues, and other houses of worship were built for the people who lived in them.
Orthodox Jews, like their Reform, Conservative, and non-Jewish neighbors, rely on cars to survive in suburbia. Trips to the grocery store, to work, to school, to summer baseball games, and to the mall all require getting in a car to make the trip. Unlike their neighbors, however, Orthodox Jews must hang up their car keys for the weekly Sabbath and for other high holy days because of religious laws prohibiting certain activities that include work, carrying objects, pushing and pulling things, and operating vehicles. Continue reading
I think gentrification has made the neighborhood less of a neighborhood — Oakhurst resident, April 2012.
Last week the National Council on Public History released a post on its History@Work site previewing clips from the rough cut of my documentary video, Oakhurst: An Oral History of Gentrification. In its Facebook update announcing the post, the organization noted: “This is what gentrification looks like.”
Equalization schools were the South’s futile attempt to cling to Jim Crow segregation. They were built throughout Georgia, South Carolina, and other Deep South states as a last ditch effort to forestall court-ordered public school integration. According to Georgia architectural historian Steven Moffson, his state had the greatest number of schools built to preserve the separate but equal doctrine that ultimately was dismantled under the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision.
Decatur’s Beacon Elementary and Trinity High schools were among the hundreds of equalization schools built in Georgia after World War II. They were constructed in 1955 and 1956 on the site where the city had maintained its African American school, the Herring Street School, since the early twentieth century. In early 2013, three years after receiving a $10,000 historic preservation grant that should have led to the property’s protection, the City of Decatur began demolishing parts of the two schools to build a new police headquarters and civic plaza. Continue reading
Earlier this year I began taking steps towards completing a project that had its origins back in 1990. For a few hours the evening of October 24, 1990, Eric King and I consumed a fair amount of alcohol and talked blues music and history at the bar of his Atlanta club, Blind Willie’s. At the time, I wrote a blues column for a short-lived alt-weekly, Footnotes. I had been spending lots of time in Willie’s and I had wanted to interview King for background material for future stories. Continue reading
Shot this morning on my ride on Atlanta’s Beltline Trail. What a great way to start the day.
Postscript: After this post went live I learned that this is Bon Jovi’s second brush with fame. He was pictured in a Feb. 14, 2013 New York Times article on the Beltline.
© 2013 D.S. Rotenstein