Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I took these photos at the end of the summer; I can't remember where we were coming from, but we passed through Chinatown on the way to the metro one warm evening. This area is now largely dominated by the Verizon center and teeming with the type of sports bars/chain restaurants that typically surround stadiums, but there are still a few architectural nods to the neighborhood's history, and I've always thought that the gate is pretty fantastic. I hope they never take it down.

This area has changed significantly since we moved to DC in the late 90s, and I wonder what it will be like 20 years from now. DC is an odd place in that so much of the cityscape remains unchanged, at least on the surface. Facades are largely protected by historic preservation laws, and neighborhood streets are still lined with the same rowhouses that have stood for many generations. But the character of neighborhoods is changing all the time. And there has been a push in recent years to lift the height restriction in the city (no building can be taller than 110 feet, I think, due to a law that was passed 100 years ago). When you have so many people in a town that was built to accommodate a much smaller population, you have problems with infrastructure, transportation, affordable housing (there is none) and trouble attracting companies and businesses, just to name a few.

It reminds me of a program Peter and I watched on Nova last week called "Making North America." (They've just aired the first of a three-part series.) It's all about how the continent was formed from a geological perspective, and how it's still changing all the time. It was super fascinating to see how mountains were formed and other landmarks took shape, but the overarching theme I took away from the show is that no landscape is permanent. They talked about how the coastline of California is changing due to the San Andreas fault, and joked that due to the shifting masses of land, one day Los Angeles will be right up next to San Francisco, and two cities that don't like each other very much will be neighbors. It's only moving at a rate of about 2 inches a year, so that will take some time, but still, two inches a year! That's a lot if you think about it.

Anyway, this idea of impermanence and environment is very much on my mind these days. And no, this ramble of mine is not a veiled attempt to hint that we're moving, just things I've been thinking about lately. It's all a bit unsettling and wonderful at the same time. xo, Mary

1 comment:

  1. I also hope they change the height restriction law in DC. I remember our tour guides talking about that when we visited, and I think one of them said the thought behind it was that nothing should be taller than the Capitol building? (Maybe? There was a lot of information to absorb.)

    It's such a bummer when cities build stadiums close to certain cultural areas, because the chain restaurants and bars just ruin it. That gate really is beautiful.