A reader writes:
Annie Lowrey's ending to that DC piece dripped with just as much condescension as the beginning:
On the final spot on our tour, Abdo took me to his newest, biggest project. We drove north on North Capitol Street, as if we were driving out of the District, to a shabby and decidedly unhip neighborhood called Brookland. It is a mostly older, mostly lower-middle-class neighborhood, underserved by grocery stores and restaurants and overlooked by many of the young professionals farther south in Bloomingdale or Shaw or Capitol Hill.
Really? Brookland may not be Bloomingdale (where Lowrey lives), but to describe it "as though we were driving out of the District" is ludicrous. You've lived here for five years and you think Catholic University is out of the District? It's less than two miles from her own neighborhood and just three from the Capitol, closer than Georgetown, Woodley Park, or Cleveland Park. And "mostly lower-middle-class" sounded off to me as well. A quick search of Census data: the neighborhood's median household income is $72k and 38 percent of the households make more than $100k. Those numbers may be low for the area but it's still a neighborhood full of great old houses that regularly sell for more than $500,000.
It was such a lazy, wrong-headed piece, I don't even know where to start. How about the fact that her basic premise (exploding federal workforce leads to an economic boom in DC) is completely backwards: DC the city has boomed precisely while the federal workforce stagnated or fell through the '90s and 2000s (see chart here).
DC actually was collapsing in population and wealth through the previous four decades, when federal employment WAS growing tremendously. The real story of DC's revival is much more complex, but you could start with our series of pragmatic yet idealistic city leaders. Mayor Anthony Williams's crucial, far-reaching downtown redevelopment plans kicked things off, and his work was continued ably by Adrian Fenty and Vincent Gray. Many, many folks have worked their asses off to make DC a better, more livable city, which I feel privileged to have witnessed in the last several years living here. One person who has advocated tirelessly for smart growth policies, from a blog and local activist network, is Dave Alpert of Greater Greater Washington. Lowrie dismissively refers to his work as a "yuppie blog." What the fuck?
If you thought she treated Logan Circle roughly, get a load of her visit to my home, or "a shabby and decidedly unhip neighborhood called Brookland." Did Jim Abdo take her by Menomale, the best-rated pizza place in DC, opened in Brookland in 2012, making RIDICULOUSLY good Neapolitan pizzas (with excellent gluten-free options)? Or the awesome new Cuban place, Little Ricky's? Or the blocks upon blocks of beautiful, varied bungalows with lovely gardens east of 12th St. NE? If not, would it have killed Lowrie to do five minutes of basic research herself on the neighborhoods she was visiting?
Ugh. Thanks for being there to give some voice to DC's frustration at the NYC condescension.
Annie Lowrey is a pompous ass, but as a long-time DC resident I plead guilty to the charge that we're fashion victims. One of my favorite blogs of all time is DC Style Sheikh; the writer catalogued the horrors in men's fashion around him (sadly, he stopped last year). But it's good enough for government work!
(Photo by DC Style Sheikh)