Revitalization in Washington, District of Columbia

A Paper on the Neighborhood

Revitalization in Washington, District of Columbia: A Case Study of the Commercial Corridor in the Columbia Heights Neighborhood

In most cities all across the U.S. development has come to a halt. But not in the nation’s capital. Over the past several years, construction development in Washington has boomed. Perhaps the greatest example of the magnitude of this growth is the Fourteenth Street corridor in the Columbia Heights neighborhood. With a new “big box” mall as the commercial cornerstone, this area has seen surrounding construction take off at an incredibly dizzying pace. Columbia Heights is now one of the most successful commercial corridors of Washington and the area continues to grow.

Columbia Heights

Columbia Heights

I just moved here. I have been an observer of the development for just over a year now. But if you ask someone who has lived in the neighborhood for over 5 years, they’d most likely tell you that the place is unrecognizable. Interestingly though, the commercial success of Columbia Heights is a second-coming. Fourteenth Street was roaring in the twenties, too. Recently, I participated in a seminar about the capital urban spaces of both Washington, D.C. and Berlin. I decided to examine the revitalization of Columbia Heights and wound up writing this paper on the commercial corridor: the area’s origins, the original commercial corridor, the corridor’s decline, and finally, the most recent events, the corridor’s revitalization. A number of issues could and perhaps should be examined on the problematic features of this corridor’s development (e.g. gentrifying features, ugly “big box” architecture, withering away of vernacular businesses and proliferation of corporations, etc.). However, this paper focuses more on the physical components of the area and the history of the businesses and buildings; the paper is a case study on an urban corridor that, while once written off, is now in the middle of revitalization. Take a look at the paper below or download the paper for printing. (please be patient with the download since the paper is a very large file size):

Revitalization in Washington DC (PDF) (size is 15.4 MB)

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One response to “Revitalization in Washington, District of Columbia

  1. Pingback: History of Columbia Heights Commerical Corridor « North Columbia Heights Civic Association

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