It didn't happen right away. I moved into Adams Morgan in October 2002 when the Sniper was terrorizing Washington, DC and surrounding areas. I had friends and family within driving distance but no one in the neighborhood. I was a single girl, living alone, completely isolated, and afraid to go outside.
Five years later on October 1, 2007 a fire broke out in one of the condominiums located an alley and a street away from me. I could see the fire from my kitchen window. It blazed for eight hours and the building was destroyed. Remarkably, no one died and all but one of the pets were saved.
The Avalon started burning in the middle of the night and by 4 a.m. countless people were outdoors, including me. I called my friend Nancy who lived one building down and she was fine; in fact, she was on site shooting photographs and later wrote an excellent article for the InTowner (found here).
While I didn't know anyone first hand who was victim to the fire, my niece went to school in the neighborhood and her little friend had lost everything but most of all missed her Barbies. My group of girl friends took up a collection and gave her family a $75 gift card, with the hope that the money would be spent on dolls first and more practical items second. After five years, I felt a strong sense of community in Adams Morgan, something you don't get as easily out here in the suburbs. It was as if the fire had happened to all of us. In the weeks following, there were countless fundraisers for the affected families and the building has since been renovated. You wouldn't know when you walk by 2627 Adams Mill Road that a fire had made a shell of the building. It's just there in the collective memory of the neighborhood.