Saturday, April 24, 2010


Adams Morgan is known best for its wild and crazy weekend crowd, the mass of people who descend upon the multiple bars and party until the wee hours of the morn at which time they fan out into the streets, yelling, laughing, sometimes fighting, and most responsibly calling taxi cabs to take them home. But they are just visitors and I was happy to see them go.

Adams Morgan also has a strong Latino component that can give a girl like me a flash back to her earlier days living as an Army brat in the Dominican Republic, but that's mostly when you cross over 18th Street and the vibe isn't really authentic until you go up higher to Columbia Heights and even now that neighborhood has gone through a lot of change.

Adams Morgan can be called a place of politicians, most famously Gary Condit who was accused of murdering Chandra Levy in 2001, and Jim Graham who lives in the neighborhood and is known for his presence everywhere, a quick responder, always on the spot.

On the other end of the social spectrum Adams Morgan had its share of homeless and the not quite right, and my special group of single moms who had been there years earlier when the neighborhood had an inner city appeal.

The shop keepers were what gave Adams Morgan its day-to-day personality. Fenty's dad is still there taking care of Fleet Feet but Miss Pixie is gone and sells her second-hand furniture over on 14th Street. When Sid (pictured here) died, the neighborhood mourned his death with flowers and candles and most still miss the big art deco sign that marked his New York-style deli. In acknowledgment of Comet's closure in 2005, the Washington Post ran this article and it does a good job describing the slow gentrification that is taking over Adams Morgan.

I drove down Calvert Street recently, remembering which house had drunk Santa falling off the stair rails every Christmas and which house I liked best on my daily walk home. I felt a sad longing for my old neighborhood's energy and diversity but people change like neighborhoods do and it was time to move on.

Photo source.


Fredrik said...

Nice portrait!

Gale in DC said...

New shop additions to AdMo are Meeps and Mercedes Bien Vintage, Toro Mata(Peru), SmashDC, Crooked Beat Records,and the Tibet Shop that quickly come to mind. Many of us miss Sid,of course, & Kobos. But new ethnic eateries such as Las Canteras, Dahlak, Casa Oaxaca, Himalayan Heritage join Jyoti, Grill fm Ipanema, La Fourchette,El Tamarindo, Mixtec, Meskerem, etc. Your lament, while understandable, may be a bit overdrawn?

Leslie in Adams Morgan said...

@ Gale: Thanks for your comment. It's the first challenging one I've received and I appreciate that. :-)

I never went into Meeps. Used clothing's not my thing but they always had interesting window displays. I walked into Toro Mata and agree it's a nice shop but preferred Miss Pixies. While I won't buy second-hand clothes, I don't want to pay high dollar for my furniture and accessories. I don't know about Smash DC and the others.

Re: the restaurants. Most of those aren't new but I agree Adams Morgan has a lot of very good food options but it goes back to the first crowd I mentioned who keep those businesses alive. I mean there's only so much eating out a girl can do. They are definitely what keep Adams Morgan diverse, though, and I like that.

I'm really talking more about up around 18th and Columbia where I lived and having a Foot Locker in place of Comet was heart breaking and watching Fed Ex take the place of the row of shops on the corner depressing. Such a beautiful building and such a mundane selection of businesses moved in. We had hoped something independent and dramatic would add to the neighborhood. (No complaints about Starbucks, though.)

But my lament is more about being gone - I miss the place - and not being able to afford to buy property in Adams Morgan (proper) above the ground level. Maybe prices have changed in the last two years since I've moved out but I doubt it. This post and the ones below are mostly my sad farewell to a neighborhood I really loved.