May 26, 2012, Washington, DC: The Friday night and Saturday morning of a holiday weekend is always a good time to enjoy the city. If you’re staying put, you watch the evening traffic head out, bound for the beach or a weekend with family. You watch the roads clear and things grow a bit quiet, then hear the volume crank up a notch as the neighbors head out for the night and reclaim their local spaces. It is on city nights at the start of a holiday weekend that you realize how small this place really is, nights like this when you feel like it’s entirely your own.
February 24, 2012, Washington, DC: Location, Location, Location. Cities sprung up where they did in the first place due entirely to their geographical assets. New York City: A trading post in a sheltered harbor at the mouth of the Hudson River that would later take shape as a critical terminus linking the Atlantic to the Hudson and the Erie Canal. Chicago: A short portage that would eventually connect the Mississippi River to the Great Lakes via the 1848 opening of the Illinois and Michigan Canal. San Francisco: A fort called the Presidio at the mouth of the Golden Gate marking an entry to a Pacific trade route.
Geography has long played a pivotal role in the identities and growth of our cities, not only for the promise of protection, but for the promise of access. As natural terminals, first by water, later by rail, public transit and air, our cities have always served as hubs that facilitate the transport of both people and goods.
But how many of the historic hubs of your city remain relevant to your life today?
A weekend visit to San Francisco’s Ferry Building, followed by a return to my own neighborhood at Eastern Market, has me thinking about the ways in which some longstanding urban cores still have the ability to anchor our cities and our neighborhoods.
December 19, 2011, Washington, DC:Barracks Row and Eastern Market are not like Georgetown. We have none of the big box stores on the Hill outside of Union Station; instead it’s the food, the drink and necessities like the neighborhood hardware store that we tend to write home about. Still, there are gems within a few short blocks for local shopping, several pictured here. And therein lies one of the biggest perks of living in a walkable neighborhood: Come Christmas, it’s entirely possible to avoid the mall. On busy weekends before the holidays, there’s no need to get in the car.
“The rhythm of life is small-town and middle-class, which makes the town comfortable. What makes it yeasty is the cosmopolitan worldliness of its people. The man across the street has just gotten off an airplane from Karachi, and the fellow umpiring the kids softball game has spent the day over plans for putting a man on the moon.”
-Russell Baker on Washington, New York Times Magazine, 1965
November 5, 2011, Washington, DC: Going out to eat in Washington, DC is fabulous in part for reasons like this: The clientele in cozy spots around the corner from home is more often than not impressive and fascinating. It’s no wonder then that the best seat in the house is right up front for a meal at the bar, where you can observe the people who come and go and hear a bit about their day. That’s the spot we chose last night for our first trip to Acqua Al 2.
This is the first in a series of morning photo essays documenting neighborhoods around town, seen from over the handlebars of my (well, our) big red beach cruiser.
July 30, 2011, Washington, DC: Mornings are my time. I’m more creative in the morning. It pains me to spend five mornings a week in the car commuting. By the time I get there, my energy is zapped. Good ideas have come and gone.
Weekend mornings, you can imagine, are heaven. During DC summers, they’re also the best time to see the city. Especially by bike.
June 19, 2011, Washington, DC: What a weekend! It feels like waking up from a dream. In the blink of a tired eye, our friends and families have packed their cars and said their goodbyes, and we have traveled back up the Northern Neck to the city, our city, of Washington, DC. Tomorrow will bring airports and foreign countries, but today, in sheer and utter happiness exhaustion, we embrace the familiarity of home. All day, we have looked forward to picking up a pizza from our favorite neighborhood joint, Matchbox, and collapsing on the couch in our cozy, octagonal living room. It’s the perfect way to recall the weekend, to try our hardest to remember every detail before the memories fade away. There is no place right now I’d rather be.
This moment of satisfied calm is probably a good time to describe the place we call home. Home since November has been a lovely little apartment on Capitol Hill on the second floor of an old blue row house. Its bay windows let in massive sunlight over our quiet but active tree-lined city street, tucked away seven blocks behind the U.S. Capitol Building. Just how much I love this apartment and this neighborhood has been a delightful surprise.