This is an on-going project exploring Culturally significant streets in cities across America.
I live in Washington DC, just a couple blocks off of Georgia Avenue, a major street that runs about 2/3 the length of Northwest DC, from Florida Avenue to Silver Spring in the upper corner of the District. It carries on north for miles into suburban Maryland, but I am focusing on the stretch within Washington DC. Georgia Avenue presently represents a soft boundary between primarily white and gentrifying neighborhoods to the west, and primarily minority and gentrifying neighborhoods to the east of the Avenue. Georgia Avenue boasts a boundary of historic black college, Howard University at it's southernmost end. As it runs northward it passes through Petworth, a neighborhood rapidly gentrifying and bearing the brunt of fast development around the metro station of the same name. Continuing north, Georgia Ave passes through Brightwood, borders the old site of Walter Reed Army Medical Center - slated soon for major redevelopment into mixed use residential and commercial space as well as schools and green space. From there Georgia crosses the DC line into Sliver Spring, MD.
East Colfax Avenue
On a recent visit to Denver, Colorado, I had time to spare between shooting family photo sessions. Knowing my love for the vibe of Georgia Avenue in Washington DC, my hosts (former DC residents) recommended that I explore East Colfax Avenue and Capitol Hill. East Colfax was Denver's earliest main thoroughfare, and a desirable address for Denver's elite. In the 1890s, widespread economic depression forced many once-wealthy residents to rent out rooms in the grand mansions, and East Colfax became home to the disadvantaged and transients, alongside middle class families. Post- WWII "white flight" further depressed the Avenue, and rezoning and city regulations resulted in the loss of many historic buildings. In the 1960's policy changes led to the release of functional but mentally ill men and women and they found homes in the run-down mansions off East Colfax, contributing the the perception that the street was a dangerous one - one that Playboy Magazine once referred to as "the longest, wickedest street in America". Jack Kerouac's Sal Paradise lives for a time in an apartment on East Colfax in On The Road. The completion of I-70 through Denver in the 1970s was another factor in the depression of East Colfax Avenue, as visitors to Denver no longer passed through, bought gas and food, or lodged in its hotels, and no one "roared east along Colfax and out onto the Kansas plains" any more.