I get it. The Chocolate City has changed. It isn’t what it used to be, and I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that D.C. was once so marred by murder that it was nicknamed Dodge City or that there is now a hipster bar on U St. that holds the same name.
—Stephen A. Crockett, Jr., “The Brixton: It’s new, happening and another example of African-American historical ‘swagger-jacking’”
“While most of the block was filled with abandoned buildings, there were three row houses across the street that were the epicenter of a very active drug market [in 2000]….The violence was pretty bad back then. At least once a week there would be gunfire, and our construction crew would dive into the trenches that were being built as a water inlet for the project. The gunfire was so frequent that diving into the trenches became a weekly routine. To shield ourselves from the bullets, we built a large mountain of dirt between the project and the street and an armed security guard was hired to patrol the site 24 hours a day.”
—Harrison Square land development manager Billy Smith, “Facts and Fictions of D.C.’s Gentrification.”
There is a moral idiocy to Crockett’s sentiment that is obvious and appalling and all-too-common to the anti-gentrification set. It run something like this: “D.C.’s residents turned the city into a murder-riddled wasteland run by incompetent drug addicts with a crippled economic base and cratered real estate value. But it was our murder-riddled, economically unviable wasteland run by incompetent drug addicts, dagnabbit!” What a joke.