Vanishing Northeast

Gentrification's Toll

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The city is disappearing fast, or at least being reinvented. Glass cubes seem to be rising on every corner and construction cranes jockeying for position in an increasingly claustrophobic skyline. After nine years away from Washington, my return in 2016 felt far less nostalgic than I expected. So in documenting life in Northeast, as I saw it, it was what I didn’t see that prompted me to work with an iPhone to photograph buildings, places and people that may not still be here in a few years.

I found myself roaming around the warehouse district that surrounds Union Market. Halal meat markets, prayer rug vendors and that fantastic Mexican produce market are all anticipating having to join their former neighbors in the suburbs. Leases are skyrocketing and these businesses are being priced out. Their regulars - shoppers from Africa, Latin America and Asia -will have to shop elsewhere. And when that happens, the area’s transformation will be complete.

I wandered Brookland, Deanwood, NOMA, Ivy City, Rosedale, Trinidad, Burrville and the H Street Corridor. To me, the city itself now seems to offer fewer surprises. Street photography, for me, is at its best when the unexpected, the extraordinary, occurs around any random corner. It can be an old piece of architecture, a face etched with history or an unlikely moment in a community pool. In DC, a beautiful city to be sure, I seem to find it less frequently as neighborhoods begin to mimic one another. Perhaps, I am looking at it wrong. I should see it as more of a challenge than a hindrance.