The Disappearing District: 10 Things to Know About Gentrification in DC

Image Source: The Library of Congress
I'll never forget the day that I informed my father of my plans to move to Washington, DC. I had been accepted to a graduate school here and was very excited about the prospect of getting out of Columbus, Ohio -- a town that is not really known for being very exciting. It was 2010; I was in my early thirties at the time, and was definitely more progressive than any Midwestern city we'd ever lived in. I was also a writer starving for cultural and artistic stimulation. Washington seemed perfect for me, but Dad felt othewise. "There?"-- he grieved openly. "Crystal, it's covered in trash and over-run with crime. There are homeless people sleeping on every corner. I remember seeing a poll years ago that called Washington, DC one of the most dangerous places in the country. Why in the world would you want to live there?"

I was baffled by his remarks. After all, I had just returned to Ohio from visiting Washington in person, and I'd already seen a good portion of DC for myself. It didn't seem so awful to me. In fact, it seemed like a pretty extraordinary place. There were trendy neighborhoods everywhere and lots of young people whose enthusiasm and success seemed to drive the untamable energy of the city. There were cultural and historical markers embedded all over town, and there was lots of construction, which led me to believe that Washington was only going to get better. I was sold on the District and couldn't wait to call it home.

I moved here in August of that same year and started grad school. Over time, I found that I had fallen in love with this place and wanted to stay -- but couldn't imagine how I'd ever afford the rent. A one bedroom apartment in Washington could easily run $1,500 to $2,000 per month, but I couldn't understand why. After all-- I'd lived in a two bedroom townhouse back home in Ohio and it was only around $600 per month. I was able to afford it without roommates or operating the spare bedroom as a bed and breakfast.

My father's Washington