People in Washington – but probably in every city in the world – are always talking about change.
Hop into a cab and you get into a lively conversation with a cab driver from Ethiopia about change: the city landscape, the lack of parking, the difficulty of getting around, too much traffic, bicycles and bicycle riders, how expensive it is.
All of us do it, not just cab drivers. And besides, when you hop into a cab now, you get talk-show snippets and credit payments and the cabs are uniformly identified on top. Not so, even a few years back.
But it’s true, the city’s changing. In the last political campaign nobody talked much about that. We heard about affordable housing, but real estate has shot ahead so fast – the bursts of gentrification, the rise of so-called pop-ups and the tornado of condo building – that whatever might have been affordable is no longer affordable by the people who were meant to afford it.
Whole neighborhoods have changed. Look at the area around the ballpark in southwest, a fairly recent change, and what’s about to
happen along the harbor.
Most of us would agree that a lot of this change isn’t catastrophic or bad. (Remember the 14th Street Corridor from P Street to U Street and the entire downtown area?) Ailing neighborhoods have gotten better, but in the process the city has lost longtime residents.
But people weren’t prepared for this much change, seemingly overnight. So when you go downtown or closer by and find long-standing fixtures – a restaurant, a gas station, a car wash, a deli or a mom and pop restaurant – simply gone, it’s unsettling.
It’s not that we don’t have city planners, or life planners or day planners. Change is now fast, and some people get furious. The landscape is changing, the weather is changing, the politics are changing.
Still, it’s the same blue sky, the same face of your neighbors, the same good mornings and howyoudoins. Washington will always be the city of trees, the city of statues and – who knows? – maybe even the city of free museums and zoos.
It’s still our town and our neighborhoods and our neighbors. After all, we live here together in our neighborhoods, even as they are changing daily.