I Don't Know My Neighborhood Anymore
Anti-gentrification post. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
I Don't Know My Neighborhood Anymore
By
Joseph Young


The photographs in this essay can be seen as a meditation on the H Street NE corridor in Washington, D.C., where I have lived for the past 25 years. Of that time, I've spent more than a decade documenting the gentrification of my working-class neighborhood which is  vanishing fast. The gentrification has forced out longtime neighbors in droves because the rents have skyrocketed too damn high. My neighbor and friend Tony Williams has experienced displacement twice in his life time, first from Southwest and now from the H Street NE corridor. He called urban renewal Negro removal, a statement made famous by the novelist James Baldwin in the 1960s. Williams died suddenly of an aneurysm. As the gentrification takes hold all around me, my sense of belonging has been shattered in ways that I have never felt before.

The gentrifiers are now calling the H Street NE corridor the Atlas District, named after the Atlas Theater at the1300 block of H. Then called the Atlas Movie Theater when it opened in 1938 to an all-white audience.

The commercial area around the Atlas Theater is not the only section of the H Street NE corridor that has been renamed. Further west, the gentrifiers have christened it NoMa which is developing to look like a business park. Since 2003, when former D.C. mayor Anthony Williams announced his intentions to spur population growth, more than 100,000 gentrifiers have migrated to D.C., raising property values, forcing out low-income Black families and small businesses and who are facing a bleak economic future.

There are similar efforts going on in other parts of the city. Ward 7 Council member and former D.C. mayor Vince Gray has been working tirelessly for nearly a decade to rename Southeast Washington, a working-class community of mostly African Americans, the East End. His efforts have gone unnoticed, with the exception of a few.

Rebranding, as it is referred to, is merely a scheme used by the real estate industry to lure white home buyers to black working-class communities. It scrubs the black past of the hood, so white buyers will be able to stomach it until the complete gentrification. And, of course, it's an assertion of the gentrifiers newfound aspirations: gentrification rids blight from working class neighborhoods as well as the poor people who live in them.

Gentrification displaces not only the working poor, but their cultural institutions as well, such as the Black church which is seeing it's congregation numbers dwindle. It's witnessing one church after another close its doors, like the 128 year-old historic St. Phillips Baptist Church in NW, Faith Bible Church and St. John's Church of God, both in NE. Local and federal government officials are complicit in this because their housing policies support gentrification. Take the luxury apartment development in NoMa, as an example, the Avalon received financial backing from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Working-class African Americans know they will be unable to afford the rents.

Gentrification is also displacing Black barbershops and salons. The barbershop is more than a place to go and get my hair cut, but a safe place where I can freely express myself about a variety of social issues, including politics and sports. The back and forth dialogue between Black men help sharpen my intellect and build comradeship. This is important to me as a Black man who lives in a society where my human worth is challenged in every conceivable way imagined. These places make me feel protected from the outside white world. Without these safe places my black body is like a ship without a compass, going around and around but getting nowhere.

My favorite destinations were the thrift shops, including the Salvation Army at the 1400 block of H Street NE. It had been there since the 1950s. It has closed now. They all have. I felt sorry to see them go. That's where I discovered new music and built my vinyl record collection of rhythm and blues. One of my favorite finds was Carole King's Tapestry. As a teen, I'd heard Aretha Franklin perform You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, but I didn't know that the lyrics were written by King. Tapestry is one of the all time great albums. The Salvation Army also carried an unbelievable book selection. I found a first edition of President Obama's The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream. He later signed it. Now my absolute favorite finds are the vintage clothing. My entire closet is filled with vintage menswear I bought at those thrifts. I love my vintage hats and overcoats. The thrift shops were a vital part of the neighborhood. The changes that have taken place on H make me feel like I'm a long way from home.

Now there are few Black shopkeepers on H. Soon there will be even fewer. The cost of doing business there is too high. As a consequence, the look of H is changing. The new shops cater mostly to affluent, white millennials or the creative class as they also are known, who, ironically, have taste for foreign foods, like Mexican, Indian and a variety of Asian dishes. And more wine is consumed in Washington, D.C. per person than any place else in the country. This is additional proof that Black culture will not survive on the H Street NE corridor.

God knows that Blacks have had their endurance tested by redlining, restrictive covenants, disinvestment, low wages, costly rents, segregation, predatory lending, police brutality, crime, violence and now gentrification displacement and pressure.

This photo essay explore the theme of home and away from home, open walls, space, belonging, community, identity, segregation, escapism, ( discarded) memory, change, loss, absence and endurance.

I didn't have a plan of execution for this project. I let the project guide me. And I'm also guided by a need to try and say something about the world, as the photographer Paul Strand would have put it.

As for my influences, well, of course, Paul Strand, Lewis Hine, W. Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, Gordon Parks, Roy Decarava, Edward Hopper, Latoya Ruby Frazier, John Szarkowski, who said photography was born perfect and the Emmett Till open casket photo.

Make me wanna holla what they do with my life. -- Marvin Gaye
New arrival moving into the H Street NE corridor. Pic taken at the 400 block of K Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Watermelons at the new Trader Joe's. Pic taken at the 300 block of Florida Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Man with dog at the new Edison luxury apartments. Pic taken at the 300 block of Florida Avenue NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Walking man with cell phone near the newly redeveloped Uline Arena or otherwise known as the Washington Coliseum which now house the REI Co-Op. Pic taken at the 1100 block of 3rd Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Children at play in front of the Uline Arena which opened in 1941 to whites only. By the 1950s, however, the Uline Arena was desegregated, and Blacks were allowed to attend. In 1959, Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Nation of Islam, gave a speech there and later so did Malcolm X. Pic taken at the 1100 block of 3rd Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Popeyes, named for detective Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle, a fictional, racist character portrayed by actor Gene Hackman in the film The French Connection (1971). Pic taken at the 1200 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Early gentrifiers. Pic taken at the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Early Gentrifiers ll. Pic taken at 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Disinvestment. Replaced by Fare Well vegan restaurant. Pic taken at the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
The  H streetcar construction project along the 12 block stretch of H Street NE hurt some businesses that saw their customer numbers drop. George's Place was one such store. It was replaced by Ben's Chili Bowl. Pic taken at 1000 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Disinvestment II. Replaced by Redrock restaurant. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Predatory financial services and liquor store. Replaced by Constellation on H, an upscale condo development. Pic taken at the 1400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Predatory financial services . Pic taken at the 1400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Ohio Restaurant was replaced by Turning Nature juice bar. Pic taken at the 1400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Adonai and Holyway Baptist Church, couple of the many churches to close on the H Street NE corridor, including the Faith Bible Church which was replace by the Maryland luxury apartments. Holyway was replaced by Fatty's Tattoos. Pic taken at the 500 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Disinvestment lll. Pic taken at the 700 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Good Friday at Horace and Dickies carry out on H where there were few sit-down restaurants. Pic taken at the 1200 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Car window washer. Pic taken at the 1400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Food Desert. There wasn't a single supermarket in the H Street NE corridor, but a host of carry outs, liquor stores and other unhealthy food options, putting this low-income community at risk for health concerns, including obesity, hypertension, diabetes and kidney disease. Pic taken at 700 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Murry's Food Store was replaced by Whole Food. Pic taken at 6th and H streets,Northeast Washington, D.C. ©Joseph Young
Replaced by Craft Beer Cellar. Pic taken at 3rd and H streets, Northeast Washington, D.C. ©Joseph Young
Anti-gentrification post II. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
A woman riding bike. Pic taken at the 1200 block of 4th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
A Gentrified H Street Festival. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2016 © Joseph Young
Outdoor sculpture, work by Michael Murphy. Pic taken at the 1200 block of 3rd Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Two Rivers Public Charter School. Pic was taken at the 1200 block of 4th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
A dock-less bicycle. Pic was taken at the 1200 block of 4th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Anti-gentrification post III.  Stenciled on the window of Bank of America. Pic taken at the 1000 block of H Street Northeast, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Political displacement. Pic taken at the 600 block of K Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Cultural displacement. The Amplified Noise Amendment Act of 2018 would bar playing music through amplified devices audible from more than 100 feet away. Pic taken at Chinatown, NW, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Trigger happy policing outside of Douglas United Methodist Church. Pic taken at the 1100 block of H Street NE, Washington. D.C. 20018 © Joseph Young
Anti-gentrification post IV. Pic taken at the1300 block of H Street NE Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Post asking voters to vote no on initiative 77. It would increase the minimum wage for restaurant workers and some other service providers. Pic taken at the 1000 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
The Street Sweeper. Pic taken at the 1000 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
There are very few Blacks who are hire to work on construction sites in Washington, D.C. This site was formerly an Amaco gas station. It has been replaced by the 360 H Street luxury apartments and Giant food. Pic taken at the 300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Men protesting for right to work on construction site. The D.C. Department of Employment Services fail to enforce law requiring contractors to hire out-of-work residents. Pic taken at Downtown Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Childcare worker and Black Lives Matter banner at the century old Calvary Episcopal Church. Pic taken at the 600 block of I Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Detail of mom and pop stores. Pic taken at the 1100 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Segregation. Gentrified H Street Festival. Pic taken at the 1100 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2016 © Joseph Young
Segregation ll. Nomad, people who want to do Hookah, during the Gentrified H Street Festival. Pic taken at the 1200 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2016 © Joseph Young
Segregation lll. Gentrified H Street Festival. Pic taken in the 900 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2016 © Joseph Young
Alienation. NoMa Gallaudet U Metro Station. Pic taken at 2nd Street and Florida Avenue, Northeast, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Tour Guide of the H Street NE Corridor. Pic taken at the 300 block of the H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Rebranding the Hood. The sign post is displaying information about the H Street NE corridor's past. Pics was taken at the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
The 128 year-old St. Phillips Baptist Church closed its doors. Pic was taken at the 1000 block of North Capital Street NW, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Running Out of Time. Studio 1307 is closing after cutting hair on the H Street NE corridor for the past 25 years. It will be replaced by a restaurant. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Black Owned and Operated post on window of Studio 1307. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Chance the Rapper poster with Black Lives Matter written across it.
Pic taken at H Street, Northeast, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young

Gentrified H Street Festival ll. Pic taken at the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Giant Food. More wine is consumed in Washington, DC per person than anyplace else in the country. Pic taken at the 300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Gentrified H Street Festival lll. Pic taken at the 1200 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young   
The Escape Lounge. Pic taken at 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
The Pug. Pic taken at the 1200 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
The gentrifiers are now calling the H Street NE corridor the Atlas District, named after the Atlas Theater at the 1300 block of H. Then called the Atlas Movie Theater when it opened in 1938 to an all-white audience. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Redrocks restaurant. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
400 block of H. Pic taken on the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Mother and Children. Pic taken at the 400 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Apollo luxury apartments and Whole Foods, formerly the Apollo Theater, opened in 1913, to whites only. Pic taken at the 600 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
A Gentrified H Street Festival and Whole Foods Market, formerly Maurry's Food Store. Pic taken at the 600 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
A Gentrified H Street Festival and Starbucks. Pic taken at the 600 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
 Row house with American Flag. Pic taken at 13th and H streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
 The commercial area around the Atlas Theater is not the only section of the H Street NE corridor that has been renamed. Further west, the gentrifiers have christened it NoMa which is developing to look like a business park. Pic taken at 1st and M streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Swampoodle Park, a dog park and children's playground, named for an Irish neighborhood in Washington, D.C., on the border of Northwest and Northeast in the second half of 19th and early 20th century. This neighborhood is no longer known as Swampoodle and has been replaced by NoMa. Pic taken at 3rd and L streets Northeast Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Anti-Gentrification Post IV. Fight The Power poster. Pic taken at the 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Pic taken at H Street NE, Washington, D.C © Joseph Young
Pic taken at H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Pic taken at 7th and I streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Pic taken at 500 block of 5th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Pic taken at the 300 block of 3rd Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
Pic taken at the 500 block of and 5th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Anti-Gentrification Post V. A Gentrified DC # I Will Not Be Moved DC. Stenciled on store front. Pic taken at 1300 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
H Street Connection mini mall.  Pic take at 8th and H streets, Northeast, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Demolition of the H Street Connection mini mall. Pic taken at the 800 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
H Street Connection mini mall is being replaced with luxury apartments and retail. Developed by William C. Smith. To the left, Capitol Hill Towers, a senior living community. What will happen to them in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood?  Will these low-income units disappear? Pic taken at 1000 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Luxury condo development under construction, formerly three African American mom-and-pop businesses. The edifice is saved but not the people. Pic at the 600 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
The self storage facility, which also doubled as a homeless shelter, is being razed. Pic was taken at the 1200 block of 3rd Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Formerly a block of row houses. Now the Loree Grand At Union Place luxury apartments. Pic taken at  3rd and K streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018. © Joseph Young
Formerly the Capital Children's Museum. Now the Senate Square luxury apartments. Pic taken at 3rd and I street, Northeast, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young
The Tony Williams family home is the first row house from the left. My neighbor, to the left of the Williams home, also sold her home and relocated to the Maryland suburbs. Pic taken at the 1000 block of 4th Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017. © Joseph Young
My neighbor, who relocated to Washington, DC, is moving back to Arizona. He earn too little from the restaurant where he worked to pay the rent where he lived. Pic taken at 4th and H streets NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young.
Following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr on April 4, 1968, H Street NE went up in flames.  Reaction to the rebellion was swift white flight to the suburbs and support for law and order presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon. Now 50 years later, whites are returning in droves to H, once the heart of a Black neighborhood.  Signs of fire and ruin that sat in shambles for decades are vanishing as well as the Blacks who are being forced out. Now as then rage permeates the corridor. Where do we go from here chaos or community? Pic taken at the 700 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. 2017 © Joseph Young
Mural painting of Martin Luther King, Jr on Fashion One storefront grate. Pic taken at the 700 block of H Street NE, Washington, D.C. © Joseph Young

Privatization of Public Space. Waiting to start her shift at Chick-fil-a and Pierce School Lofts, formerly a D.C. Public School. Lofts sell for as much as $ 3 million. Pic taken at Maryland Avenue and 14th Street, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young

Erasure I. Pic taken at 6th and I streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Erasure II. Pic taken at 12th and H streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Erasure III. Pic taken at 13th and H streets, NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Farewell. Pic taken at 4th and H streets NE, Washington, D.C. 2018 © Joseph Young
Joseph Young. Pic taken at 3rd and H streets, Northeast, Washington, D.C.

Joseph Young is a photographer living in Washington, D.C. His photography has appeared in the Washington Post Magazine, Washington Times, Washington Afro Newspaper and the Washington Informer. He earned a bachelor degree in art from the University of the District of Columbia, with a focus on photography, as well as, a bachelor degree in English. He is also a grant recipient from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for his photography series on the homeless in the nation's capital. His photography has been included in a group show at the GalleryOonH in Washington, D.C., and Gallery 42 at the University of the District of Columbia and the School of Communication's Malsi Doyle and Michael Forman Theater at American University.

Thank you for this important work. You've created an historical photographic record that's honest, heartbreaking, and beautiful. I was awestruck. - Mike Murphy, Facebook
Joseph's photography provides an unsparing and striking peak at a history that's being erased at record speed, as gentrification gobbles up not just land but memory. Peter Tucker, Gofundme
I appreciate your value of vintage, your taste of Tapestry, that you see when you look and let the streets speak to naturally unfold the project. Dana Kornfeld, Facebook
The H Street Northeast corridor is a neighborhood in Northeast Washington, D.C. It is bounded by North Capitol Street to the west, Florida Avenue to the north, F Street to the south and 15th Street to the east.
I want the layout of this book to look like Deana Lawson: An Aperture Monograph.
I Don't Know My Neighborhood Anymore
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I Don't Know My Neighborhood Anymore

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