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Southwest: The Dichotomy of D.C. Essay

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From an aerial perspective, Southwest DC is strikingly different from the other four quadrants of the city. Not only is the neighborhood much smaller, but the street grid is also broken. While the same rules apply to SW, the street grid is not as rigid as the rest of the city; this allows for more open spaces and serves to make SW feel more like a neighborhood than just a collection of big city blocks. The older buildings that make up a large portion of SW comprise of many low-rise, low-to-mid income housing, and some interspersed light commercial plots on each block near South Capitol St., but it becomes almost exclusively residential approaching the waterfront and far Southwest border. This is a change from most of the rest of the city; while there are plenty of other residential neighborhoods, none have the contrast between new and old that is present in SW.
The old urban renewal on the neighborhood created what can be seen today as a highly dichotomized neighborhood with elements of both extreme wealth and intense poverty. Walking from South Capitol St. westward, the area follows a starkly contrasting trend – new high-rise, upscale condominiums – then old downtrodden row houses and apartments, some without electricity – and finally an upscale, but old, area mixed with row houses and large apartments and condos. The first two sections are perhaps the most evident example of current urban renewal efforts in the entire city. The ability to stand in a lot in the middle of SW (e.g. the site of the old Waterside Mall) and look down M St. to see three distinct trends shows just how much this neighborhood has been torn apart. The influx of renewal has brought new developers into the eastern portion (looking eastward), where high-rise...


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... type of facility keeps kids off the streets and promotes positive habits during formative years in a young person’s life. In addition to the benefits to children, the city also provides adults with career oriented services such as resume writing classes and job searching advisors. Aside from educating people and helping on an individual level, the city can enforce laws that require developers to devote a portion of new buildings to low-income housing. Right now there is a brand new high class condo building on one side of M St. with downtrodden row houses on the other. Instead, there should be new buildings on both sides of the road, catering to both luxurious lifestyles and people on a tight budget.


Works Cited
Wasserman, Paul, and Don Hausrath. Washington, DC from A to Z: the Traveler's Look-up Source for the Nation's Capital. Sterling, Va.: Capital, 2003. Print


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