Thursday, December 27, 2012

Our Neighbor Terry Huff (II)

As discussed in a previous post, Terry Huff began his musical career singing on the corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue SE with his brothers. Here is the flyer for the concert in his honor, titled “Special Delivery for Terry Huff: His Life, His Love, His Legacy of Music.” The event will take place on Jan. 4 at the Hampton Conference Center in District Heights, MD. It promises to be a wonderful event.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Wikipedia and Community History: Potomac Gardens

Today, I took a look at the Wikipedia page for Potomac Gardens. I made some additions to the page, which has changed the nature of the page. Below, I have pasted in my recreation of the page as I saw it this morning. The existing page surprised me because it focused exclusively on 1) the potential replacement of the buildings either with Marine barracks or mixed-income housing and 2) crime in the area (under the only category of "Incidents"). There was no discussion of what life might be like in Potomac Gardens, as well as no mention of people important to the community, significant sites within the property, or important events or activities. There was also no discussion of how life in Potomac Gardens may have changed over time. In general, the page seemed to be written from the point of view of people unconnected with those living in Potomac Gardens. Yes, those living inside and outside Potomac Gardens have a great interest in the potential redevelopment plans, but the page does not capture much about Potomac Gardens. Without knowledge of the life within Potomac Gardens, it becomes very easy to argue that Potomac Gardens should be dismantled, since it appears to have no value or significance.

The current Potomac Gardens page reflects my changes. I hope that those with real knowledge of the history and life of Potomac Gardens can make the page truly reflect Potomac Gardens. Specifically, I added the "Social and Cultural Life" section and then put much of the discussion of the potential redevelopment in a separate section called "The Buildings." I moved the discussion of the fence out of the "Incidents" section because it was more about "The Buildings." Anyone can edit any page, which is the great gift of Wikipedia. So, I encourage everyone to edit such pages and create a living community history.

Potomac Gardens 

[the Wiki page as I found it]

Potomac Gardens is a housing project on Capitol Hill in Southeast Washington, D.C., thirteen blocks Southeast of the U.S. Capitol Building. The property is owned by the D.C. Housing Authority. The project was constructed between 1957 and 1968 in a now outdated model of public housing design, the buildings are conspicuous and isolated from the neighborhood context.[2]

The 2006 DC budget included funding for "A joint venture redevelopment between DCHA and a private developer to do a one-for-one replacement of 510 units of public housing located in the present Potomac Gardens and Hopkins Plaza developments. The proposed redevelopment will be a mixed income rental and home ownership containing 510 replacements units out of a total 1,230 units located on the two public housing sites and in the adjoining neighborhood."

There has also been speculation that the housing project would be redeveloped using Hope IV funding to create mixed-income housing. A detailed plan by University of Pennsylvania School of Design was proposed in 2010 called Choice Neighborhoods Washington, DC.[2] On June 7, 2012, DC Housing Authority issued a statement on potential redevelopment of the housing project, stating "We considered several sites for our HUD HOPE VI applications. We chose Capper/Carrollsburg, which was selected and received a HOPE VI grant for $34.9M. We do not have plans to redevelop Potomac Gardens at this time."

Other speculation has circulated that Potomac Gardens was slated to be sold for use as additional Marine barracks, as the location is one of only a few locations meeting the criteria set forth by the Marines.[5]

Jesse Jackson used the project as a backdrop for a press conference to announce he wouldn’t run for president in 1992, calling it “the urban crisis personified, the epitome of national neglect.”[6]

Former White House aide Oliver North performed some of his court-ordered, 1,200 hours of community service there before his Iran-Contra conviction was overturned.[6]


In 1991, a fence was installed, requiring 45 police officers to quell a violent negative reaction. In 1995, Marion Barry’s administration hired the Nation of Islam on an emergency contract to restore order.[7]

In June 2010, fifteen individuals were arrested, according to a joint press release issued in conjunction with the U.S. Attorney’s office, the MPD, the FBI and the U.S. Park Police, who all worked together on the arrests as part of a long-term a task force combating gangs, drugs and violence. The bust yielded heroin, cocaine, guns, scales and other drug trafficking paraphernalia and was described as significant by the MPD1 Commander David Kamperin.[8]

In November 2011, a series of violent attacks in the area surrounding the project drew widespread media attention and a response from DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier.[9]


Additional sources

  • Washington Post: Potomac Gardens, Jan. 10, 1992 – “Police Seize AK-47 Rifle in Southeast Arrest; Man Also Had Pistol, 37 Bags of Cocaine”
  • Washington Post: Potomac Gardens, Sept. 20 1991 – “Man Slain in Complex in Southeast; Residents Witness Morning
  • Washington Post: Potomac Gardens, Jan. 19, 1991 – “Youth, 14, Charged in Hill Slaying. Lawyer Was Killed in Car at Light.”

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Holiday Greetings to our Neighbors at Potomac Gardens

A while back, I wrote a post about Potomac Gardens, a public housing project at 1225 G Street, SE. It is one of the remaining public housing projects in the city. Scholars are now realizing how important public housing is to the overall system of housing and to social and cultural life. We should not destroy public housing and turn it into mixed-income housing. I'll talk more about this in upcoming posts. Just wanted to hint at the fact that public housing is so important for people. Yesterday, I received this comment on my post:
I love the Gardenz. aka Magic City. even though i dont live there keep them up!!!!
Many people say that they *love* public housing! Magic City -- why is it called that? What is the magic of public housing? Warm holiday greetings to our neighbors living in Potomac Gardens and in public housing everywhere, as well as those who have been displaced from public housing in Ward 6 and everywhere.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Our Neighbor Terry Huff

Washington City Paper photo
The Washington City Paper announced that local singer-songwriter Terry Huff -- with D.C. soul hits “I Destroyed Your Love” and “The Lonely One” -- passed away last week: "Born Oct. 16, 1947, the ninth child of 18, Huff began his musical career harmonizing on the corner of 15th Street and Independence Avenue SE with his brothers." Yes, singing in street corner groups was a great Ward 6 tradition.  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the Arthur Capper Public Housing Project "organized an enormous music scene. Well, there were already male singing groups that regularly met, maybe everyday, on every corner of Arthur Capper to sing Motown, such as the Dells, and R&B."

There will be several fundraisers to help pay for his funeral. The wonderful Peter Bug will be organizing one of these: 
Peter Bug, proprietor of the Peter Bug Leather & Shoe Training Academy at 13th and E streets SE, is planning a block party to raise money for the funeral, while John Sharpe is organizing a big-name concert, titled “Special Delivery for Terry Huff: His Life, His Love, His Legacy of Music.” The event will take place on Jan. 4 at the Hampton Conference Center in District Heights, Md. Confirmed acts include Al Johnson, Skip Mahoney, Sarah Dash, Diz Russell and the Orioles, The New Era, as well as surviving members of The Winstons and The Choice Four.  (Washington City Paper)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eliot Hine Middle School Radio Station

Eliot Hine Middle School is the successor of Hine Junior High. The combined school @1830 Constitution Avenue NE now has a radio station!

P.S. It seems that the radio station has been taken down, but you can still hear their interview with Members of Congress Eleanor Holmes Norton and John Lewis.