My final visit (with CityLab, anyway) to Ivy City was more of a day out and talking to people I happened to come across. Lunch at Ari's Diner was a fun start and my waiter talked to me about how he had been working in the area for several months and was excited to see some new stores and restaurants opening, mostly with the hope that it would bring in more business. Then a walk through the neighborhood led me to a man hanging out outside his house waiting for a friend. I told him I was checking out the area for a project and he (not sure why) assumed I was part of the petition to reopen the Crummell School. I had a long conversation with him and really got to hear how important this building was to the community. It's been a big part of everyone's lives there. After I walked away, he came running down the street toward me to tell me more about it that he had forgotten to say. This is clearly a passionate topic for many of the residents.
I also talked to Cezar, who works in Ivy City, but lives in Maryland. He enjoyed the city, was excited about the development, but was less than forthcoming about the safety of the city. He had a lot of stories of police coming through and breaking up a variety of crimes. But he sees the light at the end of the tunnel. The rest of day, was just enjoying the sites of this cool and growing neighborhood.
My second urban immersion was a fun and more relaxing experience. I was able to talk more with the locals as well as business owners and get a better feel for the neighborhood as a visitor instead of a student on an assignment. I decided to go to lunch at Ivy City Smokehouse, which was delicious. Aside from the huge marquee style sign, you would be hard pressed to figure out where it is. Its entrance is through one of many randomly placed, unmarked doors that leads directly to a staircase. Once upstairs though, it feels like a cool, almost trendy, restaurant and local hangout. After lunch, I walked around and interviewed the owner of Sip & Dry, Sahar Bozkurt, who runs the bar/hair blow-out salon, and I was able to get a great perspective on the excitement, concerns, and hopes of the growing neighborhood. I noticed that the newly developed area around the Hecht Warehouse has added a lot of opportunities for small business and has created a beautiful atmosphere. But hearing about the troubles Sahar had getting started, I realized the divide between the developing areas was still very much a growing issue. (My interview with her is posted under the video tab above.) Looking through the lens of livability and healthy people, there is a stark contrast between this area and the still undeveloped area. The clean streets and prominence of stores like Nike, TJ Maxx, and Ulta, stand in great contrast to the areas of excessive litter, rundown buildings and remnants of the city's industrial past. The neighborhood has a lot of growing to do but it seems the residents (for the most part) are ready for it. I'm looking forward to getting a deeper look into the perspective of the long time residents.
My first urban immersion in Ivy City was a mixed experience. I started by the developed Hecht Warehouse area that has been built up with a combination of chain stores (Mom's Organic market, Planet Fitness, Ulta, and Nike) and independent businesses (Sip & Dry, Pidzza). Walking further into the neighborhood, I noticed a lot of commercial areas and very little residential space. The mix of Ivy City's industrial past was still very prevalent, there were a lot of old loading docks, large expanses of no greenery, etc. As I walked further into the neighborhood, I found the residential area filled with very quaint and unique (albeit, mostly run down) town homes. Directly across were some very modern new condos which I thought was an interesting combination. The main feature that stood out to me was the wide spectrum of the neighborhood. On one hand there was a large homeless population, a busy homeless shelter, and signs of a community that needed some help. On the other hand however, there was a growing number of unique businesses, hopeful and prospering residents, and a great potential in the infrastructure.
Please add any thoughts or ideas about Ivy City, your city, or City Lab in general