July 18, 2008

Anacostia History

by Jessica Wright, Community Blogger.

After visiting the Anacostia museum for the first time, I was excited to further explore the history of the area. What better way to learn than from the long-time residents? I spoke with one of our clients, Ms. P, a 58-year-old woman who has lived in Anacostia since she was 12. As she was proud to relate, her experiences date back to when the ice man and milk man still made their neighborhood deliveries.

Like many long-time residents I’ve met, Ms. P remembers her childhood here fondly. “I wish I was a kid again,” was her response when asked about the changes over the years. She lamented the change in people’s attitudes that has resulted in the violence seen today. “Back then…we could leave our doors unlocked, stuff like that. And now we can’t do that…It’s just terrible.”

Ms. P’s favorite destination when she was younger was the zoo. “I used to like to see all the animals. I stopped going there, because it’s too hard right now. The transportation is too hard to get to. Some people can’t afford it.”

Ms. P stated that in the past the area was still very low income, but rent was much cheaper. Food and clothing were also much lower-priced. In her opinion, the struggle to make ends meet is more of a recent development, due to government policy.

A positive change that Ms. P has observed is that the MLK area of Anacostia has improved a lot. Considering the New Communities research that I’ve done lately, I asked Ms. P for her thoughts on the initiative. She stated that it would “most definitely” have a positive effect on the area. “It’s going to make the community look even better.”

In parting, Ms. P expressed her hopes for the community:

I just wish that the young people in this community, and old people, would, you know, look after their kids. Take a positive attitude and adult attitude in life; pay more attention to their kids, pay more attention to their health, pay more attention to anything that’s going to help them survive in this city. And we’ll love one another, you know, and just get along. Live the best way you can.
Sounds like wise advice to me.

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