Archive for June, 2014

At-Large Councilmember introduces bill designating “Good Hope Road” a Retail Priority Area






June 26, 2014

Contact: David Meadows

(202) 724-8143



Anita Bonds Bill Designates “Good Hope Road” a Retail Priority Area


Allows Small Businesses on Good Hope Road to Apply for Grants with the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At Tuesday’s council session, Councilmember Anita Bonds (D- At-Large) introduced and passed an amendment to the FY 2015 Budget Support Act 2015, designating Good Hope Road, SE a Retail Priority Area. This amendment allows small businesses residing on Good Hope Road – from Anacostia Drive to Naylor Road SE – to join a number of economic corridors eligible to apply for and receive grants awarded by the office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, through one of the TIF Funding Sources.

Retail Priority Areas are designated by council and allow businesses to compete in grant initiative programs like the popular Great Streets Program. Great Streets grants may be awarded to new or existing businesses for upgrades, including façade face-lifting, developing businesses and the creation of jobs.

Jobs creation and increased opportunities of DC residents to enjoy a portion of city’s continued prosperity are priorities in FY2015 Budget. This amendment allows one of our underdeveloped economic corridors an opportunity to earn much needed assistance that has greatly benefited a number of similar corridors throughout the District,” said Councilmember Bonds.

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“Rambler Finds a Story on Origin of Good Hope” [Evening Star, June 29, 1924]

Good Hope Road SE“The road leads to Good Hope, but before answering its call let me sit in the shade of a pine tree and tell you a story about an old friend of mine. His name is Herman Davis – Herman W. Davis is the full name. I think that everybody in Southeast Washington knows Herman. He has lived there long enough to get acquainted. He was born there seventy-nine years ago and he has stuck pretty close to the land of his birth. There are many interesting things about Herman, and one of them is that he has a good story about the origin of the name “Good Hope.” Herman’s father, Addison L. Davis, was born at Fredericksburg in 1814 and was married there to Miss Anne Dorothy Farrish, a beautiful girl of that ancient city and of a family whose family bore a brave part in the American revolution.

Addison Davis was graduated by the University of Virginia and was skillful in the arts or construing Latin and speaking French. He has, as Herman told me, learned something of the language of the Indians of this region. He came to Washington in 1840. And here we will let Herman take his place on this page in quote marks: “When I was quite a small boy my father took me walking to Good Hope, and on the Ridge road we came to a place where the woods had been cut away and where we got a fine view of the Eastern Branch. My father stopped and told me that the chief of the Anacostia Indians had stood there many years before and said in the Anacostia language: ‘Hope! Hope! Good Hope! This is Good Hope!’ He used the words the Indian has used, but if I ever knew them I have forgotten them.”

It is an interesting story. That savage did not not, of course say “Good Hope” in the way we say it. He did not even say “spe anomoque impletus,” nor even “bonne esperance,” but what he said sounded like “Ojibewaxon.” The Indian stood there, pointed to the shining, shimmering Eastern Branch, then raised his arms as though he would [shake] hands with heaven and said “Ojibewaxon.” Perhaps it was classic Anacostian for “Good Hope.”


Evening Star, “Rambler Finds a Story on Origin of Good Hope.” June 29, 1924, pg. 77

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Plot to abduct Lincoln through old Anacostia [J. Wilkes Booth: An Account of His Sojourn in Southern Maryland, 1893]

Landscape“Sometime in December 1864, I heard that there was a ‘big scheme’ afoot to abduct President Lincoln and take him a prisoner to Washington.

Briefly stated, the plan was this: The President when he went for his customary evening drive toward the Navy Yard, was to be seized and either chloroformed or gagged, and driven quietly out of the city. If in crossing the Navy Yard Bridge the carriage should be stopped, the captors would point to the President and drive on. The carriage was to be escorted out of the city by men dressed in Federal uniform. Relays of fast horses were in readiness all along the route….”

This route would have taken Lincoln through Anacostia. After shooting Lincoln, Booth crossed the Navy Yard Bridge and waited for an accomplice at the corner of Monroe and Harrison Streets, today MLK and Good Hope Road.


Jones, Thomas., J. Wilkes BoothAn Account of His Sojourn in Southern Maryland After the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, His Passage Across the Potomac, and His Death in Virginia. (1893)


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The Rambler on “Good Hope Road” [Evening Star, July 6, 1924]

Good Hope Road SE“It was one of those roads which lead out of Washington, and also into Washington, that depending on the way one is going or coming. Many main roads near Washington have this dual character or dual direction. It was one of those gray, level, shadeless roads, bordered by signs, gas stations and ice cream, and sausage refectories which nearly all of us have come to call a good road. It was without the virtues and the charm of a bad road.

Once it was called a quiet way, going down a hill to a ford where a stream sang above yellow sand and white pebbles and then climbed another hill between banks draped with green briar, trumpet, honeysuckle and Virginia creeper. There were graceful bends in the road and every few yards an oak or a pine of solemn dignity laid its shade across the way. But progress put its hand upon this road and made it good and homely.”


Evening Star, “Suspicions of Rambler Are Aroused By One Who Calls Him ‘Brother.'” July 6, 1924, p. 69.  By the “Rambler,” John Harry Shannon.

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Brief notes on the old Van Buren School [Evening Star, 1949 & 1950]

Anacostia Citizen’s Unit Votes Against Home Rule

The Anacostia Citizens’ Association last night went on record as opposed to home rule.

W. F. Yearwood, second vice president, who introduced the motion said he was against any form of home rule and “wants to see the District remain as it is.”

Dr. Samuel O. Burdette, speaking in favor of self-government, said he is against taxation with representation.

The association also directed a letter to be sent to the District Recreation Board asking that the Van Buren School and the Van Buren annex be torn down and the grounds be used to build a playground for children of the area.

Evening Star, June 22, 1949, p. 28

School Site in Anacostia Proposed for Playground

The Anacostia Citizens’ Association last night voted to ask the Board of Education to turn over the site of the recently razed Van Buren School for use as a playground.

It was pointed out that, despite its small area, the location would be ideal for the construction of a smaller children’s play area.

The group also changed its constitution and by-laws to set up a special membership for businessmen. Businessmen would be permitted to display an association label for a slightly higher dues payment.

Evening Star, June 21, 1950, p. 17

The Van Buren School opened in 1891 on Jefferson Street, today W Street, in old Anacostia.


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William Alston-El with reporter from Al Jazeera America [W Street SE, August 2013]

William Alston-El and reporter from Al-Jazerra America


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Raze Application filed for 1328 W Street (site of former Unity Health Clinic, previously the Van Buren School)

1328 W Street SEA raze application has been submitted for 1328 W Street SE, the former site of the Unity Health Clinic and in a previous era the Van Buren School. In order to re-locate the two homes on the Big K site — 2234 MLK Jr. Ave. & 2238 MLK Jr. Ave — the old quonset hut will have to go.

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“Center for Anacostia Studies: Changing An Image” [Washington Post, October 23, 1975]

WP _ 10.23.1975 _ Center for Anacostia StudiesIf the Center for Anacostia Studies or the Anacostia Historical Society still exists, it is only in abstraction.

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Anacostia’s Train Rolls In [Washington City Paper, May 18, 1990]

WCP_ May 18, 1990 _ Anacostia's Train Rolls InWilliam Alston-El, Rev. Oliver “OJ” Johnson, and others I’ve spoken with over the years tell me there were more businesses on the commercial corridors of Anacostia before the arrival of the Metro station than there are today.

In reviewing Vertical Files on Anacostia I re-discovered this article, that is now more than 24 years ago, from the Washington City Paper which features Prof. Dorn McGrath. (McGrath was kind enough to ride around Old Anacostia earlier this year and reflect on his decades of work in the neighborhood.)

Here is an excerpt from the City Paper article:

“For Anacostia, the Green Line is the latest in a long string of undelivered development promises. ‘Each election year we have a new name for the revitalization of Anacostia,’ says [Cardell] Shelton. ‘We had the Anacostia Renaissance in 1982, we had the Anacostia development plan. Always a new highlight, a new thrust. ‘Moses is coming to Anacostia.’ ‘Save Anacostia.’ They’ve never materialized. Moses hasn’t gotten here yet. People are still waiting on Anacostia.”

The Barry administration planners, faithful adherents of the ‘money follows Metro’ dictum, are billing the Metro stop as a ‘regional center for economic development.” John Moore, an administrator in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Economic Development, prophesizes that commercial development will radiate outward from Anacostia to others parts of the economically strapped Ward 8. “That station will serve as a catalyst for development projects throughout the community,” says Moore. “Our people still believe that the Anacostia Metro site may be the best development opportunity in the city at this time. You notice I didn’t say ‘east of the river.’ I said ‘the city.'”

To lure big developers to Anacostia, Moore and the city have sketched plans for a 125-acre theme park on federally owned land surrounding the station. Dubbed the Anacostia Cultural Complex, the $200 million scheme is touted as the Mall East – complete with a man-made lagoon, an amphitheater, a half-dozen museums, a national aquarium, bike and pedestrian paths, a marina/restaurant/cinema complex, and a “high density” retail area (read: Shopping Center) along Howard Road SE. Moore predicts that the complex will have a magnet effect, drawing commercial developers to build nearby.

Dorn McGrath is waiting for the train, too, though he is not starting a business or drafting blueprints for a waterfront theme park. McGrath, a professor of urban planning at George Washington University, also wants development to spiral outward from the Metro stop. But his first priority is the spiral’s center, the historic commercial and residential area known as Old Anacostia.

“Nobody’s making any new land in the District of Columbia, and this is one of the areas that has room for development,” McGrath says. “But it’s a much more delicate design problem. You have this somewhat simplistic thinking about creating Tysons Corner or Roslyn over there, just because it’s at the intersection of the Metro, I-295, and Suitland Parkway.


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Citizens Protest Safeway Closing [Washington Afro, July 28, 1979]

Wash Afro _ 7.28.1979 _ Citizen protest Safeway Closing

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