Adams Morgan Once and Now: Human Needs or Developers Greed

A photo exhibit/essay on the last 45 years in Adams Morgan
by Nancy Shia.

Humanities Truck at Adams Morgan Day 2021:

The Humanities Truck participated in the 2021 “Adams Morgan Day” Festival, which focuses on the neighborhood of Adams Morgan and its culture, diversity, and history, The Truck, parked at the corner of Columbia and Kalorama Rd, displayed a photo exhibit from local photographer Nancy Shia, titled “Adams Morgan, Once and Now: Human Need or Developers Greed?” utilizing 45 years of photo documentation that explores themes of gentrification, human need, and community change over time in the neighborhood of Adams Morgan in Washington, DC.

Oral history interviews were conducted to gauge festival-goers’ relationship to Adams Morgan, meaningful spaces in the neighborhood, and how those spaces may have changed over time. Below, you can check out these interviews!

See The Exhibit:

Adams Morgan, Once and Now: Human Need or Developers Greed? is a photo essay/photo exhibition created by Nancy Shia utilizing 45 years of photo documentation regarding the neighborhood of Adams Morgan in Washington, DC. The project explores themes of gentrification, human need, and community change over time. See the exhibit below:

1763 Columbia Road NW in 1980 the residents of the Imperial Apartment Building fought to keep the building;

it’s still struggling today for its identity. 

1717 Columbia Road, 

NW a low-income apartment building called The Condor in 1977 is now Christ House and serves the homeless.

1631 Kalorama Road NW was in 1979 a skating rink, 

and now it’s the home of Harris Teeter and residences above the grocery store.

1640 Columbia Road NW in 1975 was a parking lot and neighborhood gathering place. 

Now it’s The Festival Center.

1737 Columbia Road NW, in 1996 and many years before then was The Barney Senior Center.  

Today it is Ria Money Transfer, Boost Mobile and Cricket.

2108 18th Street NW, in 1975 was a row of houses with families living in them. 

Today, it’s a nails-waxing-facial spa salon.

2311 18th Street NW in 1982 housed the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission, the Adams Morgan Organization and PLAN (Push Literacy Action Now).  

After many years of use for commerce, it is now up for sale.

2414 18th Street NW in 1982 was the secondhand store for The Green Door, a community mental health organization. 

It’s now the storefront for B&K Convenience Store.

1801 Calvert Street is an apartment building called the Beacon. 

It was in 1982 the home to predominantly Hispanic families, who called it El Barco. 

It is now called The Beacon Condos.

2422-2424 17th Street NW was in 1982 a home to African American families.  

Today it houses people who can afford to buy market rate apartments in Adams Morgan.

The Morgan Annex was in 1982 a recently shuttered DC Public School. 

Today it is called The Morgan Annex Lofts Condos, where a one-bedroom apartment was recently sold for $680,000.

 2418 17th Street NW, the Marietta, since before 1982 has been an affordable residential building and continues to be a “deeply affordable” residential space in Adams Morgan.  It is a Jubilee Housing building.

1700 Columbia Road in 1984 was the home of the Ontario Theater.  

Today it is a condominium built in 2014.

1747 Columbia Road NW has been The Safeway for many decades.  

In 1978, there was a Giant Supermarket on one side of Safeway and an outdoor parking lot on the other side.

1801 Columbia Road is the Adams Morgan Plaza.  In 1977, the plaza was everyone’s community space.  

Today the community is still fighting to maintain our right to the easement we were given in 1977. 

1782-1786(?) Columbia Road NW was an empty lot in 1976.  

Today it has storefront commercial space on the first floor and offices (for rent?) above the first floor. 

2318 18th Street NW in 1980 was the location of the original Madams Organ,

 loosely an art collective that sponsored the Yippies and punk bands through the 1970s and early 1980s. 

Today, it houses Insomnia Cookies and DC Glass Gallery. 

“I began photographing people in the projects and on park benches in New Haven, Connecticut in 1965. Two years later, I was photographing the same subjects in New York City. I graduated from the City College of New York in 1970 with a major in sociology and minor in photography. I got an MS from Columbia University School of Social Work in 1972 and came to DC to go to Antioch Law School the same year. In DC, I continued photographing people on park benches, as well as political movements, human struggles and extensively documenting the community I live in. I graduated from Antioch Law School in 1978.

I was an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Adams Morgan for seven years. First, from 1982 to 1984, and second from 2007 to 2010

My photos have been published around the world, including in The New York Times, Vanity Fair, USA Today, Paris Match and more.”

Nancy Shia

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