I thought I would post a short note commemorating two anniversaries, one significant to the nation and the other the city of Washington. Forty years ago today Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. That event sparked civic disturbances in over 100 cities including Washington, D.C.
This map, published in the book Ten Blocks from the White House shows the extent of fires and looting. The event lay the groundwork for both the large number of subsidized housing projects along these corridors and new private developments like U Street’s Ellington and DCUSA in Columbia Heights.
The late 1960s events are also usually said to be related population decline. Like most cities, its population peaked around 1950 — 18 years before the civil disorder. Population decline should be understood as an interplay not only of urban problems causing middle class “flight,” but also the draw of the suburbs in the form of superior public services and inexpensive housing subsidized by government highways and mortgage programs.
Here are just a few links, please feel free to contribute more in the comments.