(Updated at 11:48 a.m.) A near-collision involving a Metro bus at the intersection of 14th and U streets NW sent at least two riders to the hospital with minor injuries earlier today.
A Metro spokesperson said a car swerved in front of a 52 bus heading southbound on 14th Street NW near the intersection around 10:30 a.m. today. To avoid a collision, the driver of the bus applied the brake suddenly, lurching several passengers forward.
D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson Oscar Mendez said two riders were taken to the hospital with minor injuries following the near-accident. A Metro spokesperson said four riders were transported to the hospital.
Both Mendez and the Metro spokesperson said the riders were likely transported to the hospital as a precaution.
Image via D.C. Fire and EMS Twitter
Every night at sundown, two blindingly bright sodium-vapor lamps illuminate a corner near the intersection of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW.
In the hot summer air, crowds of laughing bar-hoppers and restaurant-goers in shorts and flip-flops shuffle past. The corner is bright and vibrant.
But just a few months ago, that corner of the intersection was much darker — in the literal sense.
“For a long time, this was kind of seen as a forsaken corner,” says Andre Esser.
Esser, along with Sheryar Durrani, owns and manages local business U Scoot, a scooter rental shop and dealership that opened at the intersection in June.
“This corner always looked sort of sketchy,” says Esser. “You had people panhandling that I had to chase off, people out here loitering all the time. I don’t know the crime statistics on this corner, but I’m sure there have been crimes here over the years.”
Esser, who also owns Redline Motorsports in Takoma Park, had a plan to change all that. Before opening his scooter business, he mounted two powerful lights on the building.
“Turning on the lights makes it a brighter corner,” Esser says. “Thieves don’t usually tend to hang out on bright corners.”
Esser also hired two plainclothes security guards and installed over $10,000 worth of state-of-the-art surveillance equipment.
“The cameras and lights aren’t just for our own personal protection, especially the lights,” says Esser. “I feel like if I’m going to have a business, then it needs to be a safe corner.”
Esser says D.C. Police were glad when he installed the cameras.
“They came up to me right away and said, hey, are those good cameras? Can we have access to them?” Esser recalls “And we said absolutely. It’s for everybody’s safety. We want to assist the police department with making this a safer corner.”
In his two months of running the business, Esser says he’s helped to aid police by recording and turning over footage of three crime incidents. Just last week, U Scoot’s cameras caught a hit-and-run as it happened.
“Hopefully we’ve detracted from some of the crime,” says Esser. “That’s the goal. It’s not to just catch it. It’s to deter it from happening.”
Even when he’s at home, Esser says he sometimes uses an app on his phone to watch the cameras late at night. But he’s not only only watching out for scooter thefts.
“I’ll be having dinner or playing with my kids and I’ll peek in and make sure everything is okay,” Esser says “I’m kind of like Big Brother, but looking out for this corner at nighttime.”
“If there’s a car accident, if someone’s assaulted, if someone’s car is broken into, we’ll see it,” says Esser.
“[A] person might steal a bicycle,” he adds. “Or that person might shoot someone. That person might mug someone. That person should probably be off the streets.”
Photo of U Scoot at night courtesy of U Scoot
Lettie Gooch is leaving its location at 1517 U Sreet NW, the boutique said in a press release today.
“Our doors have been open on U Street for over six exciting and fashionable years,” the press release reads. “We will be closing our doors at our current location at the end of this month and ‘popping up’ with our new and fabulous FALL collection in September. Stay tuned.”
As part of the move, the store will discount select merchandise by “at least” 30 percent until the end of the month.
Image via Facebook.com/LettieGooch
A new fitness studio is set to open soon on U Street.
The method — named for founder Jill Dailey — is a one-hour workout concept with classes based on barre exercises, pilates and yoga.
The new studio will include space for 25-person classes, lockers and showers, says Dailey Method’s D.C. location owner and fitness trainer, Lynette Ruiz.
“We felt like U Street and the 14th Street corridor is the place where we wanted to be,” says Ruiz. “There is a lot of growth in that area. We felt like we really wanted to be apart of that.”
Though the company hasn’t announced its opening date, Ruiz promises the new location will open by the end of the summer.
In the meantime, Ruiz says residents can try out the classes for free every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Georgetown Lululemon (3265 M Street NW).
Photo courtesy of The Dailey Method
Popular U Street eatery Bistro La Bonne has quietly returned with a new location and a new name.
Though the restaurant reportedly closed its U Street NW location in May, Owner Daniel Labonne says he reopened the restaurant at 2436 14th Street NW under the name La Bonne Bistro in June.
Sudhouse now occupies the bistro’s old space on U Street.
Despite the new location and name, Labonne says the menu, its staff and atmosphere are similar to how they were before.
La Bonne Bistro shares its new space with another former U Street restaurant, Creme.
(Updated at 5:20 p.m.) A cyclist was struck by a car at the intersection of Vermont Avenue and U Street NW around 3 p.m. today, said D.C. Fire and EMS spokesman Oscar Mendez.
A surveillance camera mounted on local business U Scoot caught the crash as it happened. In the video provided to Borderstan, a green car can be seen turning left and hitting a cyclist, who is knocked to the ground.
Mendez said the cyclist was taken to the hospital with serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
D.C. Police did not have more information about the crash when contacted earlier today.
Photos courtesy of U Scoot
(Updated at 3:55 p.m. on Monday, July 27) A U Street Bistro will close next week.
Ulah Bistro, located at 1214 U Street NW, will close its doors for good, said an employee at the restaurant by phone this morning.
A Facebook status confirmed the restaurant will close its doors on Tuesday, July 28.
The bistro served a varied menu of pizzas, sandwiches and entrees in large portions.
Borderstan contributor and food blogger Aparna Krishnamoorthy gave the bistro high marks in a 2012 review.
“Ulah would be a great option the next time we are looking for a comforting bistro meal that does not break the bank,” wrote Krishnamoorthy.
Photo via Facebook.com/UlahBistro
The U Street Movies Series will pay homage to D.C.’s pot law by screening two beloved stoner films tonight.
Attendees can view the original “Reefer Madness” and “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure” tonight at 8:20 p.m. at the Harrison Recreation Center (1330 V Street NW) in honor of Initiative 71, which legalized in February the possession and cultivation of marijuana in D.C.
Reefer Madness, which lasts just over an hour, starts at sundown. Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure begins shortly after.
The film series is free and residents can bring food and drinks. Bringing along pets, alcohol or pot is prohibited.
The next film in the series will be Monsoon Wedding, which plays on Aug. 19. Check out the full schedule on the U Street Movie Series Facebook page.
Photo via Facebook.com/ustreetmovieseries
(Updated at 2:19 p.m.) An apartment fire closed the 1400 block of U Street NW earlier this afternoon, say D.C. Fire and EMS officials.
Fire crews crowded around the Portner Place Apartments, located at 1449 U Street NW, around 1:29 p.m. today.
— DC Fire and EMS (@dcfireems) July 9, 2015
Eyewitnesses on the scene say they first noticed black smoke coming from the top floor of the building, but that they don’t know what caused the fire.
Firefighters were seen earlier breaking windows at the top of the building. presumably to gain access to the floor.
D.C. Fire and EMS spokesperson Oscar Mendez told a Borderstan reporter that fire officials originally received a report for an apartment fire on the second floor of the building.
According to Mendez, the fire crew extinguished the small blaze in less than two minutes.
D.C. Fire and EMS reported no injuries related to the fire.
Firetruck photo via D.C. Fire and EMS Twitter
A U Street landmark has expanded to H Street.
Hundreds of people descended on the H Street corridor today to revel in half smokes and go-go music for the grand opening of the new Ben’s Chili Bowl, reported Borderstan’s sister site HillNow.
Virginia Ali, who opened the original Ben’s on U Street NW with her late husband in 1958, cut the ribbon to open the restaurant at 1001 H St. NE this morning with the help of Mayor Muriel Bowser, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and others.
Ali said opening a restaurant on H Street signifies the neighborhood’s turnaround since riots devastated the area after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968.
“This area had a downturn after the riots in 1968,” she told Hill Now. “Now it’s in the process of growing, and we’re very happy to be a part of that growth. We’re here to serve a community, to support a community and we anticipate the community here will support us as well.”
Prior to the ribbon cutting, Bowser, Norton, Councilman Charles Allen of Ward 6 and other local officials applauded the Ali family’s focus on local business and community.
“This is a small, family-owned business whose owners call D.C. home and care about what happens here,” Bowser said. “This is a small business who saw other opportunities on H Street and said, ‘Ben’s Chili Bowl needs to be there.'”
Norton said she was excited that H Street not only got a Ben’s, but that they also got a chance to dance along with the go-go music of the Chuck Brown Band before and after the speeches.
“H Street was the heart and is the heart of this community, but it did not arrive until today because only today did it get a Ben’s,” Norton said. “Everybody here knows there will never be enough Ben’s for D.C.”
Inside, the restaurant is filled with mustard-yellow and ketchup-red decorations, a long bar, a handful of booths and a wall of well-known celebrities who have visited the restaurant. Comedian Bill Cosby, who has close ties to the Ben’s chain and helped open its Rosslyn location, didn’t appear among the photos.
Cosby, who has faced allegations that he sexually assaulted women, was in a photo on the wall before the eatery opened, the Washington Post reported. But the photo wasn’t there today.
A line to enter the restaurant began to form at 9 a.m. Mattie Callaham, who lives near the eatery, had the first spot in the line.
“I’ve been going to the U Street one for over 20 years,” Callaham said. “Since I live in this neighborhood, I could walk here, and it wouldn’t be no problem. I just can’t wait to get one of those hot dogs.”
From Allison Acosta. Email her at allison[AT]borderstan.com.
Many neighborhood residents know about U Street’s historic past as a vibrant community of African-Americans during the first half of the 20th Century. Commonly referred to as “Black Broadway,” the U Street neighborhood was a hub for African-American entertainment venues, businesses, civil organizations and homes.
But why did U Street become such a center for African-American life in the early 20th Century? According to Dawn Chitty, education director at the African American Civil War Museum, part of the answer may lie beneath the field of Garrison Elementary school on S Street NW.
At the beginning of the Civil War, this area of DC was essentially rural. When the federal government bought property along Vermont Avenue NW near Logan Circle, the site was home to only a small church and a few graves.
Camp Barker Comes to a Rural Area
On this land, the federal government built Camp Barker as a barracks for Civil War soldiers. But as the war progressed, the government determined there was a more pressing need for Camp Barker.
The Confiscation Acts of 1861 and 1862 authorized the confiscation of any Confederate property, including slaves, by Union forces. As seized property, the formerly enslaved were considered contraband, and these people needed somewhere to go.
In the late spring of 1862, Camp Barker became one of a few hundred “Contraband Camps” that were built to house formerly enslaved persons. At its height, Camp Barker housed roughly 4,000 people and was one of the largest Contraband Camps in the area.
Growth Through the Civil War
The camp had at least one large building, a hospital area, and, of course, housing. Many people living in the camp found work in the city as domestics and laborers. When the Union began forming regiments of “Colored Troops” in 1863, they recruited from the Contraband Camps.
President Lincoln often passed by Camp Barker on his way to the Soldier’s Home, and in the fall of 1862 he visited the camp. This photograph of children singing during the visit is the only known photograph of the site.
“The significance of the camp is in what becomes of the inhabitants afterwards,” says Chitty. “Many of the inhabitants bought property and built homes, and many of them built homes around the Camp Barker Site. This became U Street.”
Camp Barker did not have sufficient clean water and adequate sewage, and an outbreak of cholera forced the government to shut it down in late 1863. When the camp closed, many of the inhabitants relocated to another contraband camp on the site of what is now Arlington Cemetery, but others bought property and stayed nearby.
“There was one woman in particular who wrote to her family to say she was not coming back to Virginia,” says Chitty. “She said she was going to stay here because her son had built a good home for them on Boundary Street, which is what they called what is now Florida Avenue and U Street.”
Archaeological Dig at Garrison School
In July 2012, The African American Civil War Museum conducted an archaeological survey of the field behind Garrison Elementary school. The survey is part of a larger project meant to take the study of these Contraband Camps to the next level, to understand how many of them became communities and what became of the people living there.
The Museum brought in an archaeologist to perform magnetometry, which detects metal underground, and ground-penetrating radar. The results of the survey show the different time periods when the site was most active. Most recently, in the 1930s to 1950s, you can see the imprint of where 12th Street NW used to run all the way through what is now the Garrison Field, the remains of the old Garrison school building which faced 12th Street and imprints of where houses used to be located.
The survey also found several areas, marked in blue on the map shown here, where objects from Camp Barker would likely be found.
If you dug in these areas, you would likely find objects that people lost or threw away. You would find the privies, which can give a good sense of diseases and food ways. You might find more permanent structures built on the site, although it is unclear from the maps of the time exactly where Camp Barker’s main building stood.
There are no plans at present to do any digging on the site, but it is a possibility for the future. For now, the goal is to chart these sites and encourage others to work collaboratively to learn more about them. Many people can trace back their family histories to these Contraband Camps, and they played an important role not only in the Civil War, but also in what happened in the communities after the War.
Says Chitty, “I knew that Camp Barker was there, but over the course of the project I see more how the history of the site is important not just to Garrison Elementary, but to the community as well.”
The guys from &pizza have been working on this space since the end of last year and &pizza is opening today. The new location at 1250 U Street NW is their second shop and they are working on a third one for Brookland in Northeast DC.
The new pizza place will be opening in the old Quiznos location, just a few steps away from the U Street Metro stop. A couple of weeks ago &pizza conducted a poster campaign in the neighborhood to spread the word out about the impending opening.
The pizza place will keep the same concept as the original store. Some of the pies include the Moonstruck (mushroom truffle, goat cheese, mushrooms, fig marsala, red pepper chili oil and crushed black pepper) and the Grecian Market (red chickpea, mushrooms, broccolini, artichoke, kalamata olives, pickled red onion and feta cheese). Check their menu.
&pizza’s hours are 11 am to 11 pm Sunday through Wednesday, Thursday 11 am to 2:30 am, and Friday and Saturday 11 am to 3:30 am.
&pizza joins a number of Italian and pizza places that have recently opened along 14th Street. Matchbox, Piola, Ghibellina and Etto are just a few of the newest restaurants (we can’t forget about longtime standbys such as Manny & Olga’s).
DC Police reported a gun robbery at 1:30 am, Saturday, June 8, at 10th and U Streets NW. The lookout is for one man who was riding a bike; details are below.
From the Police Alert: “ROBBERY GUN 0130 HOURS 10TH & U STREET NW LOOKOUT FOR A B/M, DARK COMPLEXION, WEARING A LONG SLEEVE BLUE SHIRT WITH BLACK PANTS, LAST SEEN ON A BIKE DO NOT TAKE ACTION CALL 911 W/EVENT I20130277923. Sent on: 06/08 02:11.“
From the DC Police Twitter feed: “Robbery Gun //10th & U St NW //LOF B/M, dark complexion, wearing black pants w/ a white stripe, and a blue hoodie last seen on a bike //6559.”
Police Alerts, More Information
- You can sign up for alerts through Alert DC and get alerts by e-mail, cell phone, pager or wireless PDA. When signing up, you can select alerts on crime, transportation, utility outages/issues, government closings, breaking news, DC-sponsored events and Amber Alerts.
- You can follow the DC Police on Twitter @DCPoliceDept.
- You can get more information about crime in the Borderstan area through the MPD listservs for the Second and Third Districts on Yahoo! Groups.
From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.
The newest installment of H &pizza, simply named &pizza is almost ready to make it’s presence felt on U Street. Located at 1250 U Street NW, the lease for the new space was signed at the end of last year with the idea that it would open some time in mid-May.
That time has clearly come and gone but judging from the flyers cropping up all around the neighborhood, the opening is coming soon.
Simply named &pizza according to a piece in the Washington Business Journal last March, the new pizza place will be opening at the old Quiznos location just a few steps away from the U Street metro. There were plenty of renovations going on to get the location into shape but they have since come to completion. The poster campaign currently seems to be the primary method for getting the word out about the impending opening.
A New Pizza Contender
&pizza is about to become another contender amongst the many Italian and pizza places recently opening up along 14th Street. Right in the area is Matchbox, Piola, Ghibellina, and that’s just to name a few of the newest restaurants (we can’t forget about classic stand-bys like Manny & Olga’s).
What sets &pizza apart from the rest of these locations, speaking geographically, is that it will be located up on U Street instead of 14th. So when you’re hanging out on U Street or getting out of a show at the 9:30, &pizza just might be the first place that you see. Not to mention that &pizza is meant to be quick and easy, perfect for when it’s late, you’re hungry, but you also want to get home.
Borderstan has not found any updates today on the condition on the 20-year-old male cyclist who was seriously injured Thursday after being hit by a car at 11th and U Streets NW. According to numerous sources, the accident occurred at 10 am.
Dcist cites city sources who said the young man has life-threatening injuries; his identity has not been released. WJLA reported that the cyclist had died, but this was not picked up by other media outlets and has not been confirmed by officials.