Life in the Neighborhoods of Washington, DC: Oral Histories

This is a series of 7 oral histories, produced by DC LISC, about the people and neighborhoods of Washington, DC. The oral histories were completed with the support of the DC Community Heritage Project of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC.

Funds for the DC Community Heritage Project are provided by a partnership of the Humanities Council of Washington, DC and the DC Historic Preservation Office, which supports people who want to tell stories of their neighborhoods and communities by providing information, training and financial resources. This DC Community Heritage Project has been also funded in part by the US Department of the Interior, the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund grant funds, administered by the DC Historic Preservation Office and by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

This program was supported through a Historic Preservation Fund grant administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior.  Funds were used for the identification, protection, and/or rehabilitation of historic properties and cultural resources in the District of Columbia. Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the U.S. Department of the Interior prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, or disability in its federally assisted programs. If you believe that you have been discriminated against in any program, activity, or facility as described above, or if you desire further information, please write to: Office of Equal Opportunity, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20240.


How Neighbors Changed Edgewood Terrace

Marshall Phillips is a resident and community activist in the Edgewood neighborhood of northeast Washington, DC. Listen to Mr. Phillips speak of life in the Edgewood neighborhood from the 1980s to today and how he and his neighbors worked to remove crime and blight and laid the foundation for the Edgewood of today. The interview is 7 minutes long.


Redeveloping Edgewood Terrace

Leslie Steen, former President of the Community Preservation Development Corporation (CPDC) from 1989 to 2005, talks about the decline and then rebirth of Edgewood Terrace Apartments in the Edgewood neighborhood of northeast Washington, DC. Ms. Steen tells the story of life at Edgewood Terrace and how the redevelopment of this property by CPDC took it from open air drug market, to a place of safety and opportunity. The interview is 11 minutes long.


The Future of Congress Heights

Nate Howard, long term resident and community leader in the Congress Heights neighborhood of southeast Washington, DC reminisces about life in Congress Heights and the change that he has seen. Even in 2008, he accurately predicted the future that we are now seeing in Congress Heights.The interview is 12 minutes long.


THEARC Comes to the Parklands

Chris Smith, CEO of WCSmith, a local and long-term Washington, DC real estate developer, explains his company’s role in revitalizing the Parklands and bringing goods, services and THEARC (Town Hall Education And Recreation Campus) to the Parklands and the Congress Heights neighborhoods. The interview is 15 minutes long.


Changes in the Parklands

Brenda Jones, once a resident of the Parklands Apartments in Ward 8 of southeast Washington,DC and the Director of the Parklands Community Center reminisces about life in the Parklands from the 50s to 90s and the work of the Parkland Community Center. The interview is 12 minutes long.


Banks Investing in Washington, DC

Dr. Charlene Drew Jarvis, former Ward 4 Councilmember of the District of Columbia and Chair of the Economic Development Committee, explains how banks first began investing in the neighborhoods of Washington, DC. The interview is 8 minutes long.


We Honor Our Friend Bob Moore

On July 7, 2014 Robert Moore, who for over 30 years was a community development trailblazer in Washington, DC,  passed away.  The following is one segment of a 2007 oral history interview that was conducted by oral historian David Rotenstein.  Hear how the neighborhood residents, nonprofits and other stakeholders laid the foundation for the rebirth of Columbia Heights, one of the city’s neighborhoods that was  devastated by the 1968 riots. The interview is 7 minutes long.


This is a series of oral histories, produced by DC LISC, about the people and neighborhoods of Washington, DC. The oral histories were completed with the support of the Meyer Foundation.


The Story Behind the Atlas Theater on H St. NE

Jane Lang, the woman behind the transformation of the Atlas Theater on H Street Northeast, tells the story of the building’s transformation, the power of a community gathering place, how the arts can be the catalyst for economic development and how passion can guide philanthropy. The interview is 15 minutes long.


The Queen Visits Marshall Heights

In 1991, Queen Elizabeth II of England visited the Marshall Heights neighborhood of Ward 7 in Northeast Washington to see a successful community development project completed by the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization. Christopher LoPiano, Senior Project Director at the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization for 8 years gives a brief account of Queen’s visit. The interview is 4 minutes long.


The Transformation of Tivoli Square

This audio clip features Joseph F. Horning Jr., President of Horning Brothers. Mr. Horning is a pioneer investor/developer in the rebirth of the Columbia Heights neighborhood. He tells the story of the transformation of Tivoli Square in Columbia Heights. The interview is 11 minutes long.


The Transformation of Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park

This audio clip features Steve Coleman, Executive Director of Washington Parks and People. Coleman tells the story of Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X Park, and how that park was transformed from the site of a neighborhood tragedy into a healing space for the whole community. The interview is 17 minutes long.