Description: In the past decade U Street and the 14th Street corridor have undergone dramatic changes as real estate prices have skyrocketed, restaurants and retail stores have rapidly popped up, and tens of thousands of new residents have moved into the area. The region has been touted as the “trendiest and hottest spot” in Washington, DC. Scholars, journalists, and neighborhood residents have sought to make sense of this “revitalization.” Many have emphasized that the very city blocks seeing this dramatic transformation are the same ones rocked by the 1968 riots that followed in the wake of Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination. The dominant narrative posits that the rioters tore the neighborhood apart and developers put it back together.
In this research lab we will dig into historical documents, maps, photographs, newspapers, city directories, and property records in order to digitally reconstruct the neighborhood property by property. As we map this neighborhood change, we will attempt to answer two questions. First, who tore the neighborhood apart? Secondly, who benefited from this destruction?