Housing Complex

Pool Report: Upshur Pool, a Swimming Pool in Name Only

Not what the Upshur Pool looked like on Saturday.

This post is part of an occasional summer series on the city's public pools.

Malcolm Gladwell would probably have a thing or two to say about the Upshur Pool. Sometime between last year and this year, the Petworth* institution seems to have hit a tipping point. In that time period, it appears to have gone from majority-black to majority-white. The crooked railings outside, often empty last year, now have hardly an inch of free space between the locked bikes clinging to both sides. There's no chance of swimming in the pool; the wriggling, squealing mass of humanity has turned the lap lane's once-inviolable border rope into just another plaything. That doesn't seem to bother many of the poolgoers, who regard the poolside as just a change of venue for their continued iPad browsing.

I suppose the transformation of the pool shouldn't be surprising in this epicenter of gentrification. After all, Petworth is D.C.'s hottest housing neighborhood, with prices jumping 42 percent from a year ago.

But it is still surprising. Since I moved to Petworth five years ago, the once-under-the-radar neighborhood has gained condos, restaurants, a CVS—all of which were surprising. The pool is still a great, free resource to the families that have been in the neighborhood for a long time. It's just been invaded by a new wave of residents, too.

*Some of you will probably say that this is not Petworth but 16th Street Heights, that Petworth exists only east of Georgia Avenue. I say you are wrong. Maybe it was once so. But the Petworth Library is in Petworth. The Petworth Metro station is in Petworth. And so is the Upshur Pool.

Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr

  • Gentrifier

    Man, the blithe, scornful, simplistic shots at "gentrification" and "gentrifiers" in this paper are REALLY getting tiresome. What is the point of this obsession, other than processing self-hate? " just a change of venue for their continued iPad browsing"? "invaded"? Jesus Christ, man. Come on.

  • Long Time Resident

    Not trying to hear it. There are far too many articles, blogs and comments that are xenophobic towards people and their families who have lived here long before gentrification happened. Do you complain about that too? It's not so nice when the shoe is on the other foot.

  • steers n queers

    Your footnote may be the single dumbest piece of garbage I have ever read. The Petworth Library is ON Georgia Ave., as is the metro station! Are you so completely blithe to really think that neighborhood borders somehow expand into other neighborhoods just because they have increased in mindshare? Congrats for moving to an "under the radar" neighborhood five years ago, you bitter hipster, but if you really think Petworth was somehow unknown when you moved in... you're wrong. The CVS and condos which you scorn have been there just about as long as you have, and were certainly being planned before you plopped yourself down in front of your keyboard to bemoan the gentrification of a neighborhood which yourself are facilitating.

  • recyclist

    Do a Google Search on the word "petworth". What you get is interesting:

    https://www.google.com/search?q=petworth&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a

    A map appears on the right outlining the neighborhood, and below is a text description of the boundaries of the neighborhood. However, the text and the map don't line up?!?

    And according to the boundaries drawn on the map, the Upshur Pool is in Petworth.

    However, the footnote would have been stronger if you'd said that despite the location of the pool, it is the pool most convenient to and used by Petworth residents. Then you wouldn't have to have made such an audacious statement about neighborhood boundaries.

  • Drez

    16th St Heights FTW.
    Learn your neighborhoods, Weiner.

  • Gentrifier

    @ Long Time Resident - I have not seen in this paper or any other an article heaping scorn on people for having been in a neighborhood for a long time. In fact, this is generally celebrated. Maybe what you're really referring to is just racism. But the existence of racism does not make articles like this one any less tedious, does it?

    I just really don't get what this paper is doing on this issue. It strikes me as entirely gratuitous, in which case, it should be entertaining, at least, but it's the opposite of entertaining, it's SOO BOORING. It's, frankly, bizarre. A bunch of young gentrifiers obsessively lambasting gentrification, and without even doing it in a productive way--just pure venom and smugness. What is the point? Where is all this going?

  • Tyro

    The funny thing is that the standard complaint is that gentrifiers do not care enough about community "public amenities" like public pools and community centers and instead direct their money towards private gyms, leaving the free public amenities to starve due to lack of support.

    Now there are too many gentrifiers flooding the free public resources. Oh, no!

  • Jim Ed

    Yawn. I see Aaron Wiener is still trying his damnedest to be the Wal-Mart quality Jason Cherkis replacement.

    I miss Lydia.

  • Jay Corbalis

    I had a similar epiphany recently at the Harry Thomas Sr. Rec Center Pool in Eckington (or Bloomingdale, another thorny geo/cultural border dispute). It's these kind of interesting, self-aware dispatches from street-level that make City Paper, and Aaron's column in particular, so good.

    I wouldn't have weighed in, but felt compelled to after reading Jim Ed's comment. I too was a fan of Lydia and wondered how anyone could replace her. But in my opinion Aaron has definitely lived up to the high bar he inherited, while also creating his own voice and approach to these issues. With so much growth/development/change going on in DC, this column serves a very necessary and important purpose of chronicling, and at times challenging, the forces shaping the city, and we're all better off for it. Keep up the good work Aaron!

  • JM

    The article is irritating because it comes across as smug - Wiener seems to be looking down his nose at anyone who moved to Petworth within the last 5 years. Living in a place for 5 years doesn't make you an old timer, and no one should have to justify living in their neighborhood, whether they've been there for 3 years or 30.

  • BubbleDC

    Aaron bemoans gentrification when in fact he lead the charge five years ago when he moved to the hood, which by the way has gone through numerous changes since being settled in the early 1900. One of those changes is the dramatic increase in hispanics but no need to worry bc they are people of color. But then again, white, black, brown, what's the diff to a liberal MOT like Aaron, we are all just people right?!?

  • http://distcurm.blogspot.com/ IMGoph

    OK, Aaron, does 16th Street Heights exist at all? If so, where is it? If not, why not?

  • ar

    Still 16th St Hts. But you're right about the demographic turnover. I chalk it up to the kids in Columbia Heights figuring out where their nearest city pool is. Not a bunch of new white 20-something's moving up past Upshur St.

    On this point - what boundaries are included for the neighborhoods in the Washington Business Journal article that was your only citation not based on personal experience? Thanks for being a journalist and checking your sources!

  • noodlez

    I DONT THINK ANYONE WOULD CONSIDER THAT AREA PETWORTH EVEN IF IT IS WITHIN ITS BOUNDARIES!

    CALL ME WHEN BANNEKER POOL BECOMES THE BASTION OF WHITEYS THAT CUT THEIR EYES AT BLACK FOLK WHO ENTER THE POOL AS IF IT WAS WEST OF 16TH ST.

    YO WEINERSNICHEL BETWEEN THE VIDEO GAMES, K2, THE FREEDOM OF SUMMER AND ALL THE OTHER DISTRACTIONS OUR YOUNG BLACK YOUTH HAVE IN THEIR LIVES THESE DAYS UPSHUR POOL HAS BECOME PASSE'.

    WAY TO PUT IPAD TOTING WHITE FOLKS ON BLAST!

  • Alan

    I knew people that were already in Petworth 5 years ago. I guess we gentrified before it was cool.

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  • TracieV

    I'm on 13th near Crittenden/Decatur. My deed and property tax documentation says 16th Street Heights. I don't care which neighborhood anyone wants to call it - not ashamed of thinking of it as Petworth at all! ... but it is officially part of 16th Street Heights. So is Upshur & the pool area. And you could have written this article about the pool being crowded without the gentrification/racial thing. I agree with the others - just cut it out and let us all be! We've been here for 8 years. Loved it then, love it now.

  • 20011

    The pool is 16th St Heights, which officially begins north of Spring Rd.

    Props to Noodlez, too.

  • Gene

    yeah, Upshur pool is in 16th Street Heights. Here's a map: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:DC_neighborhoods_map.png

    This one shows 16th St Heights bounded by Georgia Ave on the east and Spring Street on the South. It also makes 16SH about the same size as Petworth. The google map makes Petworth huge, about the size of all of Capitol Hill.

  • Argh

    Neighborhood boundaries...c'mon! Why does anyone care? It's not like you're paying a different tax rate or anything...

    And seriously, like the kids moving into Petworth making $40k a year (if that) could possibly be considered "gentry."

    Nothing like making a the proverbial mountain out of a molehill...

  • Gene

    Dear Argh, You're right, tax rates are the same regardless of neighborhood. Property values and, therefore, tax bills do vary by neighborhood. Some neighborhoods are more desirable (read: more expensive) than others.

    Nothing like missing the forest for the trees...

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  • http://beachwoodpools.com/services.html Genelia

    Well said it doesn't matter who and what is your neighbor for tax paying. And as far as Upshur pool is concerned, I guess this is pointless to attack them for the same.

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