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Justice

Gentrification Doesn't Mean Diversity

A historically black D.C. neighborhood markets its diversity to lure Millennials. But what happens when the new arrivals never interact with the longtime residents?
Peace mural in the Shaw-U Street area of DC, which has seen a rapid growth in white residents.
Peace mural in the Shaw-U Street area of DC, which has seen a rapid growth in white residents. Courtesy of Derek Hyra

On the corner of 7th and P Streets in D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood is a boxy building, with the words “Bread For The City” stenciled across the brick facade. This is a non-profit that provides food, shelter, and legal services for low-income residents. A stone’s throw away is a busy coffee shop and a trendy cocktail bar, both beloved by young locals. Elsewhere in the neighborhood are organic grocery stores, glistening high-end menswear shops, a new movie theater, and a gay sports bars, all sprinkled in between East African restaurants, carryouts, and Baptist churches.

The Shaw-U Street neighborhood has had many avatars over the years—and its most recent one has been re-branded to attract young, hip city-loving out-of-towners.