Friday, February 03, 2012

In Downtown Brookland

Brookland, by John J. Feeley Jr. and Rosie Dempsey, is a new publication in the Images of America series published by Arcadia Publishing. Like the other books in this series, it uses archival photographs to present distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Its images and text celebrate Brookland and bring to life its fascinating history.
The above is a video of the Brookland book's author's presentation at Brookland's Masonic Hall on the very block where the hardware store and barber shop in 1998 when distributing posters for the upcoming Washington, D.C. Historical Society Conference Panel "Freeways in Washington"

In the places in downtown Brookland I went, I best remember the barber shop and a hardware store.

The men in the barber shop cried out could they please tear down some houses to build that much needed highway and others; one guy there even said that they could tear down “half” the homes in the city to serve D.C.’s traffic flow; I assured them that would not be necessary as a full system would require a tiny percentage.

The hardware store guy took a look at the poster I was distributing and asked me if it was one of those stupid highly generalized anti-highway events. I replied that it was not – at least my presentation – though others there will try to turn it into one. Wow! I found the strongest support for urban freeways in the urban areas, with the men in that barber shop being African-American. Right in downtown Brookland, D.C., reported hotbed of the doctrinaire anti freeway dogma of “No White Man’s Roads Through Black Man’s Homes.” I think that the opposition was due to the reality that the 1963-64 freeway plans were disproportionately excessive, such as with the proposed destruction of Brooks Mansion, the Turkey Thicket neighborhood and the all new swath through Takoma Park for the I-70S segment, taking 471 dwellings in the one mile or so segment via an all new swath through Takoma Park, Maryland, for a longer route for I-70S then the canceled Northwest Freeway would have done in far upper NW, 74 according to a 1957 study, from the Maryland line to just south of a Tenley Circle Underpass (and continuing via Archibald-Glover Park, alas without there ever being consideration of a tunneled route).

No comments: