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The Old Hood, Mount Vernon Square, Washington, DC

Many of you do not realize I lived in one of the most crime ridden areas of Washington, DC back from 2002-3. I realized, only after I had moved in that I was a pawn in my landlord’s gentrification scheme for the Mount Vernon Square neighborhood. I was mere blocks from the infamous Sursum Corda Public Housing Complex. “Sursum Corda” means “lift up your arms” in Latin, or as we say nowadays, “stick ’em up.”

I lived in the yellow house in the middle of the row. The house to the right, now divided into six(!) units, was abandoned and closed up when I lived there. The first floor windows were bricked up, so we climbed out that second floor window and through the window of the abandoned house. Inside was a wasteland of abandoned bottles and packaging, remnants of squatters who had lived in there before the barricades went up.

The amazing apartment building across New Jersey Avenue was a bordello when I lived in the neighborhood. I remember coming home one night the winter I lived there to find ten police cars surrounding the building, arresting pimps and evicting the squatters who lived in what turned out to be a District owned building.

It is now being renovated into luxury condos, as can be seen in this picture.

The Hoagie House was already defunct when we lived there, and I am curious as to what will happen to this building in the future. Nothing right now, it seems.

See the area from the air here. Vernon Davis, a former student of mine and now playing for the San Francisco 49er’s, went to high school across the street from my house.

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