Riding the 90: Stages of Gentrification in Washington, D.C.The most efficient way to reach Anacostia from my apartment around Meridian Hill Park is via the Green Line metro. More often, however, I find myself taking the bus.The 90 and 92 bus lines are two of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s busiest.
They begin at the southern base of the Duke Ellington Bridge, in Adams Morgan,and end at the Anacostia and Congress Heights metro stations, respectively. A trip on the 90 bus—particularly in the middle of the day, when I was most likely to beheading to Anacostia to conduct interviews or take a walk around the neighborhood—is a vastly different experience than riding one of the city’s commuter lines, such as the G8 orthe L2. The latter are usually quiet, and empty out after the morning and evening rushhours. They deposit their passengers, who are largely white and middle class, downtown,and ferry them home at the end of the day.The 90 buses are almost always standing room only. Bus rides are frequently raucous; thesilence that can pervade an evening ride on the 42 bus, between Mt. Pleasant and MetroCenter, is rarely present. The ridership is almost entirely African American, and I have oftenfound myself to be the only white, female passenger on board. I expect a variety of amusing,and occasionally lewd, come-ons—“Hey, snowflake” is a popular one—as well as thequestions indicating that I’m not the typical 90 bus rider. On more than one occasion, I’ve been asked, “Do you know where you’re going?” or “What are
doing on this bus?”The buses traverse through three of Washington, D.C.’s four quadrants, and severalneighborhoods in various stages of vitality, development, transition, and growth. I step ontothe 90 bus at 15th and U Streets Northwest, a block away from 14th and U Street, which isarguably the most popular nexus of nightlife in the city. It continues down the busy U Street
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