- "This Is Ivy City": An Iconic Building's Role in Gentrification and Neighborhood Identity in Washington, D.C.
- Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum
- University of Minnesota Press
- Volume 25, Number 1, Spring 2018
- pp. 23-43
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In the Washington, D.C., neighborhood of Ivy City, new businesses have adopted the hashtag #thisisivycity to rebrand the neighborhood. Leading the campaign is the rehabilitated Hecht Company Warehouse, an art deco department store warehouse recently converted to luxury apartments and high-end commercial uses. In Ivy City, a small, geographically isolated neighborhood historically home to low-income African American residents, the transformation of the Hecht Company Warehouse is paving the way for further development and gentrification of the entire neighborhood. In addition to physical infrastructural and aesthetic changes, the marketing campaign—including the hashtag—allows newcomers to feel a claim to the neighborhood. Examining the role of iconic buildings like the Hecht Company Warehouse in the process of gentrification can expose historically rooted, place-based struggles and contestations over the identity and control of urban space. A look to the past reveals that the warehouse, despite its location on the edge of the neighborhood, has had an outsized effect on Ivy City's vernacular landscape for decades. The historically unequal power relationship between the building and the African American neighborhood contributed to the conditions that have made Ivy City a site for redevelopment today.