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Old 08-08-2011, 12:56 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
29,748 posts, read 28,318,428 times
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I'm going to take the other side here (smile DC's Finest and MDAllStar!!!).

I was on Metro and I ran into this lady who grew up here. She was a white woman, in her late 40s to early 50s, who had just returned to DC after living in Boston for 5 years. She told me she grew up in Cleveland Park. We got to talking about Boston and how it measured up to DC and she says, "DC just doesn't have any character...not like Boston anyway. The Sox, Baked Beans, the pubs, ya know. DC is a really transient city." I nodded in agreement, but couldn't resist playing the role of Devil's Advocate.

I replied, "Well, Boston is pretty transient, too. Nearly a fourth of the people there are students and they bail for the summer. And so is Manhattan. I, myself, am one of the millions who have called the island home for a very brief while."

"That's different," she said. "New York still has a lot of people who are natives...who were born there, grew up there, and have a sense of connection to the city." We boarded the train and didn't talk much after that.

That got me to thinking. Are the native Washingtonians, the overwhelming majority of whom are black, invisible to most people here? Why is Southie full of authenticity and character but Petworth just the hood? Why do Boston transplants embrace the pub culture but DC transplants denigrate the Go-Go culture and basically regard it as something "locals" do? I don't think I've ever once heard anyone in Boston or NYC refer to native Bostonians or New Yorkers as "locals." So why do people say that here? What gives?
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:32 PM
 
Location: Springfield VA
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DC has plenty of character. Although as mentioned the majority of DC natives are black but there are plenty of white natives in the suburbs. The majority of the character and culture in DC is black oriented so someone white might say that. I mean the majority of white folks from the DC area don't have accents and there's no distinct cuisine or anything like that. Then on the other end of the spectrum the black DC native tends to have the accent and funny way of using their "R"s, then there's go-go (which this non-native kinda likes), and there's the food as well.

I work with plenty of Northern Virginia natives and they are remarkably different from those who black grew up in the city. I'd also say that black native folks from Arlington and Alexandria tend to lack the DC accent. So DC has an extremely distinct character. Either way I would disagree with the woman on the metro but at the same time I can see where she got this incorrect idea of DC lacking character.

Last edited by terrence81; 08-08-2011 at 01:45 PM..
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Old 08-08-2011, 01:41 PM
 
Location: Montgomery Village
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Yeah Local DC has tons of rich character. That's a fact. I do think that you have a point about outside people thinking dc has no culture because it leans heavily to the black side. I don't think that makes them any less important but some people do.
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:15 PM
 
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If you couldn't resist "playing the role of Devil's Advocate," then you just haven't lived here long enough.

Anyone who's lived in DC for a while will tell you that this place has no character. I've been here since 2003 and can vouch for that statement. It's neither the North nor the South, but sits at the intersection of those two cultures, representing neither. That is the main reason for its lack of character. It's an artificial summer camp with a transient population which is extremely diverse, and diverse people have little in common.
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:44 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene80 View Post
It's an artificial summer camp with a transient population which is extremely diverse, and diverse people have little in common.
How's that any different from Boston, Manhattan or San Francisco?
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:53 PM
 
Location: Fort Worth, TX
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I've lived here since 1994. I don't think there's tons of character in the parts I've lived (upper NW, Bethesda) in. Doesn't help that the entire state of Maryland has an identity crisis and that NoVA is full of transplants.

I just don't feel like there's a certain vibe to DC, at least where I've lived, the way there is in San Francisco or NYC. Even Baltimore and its surrounding areas seem to have their own thang. I do think "local DC" (really just code for black, multi-generational DC) has more of its own charm though. I feel like the rest of DC is often summed up in the websites Stuff White People Like and Snoburbia, which could apply to many parts of the country.

But that could be because I've only seen those cities through the lens of a tourist. I'm not sure. All I know is there are quite a few New Yorkers and San Franciscans who love to rep the vibes of their cities. Same with Angelenos.
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Old 08-08-2011, 02:58 PM
 
Location: Montgomery Village
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eugene80 View Post
If you couldn't resist "playing the role of Devil's Advocate," then you just haven't lived here long enough.

Anyone who's lived in DC for a while will tell you that this place has no character. I've been here since 2003 and can vouch for that statement. It's neither the North nor the South, but sits at the intersection of those two cultures, representing neither. That is the main reason for its lack of character. It's an artificial summer camp with a transient population which is extremely diverse, and diverse people have little in common.
Yeah, the transient population. The character of DC is within the resident population aka the local pop aka the overwhelmingly majority black population. You should visit it sometime.
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:08 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
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Honestly, I don't know that there are many cities out there that can lay claim to a truly unique character. 50 years ago, very few people packed up and relocated to entirely new cities, states or regions. You settled down somewhere for generations. Whereas today, it's not at all unusual to meet people who have lived in 2, 3, 4 or more different cities (sometimes countries). A food item or sports team doesn't really give a city unique character, at least not in my mind.

Certain *neighborhoods* in cities have a distinct and unique character--Southie, say, or certain parts of Brooklyn and Queens. But I don't really get a unique character in neighborhoods like Back Bay, or Greenwich Village, or Chicago's River North, or San Fran's Marina District. All enjoyable neighborhoods to be sure, but also not particularly unique. To me, many DC neighborhoods fall into this category: enjoyable, pleasant, lively--but few things that make you say "wow, only in (Dupont, Georgetown, Capitol Hill)."
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:14 PM
 
Location: Rockville, MD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btsilver View Post
The character of DC is within the resident population aka the local pop aka the overwhelmingly majority black population.
How is that necessarily any different than any other city with an entrenched, multi-generational population? Does the unique "character" of this segment of DC's population extend beyond go-go, mambo sauce and Redskins fandom?

I think DC has a tremendously interesting history, both as a city and as the federal capital. But I would like to gain further insights into what is meant by statements such as "the character of DC resides in the city's longtime majority black population." What *is* that character, and what separates it from other cities?
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Old 08-08-2011, 03:50 PM
 
Location: The Port City is rising.
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There was a native DC white lower middle class population back in the 1930s. They mostly have moved into the distant suburbs, mostly in maryland I think. They represent a smaller part of the total white population here than their opposite numbers in NYC, Boston, etc and unlike those cities, there are none left in the city - I think they are just about invisible to most people.

poor and working class african americans in all those cities have a culture that to most white people, I think, seems A. southern and B. distinctly african american and doesnt really seem to be "the culture of the city". Whatever distinctions there are between african american communities in the different cities, are not very visible to most white people.
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