Reporting on pedestrian life in the D.C. area

Georgia Ave/Pleasant Plains Trail debuts October 15

September 6, 2011 - 03:16 PM
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The trail will connect the Howard and Petworth Metro stations. (Photo: flickr/elvert barnes)

Residents of Georgia Avenue, don't fret over the loss of the lower Georgia Avenue Great Streets funding entirely. A fancy new pedestrian path called the Georgia Avenue-Pleasant Plains Heritage Trail is still set to open in the neighborhood on October 15. Although the trail's name is a hyphenated mouthful, the goals seem true and good. A new path connecting the different blocks of Petworth, planned by the Emergence Community Arts Collective and Cultural Tourism D.C., will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

The trail links the Howard-Shaw Metro station with the Georgia Avenue Metro station, a length of more than a mile and with what's now reported to be 19 signs highlighting the neighborhood's history. As part of the project, the trail's organizers conducted interviews with many long-time residents, such as the audio interview below with Darren Jones, president of the Pleasant Plains Association.

Tonight the third meeting for the trail's launch will happen at the ECAC location of 733 Euclid St. NW at 6:30 p.m. The organizers hope to debut the trail in mid-October in a ceremony on the front lawn of the Howard University Hospital. What truly unites the elements of this project — and elevates its goals above the mere pedestrian — is its sense of history, found in the interview above as well as others like it. The trail signs in particular exude that knowingness, that reality that a community lives in Petworth and has a stake and a background. See the collective's April 2008 proposal to get a sense of the stories that define the project. Why is the intersection of 7th Street and Florida Avenue important? It's the site of a 1919 race riot. What about Georgia Avenue and Park? Well, that's where the first Giant Food appeared back in 1936. Howard Place at Sixth Street? Think back to 1966 when students overtook Rankin Chapel. The trail's signs help highlight and point these different bits of history.

Why does this matter? It's the texture of a community and fires up an aspirational spirit that speaks to a connected, long set of generations across the decades. To create this sense of community is a vital step toward both encouraging pedestrian life and encouraging more life to enter the storefronts of lower Georgia, which have failed to take off in the same way other neighborhoods have done. A better pedestrian culture encourages a safer, more vibrant neighborhood.

See the trail's planned route in a map from 2008 to get a sense of how the community will open up for pedestrians by early fall:

Chocolate strawberries
(Photo: ECA Collective)

Learn more at the ECA Collective trail website.

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