Author Archive

David Rotenstein

Public art and history: Silver Spring’s Memory Wall

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The Silver Spring Memory Wall was completed on the exterior wall of a Caldor department store. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

In the 1990s, Silver Spring, Maryland, was desperate for economic investment and an image makeover. Next door to Washington, D.C., the Montgomery County suburb had suffered from two decades of disinvestment and white flight. Read More

Farm Road: Rural gentrification and the erasure of history

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Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Farm Road, May 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

In its infancy, gentrification was a word used to describe changes in urban neighborhoods. Now, gentrification has been documented in suburbs and rural areas around the world. It is even sweeping through Washington, DC’s suburban counties, where farmlands are being converted into housing and mixed-use developments. Read More

A Washington neighborhood uses history to plan its future

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Bloomingdale residents listen to project leaders describe the oral history project, May 21, 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Bloomingdale residents listen to project leaders describe the oral history project, May 21, 2016. Photo credit: David Rotenstein.

Residents of Washington, D.C.’s Bloomingdale neighborhood are using history to plan for the gentrifying area’s future. Through a process of collaborative research and land use planning, they hope to mitigate the adverse effects of displacement, rising housing costs, and the loss of a sense of community. Read More

A public history role for building bike lanes in cities?

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L Street NW cycle track, Washington, DC. Photo credit: David Rotenstein

L Street NW cycle track, Washington, DC. Photo credit: David Rotenstein

Gentrification: It’s not just for sociologists and anthropologists any more. Though historians have been making inroads documenting and interpreting gentrification and displacement, there are abundant opportunities for historians to make significant contributions in public policy and planning.

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Historic preservation shines a light on a dark past

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Trinity High School demolition, 2013. Photo credit: David Rotenstein

Trinity High School demolition, 2013. Photo credit: David Rotenstein

Editor’s note: This post continues a series commemorating the anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act by examining a past article published in The Public Historian, describing its significance and relating it to contemporary conversations in historic preservation.  Read More

Fragile history in a gentrifying neighborhood

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1.Valetta Anderson at an Atlanta Studies Network event in 2014. Photo by the author.

Valetta Anderson at an Atlanta Studies Network event in 2014. Photo credit:  David Rotenstein

Over the past few years, I have been writing about gentrification and how it intersects with history in an Atlanta, Georgia, suburb. Twenty-five months and more than 50 interviews after I started talking with people and documenting neighborhood change in the Oakhurst area of Decatur, I met playwright Valetta Anderson, who works at Atlanta’s Woodruff Arts Center. Read More

New tools, old tactics deployed to save a historic Atlanta Building

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brick building

Former Trio Laundry Dry Cleaning Building, 20 Hilliard Street, Atlanta, Ga. Photo credit: David Rotenstein

Earlier this year The New York Times dubbed Atlanta, Ga., “the city too busy to remember.” The play on Civil Rights-era mayor Ivan Allen’s municipal sobriquet came during reporting on Atlanta’s demolition of a historic African American church, Friendship Baptist, to clear the way for new stadium construction. Read More

Producing history and ironwork in an urban crucible (Part II)

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townhouses on wharf

Portland’s waterfront has been the site of considerable redevelopment in recent decades. Photo credit: Wendell

Continued from Part 1.

Portland’s gentrification and redevelopment attracted the attention of Loretta Lees, a United Kingdom professor with family in Maine. She documented the rehabilitation of residential, commercial, and industrial properties and the reconfiguration of public spaces in Portland’s upgrading downtown neighborhoods. Read More