While carrying her reusable tote bags close to her on this windy day Eula-Mae White was not discouraged in stopping to say “hello” to passers-by as she walked down Georgia Avenue. No freezing wind that brings instant tears in her eyes would discourage her from her social obligations to chat with her neighbors that passed. Eula-Mae carried some light groceries from CVS as she walked on the street corner of Georgia Avenue and Quebec Place with her husband Arturo White on a windy Saturday.
Eula-Mae White, a Petworth resident of 16 years, says the community has changed over the years. “It’s okay, but it could be better,” she said.
There’s a lot of movement in Petworth these days. Right next to the Metro stop are five bus stops, where residents wait to get downtown. The Metro area serves as a community center or where locals are constantly running into each other.
“It’s like one place during the day, and then a whole different place at night,” Arturo said.
There is a disconnect between the new E.L. Hayes Charter School one block from that Metro. The children in the neighborhood during the week are different from those frequenting the gentlemen’s clubs or the little shops near the school on Georgia Avenue.
Typical neighborhood joints line the street: a barber shop, beauty stores, a Laundromat, nail salons and a few convenience shops. During the day, the doorways are regularly blocked by conversations. But at night, the shops close the iron gates on windows and doors, speaking to a much different nightlife.
“You can walk past a drug deal every night up on the corner there,” Arturo said, pointing to the corner of Princeton Place and Georgia Avenue.
Georgia Avenue is sprinkled with several abandoned business, but the area is just as busy one day to the next regardless of time. It’s just different crowds, according to Petworth locals.
“The police are always hanging around during the day, but I just don’t know where they go at night,” Eula-Mae said.
According to local ANC reports, the demographics of Petworth have changed a great deal over the last twenty years. The African American population decreased by about 30 percent, while the number of white residents (still the minority) more than doubled.
This can be attributed to some of the changes in the apartments lining Georgia Avenue according to local blogger, the Prince of Petworth, who regularly blogs about new condos and multi-million dollar renovations in the neighborhood. He also makes speculations on the new homes, which bring in a younger professional group to the area.
“I wouldn’t live here if I didn’t already live here, and I could not afford to live in those new places,” Peggy Porter, resident of Petworth for 40 years, said. She works at the Safeway in Vienna, but looks forward to possibly transferring to the new Petworth Safeway being built right now.
“It would just be great to not have to walk past the Metro at night. Those boys there are up to no good with their drugs,”Porter said.
Eula-Mae and Arturo think the Safeway will be good for Petworth. Currently, they walk to the Giant on 14th Street in Columbia Heights for their groceries, avoiding the closer Yes! Organic. The couple says they aren’t part of the young crowd that frequents the store.