Tracing Bloomingdale’s History
Thanks to Cultural Tourism DC your next neighborhood stroll can be an educational trip. One of the latest projects is entitled “Worthy Ambition,the LeDroit Park-Bloomingdale Heritage Trail,” and it includes 16 signs that trace the people and historical events that shaped these communities.
In the late 19th century neighborhoods such as Bloomingdale developed along streetcar lines and drew residents who worked downtown or at Howard University. “Bloomingdale’s location speaks to era of development of DC,” said historian Sarah Shoenfeld of Prologue DC, who worked on this project. “Its architecture is iconic, with turreted roofs, first floors set up and back from the street, and big bay windows. Its row houses are representative of some prolific developers in DC.” Examples of noted developers’ work, including houses built or designed by Harry Wardman, Lewis Breuninger, Thomas Haislip, and Francis Blundon, can be viewed from the corner of 1st and V streets.
Some developers, such as Middaugh & Shannon, placed racially restrictive deed covenants on their houses. “Some of their houses were more modest and more affordable for African-Americans, but they weren’t allowed to buy them,” Shoenfeldnoted.
Among Prologue DC’s latest projects is one entitled “Mapping Segregation in DC,” which explores why many of DC’s “historically black” neighborhoods were once exclusively white, and how the city’s racial geography has been shaped by segregation. “Bloomingdale is a good case study for tension between gentrification and affordable housing, including the pop-up issue,” Shoenfeldsaid. “It’s a mix of newcomers and long-time residents, it’s racially integrated, and there’s a real sense of neighborhood pride.”
Contact Cultural Tourism DC at www.culturaltourismdc.org/portal/neighborhood-heritage-trails. Find Prologue DC at prologuedc.com, and learn more about “Mapping Segregation in DC” at prologuedc.com/blog/mapping-segregation.
Better Than Your Front Stoop
Rustik Tavern offers delicious food and one of the best views in Bloomingdale. From the outdoor patio diners can keep up with all the community goings-on this summer without ever leaving the neighborhood.
Owner Diton Pashaj has worked in restaurants since he moved to DC 11 years ago, first at a diner in Dupont Circle and eventually at Vinoteca Wine Bar and Bistro, where he advanced to general manager. Several years ago Pashaj noticed the lack of full-service restaurants in Bloomingdale. “We would always stop at Big Bear for coffee and breakfast. It was busy with locals, and since Big Bear used to close at 7:00 p.m., there was nowhere for these people to go out after,” Pashaj said. “I was hooked and on a mission.”
With the help of friends and family Pashaj opened Rustik in 2010. “I am still shocked that I was able to convince my family that it was a good idea to open a restaurant in a neighborhood where there hadn't been a sit-down, full-service restaurant in a long time. Luckily it worked out,” Pashaj noted.
Rustik’s menu is driven by the wood-burning rotating brick oven. Despite a small kitchen the restaurant turns out several pizzas, small plates, a few main dishes, and brunch and vegan options. It also serves lunch and offers great happy-hour specials including $3 off selected pizzas, $2 off beers, and $5 off wines.
“I consider myself lucky to be a part of this neighborhood and also to be surrounded by some of the greatest, most amicable, and most fun business owners – who’ve also become close friends of mine,” Pashaj shared. “We have supported each other from the beginning and are involved as much as we can in the community.” Community involvement included a “Dine Out For Bloomingdale” week, which was spearheaded by Boundary Stone and generated proceeds that were donated to the Bloomingdale Civic Association. Pashaj recently opened a new restaurant in Brookland, where he lives, and hopes to bring back the T Street festival to Bloomingdale.
Visit Rustik Tavern at 84 T St. NW or at www.rustikdc.com.
Sundays in Bloomingdale
Located outside Big Bear Cafe, the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market (BFM) is once again in full swing. This neighborhood staple supplies residents with local produce, sweets, and entertainment every Sunday from May through November. The producers bring farmers’ market standards as well as baked goods, sauces, plants, and preserves. Stock up on fruits from Reid’s Orchard & Winery, indulge in something sweet from Whisked!, or sample the pickles from Number 1 Sons, all while listening to tunes by local groups such as the LeDroit Chamber Players.
Langley Elementary’s PTA has a table set up for neighborhood parents to learn more about the school and to meet their principal, Charlotte Spann. The school has an herb garden, and this spring it sold herbs, herb wood,and marigold seeds at the BFM.
BFM producers accept several forms of federal nutrition-assistance benefit programs including SNAP (Food Stamps/EBT), WIC, WIC Cash Value, Senior “Get Fresh” Checks, Produce Plus vouchers, and FVRx, a fruit and vegetable prescription program launched by DC Greens.
When the market closes each week at 1:00 p.m. the farmers may choose to donate leftover produce to BFM’s gleaning partner, District Alliance for Safe Housing (DASH), a nonprofit that provides access to safe housing for survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
Markets & More, founded and directed by Robin Shuster, runs BFM and the 14th and U Farmers’ Market, which is open Saturdays. Check their website for various events throughout this summer and fall. Visit Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market at 1st and R streets NW or contact them at marketsandmore.info.