Ned Barnett’s opinion piece last week, downplaying the damaging effects of gentrification, was incredibly tone-deaf.
Indeed the Times story called attention to the implication that there is something wrong with downtown neighborhoods gaining new homes and more value as white flight reverses.
Well, yes, yes there is. There is something wrong with it, Ned. Surging property values are great for owners, unless those owners are unable to pay the soaring property taxes. Surging property values aren’t too fun for the renters who get pushed out by skyrocketing rents or by the flipping of homes.
We can improve neighborhoods without pushing out the long-time residents – the people who actually contribute to the character of any neighborhood. The question we should be asking is: how can everyone benefit from prosperity?
Raleigh is now almost blase about being cited in the national media as a city on the rise, but a New York Times report last week cast that growth in a less flattering light. It used Raleigh as exhibit No. 1 of how well-off whites are moving into traditionally black neighborhoods near urban centers and converting longtime nonwhite areas into white enclaves.
The story stressed that Raleigh’s pattern is part of a national trend, but its focus in photos, videos and quotes was on North Carolina’s capital. The theme was that poorer blacks are being pushed out and those who remain feel their neighborhood is being usurped.
The coverage put a spotlight on an issue Raleigh’s leaders know about but have not directly addressed: How much should growth be allowed to displace residents and transform neighborhoods?
Source: New York Times story focused on Raleigh gentrification | Raleigh News & Observer
A sobering read on gentrification of downtown Raleigh from the New York Times.
RALEIGH, N.C. — In the African-American neighborhoods near downtown Raleigh, the playfully painted doors signal what’s coming. Colored in crimson, in coral, in seafoam, the doors accent newly renovated craftsman cottages and boxy modern homes that have replaced vacant lots.
To longtime residents, the doors mean higher home prices ahead, more investors knocking, more white neighbors.
Here, and in the center of cities across the United States, a kind of demographic change most often associated with gentrifying parts of New York and Washington has been accelerating. White residents are increasingly moving into nonwhite neighborhoods, largely African-American ones.
Source: The Neighborhood Is Mostly Black. The Home Buyers Are Mostly White. – The New York Times
My friend Heather Leah writes again about Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, this time for ABC11. I get a nice shout-out about halfway down. Thanks again, Heather!
When you walk into the lobby of the North Raleigh Hilton, you are walking on the very footprints of our city’s founders. Beneath those very floors rests the original foundation of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern, a modest wooden cabin with a tin roof built in the 1700s that was so well-loved by North Carolina’s most important and influential men that they decided the state capital should be built no more than ten miles away.
Many locals believed the tavern itself was destroyed, either by entropy or construction for new developments. Despite its critical importance to the history of Raleigh — and really, our entire state — there are no relics or remains on display at any of our history museums. Even people who remember seeing the tavern, dilapidated and disguised as an old horse stable on Wake Forest Road in the 1970s, mostly reported the tavern to have been destroyed.
However, the foundation and wooden planks belonging to Isaac Hunter’s Tavern still stand, hidden by years of misinformation, new developments, and overgrowth. Soon, for the first time in history, the public may finally be able to visit artifacts and pieces of the tavern itself.
Source: Isaac Hunter’s Tavern: A new future for the forgotten history of a place critical to Raleigh’s past | abc11.com
Cue the tiny violins. I understand the desire for Riddick’s father to defend his daughter but sometimes by doing so one does more harm than good.
In October, a News & Observer editorial endorsing Democratic Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman asserted that Freeman had agreed to “a relatively light sentence” in the embezzlement case of my daughter, former Wake County Register of Deeds Laura M. Riddick.
The newspaper was hardly alone in that assessment, but the common assumption is wrong. The truth is the opposite — and it’s time to respond to mistaken claims of “a relatively light sentence.”
Relative to what, exactly? Not compared to other embezzlers. Not as to other public officials across North Carolina, either. Not even other public-figure embezzlers in Wake County.
Source: My daughter, Laura Riddick, is in prison. There’s nothing ‘light’ about her punishment. | News & Observer
Raleigh’s original “Beltline” – the Civil War breastworks
Hours of toiling with Google Earth (GE) has allowed me to get a good feel for how the 1865 map of Raleigh’s breastworks matches up to local landmarks. I created an image overlay in GE, then marked with a pushpin landmarks that are still around today. A bit (okay, hours) of stretching and rotating the overlay image got me a close match of where things were as compared to today.
The Google Earth mashup of Camp Holmes
After messing with Google Earth for hours tonight I finally got a rough idea of the location of one of Raleigh’s Civil War “camps of instruction,” Camp Holmes. It seems to have been west of the modern-day intersection of Capital Boulevard and Wake Forest Road, where the Raleigh Bonded warehouses and Norfolk Southern’s Raleigh Yard are today. Being that most of the camp is now a railyard, poking around there is not feasible. Still, there might be interesting finds on the periphery, perhaps the treeline south of Georgetown Road.
Who knew that those dingy warehouses and railyard was once the site where 9,000 Confederate conscripts trained to become soldiers?
Camp Holmes (including “officers quaters”)
A friend shared a historical map this morning that caught my eye. It is a map of the old breastworks built by the city of Raleigh to impede approaching Union troops near the end of the Civil War.
I’d seen the historical marker (H-30)
a mile away from my home, mentioning that breastworks were nearby but I’d never seen them and didn’t think much about them until now. So, one of my upcoming projects is to trace the path of the old earthen walls so that I can visit these sites to see if there’s anything left (update: found them!
). After 153 years, it’s unlikely I’ll find any remnants of the five-foot-tall earthen walls and gravel but you never know.
Another detail of the map caught my eye, however: Camp Holmes. Curious about what this is, I did a few Google searches and was surprised to learn that nobody really knows where it was. It’s plainly on this old map, however, so a bit of Google Earth magic should show me roughly where I can physically search for it (update: found it!)
My Camp Holmes searches brought up a few lonely hits, one of which is a letter detailing an inspection made of Camp Holmes by Confederate assistant adjutant-general LtC Archer Anderson in June 1864. It provides an interesting look at the camp. There are others online, too, in the form of handwritten letters which will take some deciphering before being posted online.
As the letter appeared in a US Congressional publication in 1900 it is now in the public domain. Here it is in its entirety. I’ll post more stories as I learn more about the camp.
June 16, 1864.
Report of inspection of Camp Holmes, a camp of instruction near Raleigh, commanded by Major Hahr, with the following: staff: One first lieutenant, adjutant; one first lieutenant, receiving officer; one assistant quartermaster; one assistant commissary of subsistence; one surgeon and one assistant surgeon; one chaplain; one first lieutenant, commanding guard; four second lieutenants, drill-masters.
I learned last night that my friend Al Swanstrom died last week. I originally knew Al through my working with his wife, Pam, back at HAHT Software over twenty years ago. Al was so sharp, friendly, and funny. It was always fun trading quips with him. When he campaigned for a state senate seat a few years ago I did not think twice about standing for hours outside a polling place in “unfriendly territory” to help support him. It was sad to learn he was ill.
My thoughts are with Pam and her family in this difficult time.
Having been born in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Al was an avid Packers fan. He was also very proud of his father’s Swedish heritage and recently connected with his Swedish relatives.
Al was an IBMer for over 30 years and traveled worldwide in various roles. During his career, Al was granted several patents. After retirement, Al dedicated his time to public service, including serving on the Town of Cary Planning Board, Wake County Planning Board (Chair), and North Carolina Turnpike Authority. Throughout, Al was a tireless volunteer for Triangle Wine Experience and Leukemia/Lymphoma Society.
Al was the architect of his life and many things of beauty. He was happiest sailing and diving with his family, woodworking, working on his cars, designing a new technical solution and spending time with the “Coffee Gang.”
He was an officer of the Triangle Bailliage de North Carolina of the Chaîne de Rotisseurs and a past Maître of the Triangle NC Chapter of the Commanderie de Bordeaux. Al shared his knowledge of wine and passion for culinary arts with friends in both organizations. He was a great host and welcomed friends into his home.
Source: Alan Frederick Swanstrom Obituary – Cary, NC
Looks like Amazon won’t be coming to Raleigh. I know DC has been on the short list for the HQ2 site but as a techie who grew up outside of DC I would steer clear of any jobs that absolutely required me to commute there every day (outside of a ride in Marine One, that is).
Amazon.com has held advanced discussions about the possibility of opening its highly sought-after second headquarters in Crystal City, including how quickly it would move employees there, which buildings it would occupy and how an announcement about the move would be made to the public, according to people close to the process.
The discussions were more detailed than those the company has had regarding other locations in Northern Virginia and some other cities nationally, adding to speculation that the site in Arlington County is a front-runner to land the online retail giant’s second North American headquarters and its 50,000 jobs.
The company is so close to making its choice that Crystal City’s top real estate developer, JBG Smith, has pulled some of its buildings off the leasing market and officials in the area have discussed how to make an announcement to the public this month, following the midterm elections, according to public and private-sector officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity because Amazon has asked that the selection process remain confidential. The company may be having similar discussions with other finalists.
Source: Amazon HQ2: Advanced talks about second headquarters in Northern Virginia – The Washington Post
A few months back I showed my friend Heather Leah around the ruins of Isaac Hunter’s Tavern for a story she was writing for the WAKE Living magazine. The story just ran in the Fall 2018 issue and included a few quotes from me. Not only that, it announces that plans are afoot to better memorialize the tavern that helped put Raleigh on the map! Heather also added some photos of some artifacts associated with the tavern which really brought the story to life.
It was a great story and tells of an even greater future for Isaac Hunter’s Tavern!