I hadn’t noticed this fun parlor game of an article in Sunday’s Post: “Where Should Sonia Sotomayor Live?” It’s really further proof, along with good restaurants, that D.C. is becoming more like New York; we talk about real estate!
Unfortunately, we don’t talk about real estate very well. Three of the four suggestions make no sense. Why would Sonia Sotomayor want to live in Southwest, Arlington, or Hyattsville? She currently lives in the West Village. That’s walking distance to her office. It’s Jane Jacobs’ neighborhood, just with a little more gentrification. If Sotomayor wanted “gleaming new glass office and apartment buildings,” as Tom Sherwood touts Southwest for having, she’d live in Battery Park. If she wanted to “totally rock the HOV” from Arlington, she’d be living in Jersey City. I’m not sure quite what the New York equivalent of Hyattsville is—Queens?—but I don’t think it’s drawing any comparisons to the Village.
Sommer Mathis, from DCist, is the only one to come close to getting it right, by suggesting somewhere near the U Street Corridor. It’s probably what I would say too, as it’s the hippest that D.C. gets. The other choice is Mount Pleasant—it’s a combination of hipsters and a more settled Latino population that might appeal—but I think that it might be too far off the beaten path.
But it’s a reminder of how far we’ve got to go. Greenwich Village remains, even after gentrification, one of the cooler places in America. There’s some surprise around every unpredictable turn. On U Street, there is commerce on a very few streets. That’s a problem of zoning, of restaurant permits, and of density.
It’s also a problem of history. Greenwich Village has been cool for a hundred years and the layering on of decades is very present there; U Street had some rough years after 1968. That, however, isn’t a problem that we can do anything about, while the land use stuff is. Supreme Court Justices are not known for being cool people; we should have neighborhoods at least hip enough for them.