This post is part of an occasional summer series on the city’s public pools.
Malcolm Gladwell would probably have a thing or two to say about the Upshur Pool. Sometime between last year and this year, the Petworth* institution seems to have hit a tipping point. In that time period, it appears to have gone from majority-black to majority-white. The crooked railings outside, often empty last year, now have hardly an inch of free space between the locked bikes clinging to both sides. There’s no chance of swimming in the pool; the wriggling, squealing mass of humanity has turned the lap lane’s once-inviolable border rope into just another plaything. That doesn’t seem to bother many of the poolgoers, who regard the poolside as just a change of venue for their continued iPad browsing.
I suppose the transformation of the pool shouldn’t be surprising in this epicenter of gentrification. After all, Petworth is D.C.’s hottest housing neighborhood, with prices jumping 42 percent from a year ago.
But it is still surprising. Since I moved to Petworth five years ago, the once-under-the-radar neighborhood has gained condos, restaurants, a CVS—-all of which were surprising. The pool is still a great, free resource to the families that have been in the neighborhood for a long time. It’s just been invaded by a new wave of residents, too.
*Some of you will probably say that this is not Petworth but 16th Street Heights, that Petworth exists only east of Georgia Avenue. I say you are wrong. Maybe it was once so. But the Petworth Library is in Petworth. The Petworth Metro station is in Petworth. And so is the Upshur Pool.
Photo by Mr. T in DC on Flickr