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As 2020 finally draws to a close, the idea of looking back on the past 50 or so weeks doesn’t seem particularly appealing. It’s tempting to let future historians tell the story of this year we spent inside and let the rest of us move on, and yet it’s not that simple. The memories of 2020—of Zoom calls that replaced birthday celebrations and holidays, of uprisings against police violence and governmental oppression, of empty restaurants and full hospitals—will be lodged in our hippocampi for quite a while. Maybe even forever.
The staff of City Paper has spent the past nine months chronicling the ups and downs of the coronavirus pandemic and much of the rest of the news that’s taken place in D.C. That work, for the most part, has occurred in our homes, but our staff photographer, Darrow Montgomery, went out to chronicle the world as it changed. He met activists fighting for racial justice, a 5-year-old already making his mark on the go-go scene, and dozens of other newsworthy individuals, documenting them all from a distance. He also captured the more somber moments: a fence covered in posters from this year’s Black Lives Matter marches, notes about masks taped to the doors of businesses, and pleas for help from people who can no longer afford their rent. In the depths of Rock Creek Park, he even found a message left by another visitor who just wanted to say hello.
So even though recalling precise details and dates from this year might be difficult, we invite you to take a walk through the past 12 months with Montgomery. Linger over the stones that look like mountains, recall what the inside of a bowling alley looks like (shot for a story that got bumped for pandemic coverage), and catch a glimpse of a house stripped to its bones before being remodeled. Even a pandemic can’t stop progress. —Caroline Jones