Photo Friday: Healing H Street, NE with Complete Streets, Washington, DC USA

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2nd Street NE, Washington, DC, as seen from the H Street NE, bridge, NoMA neighborhood (View on Flickr)

The photograph above is a first ever view of 2nd Street, NE, as a “complete street,” just outside the Center for Total Health (@KPTotalHealth).

I have found that very few health professionals know what “Complete Streets” are:

By adopting a Complete Streets policy, communities direct their transportation planners and engineers to routinely design and operate the entire right of way to enable safe access for all users, regardless of age, ability, or mode of transportation. This means that every transportation project will make the street network better and safer for drivers, transit users, pedestrians, and bicyclists – making your town a better place to live.

They (complete streets) are very much a part of health, and Washington, DC, has required them in all new development since 2010.

This photo was taken from H Street, NE, which this week for the first time had access restored between it and 2nd Street below, eliminating a semi-food desert situation and dramatically increasing transit options, available on the street above.

This is what H-Street NE looked like in 1947 – very “incomplete,” however with a streetcar, that was later removed, and just now is being restored, with a 2015 view just below it:

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H Street NE, and 3rd Streets NE, 1947, Washington, DC USA (View on Flickr)
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H Street NE, and 3rd Streets NE, 2015, Washington, DC USA (View on Flickr)

In between those times, here’s what H Street, NE, looked like on April 5, 1968, when it was decimated after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr:

H-Street NE in 1968
Aftermath of destruction of Washington, DC in 1968, H Street, NE, see: Fire; A chapter from ‘Multitudes; Memoirs of a Rebel’ by Sam Smith

Here’s another view of the destruction from Yale Library archives.

H Street is just beginning to heal now, 47 years after it was destroyed. There’s a beautiful documentary of the fall and rise again of H Street by Craig Corl (@CraigCorl) (Heal H Street), which is of interest for people wanting to create and support healthy communities.

There’s a lot to be learned about how to live in the future by knowing what happened before we got here.


Ted Eytan, MD