Photo Friday: Our cities are changing – North Capitol Street, Washington, DC USA

North Capitol Street, Washington, DC USA 09770
North Capitol Street, Washington, DC USA 09770 (View on

I found this scene fascinating because it’s a snapshot of how are cities are changing, in multiple dimensions. This is the NoMA (North of Massachussetts Avenue) neighborhood, in Washington, DC. Destroyed once in 1968, and then again 20 years later.

On the left is the LEED Gold headquarters of National Public Radio (@NPR). The middle building is empty. If you take a closer look (see the other photos) you can tell what it used to house (hint: “thrive”), and if you think the building on the right will contain luxury condos (which has been my thought as I walk past the high rise modern structure on most days), you’d be wrong.

The building on the right is The John and Jill Ker Conway Family Residences which is

a landmark tower in Washington, DC that will provide permanent supportive housing for 60 veterans who currently sleep on the streets along with 64 low-income DC residents. Built from sustainable materials and designed by one of the top architectural firms in Washington, the new John and Jill Ker Conway Residence will include community gathering spaces, ground floor retail, and on-site supportive services to help its formerly homeless occupants remain stably housed. (Breaking Ground on New Housing for Homeless Veterans | Community Solutions)

Did you guess what the middle building used to be?

It was the Kaiser Permanente North Capitol Medical Center, which has since been replaced by the Kaiser Permanente Capitol Hill Medical Center (read on).

By the way, do you know what the NPR Headquarters building was?

Communications workers picket Western Electric: 1950

…it was a Western Electric Plant that built telephone booths.

Before you decide that Kaiser Permanente’s time has come and gone in this part of Washington, DC, all you have to do is walk around the corner, where it’s an anchor tenant in the now-healing H Street, NE:

DC People and Places 09709
DC People and Places 09709 (View on

…and delivering unheard-of-incredible patient outcomes in its quality of care.

It’s highly likely that at some point in the near future, the vantage point from where I took this photograph won’t exist because yet-another-huge development is being planned for the site.

If you know the history of Washington, DC, you know that it was a city, ironically, that once lacked hope, as it led the nation. That’s starting to change, and it’s becoming healthier, more inclusive, and solving problems, and leading in how it is as well as in what it does.

If you’d like to see the view from a different vantage point, including the data about the people on both sides of the North Capitol Street census tract: Photo and Map Friday: The Social Determinants of the NoMa Neighborhood, Washington, DC USA

Ted Eytan, MD