Adams Morgan, now one of the artsiest neighborhoods in America

ArtPlace has named the intersection of Adams Morgan, U Street, and DuPont Circle as one of the top 12 “ArtPlaces” of 2013.

ArtPlace describes itself as a collaborative effort on the part of 13 foundations, eight federal agencies, and six banks to invest in community art. ArtPlace believes patronizing the arts in this way “can drive vibrancy and diversity so powerful that it transforms communities.”

The top 12 ArtPlaces of 2013 are 12 “neighborhoods in the largest 44 metropolitan areas in the country where the arts are central to creating places where people—residents and visitors—want to be.”

According to a press release, the list was compiled using 6 criteria.

Four indicators measure the ingredients of vibrancy: the number of retail and service businesses; the percentage of independent businesses; the neighborhood’s Walk Score; and the percentage of workers in creative occupations living in the neighborhood. Two arts-related indicators were also used: the number of arts-related non-profits and the number of arts-related businesses. Finally, neighborhood scores were normalized for family income so that neighborhoods with the highest concentration of income did not skew the results.

Adams Morgan scored well in all of these categories, particularly in the percentage of independent businesses and the number of arts-related, non-profit ones. The detailed list of the 12 ArtPlaces reports that 88 percent of all businesses in Adams Morgan are independent, and 43 of them are non-profit or related to the arts.

D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray was confident in his belief that the neighborhood’s place on the list is well-earned, and indicates the broader trend of improvement within the entire district. “This recognition affirms the investments we have been making in the District’s livability and sustainability as well as the investments we’ve made in our creative economy by supporting artists, small businesses, cultural non-profits, retail and restaurants. These individuals and institutions, in turn, improve the District’s quality of life by creating safe, convenient, unique and thriving neighborhoods,” he said in a press release.

ArtPlace traces Adams Morgan’s present-day vibrancy and trendiness to the late 60’s, when social upheaval in the district allowed more people, especially immigrants from Central America and Ethiopia, the opportunity to live in the neighborhood. Today it is one of the most diverse areas in D.C.

Adams Morgan highlights include a tremendous mural, which was made by Latino immigrants in 1977. For contemporary art, there’s Project 4 Gallery.

Music is just as much a part of Adams Morgan as the visual arts. Twins Jazz Club has a show just about every night of the week. The basement of St. Stephen and the Incarnation Church has hosted all kinds of local music, from the straight-edge punk rock bands Fugazi and Bad Brains to square dancing, according to ArtPlace.

The second Sunday in every September is Adams Morgan Day. The events focus on cultural dances, but this is also an excellent time to shop around the area as well. Adams Morgan is just far enough to be outside the “Georgetown bubble,” but it is still accessible from Georgetown for Hoyas who want to see a nice area of D.C. with a lot of flair.

Photo: anokarina via Flickr

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