Then and Now

A project by Karen Ramsey to combine essential exercise during the pandemic, photography, a healthy dose of curiosity, and a tinge of nostalgia. The before photos are mostly taken 7-10 years ago, and the current photos are taken during the March-April 20 shutdown for COVID.

Use the sliders to reveal more of the before and after photos.

All images copyrighted to Karen Ramsey.

The ABC Market on K Street NE in July 2009 turned into the Old City Market and Oven by April 2020.
A tale of two Apollo signs 6 years apart from August 2014 to April 2020. The Apollo Theatre was built on this site in 1931 and it showed silent films before being demolished in 1955. The new Apollo, named after the historic theatre, is a mixed-use retail and apartment complex built in 2017.
The Art of Harmony mural in July 2009 was on a liquor store that was razed to make way for a mixed use development. Unforeseen delays, including a lawsuit by a DC resident in another ward, held up construction. In April 2020 the new construction had not yet started but new mixed use development or apartment building sites had sprouted up around it.
The Atlas Performing Arts Center in February 2009 and April 2020. The Atlas opened on H Street NE in 2006 in a former movie house that was built in 1938 but closed after the 1968 riots. The theatre and neighboring Joy of Motion dance center are closed during the pandemic until performance and entertainment spaces can be reopened safely. Streetcar poles, fresh paint on Hill Prince, and the Bullfrog Bagels logo are signs of the newer times along with new construction on Delta Towers in the background.
May 2014 to April 2020 shows differences in front of the historic Lincoln Theatre and Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street NW. May 2014 was the first Funk Parade to celebrate DC’s spirit of funk, the music and arts community, and the U Street corridor. The area is nearly deserted during the shutdown, the theater is dark, and Ben’s is struggling to survive. Despite the small line of masked and physically distanced patrons outside waiting to order up half-smokes and chili, the restaurant, like those across the city, is struggling to keep operating in a greatly reduced business environment with the take out and delivery only options currently available.
July 2009 to April 2020 in Lincoln Park. On the eastern edge of Lincoln Park there is a memorial statue to Mary McLeod Bethune, a civil rights activist that founded the National Council for Negro Women in 1935. She was also a philanthropist, educator, and advisor to President Roosevelt. In 2009 at the time of the first photo there was a commemorative event in Lincoln Park to honor Mary Bethune. Her bronze statue completed in 1974 was the first one in DC to honor a woman and an African American. The artist, Robert Berks, also created the statue of Albert Einstein on Constitution Avenue at the National Academy of Sciences. During the early stages of physical distancing the park was patrolled by the National Park, Park Police and DC Police officers to enforce physical distancing standards.
January 2009 at the Capitol Hill Manor Apartments to April 2020 at the Bell Capitol Hill apartments. Located across from Eastern High School, the area was lacking foot traffic that one expects near a high school with athletic fields and other weekend activities for students.
In June 2009 the Friendship Arch in Chinatown was shrouded for restoration and repairs. In 2020 the gleaming arch and neighborhood were shrouded by a cloak of stillness on a Monday morning during the pandemic.
August 2014 to April 2020. The mysterious doorway became a part of the Coda on H “life-style centered apartment community”.
September 2009 to April 2020. The first photo shows the H Street Festival in 2009 when it was a smaller neighborhood event. On the far right is the Douglas Memorial Church. It was built in 1876, rebuilt in 1937 and renovated in 1992. It still towers over retail sites including Duffy’s Irish Pub, Rita’s Italian ice, Marie’s Beauty Supply and Mason’s Barbershop. On the small business side, only Duffy’s is considered essential and they have a take out/delivery area set up in the side courtyard.
October 2013 to April 2020. For decades an African-American doctor lived above his medical practice office in the Trinidad neighborhood. The free standing house built in the Colonial style was purchased by a developer. Three two-unit townhouses were subsequently constructed on the site obliterating the fountain in the backyard..
October 2013 to April 2020. For decades an African-American doctor lived above his medical practice office in the Trinidad neighborhood. The free standing house built in the Colonial style was purchased by a developer. Three two-unit townhouses were subsequently constructed on the site.
September 2009 to April 2020. The California Fantasy Van was featured at the 2009 H Street Festival. The dry cleaners and the International House of Prayer are still operating as changes like the new high rise to the left are added. All festivals and events have been cancelled this spring. Hopefully by September there will be a new normal but will that allow for crowds of over 100,000 people that the festival now draws or will it be a smaller neighborhood event like in 2009?
November 2013 to April 2020. Duke Ellington Plaza on Florida Ave NW. The Ethiopian Zenebech restaurant was displaced to a new location on 18th Street to make way for the mixed use mid-rise building. Normally there are people sitting in the plaza but the new normal of physical distancing means it is empty.
October 2009 to April 2020. Eastern Market Metro Station. An absence of both candy corn traffic cones and newspaper boxes are apparent, the later a nod to both Coronavirus and the demise of the WaPo Express in September 2019.
June 2009 to April 2020. Eastern Market. The market had a devastating fire and was closed for renovation, with a temporary market opened across the street. Now the market is having a slow down with lines of masked customers waiting to enter the building to shop.
July 2009 to April 2020. Eastern Market. The food stalls inside Eastern Market are usually packed on weekends with lines waiting for cheese, vegetables, meat, bakery items and flowers. The new regulations on market operations limit the number of people allowed inside at any one time and masks are required for entry to limit the spread of the Coronavirus.
1989 to April 2020. This location was hard to find again decades later but the rooflines and columns eventually led me to the site of what is now the National Museum for African American History and Culture looking towards the northeast.
June 2012 to April 2020. Because not everything changes, this facade mostly remains the same.
July 2009 to April 2020. The building at Florida and 4th Streets NW was restored to former glory.
June 2013 to April 2020. Frager’s Hardware on Pennsylvania Ave NE. In 2013 there was a devastating fire at Frager’s Hardware, a neighborhood institution. The building and land were eventually sold to a developer and Frager’s became part of the Ace Hardware chain. It reopened in the basement and during the pandemic remains an essential resource for the community.
1998 to April 2020. Freedom Plaza. The biggest change here may be that the littlest visitor to the capitol city pictured here is finishing the second year of law school.
September 2011 to April 2020. George’s to Ben’s Chili Bowl on H Street NE. George’s Place operated on H Street NE from 1968 to 2011. The neighborhood institution closed and the building sold to an institution from U Street NW that also weathered the 1968 riots in DC. Ben’s Chili Bowl opened in 2015. The facade of George’s was to be preserved but was removed during renovation.
February 2009 to April 2020. H Street NE. The nutcrackers used to appear in winter on H Street, sometimes remaining up for a large part of the year.
Summer 1999 to April 2020. Hains Point and the Awakening. The statue by J. Seward Johnson, Jr. was a draw at the edge of Hains Point and seemed to emerge from the ground. Sadly in 2007 it was purchased for $750,000 by the National Harbor developer and moved to that location. The end of Hains Point always feels empty without it there. During the pandemic, the area was closed to vehicles and pedestrians to keep crowds from gathering at the cherry blossoms and risking transmittal of the virus.
July 2009 to April 2020. Hayes School on 5th and K Streets NE. The school was originally built in 1897 and after years of neglect and sitting vacant, it was renovated to house the DC Office on Aging. Providing outreach to seniors, the center is usually open week days but has modified operations during the pandemic. When I biked to this spot, there was a large truck parked where the original photo was taken so the angle is different in the updated photo.
July 2009 to April 2020. Hill Center. The Old Naval Hospital at 921 Pennsylvania Ave SE was commissioned to be built in 1864. The hospital eventually moved locations and the building fell into disrepair. It is not a education and arts complex called the Hill Center. It is closed to the public but will have art exhibits and community programs when reopened after the pandemic.
September 2011 to April 2020. This building lost its ivy but gained a mission. Located on H Street NE, it now houses HIPS, a community-centered non-profit that works with female, male and transgender commercial sex workers and provides critical services to improve lives and reduce harm. Learn more about their mission at
June 2009 to April 2020. Howard Theatre. This building on the National Register of Historic Places was erected in 1910. Dubbed the “theatre of the people” it showed theatre, music and dance until it closed. The building was renovated starting in 2010 and reopened as a performance venue in 2012. The outside sign changed but I hope the new one is in safe keeping somewhere.
June 2014 to April 2020. For a brief period of time the day care was next to the Island Dyes head shop. The stretch of buildings is being renovated. The child care is now a pho restaurant, Island Dyes is under renovated and the empty lot to the west has been infilled with a high rise apartment building.
February 2016 to April 2020. From the rise in the road looking down into Ivy City, a new multi-family building rose on an empty lot, changing the landscape. A developer in Union Market, in the same single member district Advisory Neighborhood Commission area made an arrangement with the community and city that in lieu of adding inclusionary zoning units in a high rise building there, they would give a significant sum (I think it was $1 million) to Habitat for Humanity to build housing that qualified low income residents could help build and purchase under the Habitat program. Habitat has worked in Ivy City for a number of years (decades?) and were able to manage the process and support building equity in the community.
February 2016 to April 2020. These wood frame houses in Ivy City and gutted with just the facades, and stop work orders, remaining. Construction is an essential business during the pandemic but not with a SWO.
July 2009 to April 2020. Michael Jackson passed away in June 2009. Shortly after his death, Ms. Jewel turned her yard and porch into a memorial to the King of Pop. The memorial endured for years but eventually she had to move some items inside as they were being stolen by passers by. Miss Jewel was also stolen far too soon from her family, friends, and neighbors. Jewel Hall was struck and killed by a speeding driver when she was crossing H Street NE near her home in October 2017. RIP, Ms. Jewel, and I hope you are still listening to the King of Pop’s music that brought you so much joy on this side.
November 2013 to April 2020. The back view of the old Jimmy’s Tire building and lot and the new but never completed Havana apartment building at Florida Avenue and K Street NE.
November 2013 to April 2020. Jimmy’s Tire at K Street and Florida Ave NW was purchased by a developer after it had closed and there had been a fire in the building. The new apartment building, called The Havana, has never been completed but it was open for lease applications and had an open house to view units in 2018 (or was it 2017?).
September 2011 to April 2020. Jocie Jewelry was opened in the 900 block of H Street NE in 1997 and provided watch and jewelry repair services as well as retail gift sales. In recent years the shutters rolled down for a last time, the building repainted, and a For Sale sign added. With the economy in tatters because of the pandemic, it may take years for the empty storefronts to be leased out again providing retail and services to the neighborhood.
September 2011 to April 2020. Jumbo Liquor on H Street NE. A big change for the streetscape is the addition of poles and wires for the street car.
November 2013 to April 2020. The 500 block of K Street NW saw some new development projects that incorporated several row houses.
1989 to April 2020. Much has changed outside the White House. 1600 Pennsylvania is now permanently closed to vehicles and (hopefully) temporarily pedestrians.
March 2013 to April 2020. The Rock N Roll Marathon cuts across the city for one spring day a year, except in 2020 when the marathon was cancelled early on in the pandemic response. Businesses like the Liberty Income Tax office, which has now moved down a block or two, with reps dressed like the Statue of Liberty and neighbors turn out to cheer on runners as the race east on H Street. Shoe City and Po Boy Jim’s are still in business and Allure Bar has replaced Liberty Income Tax.
October 2013 to April 2020. McDonald’s on 17th Street NW featured in a photo after the high heeled drag race in 2014. Since then it has been repainted and lost the arches in the window.
1989 to April 2020. Hopefully this is the correct spot decades apart. The streetscape had changed considerably over the years.
October 2013 to April 2020. Murals have changed along the side of the Mother Rucker’s Subs shop on Bladensburg Road NE
1987 to April 2020. Intersection of 7th Street and Pennsylvania Ave NW. The building with the spires houses the National Council of Negro Women, Inc. and the area to the left is Indiana Plaza, which is usually full of people and pigeons. The wide stretch of Pennsylvania Ave NW is mostly empty of traffic as people are encouraged to remain at home during the pandemic.
September 2011 to April 2020. Yards Park bridge is usually bustling as people enjoy the waterfront and park, use the bridge as a photo backdrop and head to baseball or soccer games. A big change during the 9 years is the completed DC Water building obscuring part of the Nationals stadium.
June 2013 to April 2020. Yards Park. The first photo is during the Tour de Fat, a touring bike and beer festival by New Belgium brewery. The area behind the camera continued the festival with more tents, rides, and carnival like games. That area is now built up with a new park space, a winery, restaurants and shops over high rise apartment buildings. The buildings in the background are part of the Naval Yard complex.
September 2011 to April 2020. The H Street Festival used to be a fairly low-key neighborhood festival with musicians. and performances off stage at street level and a strong sense of neighborhood engagement. It took some searching to find where this man was singing. The storefront in the original was boarded up and there was no visible building number. In 2011 the festival did not extend west of 8th Street so the search area was narrowed to 5 blocks. The doorway was still there with a different paint color but recognizable. The boarded up building is now New H Wine & Spirits, a small local business with a great selection of beer, wines, and liquor. Considered an essential business during the pandemic, they are still operating with modifications to maintain physical distancing.
August 2014 to April 2020. The H Street Corridor with predominantly small businesses is always changing. The Ohio Restaurant operated at the corner of H and 14th Street until 2006 and then the building sat empty for a decade. Turning Natural Juice Bar, a small business with branches in DC and Maryland, has been serving juices the past several years. The mural is always a nice pop of color.
September 2009 to April 2020. It almost seems like these photos should be reversed as the 2009 one looks finished and tidy. But Park’s Hardware and the Women’s Fashion Center have since closed and are being gutted for new development project. The Cricket store is open during the pandemic as communications are essential in the current environment.
July 2009 to April 2020. The phoenix is still rising on the side of the wall on H Street NE. Banners and marketing have changed though. The older H Street NE logo banners have been replaced by red metal cut outs. on the poles.
September 2009 to April 2020. There have been a lot of changes on this block in a decade. The infamous Red Palace has closed as has the Philadelphia Water Ice place and other places have come and gone from some of the store fronts. The streets are now fairly empty at mid day with the pandemic but the Queen Vic is operating. British pub food is still available for carry out and delivery but there is no pulling up to the bar to watch soccer for the time being.
December 2010 to April 2020. The big red heel from a marketing campaign was replaced by shuttered doors leading to Union Station. Only the main front door on the circle was open when the second photo was taken.
August 2009 to April 2020 at the Senate side of the US Capitol building. 2009 was the year of the H1N1 swine flu outbreak but transmission was not nearly as wide spread and deadly as the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Intense health care debates, summer recess, and Senator Ted Kennedy’s funeral were also in August 2009. There are now over 25 million people unemployed and losing health care tied to employment.
May 2014 to April 2020. The first DC Funk Parade worked it’s way down V Street NW. Now the new Atlantic Plumbing building is visible above where the 9:30 Club sits. Like all other music venues, the 9:30 is closed until they can safely reopen for shows.
1989 to April 2020. Protests and general tourism are temporarily a thing of the past. Rooflines helped find the angle of this shot. The newer addition for security screenings is prominent in the second photo.
September 2011 to April 2020. Smokey’s Barbershop and Oldies opened on H Street NE in 1999. The building sold and is being flipped into a mixed-use building. Construction is an essential business so work is continuing during the pandemic.
August 2014 to April 2020. Stan’s on H Street is still operating. Rental scooters continue to run and are important for transit with the reduction in bus and metro services during the pandemic.
July 2009 to April 2020. The new car was not as remarkable but the high-rises of the new Wharf area are visible in the background.
July 2011 to April 2020. Corner of H and 4th Street NE.
June 2009 to April 2020. Union Station is usually bustling but few people are passing through now and most restaurants and shops inside are shuttered.
Winter 1987 to April 2020. The left is a cell photo of an old print and shows the Reflecting Pool before the World War II Memorial was visible in the far distance of the second photo. Normally the most important time for the tourism industry in DC to gain revenue as school groups and tourists flock to the city, the memorials are quiet as travel was not possible this spring.
June 2009 to April 2020. Strong’s Wig and Fashions at the corner of H and 12th Streets NE became Nomad Smoke Shop and the murals on the side were painted over. There is now a patio on the side for hookah smokers but that, along with most businesses, is temporarily closed.
February 2015 to April 2020. Home is Where the Heart Is. The mural with Adinkra symbols as a background to portraits has had its own new background as two new high-rise buildings loom behind it. The open lot will also be developed in the future and fencing is already up. 
October 2013 to April 2020. The Bodega gained a balcony and expanded service to add a fresh food selection. The Brother’s Liquor store closed but has been sitting empty for years.
December 2009 to April 2020. Closed At Dark. The mural on plywood was, for a number of years, along Pennsylvania Avenue NE had a shout out to Mary McLeod Bethune. The lot temporarily housed Frager’s Garden Center after their fire. Now there is a block of new housing under construction.
April 2016 to April 2020. Only 4 years later Cuzzin’s has closed and the building now flipper grey. The writing is still barely legible on the painted sign.