(Originally published in the Washington Post Magazine, July 23, 2015)
Photos and text by Bill Crandall
What has always interested me most are places in transition, where the past is still hanging around like vapor and the future is brightening but uncertain. After years of photographing across post-communist Eastern Europe, I came to realize that Washington DC had some commonalities with, say, Warsaw: boosterish expectations tempered by the past and physical changes to the cityscape that were not always in step with psychological undercurrents.
For me, the District is about the neighborhoods, not monuments. I am uninterested in, even repulsed by, the parallel universe of lobbyists, politicians and the influence-hungry. I focused on the heart of our divided city — especially the broad swath from Petworth down through U Street and Shaw — where boundaries are shifting and transition is most palpable.
Having grown up in a different D.C., I thought it was important to document this unique period with some urgency. But not with a literal, didactic approach. I tried to keep things personal, intuitive, human. These pictures are impressionistic fragments, meant to evoke as much as describe.
Many are from the flow of my own life, often within a few blocks of my house, on my way to work or somewhere else. I wanted to see if the evolving city could have poetry and mystery. Maybe I was just trying to see if I could still love my home town.