D.C., a District of Change through a photographer’s lens

Bill Crandall
3 min readNov 11, 2023

(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.

The Reeves Center municipal building on 14th Street NW from the restaurant Marvin.

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.

Developer Chris Donatelli surveys a new residential project in Petworth.

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…



Bill Crandall

Photographer and educator. Exploring how art and stories can take us forward. Carrying the fire.