November 1, 2015

The Frager factor

Sam Smith - News that Frager's hardware store will return to its original location on Capitol Hill in Washington after a disastrous 2013 fire is a reminder of what might be called the Frager factor: how neighborhoods help define themselves by institutions that city planners and other urban officials routinely ignore. Having run a newspaper on Capitol Hill and lived there for a number of years I saw this close up: the number of residents who in one way or another integrated Frager's into their lives and into their definition of Capitol Hill. And Frager's was one big thing we all had in common.

This is not unique to Frager's. For example, I now live in a small town in Maine where its Bow Street Market is probably the most important building in town. But in all my years of urban journalism I only ran into one significant case of city planning - by landscape architect Larry Halprin - that actually was designed for the people and businesses already in a location rather than for an allegedly better class being planned to move in. This led me to the view that one of the best things any neighborhood can do is to come up with a plan for itself and let the media and those downtown know about it. The neighborhoods that do best are those with the strongest and best known self identity.

Huffington Post, 2013 -  [A] fundraiser is not the only way D.C. locals are helping out. Matchbox, the popular D.C. area pizza chain, is holding open interviews for any of the 65 full- and part-time Frager's employees interested in temporary placement at their Barrack's Row location.

Matchbox Vice President Fred Hermann, in a press release, said that the restaurant group is pitching in because of how important the hardware store is to the local community.

The fire that took down Frager's took over 100 firemen and around 20,000 gallons of water to get under control.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As usual, South Park has a great episode on urban "renewal" in the current season. Highly recommended.