Washington, DC is nationally known for the rapid gentrification of its urban core during the last decade. Now, a modern streetcar system scheduled to open in late 2013 is fueling the revitalization of another. Believe it or not, there's something Jacksonville can learn from this community's revitalization experience: Near Northeast
Near Northeast is a neighborhood in Washington, DC, just east of Union Station. It is bounded by North Capitol Street to the west, Florida Avenue to the north, F Street to the south, and 15th Street to the east. During the early 20th century, Near Northeast was a major epicenter of DC's working class black population, as well as a community for immigrants from Ireland, Germany, Greece, Italy, and Eastern Europe. During this era, one of the city's most important commercial corridors developed around a streetcar line along H Street, the neighborhood's major thorougfare.
Like many urban neighborhoods, Near Northeast fell into a free fall of economic decline in the later half of the 20th century. In 1962, the streetcar network that led to its initial rapid growth was dismantled. Significant devastation came in 1968 in the form of race riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 2003, a proposal to revitalize H Street within ten years via the construction of a streetcar line was created. After six years of planning, construction of the DC Streetcar system began in 2009.
A streetcar purchased by the DC Department of Transportation for use on the H Street line. Photo courtesy of Tim1965 at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DC_Streetcar_-_rollout_-_2010-05-05_a.jpg