Information Source: US Census 2000
Twenty years ago, when the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative was launched, neither Friendship, Garfield nor Penn Avenue was a desirable place to live. Still, Friendship’s population had begun to slowly change. You could buy a beautiful house there, invest some sweat equity and live in the heart of the city, at an affordable price. While Friendship was becoming a target for modest investment, Penn Avenue and Garfield were not. The Arts Initiative experiment was aimed at bridging these two communities by creating a neutral, but economically viable zone along Penn Avenue. Artists were targeted as early investors, since artists are recognized as pioneers. The hope was that both the economic and racial disparity between the two neighborhoods would soften over time — that the investments being made in Friendship would be made in Garfield as well..
We have heard many opinions about the effectiveness of the Initiative. Some say it has been successful, with significant arts institutions such as the Glass Center and the Dance Alloy, artists studios and some retail activity emerging on the Avenue. There are monthly community events. There is activity where none existed before. Others say it has been divisive and caused the separation of Friendship and Garfield to broaden. The percentage of participants in the Initiative who live north of the Avenue is far lower than who live south of the Avenue.
The maps above highlight the dividing line that Penn Avenue continues to be. While we do not imagine or wish that Garfield should be just like Friendship, we do wonder why the economic health in Friendship has not crossed Penn Avenue.