Anthony Bowen YMCA

March 6, 2010

Anthony Bowen YMCA

Waiting on that “New Y for the New U” to replace the Anthony Bowen YMCA – Don’t hold your breath!

I belonged to this YMCA when they shut it down in September 2008. No doubt, the facilities needed updating – but this was an inexpensive place to workout by contrast to the nearby alternatives (Results, etc.). It  served an active, mostly minority community in an area that is increasingly out-of-reach. Kids streamed in and out all day. Seniors did water aerobics in the pool. You get the picture.

I remember talking with the Y’s manager a week before they shut its doors. This was before the economic meltdown, but the planned-developed already seemed absurdly optimistic. Anyone paying attention to what was going on in the area could have foreseen that – despite the promise of a “brand new” YMCA facility – the result of these plans would be NOTHING for years and years.

I’m no opponent of gentrification, but this strikes me as a good example of what happens when big ideas (and big developers) lose sight of consequences for “real” people. It is a particularly sad statement given the proud tradition represented by its namesake. Born into slavery, Anthony Bowen founded the first YMCA for African-Americans in DC in 1853.


One comment

  1. […] At last, the old Anthony Bowen YMCA (1325 W Street NW) comes down. […]

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