Aug 10, 2020
Protestors in the Maryland suburb of Chevy Chase along Washington, D.C.’s northwest line recently pushed to remove a plaque commemorating white supremacist developer and senator Francis Griffith Newlands from a traffic circle fountain. But Newland’s racist building scheme still haunts the region.
A very shrewd speculator, Newlands founded a streetcar line in 1888 and then built a series of housing and shopping areas along it from inside Washington into nearby Maryland. He legally prevented black people and certain immigrants from buying these homes. He also convinced the new National Park Service to build a huge park, Rock Creek Park, along the eastern edge of his developments to separate them from the more black and immigrant neighborhoods to the east.
This separation remains today, including as a class divide. Chevy Chase is mostly white but also very expensive, while more working class and affordable housing is east of the park.
Everyone should have comfortable housing near places to eat and relax. Taking down monuments still leaves the social divide of housing based on profit. It will take tearing down capitalism to address the housing problem.