Last month I had the tremendous opportunity to meet voters and interact with students and children from across the District at the 7th Annual 17th Street Festival! Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans and I shared a booth at the community street festival I cofounded in 2010 as an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner.
The Festival was founded in 2010 to celebrate the renovation of 17th Street, a necessary neighborhood improvement long-desired by residents and business owners alike. At the time of the street renovation, I represented the northern business portion of 17th Street and was the Dupont Circle ANC’s point person with the District Department of Transportation coordinating construction activity.
The street and sidewalk construction had a negative impact particularly on the outdoor cafes and restaurants on the 17th. For instance, DDOT’s original plan had major construction in the business corridor in the spring and fall, prime time for outdoor restaurant seating. We were successful in working with DDOT to rearrange the construction schedule to finish on time, but with the bulk of the work in front of restaurants occurring during colder winter months. We were also successful in adding a bike lane to 17th Street and multiple bike racks up and down the street to provide another convenient mode of transportation for residents traveling to 17th Street venues.
The first Festival was a way to enliven the neighborhood and showcase to the city that 17th Street was open for business! We also ensured that the Festival was focused on Dupont Circle’s thriving arts scene by encouraging art vendors, reviewing artist applicants to ensure high-quality and diverse art offerings, and charging artists reduced rates for showing at the Festival.
I’m no longer involved with the annual production of the 17th Street Festival -- the event is now operated by Historic Dupont Circle Main Streets. It’s very different being in a booth at the Festival rather than having a hand in organizing it. But I’m thrilled it continues to thrive and provide an annual celebration for our amazing and diverse neighborhood.
Bottom photo courtesy of Phil Carney