Where Should Sonia Sotomayor Live?
The Post asked local journalists, bloggers and politicians for ideas
for the prospective Supreme Court justice beyond the traditional neighborhoods of officialdom.
Reporter for NBC News4; co-author of “Dream City — Race, Power and the Decline of Washington, D.C.”
Judge Sotomayor, it’s simple. Pack your bags and move to Southwest Washington, just blocks from the Mall.
And as we say on TV ..... but that’s not all!
If you live at Harbour Square, as I do, you’ll be six-tenths of a mile west of Nationals Park. You’re already known as the judge who saved baseball from itself with a ruling that ended the 1994 strike.
Come to the games. We can cheer you, if not the woeful Nats.
Our neighborhood around Fourth and M streets SW is being rebuilt. The developer, Forest City Washington, has gleaming new glass office and apartment buildings opening next spring in place of a decrepit mall that had been so bad that the Environmental Protection Agency moved out years ago.
Arena Stage at Sixth and M streets SW has more drama than the Supreme Court. Next year it’s opening an ultra-modern, $125.million complex that will be the envy of regional theaters across the nation. You can have one of my seats if you promise not to be late for the curtain.
Afterwards, have a cold beer at Cantina Marina, an outdoor bar on the river. Its casualness easily snuffs out the stuffiness of official Washington. Not far down the river is the little-known Titanic Memorial. Find it and you’ll be a local.
Finally, sunsets along the Washington Channel and Potomac River --assuming you get out of the office on time -- will soothe any weary soul. It’s open sky from the Wilson Bridge on the south to the National Cathedral on the north. I have pictures in my cellphone. I’ll e-mail them if you want.
But don’t take my word for it. Just ask retiring Justice David Souter. He’s rented in my co-op for 19 years. Too bad he’s leaving just as the neighborhood is turning around.
Entertainer, star of “Arlington: The Rap,” viewable at goremy.com
Your honor, do you love fine dining? Active nightlife? Construction sites? If so, then Arlington may be for you.
I admit I am biased about your potential move here. You see, I have no friends, and if you chose Arlington, we could totally rock the HOV. Seriously, hit me up on Facebook. We’ll carpool.
Arlington offers a tough urban environment similar to your Bronx upbringing. For example, we manage to survive despite having only one Cheesecake Factory. Last week I was mugged in Clarendon (though I should point out that I equate “being asked for directions to the nearest Starbucks” with a mugging). I yelled “twenty paces in any direction” and ran to my bikram yoga session as fast as I could.
Some may have you believe that Arlington is an odd town where seersucker-clad yuppies walk their tiny dogs while having to look both ways before crossing Wilson Boulevard, but that is simply not true -- Wilson goes in only one direction.
So please check out our ever-increasing selection of short-sale bank properties and move on down. In all honesty, it’s a great place to live.
And while you may or may not be interested in overturning Roe v. Wade, I personally think your efforts may be better focused on overturning the appellate court’s holding in Arlington County Parking Enforcement v. Remy Munasifi. Just a thought.
PETER A. SHAPIRO
Former Prince George’s County Council member
There are any number of wonderful neighborhoods to choose from in gorgeous Prince George’s, the greenest and most diverse county in the Washington region -- and an affordable one to boot.
If you’re looking our way, let me make a special pitch for my hometown of historic Hyattsville in the heart of the Prince George’s Gateway Arts District. Here, you will live along with hundreds of artists who work right in the neighborhood. In Hyattsville, you will be 15 minutes away from your new office and have the added benefit of avoiding a morning and night rush-hour bridge crossing or a miserable Beltway crawl.
Pick your housing preference. In our town, you will find handsomely appointed historic Victorians and warm, cozy bungalows along tree-lined, family-friendly streets. Or if a bit more of an urban flavor is to your liking, rent or buy an apartment at the Prince George’s Plaza Metro station or one of the new luxury townhomes downtown on Route 1.
Just up the street from us is the University of Maryland Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, with great dance, theater, lectures and music almost every night of the week.
When you’re hungry, walk over to Franklins Restaurant, Brewery and General Store for good food, cheer and a beer right in the neighborhood. You are also minutes from Jerk Hill Cafe, Irene’s Pupuseria, Pho 75 and Udupi Palace among other eateries from around the world. Head to CocoCabana on Monday nights, and you just might find Robert Duvall hanging out for tango night.
Great neighbors, beautiful homes of all kinds, comfort and convenience, and the price is right. What’s not to like? Where to live might be your first decision as a justice. I think we offer a supreme choice.
Editor of the DCist.com blog
Sonia Sotomayor has given us no reason to suspect that she’d hate living in the District of Columbia, as the man she has been chosen to replace, Justice David Souter, famously did. Whatever cultural bone Souter had to pick with Washington, his choice of neighborhood -- an isolated section of Southwest -- may well have contributed to his abhorrence of the city. Souter was mugged while jogging near his home one evening in 2007.
Sotomayor can avoid the Souter mentality by choosing a more lively, vibrant section of town. As a Supreme Court justice, she’ll no doubt be invited to the tony Georgetown or Palisades parties thrown by wealthy and influential Washingtonians, but she’d do well to seek out a neighborhood that would allow her to experience the District, a bustling, multicultural city where plenty of people who have no strong ties to national politics have chosen to live.
Unlike Souter, a self-proclaimed country boy, Sotomayor is decidedly of the city. Her confirmation hearings have shown her to be a bright, nervy New Yorker, so living in the center of the city seems more suitable. Her best bet in terms of making the most of city life in D.C. is probably the U Street corridor, a neighborhood steeped in its history as the “Black Broadway” of the 1920s and now a decade into its latent post-1968-riots renaissance. The area has everything a girl from the Bronx might want (great restaurants that cater to diverse crowds, such as Marvin, or Busboys and Poets), but not too much of what a grown woman might like to avoid (the overblown nightlife of nearby Adams Morgan or Dupont Circle).
Founding editor of princeofpetworth.com.
As a native New Yorker and a 12-year District resident, I feel uniquely qualified to answer this question. No doubt it can be a tough adjustment going from the bright lights of New York to the more mellow D.C. There are a few things that New Yorkers hold dear: public transit, good ethnic food, pizza and bagels. Judge Sotomayor could find all those things in the Petworth/Columbia Heights area.
Okay, maybe not all of them. I’m still looking for a good bagel place. But living on the Petworth-Columbia Heights border puts you a stone’s throw away from three great pizza spots: Moroni & Bros., Red Rocks and Pete’s Apizza.
If Sotomayor has had her fill of pizza -- yes, it’s possible -- a quick walk to 14th Street will bring her to a vibrant, diverse community with some great Latino food, including Taquería Distrito Federal and El Rinconcito on nearby Park Road. If Sotomayor is able to drag herself away from the delicious food to go to work, the Columbia Heights and Petworth Metro stations plus a number of bus routes offer an easy commute to the Supreme Court.
The flavor of north Columbia Heights, including the restaurants, music and street carts, should help mitigate any case of New York withdrawal.
Professor of constitutional law at American University; Maryland state senator, representing Silver Spring and Takoma Park
Our wise new justice-to-be, who grew up in the South Bronx and lives in funky Greenwich Village, will probably want to avoid the power brokers, snobs and sycophants who caused Justice Souter to quit “the world’s best job in the world’s worst city.”
So, Judge Sotomayor, we can offer two places that embody the cultural abundance, street-level energy and progressive family values you have come to expect from life in New York: Silver Spring and Takoma Park, which are just about a 20-minute ride on the Red Line from the Supreme Court.
Both communities have thriving farmers markets, outstanding ethnic restaurants (don’t miss La Casita), booming jazz and blues festivals, a great local newspaper (the Silver Spring and Takoma Voice), extraordinary murals (check out the new Global Refugee Mural at Kefa Cafe, the dazzling tile artwork on the Takoma Park Municipal Building or anything by the precocious children at Arts on the Block), free outdoor movies (sponsored by Pyramid Atlantic and the TPSS co-op), an awesome Shakespeare theater company for young people (Lumina Studio) and multicultural populations for whom diversity and empathy are joyful facts of everyday life, not trick confirmation questions. Here, Brown v. Board of Education lives: My kids have gotten excellent middle-school educations in three integrated schools: Eastern Middle, Silver Spring International and Takoma Park Middle.
Nobody celebrates life more exuberantly (or frequently) than we do. Crowds pack our streets for the American Film Institute’s Silverdocs festival, Takoma Park’s Fourth of July parade, the Silver Spring Thanksgiving Parade, the Spirit of Silver Spring dance, and the Takoma Park Folk Festival and Street Festival, not to mention the madcap events in Silver Plaza, such as the all-night Harry Potter party or the kids’ chess extravaganzas sponsored by All the Right Moves, our local chess movement. Where else can you find poems on trees and a rock-and-roll “Romeo and Juliet” performed by pre-teens?
We don’t have the power players and shadowy operators you might find at the Watergate. Here, you will find only real plumbers -- and poets, public-interest lawyers, bluegrass musicians, author George Pelecanos and journalist Clarence Page, astrophysicists and tennis coaches, environmental leaders who practice what they preach, election reformers, architects, taxi drivers, teachers, firefighters, sportswriters, and gay rights activists. In other words, you will be in 21st-century America. Although Chief Justice John Roberts lives on the other side of the tracks in Montgomery County (Chevy Chase), he could easily come meet you for brunch at Jackie’s Restaurant -- just as soon as we build the Purple Line.
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