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Nobody's From Here, Right?

Not quite. One of the great myths about Washington is the notion that most people here are just passing through. In fact, many of those who move to Washington from elsewhere end up staying forever, and, in even greater contradiction to the stereotype, the portion of residents who are native to the city is pretty much on par with other major U.S. cities.

Today's Random Friday Question--sparked by overhearing a conversation at a Northwest restaurant among four young executives bemoaning the fact that "nobody's from here" and "everybody's home is far away"--sent me into the bowels of the Census, where there are answers to just about every question: Is Washington different from other cities? Are more people here really from elsewhere?

According to the 2000 Census, 50 percent of D.C. residents were living in the same residence in 2000 as they had been in 1995--the same percentage for whom that was true in California, and slightly below the portion in Virginia (53 percent), Maryland (55 percent), or, for that matter, Montana (54 percent.) The national average for that rather minimal evidence of staying put in one place was 54 percent.

But look a little deeper: Over that same five-year period, the net migration from the District was 45,000, on a pretty substantial amount of churn--113,000 people moved into the city, while 158,000 moved out. So there's definitely proportionately more movement in and out of the city than there is in and out of, say, Virginia (822,000 folks moved to the state, while 746,000 moved out, for a net gain of 76,000.)

Another way of looking at this is to examine what portion of the residents are native-born. Forty percent of D.C. residents were born in this city. That's much lower than the portion in some states (West Virginia, 73 percent; Utah, 63 percent; Connecticut, 57 percent), but it's higher than several states, including Nevada (23 percent native-born), Florida (33 percent), and Alaska (39 percent), and close to a bunch of others, such as Colorado, New Hampshire and Wyoming (all three come in at 42 percent native-born.) By comparison, 48 percent of Marylanders and 51 percent of Virginians still live in the states in which they were born. (These stats all from the 2007 U.S. Statistical Abstract.)

But the more useful comparison is to big cities, not states, and in that match-up, the District turns out to be just below mid-range in portion of residents who live in the state of their birth (and consider that the D.C. number would be considerably higher if it included those who were born in Virginia or Maryland and now call Washington home.)

Here's a sampling of U.S. cities and the percentage of their residents who were born in the state in which they now live (all according to the Census Bureau's 2004 American Community Survey):

Cincinnati 75 percent
St. Louis 71
New York City 59
Chicago 58
Dallas 53
Charlotte 49
Boston 48
Los Angeles 42
WASHINGTON 41
San Diego 41
San Francisco 35
Seattle 36
Virginia Beach 36
Miami 29
Las Vegas 21

Bottom line: The District can't quite bill itself as a homegrown hometown Midwestern style, but it's no Sunbelt amalgam of outsiders either.

That group of jaded and homesick young professionals I heard complaining about the city the other night concluded their conversation thread with one woman pointedly chastising the guy across the table: "You're not thinking about all the other quadrants of the city," she said. "Maybe on your block, nobody's from here, but in most of the city, I think that's not true." She got that right.

By Marc Fisher |  September 28, 2007; 7:41 AM ET
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Comments

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I was born at the National Naval Medical Center ie Bethesda Naval Hospital back in day and have lived in this area all my live DC, MD and now VA where taxes are low and politicians arent as crooked as DC or MD. And in protest of my member of the VA House Tim Hugo being more concerned about keep ing the Speaker of the Hosue the VA Republican Party happy rather than his constituents I am voting for his opponent in protest. And my state senatorr the disgrace to ancestors Ken Cucinelli(sic). Same thing he is more concerned about keep the Republican party happy issues and way to conservative for even me! Hope the Dems win control of both houses. That being said I vote for Tom Davis over Mark Warner for Senator. As I tell my collies balance is good on the herding trial field and in politics.

Posted by: vaherder | September 28, 2007 8:18 AM

Hey that's funny, I was born in Alexandria, VA, grew up in MD, lived in DC for 8 years and now live in MD again where the politicians aren't as crooked and backwards as those in VA. To each their own I guess.

I'll semi-trust the Census statistics but I swear every other person I meet in DC is either from Ohio or Pennsylvania originally.

Posted by: contact1 | September 28, 2007 8:42 AM

I think that most of the churn is in the 20-something age group. Of the 20 or so friends of mine who moved up here after college, only about 4-5 of them are left.

Posted by: Arlington, VA | September 28, 2007 8:49 AM

I'm a fairfax county native whose family moved out of the area when i was in middle school. i never felt comfortable in any other place we lived, and now that i'm a college graduate i'm happy to be back.

there definitely are lots more transitory residents in DC area (especially military families) but about 90% of my friends who grew up in the DC area have returned to live there after college and have no intention of moving away. so maybe there didn't use to be a lot of 'natives' but when the people who moved here for work have kids and raise them here, then dc is those kids' "home" and i think there are a lot more of us than there used to be.

Posted by: The FC | September 28, 2007 8:57 AM

I was born in DC, moved to Annapolis at 7, college outside of Baltimore, moved back to DC when pregnant with my first. She was born at the old GW hospital. Moved to Bethesda when she hit kindergarten age. Was very bummed that my second daughter could not be born at a DC hospital because of our insurance, and instead was born in Gaithersburg. Boooo. When people ask, I say I'm from DC and raised in Annapolis. Both are *my* towns, my home and proud of it! It's where I'm most comfortable and even after 9/11, the snipers, etc. we never once thought of leaving this area or switching to jobs out of downtown. My in-laws out in Nebraska and Idaho think we live on another planet but we love it...

Posted by: CT & L | September 28, 2007 9:05 AM

I was born in DC at the now-closed DC General Hospital. My father was also born in DC, as were both of his parents. I lived in both DC and MD while growing up, and lived in other cities for college and grad school. I recently bought a condo in the District. My father, my grandmother, my father's youngest sister, her daugher and grandchild (all also born in DC) all also live in DC. It's probably safe to say that a good number of people who were born in DC or the burbs tend to stay in this area.

Posted by: Monique | September 28, 2007 9:20 AM

Marc,

Look at your stats. Yeah, DC is no Vegas of Phoenix when it comes to transient population, but it's right up there with the 'older' transient cities in California....the original "Nobody's from here" place...LA, San Diego and San Francisco.

And for more accuracy, you should try to look at the Metro area. I bet you'll see some more population flux in Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Charles, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, etc...

But you're right, that when someone moves here, we get caught up in the vortex and don't leave, very much like California.

Posted by: Kim | September 28, 2007 9:25 AM

A better way to phrase this might be there are virtually no "middle class" from DC. Fisher analysis of the city only goes back five years, I'm guessing because if he went back a real distance, like 15 or 20 DC would be really out of wack.

DC has gone through a real resurgance. Lets be honest, up until the last decade there was not a lot of safe livable places in DC to live, Period. Foxhall and the surronding areas, along with Gtown, are far outside of the price range of most families. Outside of NW, there are major concerns about the safety of the neighborhoods. The schools are horrifically bad throughout DC. No one is raised here accept the really poor or the really rich.

Posted by: Jon | September 28, 2007 9:31 AM

Born here, been here 50 years, and my mom's family has been in DC since the early part of the 19th century. I plan to stay and die here, hopefully here at my home.

But hey, who else here has an acre of land IN the city and works at home! It took a long time to get where I am, and I have no desire or reason to leave.

Posted by: johng1 | September 28, 2007 9:36 AM

Hi Mark

I wonder if there is a way to incorporate the stats from the close in surrounding towns - Bethesda, Arlington, Alexandria, - or counties - as the primary difference between DC and, say NYC, is that DC is only 8 miles square and many of us who were born in DC live in Bethesda or Nova but still think of ourselves as being "from Washington" - because it is the DC area. In NYC, you are incorporating a much larger area of land into your statistic. Any chance you can rerun the info with that, just for comparison sake?

Posted by: JLP | September 28, 2007 9:42 AM

The schools are horrifically bad throughout DC.
-----
oh please, like for one short blip of time from 1968-1998, prior to that and since then this hasn't been the case. Riddle me this, why do I know 3 millionaires who graduated from Murch/Deal/Wilson in the 1980s? Because those are good public schools. What is Sharon Pratt still the mayor? No? Things have changed, so grow up.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 9:44 AM

the one thing you can say about vaherder is that he likes to talk and none of his personal stories match the other one.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 9:45 AM

"Foxhall and the surronding areas, along with Gtown" may be in DC, but living there is not really like living in DC.

DC in the 90's was okay if you loaded up and prepared yourself (I borrowed a .45 from a family member for a few years - used it to walk the dog and protect the home). For some reason, I believed at the time it could not get any worse and that it had reached rock-bottom. Boy was I right!

Thank you Mayor Williams and Abe Pollin!

Posted by: johng1 | September 28, 2007 9:46 AM

That's a great idea, JLP, and I tried to find a way to do that, but most of the Census data tracks people by state rather than city or locality, so while it's possible to see if people are still living in the state they grew up in, it's not possible to track, say, what portion of Montgomery County residents grew up in the District. There may be non-Census data that gives us a sense of that, but I haven't found it yet. If anyone knows, please pass that along. Thanks.

Posted by: Fisher | September 28, 2007 9:49 AM

The schools are horrifically bad throughout DC.
-----
oh please, like for one short blip of time from 1968-1998, prior to that and since then this hasn't been the case. Riddle me this, why do I know 3 millionaires who graduated from Murch/Deal/Wilson in the 1980s?
-----------
Hey dude, I live in NE and put all four of my children through private schools. Our choices for schools: McKinly, Bertie Backus, etc. As you can see, it was a necessity, very expensive. You NW people can kiss my ass.

Posted by: johng1 | September 28, 2007 9:56 AM

Arlington, VA at 8:49 AM is right. Most of the churn is in the 20-something age group. Or at least that's where it's most noticeable that "nobody" is from here when so many of your friends have moved here after college.

Strictly anecdotally, I'd say Marc's 41% is about right. Of the 20 or so people in my core group of friends, I'd say a little less than half of us were born and/or raised in DC.

Incidentally, for the people that argue "nobody" is from here -- that means you can't also complain about "DC" being corrupt, or whatever other negative things you want to say about the city. Because if it's corrupt, it's corrupted by the people that moved here from the other parts of the country, meaning that California (Rep. Cunningham), Idaho (Sen. Craig), Louisiana (Rep. Jefferson and Sen. Vitter), Texas (Rep. Delay), etc. -- places where these corrupt politicians learned their corrupt morals -- are the true corrupt cities. So there.

Posted by: OD | September 28, 2007 10:00 AM

I was born in DC and now live in Maryland. does that count? However I only know a few people my age (mid 30s) who are from here. where do all the people who fit into the young professional demographic who are from here go? New York?

Posted by: SSMD | September 28, 2007 10:01 AM

"Because if it's corrupt, it's corrupted by the people that moved here from the other parts of the country, meaning"

... Itta Bena, Mississippi (Marion Barry)

Posted by: johng1 | September 28, 2007 10:07 AM

I was born in El Salvador and moved to Wheaton 3 years ago to live with my aunt and my 2 little brothers. It was a little bit scarey sitting in a van with about 20 other people for 3 days to get here, but now We live in a very nice basement with another family and two other families upstairs. My aunt takes care of another child to earn money and she sends $500 home to my mother each month who is still in El Salvador. My little brother got real sick one time and my aunt was so grateful to the doctors because they made him get better and it didn't cost anything. This is such a wonderful country where everything is free.

Posted by: Jose | September 28, 2007 10:07 AM

In many stable neighborhoods of our city, you aren't considered a real Washingtonian unless you, your parents or grandparents were born in Freedman's Hospital.

Posted by: Mike Licht | September 28, 2007 10:08 AM

I was born in DC and grew up in a DC exurb in MD and now live in VA. I'm educated and consider myself middle class. I have several friends, also educated, who still live in this area. So, it's not just the non-middle class people who stay.

That said, I always seem to get the "you are the first person I've met who is from here" comment. And, more often than not, most of the people I meet are from PA.

SSMD, that is my question, too. Where are people going who grew up in DC and the DC suburbs?

Posted by: Local girl | September 28, 2007 10:10 AM

I was born elsewhere, but my family moved to Montgomery County when I was 9, so I figure I'm from here more than anywhere else. I live in DC now. Most of my good friends are from here. Wait...yeah, of my best friends, four out of four. (And only one is a holdover from childhood; the other three I've met as an adult.)

Posted by: h3 | September 28, 2007 10:12 AM

another local who was born in DC proper but raised in Montgomery County (MD), attended UMd in College Park and now live in Fairfax county (the things we do for love...).

I still consider myself a washingtonian but probably would not count in the census date Marc researched.

Posted by: DC/MD/VA | September 28, 2007 10:12 AM

This would be a great Gannett/WaPo poll!

Any way to track what percentage of each county residents grew up in the county, it would be an interesting comparison nonetheless.

Posted by: JLP | September 28, 2007 10:24 AM

Hee hee "Jose," Wheaton and Langley Park certainly have changed! It's like a Mexican ghetto now.

Posted by: johng1 | September 28, 2007 10:27 AM

Born in DC, raised in MD, have lived all over, and determined the DC area has the most to offer. There are nice places to visit in the U.S., but they lack balance and (please don't laugh) the affordability of this area. California is great, but too expensive. Been south and to the middle, but the people were too nice...it raised suspicion. Folks are nice in this area, but with a healthy distrust...I like it here, you know where you stand. TGIF

Posted by: Donny | September 28, 2007 10:28 AM

Where are people going who grew up in DC and the DC suburbs?
----

Very good question. I keep in touch with many friends from high school via our alumni site. Most of the people live in the general area, like Herndon or Columbia or DC itself. The alumni I talk to moved to cities like:
Manhattan, London, Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boston, Chicago, and Miami. I had several friends who lived in Moscow and Dubai who moved back after 9/11.

So in general, people moved to where the executive, finance or creative jobs were.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 10:29 AM

Once you subtract out K street, and all the congressional staffers who are obviously not originally local, DC is almost exactly like Baltimore to the North or Richmond to the south.

Giant sections of multi-generational poverty/lower class African Americans with high unemployment, high crime, and poor schools. An enclave of rich Caucasians. and a resurging artsy, vibrant diverse middle class fighting against the new condo towers being built for the yuppies

Posted by: duh | September 28, 2007 10:32 AM

Born in DC, raised in VA. Only left N. Va to attend and graduate college in Richmond, VA.
Can't wait to get the hell out of here and live someplace where I can commute to/from work in a half-hour or less, and where the nightlife is good for everyone, not just the rich and snooty.
When I'm established, I plan to cut all ties with this area, because it's so over, and its been over. I may be a native, but I have no love for this area, and my heart's desire has never been here.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | September 28, 2007 10:49 AM

DC proper is a small city, area-wise. One would have to lead a pretty insular existence to spend their entire lives within the city limits. I have always identified myself as being from DC, but....
I was born in Baltimore & moved to Silver Spring @ age 3, then moved to Wheaton, then moved to Alexandria, then moved to Springfield, then moved to Capitol Hill, then moved to Brookland.
I have degrees from U MD and Catholic U.
In the military, I was stationed @ 8th & I S.E.
I have worked in Alexandria, Rockville and DC.
I can't claim to be native of any one jurisdiction, but have spent a half-century in a small orbit around the Potomac.

Posted by: pF | September 28, 2007 10:52 AM

Then there are those of us who moved here in the early 80s (hubby in 81 and me in 82)and have no plans to leave, including staying here for retirement. The area just has so much to offer we see no need to look elsewhere.

Posted by: bethesda | September 28, 2007 10:57 AM

Can't wait to get the hell out of here and live someplace where I can commute to/from work in a half-hour or less, and where the nightlife is good for everyone, not just the rich and snooty.
----

What? I live in Mt Pleasant and work on K St (which is a long 20 minute walk) and I frequent the 9:30, Black Cat and H St clubs, plus Busboys and Poets and book events at Politics and Prose all of which come in under $25 per night or $50 w/ dinner.

Adams Morgan is aver, sure, but H St NE is hot.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 11:05 AM

Born in DC in the 70s. Raised in DC. Moved away for college and spent some time in the Bay Area, but moved back for a ton of reasons.

Interesting thing is that i meet many people in there 20s/early 30s who say (upon meeting me) "I've never met anyone born and raised in DC. I didnt know people were actually from here!"

Then i proceed to school them 12 ways to Sunday about DC demographics and history.

Posted by: the cheat | September 28, 2007 11:11 AM

All my life I have been asked where my "accent is from?"

As a 6th generation Alexandrian--few people know what "here" sounds like.

Posted by: alex | September 28, 2007 11:21 AM

Let me give you a count - me, my boyfriend, my brother, my choir director and three friends were born in Washington, DC. Four of the 6 still live in DC. I can't imagine living somewhere else. While, I can see myself needing to be somewhere else for business purposes, the place I plan to call my residence for life is DC. I only left to attend school in Richmond. There is so much to experience in the DC area - the only reason to be bored is because you haven't ventured into the entire metro area. DC NATIVE!!!

Posted by: Ham | September 28, 2007 11:22 AM

Does anybody remember what "yuppie" means? It means young, urban, professional. What's so wrong with that? So - for those of you who like to call names, if you live in an urban area (DC, Arlington, Alexandria, and Bethesda all qualify), are under the age of 40, and have a 40 hour/week job where you can't wear shorts and flip flops, chances are...you just might be a yuppie! Oh, the horror!

Posted by: Unrepentant Bourgeois | September 28, 2007 11:25 AM

I think the problem is as follows:

1) There is a certain subpopulation in D.C. that is from another area and is here specifically to represent that area
2) They are very visible to the media
3) They all complain bitterly about the city

This creates a distorting effect.

My family moved to MD for jobs when I was 6, so for all intents and purposes I am from here. I introduce myself as "from Silver Spring."

Posted by: Lindemann | September 28, 2007 12:00 PM

Adams Morgan is aver, sure, but H St NE is hot.

Honey, thanks for the advice, but I've been to H St NE at 10:30 on a Saturday night, and it's a hellhole. I was so afraid that my car would get stolen. All I saw was a bunch of caged storefronts. The one place that was open charged $10 cover for the dance floor portion of the club, and the music they played wasn't worth it.

In Richmond, I can get into Richbrau for free on Friday nights, and Have a Nice Day club is only $5 cover which offers access to all three levels.

Posted by: y | September 28, 2007 12:04 PM

When Richmond dance clubs do it for you then there's no reason to live in New York, Berlin or London. I noticed on their website that the Have a Nice Day club is the #1 "bachelorette party destination" in the Richmond area. Remind me if I'm ever in need of a bachelorette party to coincide with a NASCAR race that the Have a nice Day club is a prime destination. That or either the Love Parade or Burning Man.

My boss owns an RV and loves to travel to Bluegrass events in southwestern Virginia. The owner of my company likes to go see the hippy acts of his youth at the State Theater and Birchmere. To them, that's a happening night.

I'm sure Richmond DJs trump the 18th St Lounge in 1995, and they're so affordable.

but you hate me already, so why push the sarcasm envelope further?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 12:21 PM

To an earlier poster, excuse me, but there are middle-class Black people who are from DC and still live here. This includes neighborhoods in all four quadrants, including neighborhoods east of the river such as Hillcrest and Colonial Village. I'm not talking about new 30-something residents like myself buying condos and houses but people who've been there for decades. Upper 16th Street used to be called the "Gold Coast" because that's where Black folks with serious money lived. Folks need to get out of their neighborhoods and stop watching the news so much.

Posted by: twash | September 28, 2007 12:28 PM

Interesting responses and only one easily spotted fake post ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 12:29 PM

Born in DC (Columbia Hospital), raised mostly in Prince George's. Considering the flight of the black middle class to PG back in the day, I'd also be curious about stats for the surrounding counties, as JLP said. I also wonder about racial and age breakdown of the stats. The people I typically hear say "no one's from here" are college-age whites; I rarely hear that from white baby boomers or blacks of any age. Wonder if the disconnect might also result from that.

Posted by: criss | September 28, 2007 12:32 PM

The common belief that there are few true DC area natives dates back to the rapid expansion of the region's population in service to the government from the FDR administration forward. Until then, Washington was considered a city of "Southern efficiency and Northern charm", and kind of a so-so place to live.

With the expansion of government programs under FDR and the growth of the Department of Defense during and after WWII, the area grew rapidly, and my guess is that the native population then was in the 20% range. Since then, the rate of government growth has slowed, and the economy has become more diversified. There is now more office space around Tyson's Corner than there is in downtown Washington. The result is a more permanent population. Military personnel who used to "go back home" after their tours were up stay to work for the Beltway bandits. Likewise with members of Congress and their staffs.

Personally, I wasn't born here, but I consider myself a native, as I was an Air Force brat and my dad retired here and went to work for various government agencies and contractors. My wife? Born in Arlington Hospital to parents who moved here to work for the Army. They DID move back home when they retired.

I've lived here steadily since I was 14. However, when I retire in about 10 years, I'm outta here, to someplace warmer and cheaper to live.

Posted by: John | September 28, 2007 12:33 PM

51 years in the DC area out of 55 is long enough. When I find a decent job in a smaller metro area, preferably a Northern university town, I'm outa here. And I won't look back.

Posted by: Mister Methane | September 28, 2007 12:43 PM

"A better way to phrase this might be there are virtually no 'middle class' from DC." (Jon at 9:31)

I was born in Washington (moved to Silver Spring at age 4 to shorten my father's commute and get in-state tuition at U.M for six kids), as were all my older siblings. My father was born here, as were both his parents, and all his ancestors going back to their 18th and 19th century arrivals from Europe were born in either D.C. or Rockville.

On my paternal grandmother's side, there are seven generations of native Washingtonians. Occupations have included shipbuilders, bakers, postmen, and engineer - all pretty solidly middle class. The response I get an awful lot when I tell people I'm a D.C. native (sometimes verbal, sometimes just in their expression) is disbelief that there are any white natives of the city. (I've even gotten this from African American native D.C. cab drivers.)

Posted by: D.C. native | September 28, 2007 12:44 PM

but you hate me already, so why push the sarcasm envelope further?

Posted by: | September 28, 2007 12:21 PM

I don't hate you. I'm always open to other opinions.

I just hate that I haven't gotten much sleep the past few days, and instead of being able to sleep until 8 am and still get to work by 9, I have to get up by 7 am just to get out the door and get the Metro.

Sometimes I trip on how far I could go in two hours, but in this area, that's standard commute time.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | September 28, 2007 12:47 PM

"Giant sections of multi-generational poverty/lower class African Americans with high unemployment, high crime, and poor schools. An enclave of rich Caucasians. and a resurging artsy, vibrant diverse middle class fighting against the new condo towers being built for the yuppies"

Well, Duh! It's obvious your vision of D.C comes only from the nightly news. As a native Washingtonian-- born here, raised here-- who never left, I can tell you there are large sections of multi-generational, MIDDLE-CLASS blacks living here who you won't see on the news at night because they are not being robbed, shot or killed, and their homes are not full of code violations or being overrun by rats and other vermin.

I grew up in one such neighborhood -- Riggs Park, where most people owned their own homes and went to work everyday. Some of them were college graduates when the average person barely finished high school. There are other neighborhoods that were majority black and middle class in the 60s and 70s -- LeDroit Park, Shepard Park, Brooklyn, and others.

People who are "from here" know this. Small minded, myoipic transplants from other areas who are ignorant to this city's rich history as a mecca for middle-class blacks are likely to make such comments as yours.

DcNative

Posted by: DcNative | September 28, 2007 1:00 PM

Born and raised here, and with the exception of a 3 year stint in Florida, have lived in NoVa all my life. But I am indeed the exception. Virtually everyone else in my neighorhood is from somewhere else, mainly because lots of military folks live where I live and are stationed here temporarily. I guess that's why people regularly come up to me and want tips for how best to get around and where the good restaurants are.

The character of the area has definitely changed. I'm 37 years old, and people don't believe me when I tell them that when I was growing up in Fairfax County, my house was almost 5 miles from the closest traffic light, and that big gardens and house farms were very common in my neck of the boonies. Today, it's all been paved over and sprawled. I barely recognize where I grew up, and as I say, with the exception of 3 years, I've never really left the area. As much as anything, this is why I feel like I'm the last native left. It's not because it's true. It's because the place where I grew up is gone forever, so that there's virtually no connection to what is now there. Having an area that was once so familiar now be so unfamiliar will make you feel like a stranger pretty quick.

Posted by: vajent | September 28, 2007 1:09 PM

60s and 70s deery

Middleclass people that could afford to moved out long ago

look at the ward statistics if you dont believe me

Posted by: duh | September 28, 2007 1:13 PM

I always thought it was odd when people said they didn't know anyone 'from' DC. Since I grew up here, everyone I knew was 'from' DC. I like my 3 siblings, husband, best friend and a whole bunch of folks who went from elementary through high school with me were born in DC and stayed through adulthood. I moved to Prince George's when I got married at 35, but if you ask me, I always say I am from DC and I live in Maryland. There are a lot of us who grew up in the city and have moved just a few miles away. Many still have parents in the city. I still spend a lot of time in town. And contrary to one writer, there are a lot of middle class folks in town. And there are areas with low crime other than Foxhall. I checked DC's Crime statistics database for my parent's home when I sold it a couple of years ago - there is virtually no crime, zip, nada near there home. The schools have changed since I went through, and they are struggling, but they were good enough to put the group of 40-50 somethings that I grew up with into solidly middle and upper middle income groups. It's a beautiful, diverse city where most of the 'neighborhoods' aren't known by the new arrivals.

Posted by: Val | September 28, 2007 1:23 PM

I always thought it was odd when people said they didn't know anyone 'from' DC. Since I grew up here, everyone I knew was 'from' DC. I like my 3 siblings, husband, best friend and a whole bunch of folks who went from elementary through high school with me were born in DC and stayed through adulthood. I moved to Prince George's when I married at 35, but if you ask me, I always say I am from DC and I live in Maryland. There are a lot of us who grew up in the city and have moved just a few miles away. Many still have parents in the city. I still spend a lot of time in town. And contrary to one writer, there are a lot of middle class folks in town. And there are areas with low crime other than Foxhall. I checked DC's Crime statistics database for my parent's home when I sold it a couple of years ago - there is virtually no crime, zip, nada near there home. The schools have changed since I went through, and they are struggling, but they were good enough to put the group of 40-50 somethings that I grew up with into solidly middle and upper middle income groups. It's a beautiful, diverse city where most of the 'neighborhoods' aren't known by the new arrivals.

Posted by: val | September 28, 2007 1:34 PM

2nd generation Washingtonian who now lives in Montgomery County.

I'm with the others. I think it's less of a transient city than it used to be but it was always more transient for some people than others. Military, State, World Bank, Embassies, Congress. My grandparents came here in the 1920s, my grandmother's sisters were here since the turn of the century and even though none of us now live inside DC proper, most of us are still within 20 miles.

I do feel however that being born & raised inside the city is different than being born in Maryland. Inside the city, you know there are middle class neighborhoods that aren't necessarily white but are stable and not crime hot spots. Inside the city, you know there's more to the city than Georgetown and K Street.

Inside the city, you know Washingtonians pay taxes and don't get a vote.

Posted by: Bridget | September 28, 2007 1:47 PM

Some of the comments seem to be from people who are held here against their will. It's a free country.

I was born in DC, as were both parents. I've lived in the mid-west and the south. Came back at the age of 40. I'm middle class, always have been. Moved to nearby suburbs just to find reasonable housing at a reasonable price when the kids went off to college.

"This Morning" was my primer (ask those in the sports department). Went to DCPS. Got a college degree from a somewhat higher than middle of the road college.

Where am I from? DC. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Posted by: mikes | September 28, 2007 2:22 PM

First thanks for making my point. You (and many others) have moved out of the city

I actually live in the city. The point of Marcs post was DC is similar to many other cities which I agree with

Heres the link

http://www.neighborhoodinfodc.org/wards/wards.html

Lets break it down shall we

Wards 5 7 and 8 no comment

Ward 6 is skewered because of capitol hill otherwise same as 5 7 and 8

Ward 4 is the only middleclass African American ward

Ward 3 is the white folks

Ward 2 is benefiting from yuppification

Ward 1 is the artisan class

______________________________________

Similar to any large metro city

1 in 5 residents is in poverty
1 in 3 kids are in poverty
11% unemployment

Now be honest if you were living in wards 5,7,8 or large portions of 6 would you want to raise your family.


Posted by: duh | September 28, 2007 2:23 PM

Does moving here at the age of 6 make you a native? Actually, I consider myself a Marylander with one foot in DC. I lived in DC for several years, but I never have and never will live in Virginia (uggh). When asked where I am from, it's "DC". I know that there are many natives here and can spot a transplant from a mile away. For one, a native would never pay 600K for a former crackhouse that still has a crack house next door! We know there are better neigborhoods and better deals to be had. Somehow, I don't think I will ever leave!

Posted by: C-dog | September 28, 2007 2:29 PM

What general income are people using as the definition of "middle class?" Two people making $35k each sounds middle class to me, but that's $70k total. I have two friends who just moved in together and each makes about $60k in low level IT jobs, so that's $120k for the unmarried pair? They're totally "middle class" but are they going to exit "middle class" as soon as they pay off school loans? I know that $40k, or $20k each, is considered poverty. Is $50k for a couple the start of middle class? Is $100k the maximum salary for a middle class couple in DC?

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 2:33 PM

Vajent, I feel you about the change in the area. It's crazy how much it has changed. My wife hates going to my parents' house with me, because all I do is point out how there used to be a forest there, and that used to be a field, and there was never a stoplight at this intersection ...

Posted by: OD | September 28, 2007 2:42 PM

Born in Maryland, live in Maryland.

There's one thing wrong with your analysis, though. This is the DC METRO AREA, not DC *or* Maryland *or* Virginia. In other words, it is entirely possible to be born in DC, move to Maryland, and then move to Virginia and never actually leave this area. By your analysis, that person would be counted as a transient. I'm not sure if this would have a significant impact on your analysis. If anything, I think it would raise the number of "natives".

Posted by: DC Cubefarm | September 28, 2007 2:48 PM

giving out data about specific wards is meaningless. I live in Ward 5 in an area with very little crime. You need to stop talking about the wards and look at each individual neighborhood. Everyone screams and hollers about Adams Morgan and there's tons of crime happening there. Again..most people who are not native to DC will not open their minds and consider the other neighborhoods outside of a small track in NW. Newsflash Logan and Dupont Circles were not always the place to be.

Posted by: To Duh | September 28, 2007 2:49 PM

I was born fifty years ago in DC, in Columbia Hospital for women. At the time, my parents and siblings lived in Arlington, VA and my mother's doctor practiced in DC. Hence, I was born in DC, but lived in Arlington. I consider myself to be a native to DC, and the surrounding area.

Posted by: adcnative | September 28, 2007 3:05 PM

Dupont Circle isn't really the place to be now, unless you like overpriced eateries, dive bars and two sets of Starbucks and Cosi eateries.

Posted by: YourStrawberry23 | September 28, 2007 3:10 PM

Marc puts his finger on what for me has been a vexing problem - what do I tell people when they ask where I'm from? Do I say Indianapolis, where I was born but only lived a couple of years when I was a babe (and again, briefly, when my family moved back a number of years ago)? Chicago, where I lived until I left the state to go to college? Or DC (meaning DC metro area) where I've lived since 1994? In this age of mobility, what is the proper criterion by which to determine where one comes from?

Posted by: Courthouseguy | September 28, 2007 3:16 PM

Nobody's from here anymore. It's too crowded.

Posted by: angelos_peter | September 28, 2007 3:17 PM

Born in DC in the old Doctor's Hospital (loonnng gone!), lived in SS when I was young and then moved to Bethesda. Went to college at Univ. of MD College Park. Lived in Richmond for 3 years (hated it) and moved back up here when my mother died. Have stayed back in the MD suburbs ever since.

Posted by: librarianmom | September 28, 2007 3:34 PM

some guidelines about class specifically for the DC area

If you have a college degree starting salaries should be at least in the 40s unless you are liberal arts than in the 30s

based on that I would say anything under

30s educate yourself

30-60 starting out

60-100 is middle class

100-200 is upper middle class

200 and up is upper class

Again just for the DC metro area

in some parts of the country once you crack six figures you are upperclass

Posted by: duh | September 28, 2007 3:34 PM

"The people I typically hear say "no one's from here" are college-age whites."

This is true for me, too - it's kids who are just out of college (or maybe up to five years out). They came here for a job, say, oh, in politics, and they only meet other young college graduates who work in politics. Thus they think everyone comes from somewhere else. Then they meet me, and I blow their narrow little minds.

Posted by: h3 | September 28, 2007 3:58 PM

From another perspective ... I grew up in a small Massachusetts town, and my high school classmates scattered all over the country. I have two classmates in NoVA and one in Maryland. In fact, if you look at the Baltimore-Washington-Annapolis region, there are at least 50 alumni of my high school around here, and it graduates only about 225 students per year.

Oh, yeah, we are a mobile society.

Posted by: Greenbelt Gal | September 28, 2007 4:04 PM

reminds me of the receptionist who answered my call at an office in Reston a dozen or so years ago. I gave her my call-back number, to which she replied, "you live in DC? I didn't think anyone lived there anymore." to which I replied, "only about 600,000 of us" though I realized by "anyone" she meant anyone who looked like her.

Posted by: eo mcmars | September 28, 2007 4:28 PM

I grew up in DC. Moved to Virginia to avoid DC's crime, taxes and its racist government. It is odd that the first poster bemoaned Sen. Cuchinelli. He is my Senator and I support him. If the poster like liberal Dems he should move into the city and enjoy the fruits of 30 years of Democratic control- high taxes, high crime and bad schools.

Posted by: Paul | September 28, 2007 4:31 PM

johng1

McKinley and Bacus were public schools for many years. They just became private a few years ago. The last time public schools were any good in DC were the mid 80's. The schools were totally neglected in the 90's.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 5:08 PM

I was born in DC but I grew up in Arlington. I went to college in NY then lived and worked in TX, IN and KY. Once I had children I moved back home to Arlington primarily because the schools are fantastic here. Also at least 40% of the people I have met since I returned to the area were born in DC. They now tend to live in either VA or MD.

Posted by: DNB | September 28, 2007 6:40 PM

johng1

McKinley and Bacus were public schools for many years. They just became private a few years ago. The last time public schools were any good in DC were the mid 80's. The schools were totally neglected in the 90's.

------------------

That is why I sent them to private schools! The alternative was what you described above.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 28, 2007 7:03 PM

I was born in New York City and spent the first thirteen years there. I have been living in D.C. for the last 35 years. I attended Deal Junior High and graduated from Wilson Senior High. I attended college in the state of Maryland, but came back home after graduation. I guess, I am a Washingtonian. I don't remember much about New York City.

Posted by: Michael | September 29, 2007 1:39 AM

johng1, you should say Wheaton and Langley Park are Salvadoran ghettos. We don't have many illegal Mexicans here. Most of the Hispanics in the D.C. area are from El Salvador, and they need to go back to their country and make a better life for themselves and government.

Posted by: Michael | September 29, 2007 1:43 AM

johng1, you should have said, Wheaton and Langley Park, Maryland are Salvadoran ghettos. Salvadorans make up the majority Hispanic population in the D.C. area.

Posted by: Michael | September 29, 2007 1:44 AM

duh, there are many black middle class residents living in Ward 5 too, not just Ward 4.

Posted by: Ward 5 Resident | September 29, 2007 1:47 AM

Ward 4 is becoming a Salvadoran barrio, because many Central Americans have moved into Ward 4, and many neighborhoods are going down hill. Thanks illegal immigration.

Posted by: Ward 4 Resident | September 29, 2007 1:48 AM

There is a distinct "churn crowd" of people who move to Washington only to gorge on money and power, such as lawyers and politicos. These "carpetbaggers" do not meet people outside of this group. Therefore, everyone they meet is not from Washington.

I realized this when I became a lawyer. One of my classmates exclaimed that "the trouble with Washington is that everyone there is white and rich." I told her that wasn't true, but what I was thinking was "you aren't friends with anyone who is not white and rich."

Posted by: Nick | September 29, 2007 9:51 AM

I was born in SC and relocated there after 49 years in DC. I now in metro Atlanta. Both my children were born in DC hospitals not surburban ones. Stop reppin DC if you really are not from here. I never said I was from DC. I always differentiate from it. If you can't do the Birdland, know where the Florida Avenue Grill is located Tell me the name of the Miles Long Sandwich Girl, or what was the name of the hot-dog joint around the corner from the Howard Theater, you are not true true DC. I'm through with all you arrivistes.

DC is a real state of mind. DC folks, products of the DC public shool system back when it educated nuclear physicits and being a graduate of that system menat that you had to take 6 years of foreign languages. I choose Latin andf german. We could take 6 years of mathematics including trigonometry and claculus. I choose to take 6 years of science including biology, chemistry, physics, and advanced biology that was more comparatve anatomy.

So do not pretend to be what you are not, a true DC nationalist. DC folks are a real tribe both black and white, female and male, rich and poor. But we still dance a certain way, speak a certain way, and touch the same pyschic landmarks: the zoo on Easter Monday, losing virginity in Rock Creek Park, dating at the Carter Barron, playing and watching DC Interhigh games at RFK. If you can't hand dance, and be real, you are not real DC. Not Washington but DC. Washingtoon is te capital of this nation; its political capital. DC is where the residents live. DC is go-go. DC is the home of the Duke and the Marvin. The birthplace of Paul Laurence Dunbar, poet laureate of all black folks. We laugh loud. We dance long. We bogart. We are many. We are proud. We are a tribe.

Posted by: Sistaj | September 29, 2007 10:11 AM

D.C. used to be very transient, in the mid 90's most people who moved there felt they never met anyone from DC, especially the Grad students at GW G-Town, and American. So the DC public school systems have some work to do, but are improving, the area is becoming better and safer to live in, and the suburbs are fast growing and were fast growing for several decades which is why now you have anyone under 40 haveing been raised here and makes this their home to raise their children, thus reducing the transient feeling

Posted by: Anonymous | September 29, 2007 1:05 PM

Marc,

Those 41% you reference are, I would guess, primarily long-time residents of Northeast and Southeast, and parts of Georgetown. Is it possible that the reason you are surprised that the percentage is so high (you think it is high) is that most of the people you come into contact with through your work at the Post are not among those populations (with the exception of the Georgetowners), and are not in the main Washington Post readers?

A lot of the people who have posted comments are correct, especially about the youthful "churn." But I think a better measure of what we are all talking about here is to be found by asking and answering how much control people have over their lives, both individual and collective. How much say does a neighborhood have to determine what businesses are allowed there, which ones must go, the value of their property, the schools, the rate of taxation, how much the rent is, which buildings are allowed to be torn down. Those sorts of issues.

Is the middle class growing or shrinking?

Take a drive to Northeast from Northwest along Florida Avenue. Pass the Florida Avenue market. On the corner you will see a humongous, ugly billboard promising that in a few - whatever, months, years - this area will look different, "promise," it says. The billboard is a mockup of some big box behemoth of a condo or building that "promises" absolutely nothing to the longtime residents of the area, who will no doubt not be hired to work there if it is an office building, or be able to afford to live there, if it is a condo.

Basically, the project promises to further undermine the lives of people in that area to an extent that only dysfunction promises to remain. Or further dysfunction, for this is and seems to have been the trend in Washington: chip away at the monetarily valuable part of peoples' lives (property), wait for the wig shops and liquor stores to spring up, the crime rate to spike out of control, have the mayor come in with a proposal to knock down the public housing project in favor of some public/private bs, see the property values spike out of control, the low-middle class homeowners no longer able to afford to live in their own homes because of a new, higher rate of taxation are forced to sell and move out.

Caddy corner to that is a real life monstrosity, recently constructed (I think it might be ATF), a building that is ugliness in concrete flight. By its size, you can tell the architects meant for it to impress people arriving into DC in their -- cars -- along New York Avenue. Does this development encourage neighborhood permanence or discourage it?

Posted by: slats | September 29, 2007 3:49 PM

Slats: You are so right. And that ATF building at NY and FL has got to be the most hideous monstrosity ever erected. What were they thinking? It is a non-welcoming fortress (the design was clearly made with the thought of truck bombers in mind). If they were that concerned about truck bombs, they shouldn't have built it at one of the busiest intersections for truck traffic in the city!!

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