Mapping DC’s Disappearing Black Barbershops and Beauty Salons

Authors: Natalie Hopkinson*, Howard University
Topics: Urban Geography, Ethnicity and Race, Urban and Regional Planning
Keywords: gentrification, black culture, black entrepreneurship, exclusionary planning,
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Washington, D.C. is the fastest gentrifying community in the United States, displacing 20,000 Black residents from 2000-2013. As the urban landscape shifts, equally jolting changes in communication technologies such as the rising power of search algorithms and crowd-sourced online rankings, have deepened digital divides and rendered historically marginalized groups invisible as well as businesses that serve them (Noble, 2018). This study maps of cultural shifts in Washington, D.C. by mapping the region’s barbershops and beauty salons that operated from 1999-2019 on U Street and H Streets. City business records will be used to map these businesses and trace their movement over time. These maps will be complemented with oral histories with salon owners and clients sharing their perceptions about these changes. Notably, city incentives intended to spur neighborhood development by attracting new retail businesses in the decades after the 1968 uprisings specifically excluded barbershops and beauty salons. This map is a part of a larger cultural mapping project that creates a public inventory of the city’s cultural assets that are legacies of de jure and de facto segregation and point to policies that uphold these divides today.

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