Washington’s Petite Bourgeoisie

“Washington, though, has become an increasingly two-class town. About a third of households make less than $60,000 a year, while around 45 percent make more than $100,000 a year. Relatively few are what might be traditionally considered middle class.

Perhaps that, more than anything, explains the appearance of the new gilded-age Washington, which is less about wealth than it is about the growth of one of the most ascendant petite bourgeoisies that the United States has known. In the five years since I moved to the city, the transformation has been visible, palpable and sometimes astonishing. Washington has become a place that sports a decent turnover in multimillion-dollar homes, a Tesla dealership and a dozen fabulous new restaurants a year. You can even purchase a $69 tasting menu of craft cocktails at a speakeasy, if that’s your thing.”

This from a recent New York Times Magazine feature on the booming economy in metropolitan Washington, DC.  I know exactly which bar the tasting menu references, and while I’m glad that it exists I understand that the influx of money into this area in the past 12 years has changed the local culture – and class groups – present in the District itself.  Gentrification and re-development of an area with a rich historical tradition is a touchy subject, but I do think that what is happening in Washington is good for the residents able to stay here.  Violent crime is the lowest it has been in years, neighborhoods once filled with abandoned properties now feature sidewalk cafes and luxury condo units, and I can think of at least 5 Spanish Tapas restaurants to try.  Lowrey offers some evidence that growth may slow in the coming years, but even muted growth is growth.

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