While that is likely to mean more business for her dog-walking company, Wiggins has a greater hope: that the changes will erase the stain of Trinidad’s violent past.
“It’s still up and coming but still in transition,” said Wiggins, a former Advisory Neighborhood Commission representative.
Montello Avenue, where Wiggins walked the dogs, once was considered one of the more dicey places in the District. In 2008, a string of slayings in the area led police to block off streets with military-style checkpoints for a time.
Since then, the D.C. government, ANCs, the Trinidad Neighborhood Association and local churches have taken steps to revive the community with vibrant murals, a new dog park, a recreation center and increased security.
“I really wanted to own something, and it seemed inevitable to me that Trinidad would take off,” said Holly Malone, an administrative assistant at a private-equity firm who bought a rowhouse last year.
Progress against crime: There are a few accounts of how Trinidad got its name. Some say it was named in recognition of land speculator James Barry, who spent time in the Caribbean. Others say the name is in honor of a slave from Trinidad and Tobago who wanted to come to the United States but died before he was able to do so.
The Washington Machine Brick Co. purchased the 65 clay-rich acres on July 18, 1888, for $38,888 to use the soil to make bricks. The company sold land for housing. That’s when the original rowhouses sprang up, according to Cultural Tourism DC. After the brick company shut down, the American Baseball League built a ballpark on its site from 1901 to 1902.
The rioting that followed the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968 spawned decades of decline. Crime picked up in the 1980s with a crack cocaine epidemic.
But in recent years, the area has turned a corner. Residents have created an online mailing list to keep one another updated, and Trinidad Neighborhood Association meetings often discuss crime prevention. Crime has declined since the 2008 incidents, according to D.C. police records. But during the past 12 months, 21 assaults, 15 robberies and 80 property crimes were reported.
Friendliness: The neighborhood association plans numerous events throughout the year to foster a stronger sense of community.
Other organizations and residents sponsor art exhibits, movie nights, block parties, yard tours, and youth football and cheerleading. Two popular blogs, Titan of Trinidad and Frozen Tropics, aim to keep everyone connected.
“When I walked down the street, people were saying, ‘Hello, hello, hello.’ I was so shocked at first, I didn’t think they were speaking to me,” said Bernadine Okorl, a science teacher who moved into the neighborhood in 2009. She is producing a documentary on the neighborhood’s history.