A series of Washington Post articles this week examined the lives of millennials in the “new Washington” — dissecting what they eat, where they live and what’s next for a group often seen as a symbol of a rapidly changing District. The days of referencing the city’s “international” and “political” culture have given way to the buzz, and exhaustive scrutiny, of a younger, hipper D.C. Some see these 20- and 30-somethings as the embodiment of the modern, urban lifestyle and welcome the restaurants, condos and bike lanes that have sprung up to accommodate them. Others see an entitled generation driving up costs and gentrifying neighborhoods with little awareness of the communities, or their culture, that were here long before Le Diplomate. Here’s what we learned from The Post’s coverage.
1. No One Knows What to Call Them. Or Their Age.
“They belong to the ill-defined cohort known variously as millennials, echo boomers or Generation Y. Their ages range from 24 to 34, or perhaps 18 to 36, or even 21 to 30, depending on which firm is polling,” writes Elizabeth Chang in The Post magazine’s essay “March of the millennials,” which opened the floodgates of coverage. Still confused? Take our quiz, at right.
2. That ‘Millennial March’ Is Actually a Real Thing
Anecdotes about young people swarming this street or that neighborhood abound, and the numbers back it up. Half of the population growth in D.C. between 2010 and 2012 was from millennials.
3. All The Stuff Moving In Pushed Some Gems Out
Perhaps one of the most frustrating things that newcomer millennials do is treat native Washingtonians as a rare species. “You actually grew up here?” they ask them incredulously, as though D.C. was a ghost town without community or character before 2000. In the article “Homespun D.C. places lost to condos and burger chains,” Clinton Yates recalls playing arcade games at the Golden Dome, now a service entry to the upscale seafood restaurant D.C. Coast, and hanging out at Georgetown’s 24-hour restaurant Au Pied de Cochon, now a Five Guys. Online commenters chimed in with other lost gems: repertory movie house Biograph Theatre (now a CVS), the Bayou nightclub (now the AMC Loews Georgetown) and Scholl’s Cafeteria.
4. What They Are Making
The median salary for D.C. residents ages 25 to 34 is $44,680, compared to $27,025 for all U.S. metro areas, perhaps unsurprising given the cost of living here. But the parity between women and men is also much higher in D.C. than other U.S. cities. Here, women earn $0.92 to men’s $1, compared to $0.69 nationally. Get ’em, girls.
5. D.C. Is Cool. Or it Isn’t. Whatever. We Care Not.
Millennials have their own definition of hipness. Apparently. And they don’t care if it’s the same as yours. At least that’s Sommer Mathis’ argument in a first-person Style essay. Despite the influx of shiny new things, she writes: “In the District, it’s still ‘cool to say that it’s not cool.’ ” Erm, OK.
6. Millennials Are Staying And So Are Their Babies
Gone are the days of young couples moving to the suburbs once they’ve had kids, writes Carol Morello in “District dwellers deliver baby boom.” These millennials (and young Gen Xers) increased D.C.’s population of toddlers by almost 20 percent in three years, according to census figures.
7. Millennials Like Food. Like, Really Like Food.
Fifty percent of millennials are self-identified “foodies,” we learned in Tim Carman’s Food section story. And their siren songs? Communal tables, retro-looking furniture, small plates, ramen, deafening noise, gluten-free options, celebrity chefs, outdoor seating — and organic everything.
Are you Generation X or Millennial?
1. On which medium did you purchase your first album?
a. Cassette, and it was Sir Mix-A-Lot.
b. CD; I loved *NSYNC.
c. iTunes; Miley makes ratchet cool.
2. My coming-of-age drama was:
a. “Beverly Hills, 90210,” and I still love Dylan.
b. “The O.C.” — RIP Mischa Barton’s career.
c. “Pretty Little Liars,” #PLL4eva
3. When I was in high school, I mostly communicated via:
a. Telephone. My baby sitter’s club even had its own line.
b. AOL IM, brb mom’s iN mY rOoM >:-/
c. Snapchat. Facebook is for old people.
4. What movie have you quoted since you were a teenager?
a. “Clueless.” Anything else? As if …
b. “Mean Girls.” So totally fetch.
c. “Easy A.” It fake-rocked my world.
Mostly A’s: You are definitely Generation X. You wore flannel when it was hip the first time.
Mostly B’s: You’re the millennial that The Post’s articles are talking about. You love small plates so much.
Mostly C’s: You’re whatever’s after millennial. Don’t forget to register to vote soon! And stay in school.
Written by Rachel Sadon and Marissa Payne (Express)