What has always interested me most are places in transition, where the past is still hanging around like vapor and the future is brightening but uncertain. After years of photographing across post-communist Eastern Europe, I came to realize that Washington, D.C., had some commonalities with, say, Warsaw: boosterish expectations tempered by the past and physical changes to the cityscape that were not always in step with psychological undercurrents.


The Reeves Center municipal building on 14th Street NW from the restaurant Marvin. All photographs by Bill Crandall.

For me, the District is about the neighborhoods, not monuments. I am uninterested in, even repulsed by, the parallel universe of lobbyists, politicians and the influence-hungry. I focused on the heart of our divided city — especially the broad swath from Petworth down through U Street and Shaw — where boundaries are shifting and transition is most palpable.


Developer Chris Donatelli surveys a new residential project in Petworth.

Having grown up in a different D.C., I thought it was important to document this unique period with some urgency. But not with a literal, didactic approach. I tried to keep things personal, intuitive, human. These pictures are impressionistic fragments, meant to evoke as much as describe.


A passenger aboard a bus passing through Petworth.

Many are from the flow of my own life, often within a few blocks of my house, on my way to work or somewhere else. I wanted to see if the evolving city could have poetry and mystery. Maybe I was just trying to see if I could still love my home town.


Young Sofia in Columbia Heights.

Neighbors in Petworth.

A bus driver in the NoMa (“North of Massachusetts Avenue”) neighborhood. The photographer asks: “Could I still love my home town? I’d say the answer is a qualified yes. We’re not done transforming yet. Maybe we all see what we want to see.”

Columbia Heights, home to big-box stores such as Target and Best Buy.

Children at a Halloween block party in Petworth.

A sudden rain in Columbia Heights.

A party in a former industrial space in Mount Vernon Square in Northwest Washington.

A popular dog park near Dupont Circle.

A couple crosses the street in Mount Vernon Square.

Bill Crandall, a former freelance photojournalist, is completing a book of this material. The working title is “Fairy Tales From the Fault Lines.”