Interesting alleys: Kings Court


Kings Court offers a nostalgic look at how industry was able to function amid neighborhoods, albeit concealed behind residences.

Kings Court offers a nostalgic look at how industry was able to function amid neighborhoods, albeit concealed behind residences.

Third in a series

Alleys are the city’s backstage. In just the past few days, I have seen kids shooting craps and listening to music, people fixing cars and legions of Hill East alley cats in the often unique passages to wind behinds office buildings, rowhouses and even the mansions in Upper Northwest D.C.

But alleys are also where commercial enterprise mixes with residential, representing the only place where many residents will put up with industry in D.C.’s dense neighborhoods.

Kings Court SE, like the warehouses of F Street Terrace, is one of those places. Located between 14th and 15th streets SE, this path boasts low-slung factory-like spaces (seemingly occupied, though with no signage to indicate what industry they house), a staging ground and headquarters for Curbside Cupcakes’s food trucks and a large community garden.

The Kings Court community garden is tucked behind Hill East's residential streets.

The Kings Court community garden is tucked behind Hill East's residential streets.

The court is also a microcosm for how diverse the economy and uses of the city are. Too often we think that the only new businesses are pricey nightlight establishments in “gentrifying” neighborhoods. And while those are a big part of D.C.’s economy, there are thousands of small business people who have chosen to do their work inside the city, just as a Mayor Gray announced a factory has decided to locate hundreds of jobs in Southeast. Some business people, of course, run disgusting corner stores, but others are the type of entrepreneurs that we act like don’t exist.

I can’t count how many times I have seen online comments alluding to how business unfriendly Washington is. That may be true for many things, but there is more going on in the city’s alleys and forgotten industrial areas than many of us know.

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