Friday, September 26, 2014
Virginia Foundation for the Humanities - "This is What Peace Looks Like " / Article on CPDP and Living Diversity
By David Bearinger
If you want to experience the most highly concentrated tincture of ethnic and cultural diversity in Virginia, walk the three-and-a-half-mile stretch of State Route 244 that runs through Arlington from the Fairfax line east to the Pentagon.
Over the past dozen years, Lloyd Wolf, Paula Endo, Mimi Xang Ho, Duy Tran, Aleksandra Lagkueva, and the other photographers in the Columbia Pike Documentary Project have walked this road for thousands of hours, observing and photographing it, looking into its multicultural face, studying the polyglot language of its soul.
Wolf says this part of Virginia represents “what America has become and is becoming … and perhaps the face of the world too … this is what Peace looks like.”
SR 244, now known as Columbia Pike and before that as the Washington Gravel Turnpike, was conceived by an act of Congress in 1810 and later built on top of an existing cow path. The first section was paved in 1928.
As late as the 1960s, “the Pike” and the neighborhoods bordering it was still a largely white, middleclass enclave. It has since become a mecca for new immigrants from every part of the world.
The change began in the 1970s with the end of the war in Southeast Asia, when refugees from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia altered the face of the Pike dramatically. Large numbers of Latinos stated arriving in the 1980s, followed in the ’90s by refugees and immigrants from East Asia and the Middle East. Today, the communities of the Pike include people from Sudan and South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Pakistan, Mongolia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Bolivia, Ukraine, Egypt, Azerbaijan … the list goes on.