Real History, Real Life: MVT CID Launches Historical Coaster Project

Tuesday June 14, 2016

@MVTCID: #realhistoryreallife debuts in #MVT restaurants-$25 photo winner each week; what’s your view? #LifeinMVT

The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District (MVT CID) has launched an interactive campaign to tie the neighborhood’s exciting future to its rich past. Themed “Real History, Real Life”, the series of brightly designed coasters shares 10 stories from the Triangle, with one side of each coaster portraying a historical moment from the past and the flip side of the coaster depicting the vision for today and tomorrow.

The coaster series brings to life the rich history and lore of one of the most active and historically impactful communities in Washington, DC including:

Real History: The Northern Liberty Market, with an immense 85 foot central column free room, opened in 1875 and was one of Downtown DC’s busiest commercial centers, with 284 merchants, tradespersons and vendors.
Real Life: City Vista at 5th & K opened in 2008 and was a catalyst for the redevelopment of Mount Vernon Triangle. Anchored by initial tenant Busboys & Poets, City Vista is home to numerous retailers and restaurants as well as three residential towers.

Real History: Gustav Hartig located his hardware store at 7th and K Streets in the late 19th century, where it was run by the family for 100 years.
Real Life: The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) building now fills the block, serving its nationwide academic medicine membership and bringing programs and a spirit of volunteerism to the local DC community. Five of the historic buildings from the block are adaptively incorporated into the project.

Real History: Prather’s Alley, site of a blacksmith and famous milk bottling plant.
Real Life: The blacksmith shop building still stands, as it is prepared to be called home to a new generation of residents, integrated into an exciting residential project.

Thousands of Real History, Real Life coasters will be distributed throughout Mount Vernon Triangle’s many restaurants and cafes through the month of June, including A Baked Joint, Busboys & Poets, Alba Osteria, Alta Strada, Le Pain Quotidien, L’Hommage Bistro Francais, Mandu, Ottoman Taverna, Philos, Shouk, Silo, Sixth Engine and Texas de Brazil.

Follow the campaign online with the #LifeinMVT hashtag. The coasters have a removable triangular center. The MVT CID invites users to open it, take a photo, and share their view on social media, putting their own perspective on history in the Triangle neighborhood. Residents, office workers and visitors are invited to participate in the social media campaign, posting their pictures to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #LifeinMVT. Each week, the staff at the MVT CID will award a $25 restaurant gift card to the person with the best photo. Click here to view activity on our Tagboard.

MVT CID President and CEO, Kenyattah Robinson, commented on the importance of maintaining historical context even as the community experiences explosive growth in its office, residential and retail development, saying, “Mount Vernon Triangle today reflects not only one of the fastest growing downtown neighborhoods but also its years as one of the original downtown business and residential communities in Washington, DC. As a Mount Vernon Triangle resident, I am both proud and thrilled that we have found such a creative, fun and inclusive way to weave together the rich historical fabric and history of the community to the new and exciting developments to come.”

The MVT CID extends its appreciation to Anne McDonough, Library & Collections Director at the Historical Society of Washington, DC for her tireless efforts to help the MVT CID with the location and identification of key images for the coaster project and to Executive Director, John Suau, of the Society for supporting this effort. Suau noted, “The interactive feature of the MVT CID coaster project really resonates with me, both as a Mount Vernon Triangle resident and as the Historical Society launches its Street Photography Series, which encourages Washingtonians to document and seek the historical context behind neighborhoods across the city. We are pleased the MVT CID is bringing to area patrons a sense of what once was, through historical photographs from our collections.”

Brent Leggs, a historic preservationist and Senior Field Officer for the Washington DC Field Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, noted, “Recognition that people living and working in a community value the context, history and story behind a place is part of a broader narrative and a priority for the National Trust. We are pleased to be working with the MVT CID in celebrating the diversity, authenticity and cultural richness of the Mount Vernon Triangle community and preserving the stories, culture and life histories of the neighborhood.”

Local design firm, Williams Whittle, was retained to design the coasters and the campaign through an RFP process in late 2015. Months of research and interviews elicited many historic facts – and fascinating tales – from a downtown Washington, DC community that has grown and thrived for hundreds of years, and that continues to evolve today.

About The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District

The Mount Vernon Triangle Community Improvement District is a private, nonprofit organization established to enhance the overall quality of life for all members of the community including residents, visitors, business owners, and property owners in the Mount Vernon Triangle neighborhood in Downtown DC. The Mount Vernon Triangle is considered to be one of Washington DC’s best examples of a mixed-use community, a vibrant neighborhood in the heart of the City—both geographically and culturally. Its boundaries include 17 blocks within the East End of downtown Washington, D.C., bordered by Seventh Street to the west, Massachusetts Avenue to the south, New York Avenue to the north and New Jersey Avenue to the east. The Mount Vernon Triangle is a welcoming, authentic, and centered neighborhood that mirrors the City’s unique mix of historic and modern buildings, longtime and new residents, and diverse cultures, restaurants, and urban experiences. For more information, we invite you to explore our website at or follow us on Facebook at, Twitter @MVTCID, Instagram and Flickr