The accidental tourist traveling through the Adams-Morgan district in Washington enters a fascinating, complex neighborhood. There is a smorgasbord of ethnic restaurants and sidewalk vendors, a mix of expensive housing and slum dwellings, for this is a “transitional” neighborhood, where the homeless share the narrow, busting sidewalks with Gen Xers hurrying to Capitol Hill jobs.
The soul of Adams-Morgan is not so apparent, but those who know the neighborhood might say that its spirtual center can be found behind a nondescript collection of storefronts and buildings. There is no grand structure, no huge sign, very little to proclaim that over 50 years ago three laypeople with no institutional affiliation, backing or support set about to transform Adams-Morgan. They cast their lot among society’s castaways, aiming to make these mean streets into a New Jerusalem, a city on a hill.