For the last decade, we have watched the slow, methodical gentrification of Cape Charles. Like an anaconda, the muscle of rich, northern money has been used to strangle and suffocate the last remaining bits of the town’s authenticity. The whole historic thing is laughable. Bird is not the word, tourism is. The industrial and rail history is being canceled in favor of tourist-driven eateries and shops. Years ago, this writer was laughed at for coining the term “Cape Maying”, but who’s laughing now? In fact, Cape May is probably jealous of how fast this place sold out.
The ultimate goal of the Cape May effect is homogenization–eliminating as much diversity as possible. This accounts for all this Rosenwald School hoopla and the almost frantic way the white people are frothing at the mouth, throwing money and taxpayer resources at Cape Charles’ most prominent symbol of racism and segregation (all while pricing out a large swath of the African-American community). As if this will somehow cleanse the past. It’s just a way of glorifying segregation without saying you’re glorifying it, all the while whitewashing what you are currently doing, trying to cover up the secret yearning for a town made up of people who look, think, and are from the same class as you. You would think the community would have rallied around the Cape Charles School, which was actually the place that ended racial segregation–many of the same Rosenwald proponents fought tooth and nail to give the old school away for a mere $10. History Note: the selling of the school was just a convenient way of keeping black kids from coming into town to play basketball and eliminating any possibility of bringing back the boys and girls club. We have the receipts.
Then there’s Washington Street. It is one of the last holdouts, a most diverse neighborhood where there are the last few affordable homes left. It’s been a slow train coming, forces diligently chipping away east and west, but even Washington Street is ready to fall.
A few months ago I saw it–one of the houses painted and all beached up, and even renamed Beach Bungalow.
The house was listed on Zillow for $425k. There goes the neighborhood.
It will sell. The inventory is so limited, that the Airbnb crowd will snatch it up, and the last remaining houses and lots will go and soon be fashioned as one of those annoying faux beach cottages.
The anaconda will continue to squeeze and Cape Charles will get a little less diverse. Bit by bit, the last of full-time working class folks will have to make way for the ‘visitors’.
The inmates won’t admit this, but they really want it this way.
The greasy till doesn’t lie.