During stints at the New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, and most recently, New York, conservative writer Andrew Sullivan has sounded off on everything from Rhodes scholars (he dismissed them as “high-profile losers”) to the #MeToo movement (in a recent column, he compared it to McCarthyism). His 1989 New Republic essay “Here Comes the Groom” made the first magazine-length case for same-sex marriage at a time when many people had never even considered the issue.
But besides being a political columnist, Sullivan is an unapologetic advocate of the nation’s capital, more specifically Adams Morgan. When he moved to New York briefly to write for The Daily Beast in 2012, he blogged frequently about his gripes with the city, under the heading “New York Shitty.” Sullivan has been back in Adams Morgan for years now, and he plans to stay. Here’s why.
What irked you about New York, and why do you prefer DC, particularly Adams Morgan?
Manhattan south of Central Park is a gloomy maze, with no light, no sky, no green, crammed with people, where every restaurant has a line and every passer-by treats you like an asshole. Adams Morgan is a bright and often sunny place, with lots of sky, wide sidewalks, two wonderful parks on either side, cafes that will almost always find you a space, and people tend not to be total assholes.
What do you love most about your neighborhood?
I have what the English call a local. Duplex Diner, at the beginning of Adams Morgan, was a place where I was an original investor, and I’ve sat at the bar for nearly a couple of decades. Most nights, I’m eating there with a friend, or alone. It’s great to have a place where everybody knows your name—but not because you’re on TV.
How has Adams Morgan changed since you moved there in the 1990s?
Like so many places, it has prospered, and the ethnic mix has shifted, with gentrification pushing some African-Americans and Latinos from the area. So it’s lost something of its old grit and diversity. There were very few white people on my block when I moved in, and now they’re easily a majority. In my first few years here, two corpses were found in the alleyway behind my place. My own block is completely unrecognizable—with a Harris Teeter and a CrossFit gym where a dangerous intersection once existed.
Where do you walk your dogs?
Meridian Hill Park is the greatest joy for me. Its renovation has made it so much more beautiful, and the crime, which used to make it extremely dangerous in the evening or night, has evaporated.
Can you talk a bit about your place in Adams Morgan?
I live in the Morgan Annex, which was part of the old, formerly segregated Morgan School. So it’s embedded in the very name of the neighborhood. It was one of the first old buildings to be renovated and turned into lofts, and I live in an old classroom with ceilings around 15 feet; beautiful, massive windows; and a huge wall which becomes my own personal movie theater after dark. I’m a lucky man to live here, and I hope I die here as well.
This article appears in the March 2018 issue of Washingtonian.