At first glance, the six-kilometer stretch of road doesn't seem very different from other urban streets.But take a closer look, and you begin to notice the many different ethnic businesses side by side along the corridor known as Columbia Pike in Arlington, Virginia.Photographer Lloyd Wolf has lived much of his life near the Pike, a road built in 1810 as the main route into Washington from Virginia.Since the 1970s, Wolf said, it has been a magnet for immigrants from every corner of the globe.
“Columbia Pike has become more and more interesting.There are hundreds and hundreds of ethnicities, people from different countries along the Pike and living in relative harmony.This is something we felt was worth recording.”
So Wolf and four other photographers who call the area home have spent 10 years capturing the life of the people who make up the corridor.Like Claudia Camacho, she owns a Bolivian restaurant on the Pike.She likes the community and has lived nearby for 23 years.
It is really hard to move out from this area.There are a lot of people from different places of the world.And you get to know different cultures, and it is really good.”
Mohammed Mohammed settled in the area 25 years ago.His shop sells imported Ethiopian products.
“I have been successful running a business here.White, African-Americans, Hispanic people, Asians, Arabs, Africans combined in diversity.So we know each other, we share elements of culture and language.We are happy. So I am so happy.”
Although the historic corridor has been one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the nation-and perhaps in the world-for decades, Wolf points out there is no ethnic enclave.
“Here, everybody's pretty mixed up.There's no one area that's all Vietnamese or all Arab or all Somalian, et cetera.
Everyone is sort of living and working amongst each other in a blend.And it's a nice blend. It works.”
Frequent ethnic festivals offer a blend of cultural experiences.
“Bangladeshis have their festival here.We have over 30 Bolivian dance troupes in the county that perform Oruro festival every year.Three thousand of them come up to Columbia Pike.It is beautiful to see."
Wolf enter his collaborates have compiled extensive collection of images into a book titled Living Diversity: The Columbia Pike Documentary Project.
"I think this is something we want to share with the world. I use a phrase a lot: This is what peace looks like. People get along.This is how we should be."