Friday Question of the Day

This comes from a reader in the forum section:

We’re looking to buy in or around Petworth, and naturally we have gathered that there are some areas that are quieter and safer than others. We spend time in the neighborhood and have done our research, but I’d really like to know the point of view of the people who live here. What streets and areas reflect the best of Petworth, and are there places that we should avoid?”

For that matter, what streets and areas would you recommend to live in Columbia Heights as well? Just curious.

28 Comment

  • The bast thing you can do is walk around the block at night and even in the alley to check out the area. It’s really block by block right now. I live on a non-through, one-way street. like parts of Hobart, Fuller or Euclid. No one really comes through unless they live on the street. so I knoe my neighbors really well. It’s quiet — no emergency vehicles and any parties that are going on my block, I’m usually invited to so I can’t really complain about the noise. As a younger single lady who parks on the street (without a big dog and no homealarm system) I’ve been relatively happpy for 5 years. Knock on wood!

  • Anonymous,

    Honestly, You should get an alarm system.

  • Agreed on the general tone of Anonymous, and that it would be smart to get an alarm system.

    Right now it seems living around Howard/Girard etc. in CH is not a very attractive proposition..

  • We’ve lived directly north of Grant Circle on 5th street for three years and have found that area to be pretty peaceful. There is some traffic, but it’s significantly quieter than the main streets. The majority of our neighbors are friendly and do look out for one another. It’s quiet at night, and we haven’t had problems with parties or with people loitering on street corners or in the alleys.

  • I live on 3rd near Decatur and although their are some a couple abandoned four-plexes on our block. And the next corner over is (I’m guessing) a drug market or something (how else to explain the daylight spotlight that the police erect over there every other week). I find that my block is very friendly and I always feel safe. Even walking to the corner store at night.

    I lived on Girard at 13th in 2004 and despite the fact that my rent was over $200 more a month — I felt that block was a lot more sketchy (we had a brothel broken up across the street!) and people never said hello to you. And if they did it, it was to then tear into you about some self-entitled bs about how they were “a homeowner” and I needed to bend to their will.

    But walking the block in the evening is probably a good idea. Check out Brightwood too, up closer to Takoma Park. I know someone that just bought a place up there and is really smitten with the area.

  • Illinois Ave, south of grant circle is a really nice stretch. Its a wide tree-lined street and is for the most part filled with genuinely nice people…I’m really glad to live where I do.

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    “Bizarre slave girl insertions”
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    yes, the good life indeed 😉

    It’s amazing what these spammers do.. can you imagine doing that for a living? “Dad, what do you when you go to work?” “I spam, son, I spam.”

  • I have to disagree with the suggestion of walking a strange block at night. Driving by at night and parking at stategic locations will get you the information without putting you in a potentially vulnerable situation. Choosing the wrong block will get you hit over the head…

  • It’s really about your own comfort level, not anyone else’s. I, for one, am very comfortable walking up and down Georgia Ave. by myself at 1am and I’m a woman.

  • It’s Girard and Harvard Streets in Columbia Heights, not Howard. Have you all checked out: it’s very helpful.

  • Anonymous, thanks… my typo/slip.. well, I am not sure if the Howard University area is that nice either at night time. 🙂

  • Seconding Illinois Ave south of Grant Circle. Very quiet and pleasant!

  • Anything within a block of the Old Soldiers Home is a safe bet. Try looking around Park Place NW (not to be confused with Park Road) or Rock Creek Church Road. There is a gorgious place for sale on 5th, too.

  • Crime statistics are not very useful at the block level. You have to check out the street yourself or talk to a cop who has worked the beat (which is what I did before I bought a house in CH).

    If you look all around CH, for example, you won’t see a lot of variation from one street to the next in the crime report statistics. The reason for this is that the worse the street, the greater percentage of crimes that will not go reported. In nicer areas, where personal and property crime is less frequent, most will be reported. On the worse streets, especially those with active gang incidents, these kinds of crimes may be far more frequent, but most will go unreported. The police certainly do NOT make a formal crime report for every gang-on-gang incident unless there was a homicide involved.

  • I hate to say it, Anonymous 4:03, but it’s not solely about comfort level. If someone wants to get you, they don’t give a damn about your comfort level. I’m quite sure the individual who was assualted two weeks ago or so on New Hampshire ave. was very comfortable walking home from metro.

    We can look at statistics and determine probability but that does not rule out possibility. You can’t be paranoid but at the same time you can’t assume every time you walk on Georgia avenue at 1 am everything will be just fine. You can still “get got” in Bethesda at 1 am, but the probability is less.

    For people who are evaluating the area, they’d probably do better to drive and park as suggested above.

  • The whole Grant Circle and Sherman Circle area are nice. But park in front of your house if you can, don’t walk from the metro after dark, in fact don’t expect to do a whole lot of walking around the area after dark at all. If you like to go out at night and get home late, this may not be the safest neighborhood. And I don’t have bars on my windows. I made a choice to live here, knowing this isn’t Bethesda or Chevy Chase.

  • I live just north of Grant Circle on 5th St. The neighborhood is quiet and the neighbors are all wonderful and friendly. I got really lucky though, when house hunting I got tired of “researching” a house and its neighborhood just to have it not work out. So when I bought this house, I looked at the house itself but otherwise didn’t walk the neighborhood… just signed on the line. It turns out it’s only a 10 minute walk to the Georgia Ave./Petworth Metro (which I also didn’t realize) and is otherwise a charming block. I couldn’t be happier. When the Georgia Ave. stuff gets completed, things will be really nice and convenient. As a matter of fact, a friend and I ate lunch today in Grant Circle and it was quite pleasant!

  • i echo markus – illinois ave south of grant circle is a very nice a quiet place to live. fyi – there are several homes for sale right now!

  • Thanks all so much for the advice! We’re going on a house tour today, and I’ll definitely detour towards the recommended areas!

  • The souther edge of Petworth is nice too, around Taylor, Randolph, Quincy etc. And has the benefit of being closer to the services/shopping/dining of CH too.

  • I also think Illinois, between the two traffic circles, is a great location right now. Very quiet, wide streets, nice neighbors, and little foot traffic. I’ve seen a few homes for sale in that area, and one of my neighbors just put his up for rent. IMO, I would rent before I bought in D.C., just to make sure I was happy with the area. That said, you can’t go wrong buying in D.C. right now.

  • To those of you who live in the northern parts of Petworth.. what do you do for transportation? I live a half mile from the metro, but couldn’t live much farther.

  • @Shawn: There are these crazy things called buses. The ride of the surface and carry multiple people and go both up and downtown as well as a cross down. You get to look out the windows and you can read by natural light. Check ’em out. They are awesome. Some even make connections to Metro in case you are feeling like going underground and waiting around on a platform for a train that is late.

  • Look north (of!)Arkansas and Georgia. It’s much safer and quieter in Brightwood. You can get a much bigger home or nicer condo for about 100,000 less and the crime rate is much less. There is a big push to rejuvinate Kennedy St. Check it out.

  • Crosstown and downtown busses and two metros w/in 5 blocks is why I live in the Columbia Heights/Pleasant Plains area. Crime seems to be no worse than other parts of town, the Traget/Tivoli redev and Georgia Avenue Great Streets initiatives will only make it better. Been here for 3 years and couldn’t afford to buy if I waited.

  • The wedge between Webster and Upshur east of New Hampshire and west of the Old Soldier’s Home is very quiet (except for that one car alarm! – Is that you PoP?!?). The Slightly Confused Watchdog LOVES the cemetery and the deer that live there. I’d echo the sentiment about Girard, easily the deadliest place in the area. And, personally, CH is too noisy, filled to the brim with annoying white twentysomethings with bad haircuts and color-coordinated iPods, and impossible to drive through when I’m trying to get somewhere quick. BAH! Columbia Heights!

  • I second Quincy St, west of the Metro.

    We just moved in after an exhaustive search of homes all over the District, and thus far, I highly recommend.

    The quiet is deafening at first (especially after living a couple blocks off U Street for years), but I’m sure I’ll view it as a positive in time. We’re blocks from the Metro, Temperance, Red Derby, etc. And the untouched, uniform design of the block really sets it apart from many blocks in the District.

  • I vote for North of the GA Ave. Metro, East of NH: the area tucked in by the Soldiers Home and Rock Creek Cemetery. It’s quiet, friendly and convenient.

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