Special Guest Post From Author and New Petworth Resident: Eric Nuzum

16th and military, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

[Ed. Note: Eric Nuzum recently moved from Rockville, MD to Petworth and below answers the ubiquitous question – why?]

No less than four times since we put in an offer on our house on Emerson Street, a complete stranger has said the exact same thing to us.

22 Comment

  • Welcome indeed! I think you made the right decision! We have a kid, so my only worry at this point is finding a good school within reasonable distance.

  • > Welcome indeed! I think you made the right decision! We have a kid, so my only worry
    > at this point is finding a good school within reasonable distance.

    DCPS out of boundary applications begin next Monday 1/28. We were lucky enough to land at a school over in Shepherd Park.

    But this is a whole ‘nuther discussion.

  • I’ve lived in Petworth for years. I own two houses on 4th & Emerson. I’ve never had a problem with crime. I have friends that live in Col. Hgts (a more expensive neighborhood) and they complain about gunshots constantly. Maybe my experience is an anomaly, i’m not sure. But Petworth has bee pretty safe to me.

  • i bought in brightwood (petworth’s neighbor up north) in september and don’t regret a thing, no problems at all. i also obsessed over crime stats before and after my closing…but adams morgan and col heights have a lot more (crime) issues to worry about than our ‘hoods. congrats on the new place.

  • welcome to dc, eric!!

  • We took the leap from Silver Spring to CH in September and I feel like I could have written your post!

  • Erm… this isn’t the Kalahari folks… it’s not like we have to compete with Rhinos and Tigers for prey. Choosing to live within the capitol city of the USA isn’t exactly the most noble or brave thing we could do.

    For example, Angelina Jolie has adopted 6 children just since I started typing this. This morning I struck a blow for a woman’s right to choose by locking a couple of 11 year olds from Virginia in a port-o-potty near the Supreme Court. Eli Manning is headed to the Superbowl AND he finished the first Harry Potter book! (ok, ok, it was a book on tape). There is plenty of real bravery going on out in the world.

    That said, Petworth is oodles better than the suburbs and the only serious problem in Petworth is there are far too many people wearing funny jackets like this:


    {oden shakes head in disbelief}

  • Welcome to the neighborhood! We moved from Mt Pleasant to Petworth 18 years ago now, and are very glad we did so. I hope that you come to love it as much as we do.

  • I’ve lived in DC for 24 yrs. Moved to petworth from dupont 5 years ago. I was nervous about it in the beginning but have no regrets. Petworth is a very special place. welcome to the neighborhood!

  • We also moved to Petworth from Mount Pleasant 20 years ago, when the house we rented got sold. We picked Petworth because the house we bought was in great shape (or at least we thought so) and the price was right. We’ve only been the victims of crime once or twice in all that time and consider ourselves blessed to be here. As for schools, our children went to out-of-boundary schools, where we had to wait on line in the early morning hours to apply. My children weren’t going to pay for my social experiment. There are very few, if any, children of middle class professionals in the closest neighborhood schools, such as Clark, Barnard, Powell and Raymond and my kids weren’t going to be the first.

  • I grew up in Rockville and live in Petworth, so while Oden’s overly-optimistic impression of Eli Manning’s reading…er listening skills covers a lot of this issue, I am also somewhat an authority on this topic.

    I lived in Rockville from the time I was 10 until 22, if you count four college summers at the end. To me, it will always be “home”, but I think that’s mostly a function of having a pretty awesome childhood there. I couldn’t be happier with Petworth — our neighbors, the commute downtown for work, the urban conveniences, the pride in fixing up a fixer-upper — all those things are awesome.

    But there is truth to the idea of not wanting to have your children be urban pioneers in DC public schools. Kids are still a few years away in my house, but I’d be lying if I said that Montgomery County, and maybe even Rockville aren’t on our minds when that time comes. I grew up in the Ville and would love to go home again, someday.

  • Welcome to the neighboorhood and all that. When are we going to get a book from the ‘hood to read.

    Congrats. Enjoy!

  • Hi everyone. I’ve been lurking reading your comments–thanks for all your thoughts. I find it interesting that most people have focused on the safety and school issues–but no one (I think) has commented about the core issue: convenience. Most people who’ve brought this up wonder why I would give up all the “conveniences” of Rockville to move further into the city. Sometimes I wonder if “convenience” is a euphemism–or if they literally mean the ease of having everything you’d “need” no more than a 10 minute drive away.

    And for the gentleman who asked about a book from the hood. Actually, as soon as we finish unpacking (at this rate–2012), I’m supposed to start working on my next book. It’s called BOO–and it is about confronting my fear of ghosts. Seriously, it is scheduled to come out in the fall of 2009. Like my other writing, it will be quite autobiographical to the time I’m writing it, so there will be lots of Petworth references, I’m sure.

    Thanks for reading and responding. –Eric

  • dude! welcome! i can’t wait until you start giving hoodies seminars on how to write a good book and afford to purchase a home in petworth. seriously!

    i’m jealous of your good fortune, but happy you came to dc.

    there really *is* no other place.

    especially if you’re looking for any kind of inspiration.


  • I moved here from 11 years in SW DC where I suffered 2 car break-ins and identity theft from people stealing my mail. So I wasn’t without city experience. But I have been financially and emotionally beat up by the three break-ins to my garage (now minus two great bikes), theft of a bike outside Petworth Liquor, (hey, just trying to patronize the local businesses) and a theft of $400 worth of tools from a friend’s truck mid-day while we took a break for lunch.
    One of my neighbors has a busy drug and prostitution business – I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep for over a year. (=new high blood pressure.)
    But I think in time all this will change. There are two derelict houses across from mine, and a sad but could be really cute condo development, too – called PARKVIEW in charming lettering from its past glory. But I am running screaming back to the tiny boat I lived on for 11 years as soon as I can sell my very nice townhouse. I am anticipating a 50-60K loss.

  • I think Barnard is really changing. The elementary school in Mt. Pleasant…I see lots of parent involvement and several friends who are DCPS teachers said that they would send their children there.

    Anywho – Welcome to the neighborhood!

  • Eric — About the “convenience,” I find it exactly the opposite. I would never move out of the city proper because I find it so inconvenient to live outside the beltway. I lived in Maryland for a few short months when I first arrived in the area six years ago, and hightailed it to the district when I realized what driving on 295 is like everyday, no matter how great my rent was.

    Living in Columbia Heights/U Street (granted, slightly more convenient than Petworth) since then has been perfect for me — I can walk to work on K Street, walk to all the restaurants, bars, concert venues and art galleries I need (or at worse, they’re a

  • Gentleman – heh. Looking forward to reading your work! There are things that are convenient about living here…access to mass transit, some decent restaraunts and basic grocery shopping. For my wife and I, the things we find not convenient are access to decent retail shopping (have to go to Friendship Heights or Pentagon City) – up scale grocery (a bit of a schelp to the the P St Whole Foods) and oddly enough alcohol (wine, beer and liquour selction in the area is pretty lacking – we head to Total Wine in Va once a month).

    The moral of the story is you have to make the best of what it is. Your underlying reasons for coming here are similar to ours and they should hold true. There will be things that piss you off some days and things that make you happy some days. Its all a balance.

  • > I think Barnard is really changing.

    I didn’t follow it too closely, but the teachers there were just awarded an $8k bonus *EACH* for having one of the largest increases in test scores. I think only 3 or 4 schools city-wide were so honored.

    Now, if they could just get their frickin playground finished — it’s like 95% done (and has been so for > 3 months), but just needs one more light post and a sewer grate installed. That would allow all the parents who now clog 4th and Crittenden to move into a new driveway. I can’t believe that PTA and/or Principal aren’t screaming to get these couple of items finished…geesh…

  • The wife and I rented in North Bethesda (hey, it sounds much better than South Rockville, right?) for 2 years, and have owned our house in Petworth for 2 years. The first year was tough – a lot of second guessing and worrying that we made the wrong decision. The 2nd year was much better. We’ve become more invested in the community. We never cared about what was happening with the local government in Rockville/North Bethesda, but now we are more in tune with the changes that are happening throughout the city, especially in Ward 4/Petworth. We don’t have kids, but care about school reform. We don’t own guns, but we care about the upcoming Supreme Court case. And now that the neighborhood is starting to redevelop commercially (God bless you, Moroni & Brothers!), we can see that living in Petworth has an exponentially greater upside than living in MD ever did. Living close to the restaurants and stores along Rockville Pike can get old after awhile. It’s easy to fall into a rut. And we had to get in the car every time we needed the smallest thing. In Petworth, I can walk to the CVS, and there are an increasing number of restaurants and shops within walking distance of our house. If you’re going to “live in DC,” then LIVE IN DC. Living in the city, and owning your own house, forces upon you an increase in maturity. We “manned-up,” and moved to Petworth. I don’t think we regret it at all.

  • I don’t know in what way Barnard is changing and I closely follow DCPS news, as I’m a teacher. Yes, the whole staff through a grant, along with 2 other schools, was given a cash bonus for increased test scores. But what I believe happened is that originally test scores were abysmally low, and then rose. This is where the spike came from. This doesn’t mean that more than half of the school is proficient or even advanced, scores which are common in the best DCPS schools. People get all excited over proficient: all it means is a student is performing on grade level, that a third grader is successfully doing third grade work. I maintain that despite these gains and other positive factors, there are very few if any middle class families chosing Petworth neighborhood schools.

  • PS. I just checked and Barnard ES is at 76% free and reduced lunch, the statistic used by the feds to determine low income status(it used to be living below something called the poverty line).

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