It’s Time To (Attempt to) Name This Neighborhood (Again)

“Dear PoP,

Question for you and/or fellow readers. I recently moved to North Columbia Heights and am curious on how, exactly, that neighborhood is called. Basically we’re talking the 14th street corridor about between Thai Tanic and Red Derby. That strip has a much different feel than farther south near DCUSA and is seeming to call for its own branding. My neighbors are referring to it either Parkwood since (a.) the street Parkwood Place intersects that corridor at the center and (b.) since its between neighborhoods Parkview and Crestwood. -OR- they’re calling it Noche, short for NOrth Colubia HEights, reflecting the still predominantly Latin neighborhood with growing nightlife.

Just wondering if anyone had insight or if it should go up for a vote.”

Clearly we have failed in the past to properly identify the name of this neighborhood. For this question comes up at least once a year and this is the first time I’m hearing Noche or Parkwood for that matter. We last discussed it in July ’10:

“That’s Tivoli North of course. I’m just kidding, just kidding. Tivoli North actually is a business association but the idea of calling the neighborhood that is very controversial to say the least. The truth is, it depends who you ask. Among the residents that live in that area I’ve heard people refer to it as Columbia Heights, Petworth, 14th Street Heights, and 16th Street Heights. It is actually Ward 4 (Columbia Heights is Ward 1). I like the idea of 14th St. Heights.”

The consensus at that time and nearly every other time is that most people simply want to call it Columbia Heights. Or north Columbia Heights. As I said before I don’t love that idea because we are talking about 2 different wards and they do have very different feels. But I’m afraid until development builds on that section of 14th St, you know “sexy development” it’s going to remain Columbia Heights to most.

Here’s an interesting little bit of trivia: When Red Derby first opened at 14th and Quincy they identified the neighborhood as Petworth (due to the proximity to Petworth metro). Many folks will remember there were 3 clocks on the wall with Pago Pago (American Samoa) time, Paris (I think) time, and Petworth time.

But hell let’s have a vote – what do you think the area of 14th St, NW north Spring St should be called?

65 Comment

  • I call it Columbia Heights. I didn’t see that option in the poll though.

  • The DC tax assessment website will return the official neighborhood name for any address. Entering in a few addresses within the area listed returns “Columbia Heights.”

  • It is columbia heights. Next we will be trying to name everything by the block. Next up: “I live 3 blocks from the metro on Holmead and Park. What is the neighborhood? Holmead Row?”

  • This ALWAYS comes up. The boundaries of Columbia Height are Spring, Florida, 16th & Sherman.

    I think that north of Spring is considered the 14th Street heights area, centered on the commercial cooridor that streches up to Decatur or so (by the bus barn).

    As an aside, I’m continually amazed that people in DC feel the need to define a new neighborhood every three blocks. Neighboorhoods can be big! Look at this one:

    BTW I vote for north Columbia Heights, as it’s 100% accurate.

    • (1) This is a classic tradition, usually manipulated by real estate folks who are trying to jazz up a neighborhood to sell properties at a premium. NYC examples are the rebrandings of Hell’s Kitchen and Alphabet City. As this area transforms (the Red Derby being one of the concrete examples of the gentrifying wave), there will be increasing pressure to rebrand away from C Heights.

      (2) One rebranding trend has typically been to associate a neighborhood that has a less desirable brand with a neighborhood that has a more desirable brand. For years, there were parts of Logan Circle that tried to refer to themselves as Dupont Circle East, etc., because Logan Circle was undesirable in the extreme. As Logan Circle became more of a destination, some of that pressure eased.

      (3) Columbia Heights has associations with crime, grubbiness, homeless people, etc. that some of the gentrifiers want to dump. At the same time, C Heights is gentrifying and becoming something of a destination in its own right, so I wouldn’t be surprised if trend #(2) above overtakes trend #(1), so that folks will ease back into the Columbia Heights brand over time.

    • Bingo. If you don’t capitalize the “north,” there’s nothing wrong with calling this north Columbia Heights, as it’s the northern part of a well-defined neighborhood.

  • Since it’s at the confluence of Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Crestwood: Petwood Heights!

    Another name tossed around during one of the revitalization meetings was Rock Creek East.

  • this is SO SO dumb. it’s columbia heights, and i’m relieved there’s agreement.

    • Agree. Not every street in a designated neighborhood needs a unique name. I would go so far as to call this north Columbia Heights (note the small n) only to designate location in the named neighborhood.

  • I live on Parkwood, west of 14th, and I always say I live in Columbia Heights. Often, I’ll add that I live in the Northwest corner of Columbia Heights, but it’s still Columbia Heights

  • I think Noche is cute. Not helpful, but cute.

    I’m going with (north) Columbia Heights. The realtors are going to call it CH anyway. The “north” designation adds practicality.

  • How about “Mala Noche No”?

    Of course we could say it stands for something, like “Mas Alla de LA Norte Columbia HEights, Nisiquiera Olvida”

    Sorry for the inside joke but Veronica Castro fans must be appeased.

  • First of all, your reader is asking about “the 14th street corridor about between Thai Tanic and Red Derby.” The northern border of Columbia Heights is Spring Rd, so everything your reader is asking about except for Red Derby is in Columbia Heights.

    You then go on to ask “what do you think the area of 14th St, NW north Spring St should be called?” This area has traditionally been part of 16th Street Heights, but I’ve seen a movement to call the 14th Street section of it 14th Street Heights.

    Anyway, this is pointless because a) you’re asking about two different things in your blog post and b) it’s stupid.

    • it’s in the 16H on the maps, there is confusion however about the 14th St Hts signs on the commercial strip of 14th around Crittenden.

      • 16th St. Heights is bounded by Arkansas to the south and Missouri to the north and then 16th and Georgia. I like calling that 14th St. corridor north of Arkansas 14th St. Heights and thought I saw some signs to that effect. But they may have been up by the old Colorado Kitchen

    • Dan is correct, which area are people attempting to name?

  • I think the desire for highly granular place names is healthy and to be praised; it’s good for people to associate closely with their closest neighbors.

    Also, it runs directly contrary to the Realtors’ desire to glom everything onto nearby, more desireable neighborhoods. (Let’s call it Dupont North-Northeast!)

    But, as many others have said, the area below Spring is Columbia Heights.

  • PoP, why couldn’t we do this poll on Groundhog’s Day?

    We have this argument here about as often as Bill Murray tried to kill himself in that movie, with about as much success.

  • I think Noche is cute and I like the sound of Parkwood, but I voted for North Columbia Heights because that’s what it is and will be unless the neighborhood makes a coordinated effort to re-brand itself. I don’t see anything wrong with naming smaller neighborhoods actually – Shaw used to encompass a huge section of the city but it’s useful now to have more specific areas to refer to – “let’s go to dinner in Logan Circle” (or U St) is a much more precise statement than “let’s go to dinner in Shaw” was 20 years ago.

  • Let’s name it after a traffic circle that may or may not have existed in the general area once upon a time.

  • This neighborhood has traditionally been called NoCoHi.

  • Parkwood Place freaking rules.

    But still, it’s North Columbia Heights. We even have a business association. I’d also advocate the area between say Euclid and Florida being called South Columbia Heights. The area around Meridian Hill Park and the area around Pho Viet seem like vastly different neighborhoods to me, so I get why this is constantly coming up. But still. It’s NCH. Could even be NWCH

  • If you call it Noche, please remove yourself from the gene pool.

  • Also, I want to know what everyone thinks this slice of 16th Street Heights between 14th and 16th, basically all the parts that directly access this noncontinuous piece of 15th St NW should be called.

    Maybe 15th Street Heights? Varnemerson? East Crestwood? West 16th Street Heights?

  • Not Mt. Pleasant..

  • Google “Holmead Village.”

  • How about, Gentrification, Vol. 2: You’re Next?

  • Will point out that the ward boundary at this point is relatively pointless, as the Census just ended and, quite likely, the ward boundary will change really soon, what with the explosion in density in Columbia Heights.

    That said, the area is Columbia Heights. Just like U street is Shaw. Neighborhoods don’t have to / shouldn’t be three blocks square.

  • funny. Could be my imagination but it seems the stress on neighborhood names became more of an issue with all the post-Barry renovations (and real estate fad-mongering mentioned before). Seems to me that 20+ years ago, I don’t remember anybody referring to my place as being “columbia heights” — sure those names existed, but we all referred to our places by major streets & such. Now, seems like everybody’s hot to have a pet name for their little corner of the world. It’s cute. Call it what you want. WeBAC works for me (Well Below the Arctic Circle).

  • One factual error in the original post:

    The area in question is in Ward 1, not Ward 4, with the exception to the single block north of Spring Rd. that contains the Red Derby. Spring Rd is the dividing line between Wards 1 and 4.

    This map doesn’t have the street names, but I assume if you’re familiar enough with the neighborhood to have a stake in this discussion, you’ll know which road is Spring.

    – A Spring Road resident who voted for Jim Graham for council from Ward 1.

  • At my house on Randolph between 13th and 14th, my wife and I call our neighborhood North Columbiaworthwood East. Or something like that.

  • I have lived just south of Spring off of 14th Street since 2004. If I hear anyone call it Parkwood Place or Noche, I might strike them. It is Columbia Heights South of Spring. North Columbia Heights if you must. South of Spring is also Ward 1 but Ward 1 includes Adam’s Morgan and parts of U street so that is not a great indicator really.

  • Can we have a rule that if you comment on the name of a neighborhood you include how long you have lived there. I’d like to know what some long time residents think. My guess is the Noche and Parkwood Place crowd mainly just arrived and very possibly wear skinny jeans.

    • i think long time residents call it “Northwest DC.” i assume it’s mostly gentrifiers that are concerned with neighborhood branding.

  • I really like Noche. And there is nothing wrong with being creative in the names of neighborhoods. Lord knows that buttoned up DC needs more creativity.

    If we are re-branding/re-naming neighborhoods, I gotta throw out FRINJ for the area where Florida, Rhode Island, and New Jersey Ave meet.

  • how about East Cleveland Park?

  • or West Brookland? (Responding to TGAA: 1 year near 14th and Webster; 19 years in Mt. P.)

  • How about Oakwood Flats? Springwood Hills?

  • I always thought of this area as South Silver Spring – I call it SoSil.

  • LOL!

  • How about El Norte? Or Peckerwood Heights?

  • I usually call it Columbia Heights, you know, upper 14th Street near so and so’s house by Sketchy Park.

  • I don’t think the area a mile North of Columbia heights metro looks anything like the North Arlington clone…

  • Strange that people are so irritated about the “new” “trend” to identify small, discrete neighborhoods. If you have any perspective on DC history (or any urban American history) you would understand that the trend has ALWAYS gone in the other direction: the city formerly consisted of dozens and dozens of small neighborhoods, the names of which have gone by the wayside and been forgetten as they were slowly subsumed (by name) into more prominent adjacent neighborhoods. For example: Columbia Heights.

    • it’s not really that strange. at heart, the hate on being very precise about neighborhood names is an anti gentrification issue.

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