Dear PoPville – Thoughts on Eckington?

Photo of 22 Q Street, NE in Eckington by PoPville flickr user rockcreek

“Dear PoPville,

My wife and I are looking for a place to buy and found a wonderful place on Lincoln on T NE in Eckington but don’t know much about the neighborhood. We’re familiar with Bloomingdale but I’m interested in hearing what your readers think of Eckington. Thanks.”

Ed. Note: In a complete coincidence, I have an owner request rental option in Eckington going up at 3pm today.

59 Comment

  • My friends bought an old but beautiful victorian style row house there last year. They have completely gutted it and restored the whole house. They love living there and I always enjoy visiting the house. Love the neighborhood and the neighbors. I’ve seen the neighborhood change a lot in the past year and I would think it will continue to grow.

    • I moved to Eckington from Arlington two years ago and loved it from the start. Close-knit neighborhood too. I prefer to Bloomingdale given that it is closer to the Red Line and all the new NOMA growth.

      My humble opinion.

  • I am a fan of Eckington, but I beg to differ about being close-knit. The Yuppies keep are close-knit, the rest of us, keep our heads down and go about our business. I have lived on my street for two years, one neighbor invited herself over. To this day, I have never been invited to her house.

  • Technically, Bloomingdale is a sub-neighborhood of Eckington.

    But, anyway, I am a resident and like it a lot. It’s convenient to transportation and a not-too-long bike ride from both U and H Streets for going-out purposes. Folks are friendly. Never had a problem with crime (though I did witness a mugging a couple of months ago).

    There isn’t much directly in-neighborhood in terms of groceries and other necessities — they’re all clustered on the outskirts — but that suits me fine, as I usually shop on my way home from work. There’s also a lot of potential for development at the Fourth Street intersection…and it’s the next logical step from both NoMA and Bloomingdale.

    • If you witnessed a mugging, you do have a problem with crime.

      Still amazed people in DC seem to think muggings and attacks are “all a part of city life.”

      As a city person who moved to DC, I assure you that no, no, it is not. It is a serious problem that needs to be addressed.

    • claire

      To your first point: I’m pretty sure Bloomingdale is not a sub-neighborhood of Eckington. Bloomingdale is west of North Capitol (i.e. entirely in NW) and Eckington is east of North Capitol (i.e. entirely in NE).

      • The old neighborhood chart and history I read recently had Eckington saddling North Capital, including both Bloomingdale and LeDroit Park. These neighborhoods then “broke away”, mostly unofficially. Bloomingdale itself is a pretty recent branding effort, from sometime in the mid-90s (though perhaps based on earlier self-identified iterations).

        This is what I remember, anyway.

        • LeDroit was developed in the 1870’s. Long before Eckington and Bloomingdale. It was never a part of Eckington.

      • Incorrect. Bloomingdale is part of eckington. What you’ve described is what has become accepted as the distinction, but old maps and the tax records make no such distinction.

        because its widely accepted though, its true. but its fun to tell bloomingdale residents because they turn their noses up at eckington so frequently.

        • you are not correct.
          a trip to the washingtonan room at mlk and a look at the real estate maps will show you.

        • Part of Bloomingdale was actually Eckington and the other part was Ledroit (in old maps). First Street was actually the divide. But who cares?????

          Eckington is going to be amazing in a few years and if you want to find a deal, go there. Bloomingdale, while I will always love it, is a bit established already (as evidence by investors paying upwards of $340/sq ft. for houses that need to be gutted!).

          Once North Cap cleans up, even just a little bit, things will be very different. Plus if the community there continues organizing, it will be able to do A LOT with what’s already there!

    • you’re wrong about the sub-neighborhood thing.
      i’ll help you out a bit.

      Bloomingdale, before it was a neighborhood, was an estate that existed between lincoln road and 2nd street. north capitol did not yet exist and lincoln road was the road that lincoln took to get to his summer house.
      when it was platted in the mid 1880’s, it was called the bloomingdale division, based the nickname of the estate. there a few theories on the nickname, one based on the gardens, another based on the name of someone in the family.

      eckington was not platted until the late 1890’s. there were a mixture of uses, industrial, railroad and mills, the washington college, small business, very little residential until the 1910 or so. mostly wooden structure before that. even now eckington contains a more diverse building stock than bloomingdale since bloomingdale is older and was almost entirely residential.

      the reason for the confusion of names and all that is that subdivision names were not used at all for tax assessment purposes. the city put an entirely different tax assessment overlay over the city. those names were based on neighborhoods within the overlay but do not reflect the neighborhood names.

      up until the time that traffic trench was built the area west of lincoln was considered bloomingdale. lincoln road was the dividing line.

      bloomingdale has been under the domain of the bloomingdale civic association since the 1921. eckington under the domain of the edgewood civic association since 1953 until not very long ago. some would argue that it still is.

      this map from 1903 will help give you a sense of how these neighborhoods grew

      you can find older maps on the site as well, but it takes some digging.

  • I don’t think it’s a good idea to buy in an area you hardly know. I’d let this one go, but keep looking at properties in the area to get a better feel for it. Once you’ve seen more of Eckinton you’ll be better prepared to commit to it. And you’ll probably find a better deal because you’ll have a better idea of what properties go for there.

    • I disagree… get to know the area. you’ll learn. I grew up in Upper Northwest and during that time, “Bloomingdale” was a hot mess of shootings and drugs… HOT MESS. I moved there because my house was killer, I got a good deal and I was hoping for growth. the adjustment was just fine

      • On the flip side, we fell in love with one of the first houses we saw in Near Northeast but our realtor discouraged us. Good thing too, because after we got more familiar with the area we realized it was on a super-sketchy block and not that great of a deal. By the time we did buy (2 years later) we’d been there so often we knew the variances from block to block.

    • saf

      We knew nothing of Petworth when we bought here, 21+ years ago.

      It turned out well.

  • I disagree. Eckington & Bloomingdale are a tight-knit community. I know there has been some changes to the dynamic of the neighborhood, but that is expected. You want a neighborhood to evolve and bring in new energy.

    My only concern are the hipsters at Big Bear Cafe on 1st and R. I think the local ANC board should look into greater regulating their activities. They have massive parties outside that keep my children up at night. I have tried speaking to the manager, but she just dismissed me as some “angry black man.” And the one time I went in there for a coffee, the server was high as a kit.

  • I just looked this up on Google maps. Am I seeing correctly–a pool and a street named after Harry Thomas? As in Councilmember Harry Thomas? As in the guy belatedly under investigation for misuse of funds?

  • This area is changing rapidly. It’s two census tracks. The New York Times census map gives us the details. The western side of Eckington is 77% African American and 15% White. Since 2000 the AA population has declined 19% and the white population has increased 947%. That is not a typo. The eastern side of Eckington is 79% AA and 11% white. Since 2000 the AA population is down 27% and the white population is up 333%. Both census tracks are also about 5% Hispanic. That’s not to say that white is good and black is bad. It’s just an indicator of the area becoming a more attractive destination for all people to live.

    This is probably a good area to buy in if you are looking for a neighborhood that’s on the way up. The big thing that would help is pedestrian improvements across Florida Avenue and North Capital. Those streets, the railroad depot, and the huge school that hovers above everything kind of make it feel like a prison. I know that sounds crazy but the busy roads pen you in and the school feels strangely like a guard tower to me. It’s just so imposing. RI Ave has a leafy median and is much nicer. If North Capitol and Florida looked more like that then Eckington would be a bigger draw for those of us who are interested in owning homes in walkable, child friendly communities.

  • It all depends on your personalities, but I think it’s a fine place to live. I almost bought there 2 1/2 years ago, and while I like my current neighborhood better, the Eckington house value has probably doubled in the past 2 years.

  • thanks everyone for the thoughts and to PoP for posting. Very helpful.

  • I live around the corner from the house that is likely the subject of the question. The alley you would be on has some of the best neighbors you could ask for. Our little corner of eckington, bounded by North Cap, Lincoln, Todd, and T, enjoys lower crime than many of the immediate blocks.

    The one place there is elevated crime is the corner store at Lincoln and Todd, and that is mostly during the school year, and I believe its mostly older kids roughing up and robbing younger kids… not really desirable, but not really open gang warfare either.

    It is closer to the metro than some parts of Eckington, but further from the metro than most of Eckington. However, the house is very close to the 80 bus which runs frequently and has a good route.

    Other good qualities about this block is the houses are still reasonably priced, they share the architecture details of bloomingdale, but theyre closer to the new places in b’dale than a lot of actual bloomingdale.

    Some of the area near this house can strike some as unnerving. First, they arent as bad as you may think they are, and second, you probably wont go there that often.

    My advice is to come up to the area a lot and at different times, walk around, and talk to the folks who live there.

    The craziness at North Cap and Florida might as well be 100 miles away, it will impact your life very little, except for being an annoyance when you drive through it. Folks down at the southern end of the neighborhood have far more issues to deal with bc of that intersection than at hte northern end.

    I think you’ll find that you’ll probably be more closely aligned with Bloomingdale. The southern parts and eastern parts of eckington have their own epicenters, but the epicenter of our little part of eckington is definitely in bloomingdale.

    If you have any further questions, just get PoP to give you my email address.

  • I tell people who can’t afford Bdale to check out Eckington. You can get the same big and beautiful homes for about 1 or 2 hundred thousand cheaper. Ain’t no way an area about a mile from the Capitol and squeezed between Bdale and the gentrification coming up from the south (H Street) is going to stay a ghetto forever. Plus, there’s not a whole lot of Eckington. In addition, new restaurants on North Cap are going to put Eckington in walking distance of nightlife and restaurants. Great investment.

    Re Mr. West, I live north of Rhode Island and never hear parties. For whatever reason, we don’t have much of a hipster population.

    • FWIW, Rhode Island is around 4 blocks north of Big Bear, so it’s not surprising you wouldn’t hear parties that far away. Especially if you are north of Rhode Island.

    • I see what you did there, you insinuated that Eckington is currently the ghetto but bloomingdale isnt, even parts that you can quite literally throw a rock from and hit bloomingdale.

      The area this house is in is just a few feet from Bloomingdale. Any problems we have, bloomingdale has.

      I forgot to add, if you live in Eckington, you’ll have to endure a small number of Bloomingdale residents who pop up on blogs and say disparaging things about the neighborhood that is across the street from them. Dont let that deter you.

  • nothin wrong with Eckington. great housing stock in several parts. lots of NoMa development to the south and B’Dale to the west. and one day, home to a vibrant and bustling North Capitol St corridor…its coming, people, i just know it!

  • andy

    housing stock is great. i still run through bloomingdale and eckington wishing i could have bought there. but the wife, she doesn’t like guys outside doing nothing positive.

    • There’s always divorce… My grandfather once said, “Never let your wife get in the way of a good real estate investment!”

  • Forget about bloomingdale. Move to petworth. It is simply a better choice.

  • I own on seaton in bloomingdale. When I first moved in, I thought the little triangle btw rhode island, fla and n. cap was in eckington.

    I was quickly corrected. Personally, I think quincy’s prettier than anything on the nw side, but that’s just me. the neighborhood wars are both amusing and ridiculous. Considering that Haislip (sp.) and Wardman built on both sides and the housing stock was all developed, more or less, in the early 1900s, I’ve never fully understood the impetus to distinguish.

    Purchase there; I think it was the best decision i’ve made since moving here four years ago and find it astonishing that i couldn’t afford to purchase my house now, even though it’s been such a short passage of time.

    to the petworth over bloomingdale commenter, I say to each his own. Personally, i think the victorians in eckington/bloomingdale are more aesthetically pleasing than the ubiquitous federal/mission/porch joints in petworth.

  • Only blocks in Eckington worth buying on are unit and 100 blocks of Q, Quincy and R. 100 block of Quincy is mostly ugly little porch front houses (don’t get me wrong I love a porch front house but this batch is fugly). Unit block of Quincy probably the prettiest in the entire area. Stay West of Eckington Place. You’ll benefit from being close to all the Bloomingdale goings-on PLUS be CLOSER to Metro than most of the Bloomingdale snobs. All the rest of Eckington? Meh, at best.

    • Spoken like someone who knows very little about Eckington. All along north cap and the unit blocks from S and North are great. They also get progressively nicer, Seaton is nicer than S, T is nicer than Seaton, and Todd is nicer than T. These are closest to Bloomingdale.

      The nicest block in the neighborhood is definitely the unit block of quincy, but the unit block of R has some glaring problems. Mostly, it could be renamed the Eckington Superhighway, its not particularly loud, but its the most hectic 2 lane road for miles.

      I agree the wardman style with the front porches with the columns and roofs that populate most of Eckington east of Lincoln and North of R are aesthetically unappealing. Though further into eckington, there are a few single family units/duplexes that are enormous and some are pretty nice architecture too.

  • my tips:
    join the eckington yahoo group.
    look at the bus maps.
    check out the place on weekend nights.
    walk around the block. or few blocks.
    do not ignorantly believe that crime is not a problem. know what you are getting into.
    don’t move to this area because of what it may become. move here if you like it now.

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