‘Tips for Newcomers’ 7 Years Later – What Would You Add/Remove?

Grant Circle, 2007

“Dear PoPville,

We have been in the neighborhood for about a year and we dragged this up when we were moving. I thought it would be fun to hear if your readers agreed with all of this 7 years later and what they would change about the list. Trip down memory lane…”

Ed. Note: That was a trip to re-read. Couple things I’d change – take advantage of the green line and your proximity to the whole District not just Columbia Heights and U Street. ANC reps are some of the best and worst people I’ve met – hopefully you have a good one. When I first moved to Petworth in early 2003 it was unfortunately not uncommon to hear gunshots late at night. Thankfully that has massively changed. Drug dealing too is far less visible/less of a problem. Today I have no problem walking home from metro later than 10pm (though it is important to have street smarts.) Overall it’s exciting to see how much (for the most part positively) has changed over the last seven years.

Tips for newcomers – June 13, 2007

I have recently been contacted by a number of new folks who are moving into the neighborhood. They have requested some tips from me as well as from you guys based on our experiences. So I’ll take first crack then you the readers should post your advice that you wish you had received before moving to the neighborhood.

Back in the day I posted my  top 10 reasons I love Petworth. That all still applies. First of all congratulations to you all. You have made a truly smart decision. So my advice to new Petworth residents is as follows:

1. Go to Domku and Temperance Hall. They are fantastic restaurant/bars that are wonderful additions to the neighborhood. Domku located on the 800 block of Upshur is a wonderful place to get brunch, dinner or just a cup of coffee. Domku also offers free Wifi for your internet needs. Also, it now has outdoor seating which is quite pleasant. Temperance Hall is the perfect place to get a bite to eat and a beer after work. The atmosphere is terrific and there are tons of locals who are regulars and the bartenders are the best. Temperance also has a fantastic back deck. It is located on Georgia Ave, just south of the metro, the cross street is Princeton.

2. Introduce yourself to your neighbors on the whole block. People in Petworth are among the nicest I have ever met in my ten years here in DC. It is essential that you integrate into the block. But you have to take the initiative. Don’t simply hide in your homes. Make the effort to say hello to all the new faces you encounter. 9 times out of 10 you will be greeted with kindness and ultimately friendship. The people are by far one of the biggest benefits of the neighborhood. Here in Petworth neighbors gladly and always watch each other’s backs.

3. Take advantage of our proximity to Columbia Heights and U Street. Petworth is a wonderful neighborhood but it is still developing. You are not going to find every store that you desire. Columbia Heights has the terrific Giant supermarket on Park Road. I highly recommend it. There is also a terrific coffee shop in Columbia Heights on 11th and Park aptly called Columbia Heights Coffee. Columbia Heights is also home to Wonderland Ballroom on 11th and Kenyon which is one of the greatest bars in the city with an outdoor beer garden. Of course everyone knows the Target and other development is coming to CH. So take advantage of it.

4. Realize that you are not moving to Cleveland Park or Georgetown. And for the most part that is a good thing. But there are also some negative aspects. One, which I often complain about, is the garbage. You are going to encounter garbage on the streets. This will not change. But you can do something about it. Always keep the area in front of your house clean. If it means picking up garbage every morning, then pick up garbage every morning. If many people do this we will make a dent.

5. Get to know your local ANC representative. 9 times out of 10 they are fantastic. Talk to them about your neighborhood questions and concerns. They are very responsive.

6. Crime exists but it is not as bad as the press makes it seem. Everyone has there own comfort level. You will learn yours based on your own experiences and your own walks around the neighborhood. Certain crime issues affect people differently depending upon what block they live on. There is drug dealing in Petworth. But for the most part, this will not affect you. If you see it happening call 311 and register a complaint with the police. Occasional there is violence between gangs especially in the Summer. But this usually occurs late at night. So my advice to folks is don’t walk around the neighborhood after midnight. Obviously, you all will have your own comfort level. Personally, I don’t walk home from the metro after 10 pm during the week. I know folks who don’t walk home after 8 pm but I also know folks who walk home at all hours of the night without incident. So you’ll have determine your own comfort level. But again, if you encounter issues don’t hesitate to call 311 or 911 in an emergency. By in large I think crime is a far bigger problem in Adams Morgan than it is in Petworth.

7. Plant flowers in front of your house. It adds to the overall beauty of the neighborhood and as you are working outside you’ll have more opportunities to meet your neighbors.

8. Try all the new local businesses as they open. Lots of development is coming to Petworth. We have had to new Latino restaurants open: El Limeno and El Torgoroz. Check em out, they are delicious. El Limeno is on Upshur across from another local bar called the Hitching Post across from the Old Soldiers home. El Torgoroz is around the corner from Domku. I’ll be updating you with new ones as they open.

9. Some days are better than others. Realize that some days you will encounter lots of garbage, lots of kids yelling, and maybe read about some crime. Other days, you will see beautiful flowers, talk to interesting neighbors, and have a great drink at one of the local haunts. Not every day is the same. Remember the positive and don’t stew on the negative ones.

10. Send me your tips and questions. I am constantly updating PoP and your experiences are helpful to others. So share them with me. Please. Don’t hesitate to contact me with specific questions at princeofpetworth(at)gmail.com.

28 Comment

  • lol @ the ‘terrific’ Giant in Columbia Heights, and also lol @ the ‘fantastic’ ANCs. I daresay the enthusiasm for both was slightly misplaced.

    • If you had been to the Giant on 14th Street, where the Allegro Apartments are now, you would STILL be raving about the wonderful new Giant.

      • brookland_rez

        Yeah, at the time the other grocery options were slim. The Giant on RIA was also a breath of fresh air for the time.

        • Yup, there was a good while where shopping at the *old* O Street Giant was a treat compared to the 14th street Giant and the Petworth Safeway.

          I’m starting to feel like an old fogey because I recently talked to two people who were excited about the new Petworth Safeway, but didn’t realize it had replaced on that stood in that same location before.

        • brookland_rez

          Never shopped at the old 14th St Giant, but did shop at the O St one and the Petworth Safeway. They were both pretty bad. Living on Parker St, the best grocery option was the new RIA Giant.

      • Agreed – I shopped at the old 14th St Giant because there weren’t many other options at the time. The one on Park Rd is a vast improvement; I know it doesn’t have many fans but I find what I need there.

    • that giant in CoHi is horrendous.

  • jim_ed

    Ah the salad days of calling 311 for non-emergency police matters, when a fresh faced young mayor would lead us out of civic corruption forever and no one knew what the hell a mixologist was.

  • justinbc

    I would bold #4, and in #6 replace “the press” with “anonymous internet commenters”. Aside from that I’m unfortunately not all that familiar with the specifics of Petworth as a singular neighborhood. My memory might be failing me, but I think the only business I’ve been to there was 3 Little Pigs…d’oh!

  • The Target is coming! The Target is coming!
    Oh man, I remember that excitement.

  • I think #9 is the most important and it goes for any neighborhood in DC- not just Petworth. There are some days I want to say screw it all and move to the country (not the suburbs, the country). But in the end, the good days outnumber the bad and truth be told I am really really spoiled in that I can walk everywhere I need to go. That is worth a lot to me!

  • Great post. Glad to be a part of a continually improving neighborhood.

    The trash situation has definitely improved. Still, I often take a Safeway bag with me when I go on runs and quickly fill it with trash to drop off at a bin. It’s not much, but I’m doing my part. ‘

    Also definitely planted flowers in front.

    • Thanks Frank! I pick up every morning and every now and then hit jackpot and find a plastic bag that allows me to pick more litter up. Incidentally, I’ve never seen anyone litter; yet it’s there. Pick up, pick up, pick up.

  • +1 for pick up the trash, even if it is not yours.

  • I miss Temperance Hall. Looking Glass Lounge is OK, but Temperance Hall was just a hundred times cooler.

    • I agree. I can’t really put my finger on why exactly Looking Glass isn’t quite it. DC Reynolds is pretty great in its own way, though.

      • Wasn’t around for Temperance Hall, but DC Reynolds is a no-go for one main reason: small, poorly laid out indoor bar space. (I am aware that the layout of their space may not be their “fault”)

        DCR has a nice patio. Nice 2fer1 specials. Open longer hours than The Glass. But gimme my LG any day. LG: Plenty of space inside–as much basement space as DCR has in their main bar. LG has a larger menu. LG bartenders less jocky.

        • Ha, that reminds me… Last time I was at DCR, one bartender did all he could to ignore my friend and I. Even though the place wasn’t crowded, and as you mentioned, pretty small inside, we both had to basically yell out at him to “get his attention”. It was a little bizarre. Out of the half dozen times I’ve been there, that was the only instance where something like that happened (and only time I’ve seen him, but I’m not a frequent customer either).

  • Quincy St Neighbor

    I would add: take advantage of the greenspace and Dept of Parks and Rec offerings because as District residents, we all get to share in it! This includes the parks, sports fields, indoor & outdoor pools, rec centers, playgrounds, fitness classes, craft and gardening courses.

  • #2!!! It’s the most important. 9 times out of 10 all of the things people bitch about on this website could be eliminated if people just talked to their neighbors and had relationships with them.

  • Get a Brita. DC water sucks.

  • My list would have been similar to that 10 years ago – not the specifics, but the themes. The thing that most struck me about it is no reference to schools. I’d have never thought about them 10 years ago either (for obviousl reasons), but people and circumstances change, and school choice/quality is the singular concern for so many of us these days. As another, much less important example, instead of as places for brunch, I’m nowadays more concerned with places that are open at 8 on Saturday for breakfast.

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