Friday Question of the Day

by Prince Of Petworth February 22, 2008 at 12:03 am 31 Comments

One of things I love most about living in Petworth is the diversity. And so I was just thinking the other day that in the five years I’ve lived on my block 9 homes have sold. And that’s just my little block, not multiple blocks on my street, just one little block. And I wondered if Petworth may be losing what I love most. I feared if 9 people moved in just like me we’d probably become rather ordinary. At any rate, 9 homes have sold, and of those nine homes you know who has moved in? White people, black people, gay people, Latinos and other immigrants in just 9 homes on my little block. It is amazing to me how beautiful this neighborhood is and how beautiful it continues to be. So for me, one of the things I love most about living in Petworth and living in the city is the incredible diversity. So the Friday question of the day is: what do you love most about living in your neighborhood? You know we all made choices to live in the city, sometimes we pay more money for our rent or mortgage, we face more obstacles, we pay higher taxes, we don’t have voting representation in the Congress, we have crime etc. So despite all this why did you chose to live where you live?

Furthermore a reader, Steve, would like to raise the question: what had you wish you’d known prior to moving into an urban environment?

  • Ed

    It was the best I could afford to buy while remaining in NW DC and near to a Metro stop. Other than that I never would have chosen Petworth as a place to live. It’s grown on me, and I hope it continues to change and diversify.

  • Susan

    Anything I can say will just repeat what others have said, but I moved to Mt. P for the metro access, diversity, and neighborhood feeling. I love how it has it’s own feel, distinct from Petworth, Adams Morgan, etc. I feel like I belong to an area, and care about it and what happens there. I haven’t really felt this anywhere else that I lived.

  • Anonymous

    i wish brightwood had more stuff going on…we have colorado kitchen and meridian. that’s about it. we are close to moroni’s and petworth, but still, it’s not in my hood you know.

  • saf

    Brightwood Anon – well, you’re getting a Heritage Trail, some time this summer.

    Sorry PoP, can’t comment on Steve’s question. I’ve never lived anywhere other than a city. I can’t imagine it!

    Why am I here? We lived in Mt Pleasant, having previously lived in Foggy Bottom, Shaw, and Adams Morgan. When we started looking, we discovered Petworth, and fell in love quickly. It’s changed a LOT since then, but we still love it. And I do hope that you’re right, that we are seeing a variety of people moving in. (My block hasn’t had a lot of turnover.)

  • Toby

    Why we chose Petworth? We bought our house a good while ago, before Petworth was cool and expensive. So we bought our house here because the price was right, it had four bedrooms, the location central enough and the crime rate was not off the charts. I also specifically wanted to live in a predominantly black neighborhood, because I believe in a word seldom heard anymore, integration. We were kind of urban pioneer types, though my husband is an immigrant and does not feel rather recent American social history as much as I do. So when we came here, most all the neighbors were African Americans. We love our little block.

  • DC is the only place I’ve lived in the US. Previously, I either lived in developing or war-torn countries so despite its problems, DC is still the nicest place I’ve lived in. I know there are nicer places I’ll be able to afford in the future but I like living in a somewhat gritty place that is not picture perfect. I live in Eckington now and I love that it is very residential but still really close to everything. It still needs work with regard to neighborhood spots to hang out in but I don’t think I’d want it to be like Adams Morgan which is the last neighborhood I lived in. I love that in DC, I can pretty much get anywhere I need to be by foot, bike, or metro. I love the free museums, the international make-up of the population, yes, even the transient population. I really could go on and on….

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps you are getting diversity in terms of color and sexual orientation but with the housing prices in this area, you are losing diversity in terms of socio economic class. The white couple who can afford the $500K house have more in common with the gay couple who can also afford it than someone who has rented in this area for years and can no longer pay the rising costs. That is my concern, what happens to these folks?

  • Anonymous

    I choose to live in Eckington because I thought it was going to be a boom town, however that hasn’t happened. I also thought that the neighborhood was getting better, safer, and more desirable to retailers… I thought wrong. I wish I moved to Silver Spring or Clarendon instead. The crime sucks in this city and the taxes I pay get stolen by inept DC government employees. When my car gets broken into (several times in one summer) I expect the police to step up their presence on my street, they don’t. This city is ass backwards. Real estate prices are high, crime is high, and the local government lacks the ability to get things done.

  • Anonymous

    “Furthermore a reader, Steve, would like to raise the question: what had you wish you’d known prior to moving into an urban environment?”

    I wish someone would have told me that my pale ass wasn’t wanted in NE.

  • Anonymous

    anon 1:05p – i agree with you. i bought in an area i thought would boom because of the govt money and attention it’s supposed to be getting…now i may regret that assumption on my part. since ive moved in, ive seen very little change in the neighborhood and im wondering what i did. i know real estate is a good investment in the long run, but in the mean time…im kinda worried im not going to be able to sell because the location is not as desirable as say petworth or colheights…there’s just that hope that it will be. but i dont think all the post articles talking about the upcoming development in my area will really get someone to buy the place i think i may have overpaid for. argh. oh the risks!!

  • I moved here because I was from the area originally and, graduating into a terrible job market, I found cheap rent in Logan. I also had family in Baltimore, Cap Hill, Van Ness, Potomac, and Woodbridge who kept me fed with in those lean days. I was a little intimidated by the looks of some areas around Shaw/U at the time, but I began to understand that the occasional crumbling building or skeevy loiterer wasn’t as bad as it seemed. Since then I’ve come to like the beauty of the neighborhood (tree boxes, gorgeous architecture), fun stuff to do (restaurants, bars, shopping, events, museums), and convenience (walk to the Metro, or to do my errands). A lot of DC residential neighborhoods feel organic in their composition with a range of interesting businesses and residents. I prefer that to the planned sterility and sprawl of some ‘burbs. Yet, with two people and two cats crammed into my bachelorette one bedroom and no equity, we’ve got to move on sometime soon. The trouble is that to buy in an affordable area of the city, we might sacrifice money, space, convenience, looks, and/or safety. It’s a tough choice.

  • Anonymous

    I used to live in Columbia Heights (back when there was nothing/about 7 years ago) and have also lived in Cleveland Park. I loved Cleveland Park because the neighborhood is safe, has restaurants, a movie palace, shops, two small grocery stores and it’s near the zoo, Rock Creek Park, Dupont, Adams Morgan…. That neighborhood was wonderful. You could walk around after 10 PM without feeling scarred for your life. I loved Columbia Heights as well becuase you KNEW the neighborhood was getting better. The metro was convenient and was pretty close to the hot neighborhoods. Now I live in Eckington as well, and even with the promised development of NOMA and the Rhode Island Ave Metro Station I feel like I made a bad investment choice. The neighborhood is full of ner’do wells and DC indigants. My car has its windows bashed in several times and my partner has been mugged at gun point right on a busy part of Rhode Island Ave during the late afternoon. DC is great if you can afford the nice areas, but I should have never bought in NE DC. I should have stayed in NW where my investment would have grown. Plus, I live close to the Rhode Island Ave metro station but it is inconvenient due to the fact that it’s a million feet in the air above the street and the street it self lacks basic retail that you would expect in an urban environment. I would have much better liked the “sterility” of surburban “urban” spots like Silver Spring where I can at least buy a coffee, visit a decent and clean restaurant, and shop at stores that I would actually want to visit.

  • Steve

    We bought what is techincally Brookland, but is better associated with Petworth, across N. Capital next to the Cemetary because it is what we could afford at the time. It seemed like a good idea given the history of the DC houing market, the access to transit, and what seemed to be an improving neighborhood. The litter and the subtle racism from my neighboors (spitting as we pass on the sidewalk, comments from other pedestrians and kids) really gets us down sometime. My wife and I sometimes feel isolated on the east side of the AFRH and cemetary. It is a pretty long walk to CH which we really enjoy. We do wish there were more opportunities to socialize and meet people. We are friendly with our neighbors, but have little in common. We do enjoy what we have made of our home. We have invested a lot of sweat equitity in to make a warm and comfortable home.

  • Nathan

    All the responses are so interesting. When I first moved to Petworth in 02, I was most concerned with the drug dealer that hung on the corner near my home. Now it seems most of the comments and or complaints are rather benign these days. To be quite honest, I never had any complaints about break ins or assaults. I guess I have been lucky.

  • Golden Silence

    It upsets me but doesn’t shock me that there are racist adults in DC, but hearing about small kids being racist—man. Someone needs to get these kids away from these negative influences.

    Sorry for the negativity you’ve gone through Steve, but kudos for trying to enjoy the positive.

  • reuben

    Hi Golden-How does one move anyone away from the “negative influence” of racism? Let me know. If there is a way, or a place-I’ll cut in line …. It, racism, is as American as….. what.. excess? (sigh)

  • reuben

    Hi Golden-How does one move anyone away from the “negative influence” of racism? Let me know. If there is a way, or a place-I’ll cut in line ….

  • criss

    I’m more disturbed by all the comments about moving to the neighborhood because it looked like a good “investment.” What happened to checking the ‘hood out first and moving to a place because you actually like it?

  • Golden Silence

    Reuben, I realize there’s no way to be free and clear from racism (I’m far from simpleminded if that’s what you’re thinking). But being around positive influences—teachers, mentors, people who want to make a difference (yes, even in DC we have those people) can overpower that. If the only message those kids are getting at home is that “[Insert race here] sucks,” then that’s all they’ll think. But with people who are positive outside influences, those kids could have a chance to grow up and learn to think for themselves and maybe make a difference. That’s how to break a cycle.

    But with the parents being no older than the kids half the time, it’s going to be a challenge to break that cycle of hate and negativity.

  • Toby

    There are lots of neighborhoods I like and many I don’t. Even though Potomac has fabulous homes, they are close together with few mature trees, as they all got bulldozed down when the developments were built. I love Chevy Chase and Cleveland Park, upper Georgetown, Crestwood. There may be crime there, but it’s not committed by locals. But on a teacher’s salary, never to rise to six figures, Petworth seems like a good deal. I think what people mean by investment is that one’s home is usually one’s biggest asset. You want to make sure you buy one in an area that isn’t awful. Before we moved here, we drove by the block at around 11:00 pm to see what was going on. And it looked fine.

  • Anonymous

    criss – there’s nothing wrong with buying a place for investment purposes. how do the rich get richer….

  • Anonymous

    I don’t see what’s wrong with considering a house as both an home and an investment. I’m a single guy with one income. If I’m plucking down over 2K/mo in mortage and property taxes I’m not exactly going to a huge reserve of funds left over to be Warren Buffet on the side. So yes, I want that asset I’m pumping thousands into every month to be a good investment. I don’t understand the hostility over that.

  • nathan

    Petworth has improved a lot and will get better because of people viewing Petworth as a good INVESTMENT. I never understood the people that bemoan the positive changes because of some romanticized view of how things used to be. My friend tells me all the time about when the National Guard had to patrol Petworth and other areas of DC. People that have lived here long enough to remember those days should have no complaints about how Petworth has changed.

  • Petworth Princess

    Sounds like the people with the problems don’t live in Petworth, instead they chose Eckington. I’m wondering if everyone did their due diligence before buying, e.g. checking the police blotter, drive thrus late at night, talking to people in the neighborhood? We’ve had no crime problems in Petworth or Riggs Park (((knocking on wood))) and have owned in both neighborhoods since the early 2000s.

  • Petworth Princess

    But to answer the question, I hate commuting. I lived in Gaithersburg before buying in the city and I worked in the city center. The commute nearly drove me out of the area altogether, but once I bought my house and could jump on a bus or Metro it was all good. My jobs, since then have been in the middle of the city and just across the Key Bridge so living in the city added to my quality of life.

  • Toby

    My husband works in real estate. One of the first houses he sold was in Eckington. It was on the market for about a week and sold quickly. But the neighborhood is dangerous. It’s not the kind of area you should be walking around in, going to local businesses on foot (what in G-d’s name is there anyway), walking back home after taking the metro. With that said, it’s getting better and will only improve. If people live aware of their nighborhood, I don’t think Eckington is a bad choice.

  • Golden Silence

    But the neighborhood is dangerous. It’s not the kind of area you should be walking around in, going to local businesses on foot (what in G-d’s name is there anyway), walking back home after taking the metro.

    I visited the Big Bear Café in Eckington last week, and while I think streets such as N. Capitol and Florida Avenue need work (some parts of N. Capitol are rough), the street BBC was on was very nice. It was a reprieve from the urban chaos. It’s a diamond in the rough.

    With that said, it’s getting better and will only improve. If people live aware of their nighborhood, I don’t think Eckington is a bad choice.

    I agree. I think in due time, the whole area, not just that specific block where Big Bear is, will be a decent strip.

  • Gurlnexdore

    I live in northern Columbia Heights & absolutely love it. I love the ethnic, racial, generational, and economic diversity. I love the porches and alleys. I love practicing Spanish with my neighbors from El Salvador. I love hearing the birds singing in the morning. I love the little orange kitty who’s always trying to sneak into my house. I can’t say there’s anything I wish I had known prior to moving to this neighborhood. It’s just great.

  • Bike-Walker

    What I like the most is what happened to me today- Got a flat on a bike ride on Upshur about a mile short of making it back home. Decided to just walk instead of taking the time to fix it. Everyone I met at least said hello, two cars pulled over to ask me if I needed a ride, and a biker pulled over and offered to help. While I didn’t need the help today, it was comforting and awesome that so many of my neighbors were willing to help.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve met a number of Petworthians who used to live in places like Cleveland Park. Given my druthers, (meaning if I wasn’t a home owner now) I’d prefer someplace like that.
    Why? I prefer walking to driving, and the access to amenities is, well, somewhat greater than we presently have ( and have had for a long time).. I’m just saying….

  • DCer

    I wish I knew how true some of those stereotypes of DC residents were.


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