Many people have written me asking my response to the CityPaper’s essay on Petworth from last week’s neighborhoods issue. The essay and “arbitrary rankings” were written by Dave McKenna who bought a house in Petworth in 2002. And it seems as though the article was written about the Petworth of 2002, a beautiful place for sure, but neglects much of the massive development/improvements that have taken place in the subsequent six years. McKenna truly seems to like many aspects about Petworth but I think he omits many other positive aspects. From the essay I gather that he seems to enjoy the abundant parking, location, and people. Unfortunately he spends a good half of the article discussing “the racial dynamics”. I’m not saying there aren’t “racial dynamics” at play here but writing over half the essay on this topic seems a bit excessive. Personally I don’t think the racial dynamics play that big a role at all. But like I said, my biggest gripe is that he doesn’t discuss any development that has taken place. How can you write an article about Petworth and not mention the soon to be completed Park Place Condos?
There is a section called arbitrary rankings which rank kid friendliness, eats, nightlife etc. I think McKenna fails miserably in his rankings. Particularly the rankings for eats. While noting the horrible Chinese options, McKenna neglects almost all of the new dining options that have arrived since 2002. I don’t understand how it is possible to mention the Hitching Post and remain silent about the phenomenal El Limeno located right across the street. I’m not saying that Petworth has the dining options of Columbia Heights or U Street but I am equally dumbfounded that he doesn’t mention Domku, Looking Glass Lounge (formerly Temperance Hall), El Torgoraz, Moroni & Brothers, Flip it Bakery, Abol, Red Derby and Sweet Mango Cafe.
Finally, I think the name is ridiculous. I know the authors had to come up with witty neighborhood names but I just don’t get “Notyetworth”. What does that mean? The houses aren’t worth that much money? It is not yet worth living here? Even in 2002 this was a beautiful neighborhood that was certainly “worth” a lot to the many residents living here at the time. Small point but I felt like I had to make it.
Petworth is a huge neighborhood and it is difficult to summarize. McKenna gets it right when he writes: “In these hoods, it’s about family and friends down the block. None of the bad stuff comes to mind when you’re sitting out on the front porch on a nice night, listening to a Nats game on the radio and waving to neighbors and passersby. Then, it’s hard to imagine a finer place to live.” However, when he writes, “there’s nowhere to eat or shop” he is in for a pleasant surprise. So my advice to Mr. McKenna would be take a walk around the neighborhood. He’ll be amazed at how much has changed since 2002.
(For those thinking of moving to the neighborhood you can check out My tips for newcomers.)