In Defense of Columbia Heights, the Real Columbia Heights

by Prince Of Petworth — February 17, 2011 at 10:42 pm 224 Comments

Room 11 wine bar, 11th and Lamont St, NW

Lately some Twitter users and especially Washington City Paper contributor @jasoncherkis have been kicking around Columbia Heights. Cherkis tweets:

“Columbia Heights has got to be the ugliest gentrified neighborhood in D.C.”

“What’s the difference between Columbia Heights and Silver Spring? Silver Spring has two movie theaters. CH just has the chain stores.”

“w/ Panera, IHOP, and Panda Express, Columbia Heights is turning into a food court or an airport.”

While I don’t even live in Columbia Heights I will not deny the fact that I love it – warts and all. I found the above tweets emblematic of how some people misjudge Columbia Heights.

At the risk of being oversensitive and since it’s Friday, please indulge me and allow me to address a few of the above claims.

Number 1: Columbia Heights is not DC USA. It is commonly accepted that Columbia Heights’ boundaries are 16th Street to the west; Spring Road to the north; Georgia Avenue to the east; and Florida Avenue to the south. DC USA is the mall that is located on 14th St, NW between Irving and Park Rd. And the fact that a mall has chain stores – I know is shocking and appalling to some – but it is a freaking mall. Stunning, stunning revelation.

Number 2: Mr. Cherkis – if you actually walk around Columbia Heights you will find some beautiful architecture, sculptures, parks and even independent shops, bars and restaurants (particularly on 11th St, NW). Looks are of course in the eye of the beholder but to call the neighborhood ugly, well as Bob Marley sang – “in the abundance of water the fool is thirsty.”

Number 3: Columbia Heights is not filled with only chain stores and the chain stores it does have are not evil. Oh all you super cool guys and girls who scoff at IHOP and Chipotle… You who purport to be advocates of the disenfranchised, well, the fact that you can’t see how a Chipotle and IHOP serve the residents of Columbia Heights is obnoxious and condescending to say the least. I dare you to walk by either space and not see the most diverse of clienteles representing the entire neighborhood.

IHOP on 1400 block of Irving St, NW in photo from left to right – white, hispanic and black patrons

Number 4: In the last 10-15 years Columbia Heights (like many of DC’s neighborhoods) has become a more beautiful and perhaps more importantly a much safer place to live and visit.

Number 5: I like Silver Spring.

Number 6: DC USA and its shops have made Columbia Heights a more convenient and livable neighborhood.

Number 7: Of course many who live in and visit Columbia Heights would like an independent bookstore and movie theater. But since those stores are failing all over the city, unless a philanthropic angel who doesn’t care about profit – comes to Columbia Heights it ain’t gonna happen.

Number 8: Columbia Heights is still defining itself and getting better and better. Like all neighborhoods it will continue to evolve over the coming years. I already alluded to the many great businesses of 11th St, NW. Well many many more are en route. For just one example – the new endeavor from the folks behind Tryst and the Diner chose Columbia Heights for a reason – because they were looking for a real community. And it didn’t take them long to realize that had found just that in Columbia Heights.

So my friends – for the Friday Question of the Day – Do you think Columbia Heights is defined entirely by DC USA and 14th St, NW between Irving and Park Rd – or is there more to the neighborhood?

Greater First Baptist Church, 2701 13th Street, NW

  • Anonymous

    Sometimes I am amazed at his telepathy, I was just admiring this block so much today on my commute along 13th, and that church was part of the scene that helped increase its specialness. It’s not long before Otis meets Upshur even more.

  • PG

    Anyone know why there are so many First Baptist churches in DC?

    • Marcus Aurelius

      Yeah, because there are (or were) a lot of Baptists. DUH!

      • Anonymous

        But can they all really be first? 😉

        • saf

          The last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

          See, there’s the white First Baptist Church, and the black First Baptist Church, and the the Greater First Baptist Church, probably formed when a First Baptist split. And then the New First Baptist Church, and the Higher First Baptist Church, and the New Rock First….. You get the idea.

  • Living on Mt P

    Amen, POP, Amen.

  • caballero

    This post will get 150 comments, and 120 of them will be pro-Columbia Heights, mostly for good reasons. As a Petworth resident, I think there is a lot of great stuff happening in CH, and I welcome the spillover into my neighborhood.

    • El Gringo

      bien hecho cabellero, with my posting here, this thread will hit 148 comments before 2:30pm.

  • ProfChris

    We are in the CH colonies over here in Parkview (Irving-Warder-Park) and we love it. Like the US and Britain, the colonies are better, but we also dig our motherland. The rowhomes are beautiful, the old 19th century initial homes are beautiful. And let’s face it, DCUSA is gravy. Not every urban neighborhood full of yuppies can look like the East Village or Boerum Hill in Brooklyn…or Cleveland park. Here’s gentrified spot that doesn’t have the negative pregnant meaning of the word. This is the most “diverse” gentrified community in the city. We prove those terms aren’t mutually exclusive (thus “usual” urbam dwellers love DCUSA, too as a shopping area they, too, can afford).

  • WDC

    I’m sorry I won’t be online tomorrow to watch the shitstorm.

    I love Columbia Heights. I don’t believe there is a better, more convenient neighborhood for the daily life of working parents who aren’t old and stodgy and timid. I can walk to work downtown, or I can take metro, or I can take a bus, or I can catch a cab in under a minute. I can meet my friends for dinner or drinks in a different spot every week, and not have to see the same place more than twice a year if I don’t want to. I can walk to the grocery store and back in the time it takes my co-parent to bathe the offspring. The Mormon boys on Holmead have carried my groceries and shoveled my walk. My neighbors who have lived on the block for 30+ years are genuinely delighted to see us, and give my kids presents. One lady shocked my socks off by saying “seems to me it was exactly three years ago you brought that baby home…” and she was right. Hell, even the corner boys have always been courteous.

    Warts? Yeah. I would love to see the litter gone and the dog shit picked up. I really REALLY want a proper playground that’s clean, and populated by sober child-attending folks. But that may be the sum total of my wishes. Five years ago, I wished for some of the blighted buildings along 14th street to get cleaned up and open for business. I got my wish there, and continue to see improvement. Maybe the playground isn’t far behind. And maybe someday I’LL be the 30-year resident admiring the newcomers’ kids.

    • dreas

      Everything you said, although we don’t live close enough for the Mormon kids to carry our groceries or shovel our walk. But everything else.

    • TGAA

      Yeah. You pretty much nailed it. The city paper post was ignorant. You have a small cluster of big box retail that has really benefited the neighborhood surrounded by one of the most diverse areas in the city where literally every class of business, citizen, non-citizen, and the like somehow seem to peacefully co-exist and thrive. I like this City Paper tweet as much as I like the articles about the racial dynamics of DC written by the metro columnist that doesn’t even live in the city.

    • Anonymous

      This is exactly right. Now, heading out to walk my dog (and pick up, his sh*t and some litter while I’m at it).

      Give me a clean playground and Columbia Heights is paradise — Target included.

  • Anonymous

    Cherkis is a tool. CH is great. Far better than it was. I am a “colonies” dweller like Prof Chris, but I can walk to CH and go to Target, get some great food, and I love the diversity. I also agree about the architecture. Some of the houses are simply stunning in detail, and if Mr. Cherkis would take of his “hater” glasses, he would see that. Oh well – it is better for us anyway – maybe he will stay out and leave CH to the folks who appreciate it.

  • Anonymous

    Agreed on all counts!

    Cherkis has gotten mighty grumpy these days.

  • victoria

    PoP pretty much said it all very well, but I will add this – when I bought a condo here at 14th & Columbia road 23 years ago there was basically nothing. This wasn’t urban renewal like in Southwest where old houses were torn down to build ugly apartment buildings. These were empty lots upon which was build an ugly – but extremely beneficial – shopping mall; as well as Kenyon square, Highland Park and Liberty Heights.

    DCUSA and the metro corner is indeed a very small part of CH – but every time I shop at Target I get in conversations with all sorts of people from all over.

    Go one block away in any direction and you find the same architecture and neighborhood charm as Dupont Circle – (only without a dozen Comfort One shoe stores)

    People have an imagined “authentic” city ideal that never existed.

  • I agree w/ PoP that there are parts of Columbia Heights that are not completely charmless. But as far as gentrified neighborhoods go, it’s a fucking food court give or take a yuppie wine shop or overpriced pizza place. I’m speaking NOT as a Washington City Paper contributor but as someone who had lived in CH for years.

    I understand that much of my critique is based on 14th Street. I think we can all agree it’s a pretty lame imitation of downtown Silver Spring. It’s little community courtyard next to the T-Mobile store is a poor version of Silver Spring’s square which currently has an ice-skating rink. The traffic is terrible. In Silver Spring, they close off one of the main streets and hold outdoor concerts. Do bands play any of the bars on that 14th Street strip? Is there a single bookstore? Record Store? No. There’s just not a lot in the way of culture. Even the local coffee shop closes before 10 p.m. (last time I checked).

    Oh, and the Target is one of the worst I’ve been too. And the Giant sucks.

    11th Street is a different story. And many of the side streets boast great architecture, churches, and leafy trees(!). But you can same of Turkey Thicket or Trinidad or Brookland or Takoma or Congress Heights.

    In terms of how a neighborhood has developed, I’ll take H Street over Columbia Heights and its Panda Express.

    But great comment bait, PoP!

    • caballero

      Bro, you really come off as a pissy little fella. And I hate to judge folks based on their photos, but I’m pretty sure you haven’t been laid in a while. Good luck with that.

    • Ray Charles is Gone

      Your post on a website full of CH defenders and apologists is by far the bigger comment bait!

    • Jason,
      I’ve lived here longer than you have, and remember well the giant vacant lots clustered around the new Metro station. If you stood there and slowly turned around, it literally looked like Berlin circa May 1945. I’ll take the mediocre chain stores of DCUSA for all the rest, any day. Also, I remember shopping at the OLD Giant, where the Allegro is now, and long lines or not, the new Giant is a huge improvement. I could go on and on, but I invite you to peruse the Columbia Heights group on Flickr, because the photos of our diverse population and architecture speak volumes.

      • El Gringo


        Bitch about the new Giant all you want, but the old one didn’t even have a damn deli counter!!!

        It was baloney or bust if you wanted sandwich meat.

        Mr T nailed it really well here…I’ll guess that 80% of the haters never saw the neighborhood before 2005!

        • DCster

          Agree. Hating on the Giant is one of the least sensible parts of his comment. Not to spoil a secret, but I went last night and there were basically no lines at all. And does the Columbia Heights courtyard really need an ice-skating rink? Can the Silver Spring courtyard claim solar trees?

          • Anonymous

            The Giant went severely downhill about 45 seconds after it opened. C’mon, even the staunchest Columbia Heights defender would have to accept that.

        • Micah

          Been in DC since ’04. Visited CH that whole time, before moving here in ’09. In those first couple years, I seriously don’t think I walked north of Irving for anything, unless it was a one-block venture to Wonderland (those trips ended a few years ago). Basically, what I’m saying is: strong work on the development.

    • ProfChris

      Again Mr. Cherkis, think of CH as the most “diverse” “gentrified” neighborhood (those terms not mutually exclusive)–so people who can’t afford to shop on Conn Ave. NW-like strips…or don’t want to frequent the usual corner crap markets and bulletproof carryouts…can hit decent eateries and retail stores. DCUSA/14th might be overwhelming, but it fits the community, oddly. Indeed, that commercial crossroads has been like that for decades before the early 70s urban meltdown.

    • Jen

      @Cherkis- what neighborhood do you live in?

      • Anonymous


    • Nick

      “Record store”?? Given this comment, I realize there won’t be much gained by engaging your unserious critique. Give me a break.

      • El Gringo

        +1 for recognizing Cherkis’ disconnect from commercial reality.

        That said, I think most of us would agree that DCUSA is hardly an architectural masterpiece, and that its commercial tenants are a far cry from Afterwords Bookstore or Dan’s Cafe or Som Records…but those type of businesses are impossible to manufacture/import on demand. That’s what makes them special.

    • Anonymous

      Oh no! A development built on what used to be nothing but parking lots that allows low-priced retail to flourish, allowing many lower income people to afford to shop and remain in the neighborhood. How dare they not allow for a record store to move in?!!?

      /sarcasm. isn’t a brewery opening up in DCUSA?

    • Keith

      I hear the Silver Spring City Paper is hiring, asshole.

      • Area Man

        What’s with the Silver Spring hate? I live in Silver Spring (for another six weeks) and, to be honest, it’s one of the nicer communities I’ve found in the DC area. It’s got a really decent mix of retail, two movie theaters (including the AFI, which is – hello – an amazing gem), a weekly farmers’ market, a Whole Foods right downtown, amazing restaurants that are generally cheaper than you’d find in the District proper – Mandalay is possibly my favorite restaurant in the entire region, a few cool bars – Quarry House is also my favorite bar in the region, etc.

        I’d also argue that the downtown Silver Spring area is far more diverse than Columbia Heights. Not only is it extremely ethnically diverse, but there’s a total mix of families with kids, younger people, older residents who’ve been there for a while, etc. It’s also *middle-class*, whereas CH seems to have become dichotomized between highly-paid federal employees and low-income minorities. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground there.

        Clearly Silver Spring is not a hipster haven, but it allowed me to find a safe, decent apartment without roaches for the same amount I was paying for a bug-infested shithole on 16th St. And people aren’t getting shot outside my door anymore.

        It’s not a bad place, truly. Even my friends from Columbia Heights say so :-/

        • 11th


          • TGAA

            I’m with you. I lived there for 5 years. Co Heights for the last 7. Silver Spring is a good close in community for a lot less than the communities to its west.

        • El Gringo

          I’m a CH resident who really likes Silver Spring. Hell we made a special to Mandalay the Burmese restaurant just last week….and leaving the District is normally a pain in the ass for me.

          It’s primary drawbacks are that is not actually in the city, and seems way more about high rise apartment buildings than walkable neighborhoods of single family homes.

          • Clarification

            “Not actually in the city”

            Sorry, did the border guards cheat you out of twice the visa fee or something? Its closer to CH than a ton of the rest of the city, so why does it matter if you’re “actually in the city”.

          • El Gringo

            Well, SS is definitively closer to CH than Anacostia is (SSCH = 4.6mi, ANACH= 7mi)

            But since CH (14th/Park) is exactly 4 miles closer to the geographic center of DC (intersection of 4th and L Streets), that would be one reason it matters.

            So, I’d say proximity to things inside the District is the most important reason.

            We’ll leave the squishier concepts of political, cultural and urban planning differences for another argument.

          • Anonymous

            If you’re gay & want to get married I suppose if matters which side of the border you’re on.

          • Hey Gringo, I’ve lived in a walkable neighborhood of single family homes in downtown Silver Spring since before the downtown development existed, and it hasn’t gone anywhere. There’s tons of it. I’m two blocks from Mandalay. C’mon over our way and check it out.

          • El Gringo


            Looks like I was suffering from the same “convenience sample” problem I accused CH haters of… a closer inspection of GMaps to the east of Mandalay reveals your neighborhood that I have missed repeatedly over the years.

            Thanks for drawing my attention to it- I’ll be sure to cruise around the next time I’m up there!

    • Your Mom

      There are like four record stores left in the nation.

    • Anon

      As someone who doesnt really like CH that much and I absolutely hate DC USA – I dont think a single one of your points are valid. DCUSA meets a vital commercial need for the community.

      Book stores and record stores are irrelevant. I would count any retail space near my house with a record store or a book store as an eventual neighborhood liability because they will certainly go out of business eventually and wont do well for years leading up to it.

      Book stores arent as bad, but in 10 years – ha. Dad, you actually went to a STORE to buy a book?

    • Anonymous

      Cherkis — if you lived in Silver Spring, you’d be asking why it can’t be more like Columbia Heights. I’ve lived in both. And I’d take either over H Street.

      But your comment sort of begs the question: if you’ve lived here forever and feel that way, why are you still in CH? If rent in CH, I wonder why you haven’t long since moved to a neighborhood better designed to your specifications where the rents are lower. If you own in CH, your window to arbitrage the difference in sales values is closing. Sell CH, pocket some cash, move to H Street, man! Or Silver Spring.

    • mark

      My first suggestion to Mr. Cherkis would be to stop using the word “gentrification” altogether. Especially for a local writer, it’s a terribly lazy shorthand to use: imprecise and loaded with negative connotations; largely at odds with the actually increasing diversity of residents and commercial offerings in Columbia Heights.

      My second suggestion is to consider the neighborhood’s urbanization separately from its aesthetics. Columbia Heights consists of a dense, pedestrian-centric business district with a lot of popular retail, surrounded by housing for people at all income levels. It’s a diverse, walkable neighborhood connected to other business districts by major transit. I’m pretty sure that when you build “Cherkis Heights,” you will find it difficult to accomplish all this, but then if you build it on a transit line near Columbia Heights, you won’t need to.

      Anyway I do not agree with you that 14th St is “pretty lame.” You know why the lines are so long at the Giant? It’s popular with a lot of people who are not J. Cherkis. You know why the traffic seems “terrible”? Because it’s built for pedestrians. You may not know this but that public space is a fountain that little kids play in. Where is the free, public space on H St where you can go let your kids run around and cool off? Where on H Street is there a grocery store that compares to the Giant?

      There’s a lot of stuff there which you do not like — but maybe your tastes are not diverse enough. For example: although you don’t think there’s much “culture” in Columbia Heights, there is the GALA Hispanic Theater. There is a large dance studio. David Eggers did just open 826DC there. And it’s not like we want for easy access to museums and theaters nearby. And it’s not like having a Borders there would make you think it had culture, right?

    • Anonymous

      I call Bullshit. There is so much here that needs responding to, its probably not worth bothering, and my fellow (real) CH residents have probably already said it.

      First, is is probably worth remembering that the reason DCUSA is filled with low-end chain stores is b/c the development was built with public subsidies that came with strings attached such as requiring tenants to be local or minority owned. This might have sounded like a progressive preservation of local retail, but it is actually recipe for Franchises owned by African Americans. DCUSA is not a low-end shopping mall food court b/c of some yuppie gentrification plot, it is b/c of a progressive minded policy had (I assume) unintended consequences.

      Second, worst Target? Seriously, have you been to Targets in the rest of the country? Try Potomac Yards! I was an avowed Target hater until this one opened. It is cleaner, friendlier, and better stocked than any other Target in my (admittedly very limited) prior experience.

      Third, Giant sucks? I was a “Giant Sucks” person for long time too. But, it really does not suck, not more than any other non-Whole Foods grocery store. It sucks less than the AM Harris Teeter. It is a grocery store, grocery stores generally suck — we all want Brooklyn style corner green grocers, but we don’t have those in DC, not anywhere. Do I still usually shop at Whole Foods? Yes, I’ll admit it, I’m Yuppie scum, but Giant does not “suck” (P.S. Can I still be a “Young” urban professional if I’m over 40?)

      Fourth. Book store? Record Store? Seriously, book stores and record stores are going out of business everywhere. When is the last time one opened anywhere? That is fantasy — one I perhaps share, but seriously man, it is 2011.

      Fifth. Movie theaters? WE DON’T WANT NO MOVIE THEATERS. Look at China Town? Remember Union Station. No way I want a magnet for teenagers in my residential neighborhood.

      Sixth. Silver Spring closes streets blah, blah, blah. Have you EVER tried to get a street closed in DC for anything? This ain’t a CH problem its a f*cking DC catering to the car culture problem DuPont Circle would be a MILLION times better if streets got closed off.

  • SF

    I think Cherkis has a point, but he is being too harsh. 14th street, Park Rd, and Irving -have- become pits of hell. The Giant is an unmitigated nightmare (who waits 30 minutes to pay for groceries?). 11th street is developing in a way that could save the neighborhood from becoming exactly what he describes, but only time will tell.

    I lived on Holmead from 2005-2008. When I had saved enough to buy, I looked in Petworth and H Street– because of price, sure, but also because CH wasn’t a place I wanted to live much anymore.

    H Street won out because Petworth is really CH for nights out, and CH can’t compare to H for the diversity of arts & entertainment that are already there, moonscape streetwork and all.

    • the totten.

      Why so much hate on the Giant!? I happen to dig that Giant. It’s actually the only BIG grocery store in DC that I’ll go to (to complement it, i go to the Yes! in Brookland)… I don’t know when ya’ll are going, but I’ve never had to wait in an especially long line at that Giant except during those huge snowstorms last year. I guess I get up earlier than ya’ll… 😉

      Also, I’d take pretty much any neighborhood in DC over H Street, but that’s just my own personal preference. I just can’t get into that area for some reason. I’ve tried, but it doesn’t take… oh well. Guess that’s why we have *different neighborhoods!* lucky us!

      • TGAA

        Seriously, anybody remember the old Giant on 14th. Yikes. Anybody that ever stepped foot in that one has to celebrate the new one, flaws and all.

        • 11th

          i think the giant is solid. you can not be a fan of it, calling it a disaster is ridiculous.

    • Micah

      your H St “arts and entertainment” houses are monotonously and uniformly edgy, which makes them not edgy and seem like they’re just trying too hard.

  • fatty

    Number 5 is funny as heck. You go PoP

  • CH Stay Lovely

    I love CH “establishments” like BloomBars and Taqueria Distrito Federal, but I most love the people… it’s a neighborhood first and a commercial area second. Whether it’s a block party on Meridian, neighborhood kids playing by Harriet Tubman, or diverse folks gathering around the fountain at 14th & Park, it’s a convivial scene, and most streets are filled with architectural gems.

    There’s also a spirit, embodied in art/neighborhood activism like these park benches in a pocket park: http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/37862/bench-warfare [now under construction]

    I was amused by the comment “The traffic is terrible.” This is a neighborhood best experienced by pedestrians and cyclists. To us, the traffic in the center of Columbia Heights is hardly a concern.

    It also feels solid. I’m not particularly bothered by the CH bashing quoted in the original post. CH will not rise or fall based on how cool or happening it is perceived to be. It’s a neighborhood based on people. My favorite part of CH: the dozens of friends who I can walk over to, and who often stop by unannounced.

  • Ray Charles is Gone

    PoP, you can’t deny what an unmitigated retail orgy DCUSA is. And yes, you could argue that it is too much, too fast. Nonetheless, I still don’t understand this type of gentrification: the so-called “mixed income” neighborhood. Yes, it makes for “diversity” and enables new residents to boast street credibility to their friends. However, despite your claim that CH retail establishments such as IHOP “serve the people,” I’m not sure what benefit a highly stratified, mixed income neighborhood serves to the people on the lower end of the income bracket (aside from watching their rents rise, landlords engage in sketchy tactics to push longtime residents out, etc.). What is the form of social interaction between the residents of Highland Park and other, newer residents? “Welcome to Chipotle, may I take your order?” I’m not trying to be facetious; I’m genuinely curious from a sociological standpoint and I believe that a neighborhood that has changed as rapidly as Columbia Heights holds both the answer as well as some lessons to be learned and real opportunities to seize.

    • El Gringo

      I think you raise legitimate questions here…at first guess I’d say that newer residents who live in and among the older residents can mix in a neighborly fashion…e.g. volleys of greetings between stoops.

      But for the condo dwellers, I think the Chipotle example might be (painfully) spot on…with the exception of the folks who make a concerted effort to volunteer, attend church, or otherwise become a part of civic life in CH.

  • Yeah, way harsh Jason (and I am someone who has experienced the gentrification you would seem to prefer, in the uber-charming, uber-yuppie, uber-not-convenient South End of Boston, and believe me, there are minuses as well as pluses, notwithstanding more charm, it is a lot less livable in many ways).

    First, it is ridiculous to bemoan the lack of book stores and record stores. When was the last new book or record store to open anywhere in DC or, heck, probably America? Hardly anyone buys books or music at a store anymore, or if they do, it is someplace like Walmart or Best Buy. Listen, I’d love, as much or more than anyone, independent book or record stores in the neighborhood, but these institutions are closing, and fast, everyone, and certainly not going to be coming absent a very unusual concept / business model. That comment alone betrays a fundamental lack of reality.

    In some ways, I really like to visit H Street. I would love a Granville Moore’s here in Columbia Heights. But the fact is, H Street is basically a poor neighborhood intertwined with a 20 and 30 something entertainment district, and half of the new places there are awful, overrated, hastily executed “concept” places (Stars and Shamrock, H street country club, etc.) that aren’t that great in any event. It does not feature one tenth of the true neighborhood amenities we have.

    H Street is great for a night out. I like the live music options there, in particular. But we have: a new gym, a farmer’s market, Bloom Bars, an increasingly programmed civic plaza, a new park coming, 826dc, a community garden, plenty of places to grab a coffee or a quick bite like Chipotle, but also places with more character like Room 11 or Meridian Pint. We also have a stretch of ethnic restaurants and stores on upper 14th, and close proximity to the quirkier stretch on Mount Pleasant Street. At H Street, you are basically doing one of two things: getting drunk at a bar / music venue, or dodging aggressive pan-handlers.

    Yes, the metro area is not beautiful. But it is SMART URBAN PLANNING, and supports the ideal smart growth model (just like Silver Spring has done) to build a dense residential / commercial core around the metro, surrounded by charming, more down-scaled largely residential neighborhoods emanating out from there in all directions. Just like what is happening around Georgia Ave. / Petworth metro. Columbia Heights is, otherwise, a historic row house district without, for the most part, large scale development projects. It just makes much more sense to group all that development right above the metro, so it doesn’t encroach on the rest of the neighborhood.

    • Well said, NLNTCH, and just to emphasize one important amenity Columbia Heights has that H Street NE doesn’t: Metro, Metro, Metro. Yes, streetcars are eventually coming, but it wil be awhile, and they won’t be as fast as Metro.

      • MSF

        I’ll agree on the H Street access point. The few times I’ve gone, I really enjoyed it. Granville Moore’s is great, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the World Cup at Biergarten Haus. But, for someone who doesn’t own a car and finds getting out there either via bike or bus a huge pain in the ass, I just can’t be bothered to make it out there. I’d rather stay in CH with its easier access (stumbling) to my apartment.

        And speaking for someone in the publishing industry, while it’s true that many bookstores, especially the Big Box ones like Borders, are having difficulty, new, independently-owned bookstores are opening all the time. They’re doing it in part my specializing in specific markets/genres to attract customers who want something other than the bestsellers that they also stock (which is pretty much the only books that Walmart et al sell) as well as positioning themselves as community centers. They’re picking up much of the programming that is getting cut from libraries like meet the author, book clubs, story telling, etc. By being more than just a place to purchase books, bookstores are finding other ways to be successful and profitable members of the community.

    • Anonymous

      I stopped reading here:

      “But the fact is, H Street is basically a poor neighborhood.”

      Except for the entire neighborhood directly south of H and, increasingly, many blocks directly north.

      • Anonymous

        Also, the H Street area has about one-tenth the amount of crime-addled public housing as Columbia Heights.

        C’mon, I’m used to ill-informed commenters here, but at least try to make a factual argument.

        • I did make a factual argument (several, actually), although perhaps I could have stated part of it a little more artfully. I am focused on the H Street commercial area, and contrasting it to the Columbia Heights commercial area. Yes, Columbia Heights has one concentrated area of public housing, and problems associated with that. But in five plus years I’ve never had a problem here, whereas whenever I got out in H Street I seem to encounter all sorts of drunken, aggressive panhandlers, including one who threw a rock at a date of mine because she wouldn’t cough up. Maybe I’ve just had bad luck.

          But more to the point, if you look at H Street from, say, 5th through 13th streets, what you have is a ton of boarded up and/or dicey businesses intermingled with bars / restaurants / entertainment venues that appeal to a narrow demographic, and little in between. If you walk around H Street at night, outside of basically two blocks, it just feels very, very dicey. Columbia Heights’ commercial districts are for the large part not that way. And as noted by POP and others, the commercial development here is a lot more diverse — it’s not just an entertainment district transplanted on an eight block stretch of carry-outs and check cashing places, but rather, has a wide range of businesses that appeal to a wide range of demographics / socioeconomic groups. The COMMERCIAL development in Columbia Heights just feels a LOT less polarized, and serves a lot more community needs.

          • Derek

            I am a fan of both H St and evidence-based argument, but I mostly agree with these points. H St just feels dicier for the reasons NLN2CH mentions. I would walk in the dark from columbia heights to another neighborhood. Though I’m comfortable walking along the H St commercial zone in the evenings, I probably wouldn’t walk from there to a different neighborhood. Maybe the crime stats suggest this view is misguided, but H St sets off my spidey sense sometimes (I grant that the H St is ever-changing and that my views – formed by going there probably since ’06 or so – may be becoming out of date).

      • Anonymous

        H St has fewer public housing projects than CH.

        just sayin’

        • Anonymous

          do you know what langston terrace is?

        • Anonymous

          Yet even with that, H St is about three times sketchier than CH. CH started gentrifying long before H St and H St will get there, but for the time being I can’t imagine anyone really preferring the amenities of H St to CH. While there may be public housing in CH, I feel more comfortable there because there is more foot traffic, more open and legit businesses, and it doesn’t feel like I’m in an abandoned ghosttown in the wild west.

          It’s all anecdotal too, but for what it’s worth my friends have had much worse incidents with crime in Cap Hill (actually the “nice” areas South of H St) than in CH.

          • Anonymous

            Feeling unsafe is fine, but that’s the same arguement as the the buffoon who wrote the article criticizing CH. Some person who passes through once a month “feels” unsafe and “thinks” it looks dingy. Boo-hoo. If you don’t like it, don’t live there.

            There’s way fewer assaults on H ST then CH based on the ACTUAL CRIME MAPS. H ST isn’t “better”; recognize that “feels safer” is subjective. And while we have bums, we don’t have roving packs of youth.

            And yes, our crime concentrates +1 street away from H St. Yours is East and South of 14th.

    • Kim

      I think you hold a lot of common misconceptions about H Street. We have a farmers’ market during the warm months, two great parks (depending on where you define the borders of the H Street district), plenty of places to grab a quick bite or cup of coffee (the Argo, Sidamo, SOVA, Taylor Gourmet, amazing cheesesteaks at Philadelphia Water Ice during the warm months, to name a few), what many consider the best Ethiopian in the city, two great craft cocktail bars, a Ramen place opening ASAP, a few very well-received fine-dining options, a grocery store (again, depending on how you define the boundaries of H Street),close proximity to the shops/restaurants on the Hill, close proximity to the Florida Ave. Market,a good yoga studio, etc. (I could go on, but you get the idea.) And, as development (rapidly) moves west, Union Station provides Metro access to the area. (Not to mention the fact that it’s very well-served by buses, even though I know some people are opposed to them.) I think there are so many misconceptions about H Street because there are people who just go there to party or listen to a good band and are never there to see what the area is like for those of us who live there.

      • OK, fair enough. Sorry for the hate on H Street in defending Columbia Heights, I do enjoy several places there (in particular the Argonaut, the Pug, Granville Moore’s, and the Red and the Black or Red Palace or whatever it is now), and admittedly I’ve only been over there in the evenings, so I appreciate the correction … and I’d probably trek over more if it was a bit more accessible!

        But I do have to say ONE thing … if you get to count the Hill, Florida Ave., and Union Station, then Columbia Heights gets to count U Street, Logan Circle, Adams Morgan, Petworth, Mount Pleasant, and the National Zoo … I’m just sayin’ :).

        • Kim

          Well, I was just going with your “close proximity” statement regarding the stores on Mount Pleasant. And, maybe I’ll give you the Hill, but Union Station is literally on H Street and the Florida Ave. market is much closer to H than the places you listed are to Columbia Heights.

          Anyway, I don’t mean to get into an argument about it; I think they’re both great neighborhoods with a lot to offer and with different things to offer. I also think that people just naturally know a lot more about the amenities in their own neighborhoods. For example, I pretty much am only in Columbia Heights for Target and Marshall’s. I know the neighborhood has more to offer, I just need to make more of an effort to make it over there more often!

  • Snarky

    I applaud your bravery in saying “I like Silver Spring.” Not many in DC are willing to go that far, but you sir have stood up for what you believe in.

    • Anonymous

      Silver Spring is great. The last bastion of soul in montgomery county.

      • 11th

        boyds has soul. rockville lost it in 2004.

      • capitol hill

        I actually prefer downtown Silver Spring to Columbia Heights. Not that either are bad.

    • PG

      I like Silver Spring and I was born there (but grew up in PG County.)

    • Anonymous

      why would someone not like silver spring? i live in dc, and i like silver spring.

    • I like Silver Spring too. The AFI is there and that’s where we go to see something in IMAX. We bought hubby’s wedding suit at the Men’s Warehouse there.

  • Joe

    I love CH, most of the people who complain about the neighborhood don’t live here. Also, great shot of the church, my balcony has a perfect view of it and it’s great to look at.

    On a side note: to the person who took their dog onto the church lawn, I was being serious when I yelled down from my balcony, Jesus does hate you.

    Double-side note: I like Silver Spring (mostly because they have a Chick-fil-a…why don’t we have one of those in CH?)

  • anan

    Well it’s clear cherkis is talking about dcusa and that intersection and he is right. The mall has blighted CH. And now the only worthwhile place,Commonwealth, has left. Sure 11th st is great. Don’t think he would argue that. But CH atop the metro is aweful. Petworths metro hub will be looking 50 times better than CH in just a couple more years. And as cherkis points out, after all the suburban ugly they dropped down in our hood the least they could have done was put in a theater. And no. I do not like silver spring. Thats why I live in the city

    • rooty tooty

      while i won’t debate the “worthwhile”ness of many of the businesses, i take issue with lumping Pete’s into the same category as panda express, potbelly, payless, etc.

      Pete’s makes *the* best delivery pizza in the city, and one of the best non-delivery as well. do not question pete’s.

    • Jenn the hen

      The reason why Commonwealth is closing is because their food was tasteless and expensive. You have to have substance for your concept to work.

  • TaylorStreetMan

    “Do you guys have a ______ in CH? Well, WE do!
    Is there a _______ where you guys live? Well, we have 2 of them at MY house! Does your mommy make ______ for you when you’ve been good? Well, MY mommy does! And she shapes it like a big smiley face for me so I can eat it and be all happy in my tummy too!”

    You’re such a little piss. You really should have spanked, slapped and beat up more as a kid. Take note: I did NOT say that you deserve a beating today. I’m saying that your little snot-nosed attitude is the result of that same snot not having been kicked out of you more often.

    A little humility, my friend, will carry you far.

  • Dartagnan

    It’s amazing how much pull a stupid shopping mall has. In fact I almost never hear people say DCUSA, its almost always just referred as “target”. I think it is up to us consumers to make the right choices of which shops to support. Just 2 days ago we got the news of another local store closing – Greater Goods. If we don’t like the chain stores then shop somewhere else! In Columbia Heights and the surrounding walkable area there is plenty of local places – restaurants ( ie you don’t like chipotle? Try Taqueria DF), you don’t like Target? well there is plenty of other places to get everyday essentials – Greater Goods (although now closing), Dollar Star, a bunch of little clothing stores on 14th and Mt Pleasant, Cooper hardware, etc. Food and groceries? Yes organic market, markets in Mt Pleasant, and 14th street. Too many people complain about the chain stores, but it is so easy to just not go there! (I have NEVER been to any WalMart and can’t remember the last time I was in Target, or Giant). It IS possible to live without them.

    • capitol hill

      I wish I could say I’ve never been to a WalMart. 🙂

  • houseintherear

    Cherkis is right on. That neighborhood has become the Silver Spring of DC, which some people like and most people don’t. It’s an armpit.

    And I appreciate his “snarkiness”, actually.

  • MichelleRD

    Cherkis has been around long enough to remember when Columbia Heights was a place to avoid and now he’s just envious. I’m feeling a little sorry for him.

  • ANON

    I love Columbia Heights and echo many of the comments above. Sure. There is much we’d like to see, but I don’t resent what we have. I feel that our diversity of stores and restaurants makes Columbia Heights assessible to many income levels. And I dare the poster above to tell me that he doesn’t shop at Target or desire pancakes at 3AM. But I agree with PoP. DCUSA is just a building that happens to be in Columbia Heights. But even in DCUSA, if you look close enough, you can wittness truly great CH moments unfolding. I love being in Target and watching mothers chase after their children and screaming at them in multiple languages, and I love watching people of all ethnicities dance to the Latin combo that often sets up in front of Julia’s in the springtime. I really hope those things never change.

  • Cherkis Sux

    I’ve lived in Columbia Heights for about 7 years and it’s improved so much since then. Safer, more places to shop, go out, eat etc. You don’t have to go to Dupont or Georgetown anymore, you’re friends are actually willing to come here now.

    And saying it’s ugly is a cheap shot. CH has some of the nicest victorian houses in the city. The only thing ugly around here is Mr. Cherkis’ attitude (and probably his wife).

    • anon

      way to go below the belt. is it necessary to bring his wife into it?

  • anon.

    I don’t know. It’s just a matter of perspective.
    This is better than that. But this (another this) is even better than that (perhaps another that, perhaps not)
    Cherkis is a journalist. It’s his job to stir things up whether they are true or not. PoP (dear PoP) has done just the same thing by posting this (and not that he shouldn’t have done).

    Now, my opinion is that CH is OK. I’ve lived in my house on 13th between Otis and Spring for the last 30 years and across the divide at the Crestwood Apartments before that.

    I have seen the blight of 14th St. for too many years to criticise its progress.
    People, that is enough people, seem to like the place.
    Isn’t that sufficient?

    • journalism teacher

      I’m sorry– it is not the job of a journalist to “stir things up whether they are true or not.” It is the job of a journalist to report the facts.

      Cherkis claims on this very thread that he is NOT speaking as a journalist but as a resident with opinions. There’s a discrete difference– ask Juan Williams about it.

  • nettie

    I don’t know this Cherkis fellow but, I’m pretty sure that when people use “hipster” as a slur, Cherkis is what they had in mind.
    If you’d like to live in neighborhood that caterers to people with excessive disposable income and minimal responsibilities, please move to Williamsburg. CH/Petworth is affordable for working families who need to buy (horrors!) groceries and (oh the humanity!) underwear for their kids.
    I don’t understand this need for a neighborhood to have *everything*: organic farmers markets, killer night life, amazing arts scene, 7 types of yoga studios. Isn’t that the appeal of living in a city…the variety, the diversity, the ability to discover something new just by hopping on a different busline? I can afford a house with a garden(!) in Petworth, walk to CH for the consumerist Mecca, bus it to H Street for mussels and indie rock, bike to scores of live music clubs…if I wanted everything all in one place I would have stayed in my podunk hometown.

    • RegO

      “I don’t understand this need for a neighborhood to have *everything*”

      I say live where you like but also venture out. I lived up in CH before DC USA was there, it was well needed and serves the community well. I bought a place at H st, and like it just the same. To me DC is small and easy to get around with many things to offer in different neighborhoods. Its a shame that people get caught in their neighborhood snobbery to venture out. I’ve come across people that have been here for a bit and have never been to the Wharf, for example, but say they like seafood. They rather stay in their bubble and get crab at their local grocery store

  • Anonymous


    Why would your go out of your way to praise CH to this guy?

    Cherkis can keep his suburban weekend hordes and the hipster authenticity snobs. While he’s gingerly avoiding the vomit on his latest trek home from the Star and Shamrock (where the owner doesn’t even know Chaim Herzog was born in Belfast) the rest of us can go on enjoying this place in peace.

  • joker

    I guess as the resident old timer, I have to say it’s funny to sit back and watch the manufactured indignation and offense of a bunch of people who’ve lived in DC for <10 years and think DC was always this way.

    1. Columbia Heights was a pretty frightful, dejected place circa 2000. It wasn't always like that. CH (like Anacostia was during the same time) was a happening place for well to do middle classers that worked in DC. Then the 50's and 60's happened and CH was flushed straight down the toilet. I know the new hipsters are going to wax poetic about the "charming" bodegas and "interesting mix of culture" and "local flavor" and what not, but there is nothing charming about legions of drunk hispanic men puking on the street at 11:am on any random day, or about roach filled boarding houses, or walking over crack pipes and used condoms on the sidewalks and hookers and their johns on your back alley porch at 2 in the afternoon. Yes, that was Columbia Heights circa 1999.

    2. For you self obsessed hipster set, Dupont Circle was the same way in the late 70's. It was a ugly, crime filled neighborhood with a bunch of long neglected and dilapidated homes with a severe lack of what we now consider "walkable retail". It took almost 30 years for Dupont to evolve into what it is today.

    CH has made the same changes in 6 years that took Dupont 20 years. The next decade will be completely transformative for CH as the progress radiates further from the DCUSA core. The CH of today is only 6 years old and two of those years were spent in the worst economy since the great depression.

    You so called "purests" can turn your nose at DCUSA, but there would have been no change in CH from 2005 till now had it not happened. The metro station had been opened for 6 years since 1999 and the cities largest RE boom had been ongoing for 5 years, yet nothing had happened in CH. Then Target signs on the dotted line, and property values instantly doubled. A grocery store then signs and before you know it 4 years have gone by and you've had conservatively a billion dollars worth of development in a 3×3 block area, a massive influx of hipsters who now think they "know" whats best for Columbia Heights.

    The lesson of the day is "perspective". It seems that many of you need a lesson in perspective. Get on it.

    • anon

      Perspective indeed. BEST…COMMENT…EVER!

    • Well said, Joker.

    • Denizen

      I lived in DC during the period you discuss (and still do), and I agree completely. The one this I’d like to add is that livability went way downhill in the early nineties as utilitarian businesses went away. When I moved to Adams Morgan in the late eighties, there were four hardware stores there. When I moved out eight years later, there were none. Upscale businesses were opening everywhere, but you can’t caulk your shower with espresso. Before DCUSA and the return of practical businesses to DC, you had to go to the suburbs for a lot of goods. Eventually it became almost impossible to function here. CH was a disaster, I remember having to use the post office there. The one that was shut down because rats were eating the mail (no kidding). I have a hard time now visualizing how it used to look. It has gone from being a liability to DC to being an asset. Note that while I look forward to seeing this sort of development, I am in no way in favor of the four Wal-Marts, which could easily end up reversing the trend of improvement and knocking the vitality out of both CH and any hope for improvement in Petworth.

    • anon.

      Your idea of Dupont Circle is hilarious.
      I moved to DC from NY in 1976.
      Dupont was the hip and gay neighborhood and very well established and sought after, not the slum you seem to think it was in 1979.
      Where do you get your information from?

      • joker

        Where did I get my info from? Living there from 76-80.

        “hip and gay” doesn’t change the fact that it was, many times more so than today a heft crime filled location with (as I said above) “severe lack of what we now consider “walkable retail”. Instead of hetro hooker/john combos on my porch, it was john/john combo on my porch and in the circle in broad daylight.

        Your rose colored perception doesn’t change the fact that the Dupont of today, was not the Dupont of the late 70’s.

        • Anonymous

          I’ve heard stories of needles in the circle and people shooting up in public.

        • anon.

          Correct. Dupont is now dead boring.

          • My2Cents


    • TGAA

      This is a good comment but my indignation is not manufactured. I have owned a home in Columbia Heights for a little less than 10 years. Don’t I have a right to defend the neighborhood that I invested my life savings in?

    • El Gringo

      *Excellent* point about Dupont…people don’t realize that the reason there is so much in the way of nonprofits and eclectic flavor down there is because of the cheap ass rent (and basically crappy neighborhood) during the 70s!

    • Cornholio


  • bloom

    Cherkis puts his name to his words.

    A lot of us don’t and we use all kinds of snark — me included.

    I give him credit.

    • anon

      C’mon, he’s a “journalist.” It’s his job to put his name to what he writes.

      Give him credit for speaking his mind (even if his perspective seems somewhat ill-informed) or for getting this far in life with a name like Cherkis. But don’t give him credit for doing a job he’s paid for.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        I think Bloom’s point is that he could instead have easily bashed CH on this blog, using the name “anon”. He chose to sign his dribble, which does get an iota of respect from me, but I still think he’s a sniveling snot.

        • TaylorStreetMan


  • Cherkis Hater #31

    I’ll refrain from ad hominems, so let’s just say I dislike Cherkis’s writing and what he believes about the development of the city. Personally, he might be a fine person.

    Cherkis endorsed Mayor Gray in an article that could have been written for my high school paper. I know a few people who voted for Gray, so nothing against them, but if anyone can find the piece it was perhaps the most juvenile thing I read during the entire campaign.

    Cherkis is at least consistent with his hatred of Target, since he also hates Wal-Mart. I’m critical of people who love Target but hate Wal-Mart, since they’re effectively the same thing only Wal-Mart gets bad press. I believe that Cherkis pines for the days of P&G union laborers making tooth paste in Ohio and having it be sold on Main Street. Those days are over, Cherkis. Instead, we have larger retailers who drive prices down. While this has changed society dramatically, it’s also made almost every comsumer good far more affordable and has increased the standard of living for the poor folks who you champion. Large-scale retail also creates jobs for un- or under-educated people.

    PoP is right that those of you, like Cherkis, who think Chipotle is one of the Four Horseman, have a terrible understanding of basic economics. Cherkis will probably never own a business or try to make a payroll. He’ll probably never try to open a retail store. And he’ll continue to be critical of them for the rest of his days irrespective of the fact that his ideal retailer would go bust in about three weeks.

    Cherkis rents in Tacoma Park (DC, barely), by the way. You buy some property in DC, buddy, and maybe I’d take you more seriously. Your endorsement of the mayor seems out of touch since you’re not concerned at all with the erosion of city services that the Gray administration is likely to usher in.

    Cherkis’s sorts of sentiments are hackneyed. Chipotle exists because people freaking love it. But so does Distrito. Before you hate CH, why not visit once in a while? I’m almost certain you’re too busy these days.

    • Chalk

      Well said.

    • Anonymous


    • Jorge

      Oh that was nice. Keep it up.

  • 10th Street

    Can’t we just agree that both sides make valid points? The whiny little bitch from the citypaper is right that traffic on 14th street is terrible, and PoP is right about everything else.

    • El Gringo

      Funny thing is…the “terrible traffic” was PLANNED that way.

      14th st used to be a thruway (don’t slow down they might shoot us!) and now it is the artery of a residential/commercial district…so it’s not even meant to be an efficient pass-thru.

  • Anonymous

    Whats wrong with chain stores/shops? The same people who complain about chain stores are behind the success of Apple, Minis and Priuses.. and they hate chain stores!

  • ab

    I just want to say, it’s not done yet! CH is still in the gentrification process. Yes it has improved immensily over the mere 3 years I’ve lived here, so I can only imagine what the next 3+ years hold! The metro area has brought more ‘customers’ to the area and gained attention to CH, now more and diverse businesses are looking to move here…so just remember, it’s not done yet.

  • PetworthRes

    You’re right about Columbia Heights circa 1999. A friend of mine lived in sight of what’s now Room 11 on Lamont St back then. They had people shooting up heroin and turning tricks in the alley behind their house, half the houses were boarding houses/drug houses, the closest grocery store was the pre-renovation Safeway in Adams Morgan, and without a car, my friend was afraid to leave the house after dark. The streets were empty and dark, half the neighborhood was empty lots, and it was really intimidating to get around. It’s astounding how much it’s changed.

    DCUSA may not be the ideal urbanist utopia development, but since it opened I haven’t felt the need to go shopping in the suburbs. And I agree that 11th St wouldn’t be so fantastic now if the development on 14th hadn’t happened.

  • Anonymous

    What CH is really missing is trees! Plant more trees and I’ll agree that it looks sort of good.

    • capitol hill

      I was thinking there was something about the aesthetic of CH that I dislike, put I couldn’t put my finger on what it is. It may very well be the dearth of tress.

      • fl

        There are trees now planted all over CH – same as U St. Give it a few years and they will be big. I’m always in support of planting more trees though. Apparently city trees have incredibly short lifespans though, so I wonder if some other areas with larger trees will see them dying anytime soon.

  • Anon

    And as for arts, music, and theater, Columbia Heights has the Wonderland Ballroom, the Gala Theater, the Dance Institute for Washington, and one of the most elaborate public art projects in the entire city (contributions created by local artists). Not to mention the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities is headquartered in Columbia Heights.

    • Cornholio


      Did you really just list the Wonderland Ballroom? You need to visit, buddy.

  • I’ve been living in CH for 8 years and I’m a homeowner. I am:
    1 block away from daycare, 3 blocks away from METRO and stores; 2 blocks away from bikeshare, 1/2 blocks away from buses, my doctor is moving 1/2 block away from where I live, 1 block away from park for kids, 3 blocks away from big awesome park, 2 blocks away from church, dry cleaner 1/2 block away, 10-15 minutes away from the National Zoo and Rock Creek Park, lots of school options for the future including bilingual, close to other neighborhoods and their restaurants like Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan U Street or Dupont Circle, close enough to downtown to even walk if I feel like! And those are just the things that come to mind quickly; I’m sure I can come up with more.
    I definitively can’t complain about my neighborhood.

    • I forgot to mention the farmer’s market

    • StubsDC

      Do you have a good doctor in CH? Please elaborate!

      • Old Bohemian

        It’s such a great place no one ever needs a doctor!

  • pia

    It’s posts like that which make me cringe. I love to visit CH and live in Downtown Silver Spring. I’m constantly perplexed by the people who trash-talk SS and I have to assume they are ignorant and have either a) never seen anything beyond the Downtown strip of DSW and Borders (that’s not closing!) or b) are surburban folks that decided to move to the “big city” of DC one day and in doing that spend all their free time living in Adams-Morgan trash talking the rest of the greater metro area.

    That said, SS has grown by leaps and bounds since I moved here from Boston nearly 10 years ago. One of the biggest farmers markets around sets up weekly, one of the best Burmese places I’ve ever eaten is here and you know what? I can walk in the door of my house faster than 1/2 my friends that live “IN” the city do when we part ways from most places downtown on the metro as I live about 10 feet from the red line. Just sayin’.
    Thanks POP, the only way DC will get keep getting better is if people support the city and metro area as a whole. I do my best to not bad-mouth NoVa (hey, as a MD resident, it’s a given, right?), eat Sushi in Glover Park, drink on H st NE and get my haircut in Chinatown. Really, that’s what it’s all about for me.

  • Mr. Cherkis has only to look around the corner on the 1400 block of Park Road. New facades going in and 80% of the businesses, all community based Mom & Pops, will remain in place with a brand new, beautifully designed streetscape with new facades and all. Plus the small businesses had direct input into everything from the design to the financing and the construction.
    Come eat at a Chilean Grill, home cooked typical Dominican style Deli, Peruvian Chicken and the most popular Pho in all of Columbia Heights. Or shop at the two Central American Markets and buy your candles and herbs at a classic “Botanica”.
    Jason has apparently stirred the pot. Let’s hope he really doesn’t believe what he’s stating.

    • joker


      The city taxpayers giving away 700K dollars worth of completely free and unresitricted renovations to private property owners isn’t exactly a good example.

      A good example would be that business is now booming and those 13 property owners on Park decided to upgrade their own properties without having to have the tax payers do it for them. Hell, I wish the city would come pay for my facade renovations with no strings attached.

      The fact that even with all the additional foot traffic DCUSA brings those 13 places, that the property owners still spent zero money on upgrades, letting all us DC taxpayers do it for you says more negative things about that street than good ones.

      • Denizen

        The ROI this city will get in terms of sales and property taxes when business increases in that neighborhood will be a lot more than $700K in a few years. Spare us the tiresome anti-gubment rhetoric. Don’t you have a tea party to go to?

        • Tres

          They put $700k of value in, so the assessment would rise $700k over all the properties, or about $5000/year (guesstimating here) in prop taxes. $700k/$5k = 140. It will take 140 years for the city to recoup the investment through receipt of property taxes paid by owners on this block.

          Whether you’re right or left wing, you have to agree that property taxes will not return our investment.

          Sales tax is less clean cut. Someone else can probably speak to that better, but it’s going to be a similar equation. The ROI is shit for this situation. It’s negative.

          • anon

            I hope they spent some of that $700k on getting Pho 14 a liquor license.

          • Denizen

            It’s not just going to be the sales/property taxes for that one block if the entire area benefits.

        • caballero

          Calling someone a tea party activist because they question public giveaways to private property owners? Whether the city recoups that money or not, his point deserves honest discussion, and it is not necessarily “anti-gubment.” Jeez, it could even be construed as a progressive comment…

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but seriously, anyone who can’t tell the difference between the manufactured “town centerishness” of Silver Spring and the “there just happens to be a few chains stores in one mall” aspect of Columbia Heights is being wilfully ignorant. I’ve got nothing against downtown Silver Spring, but there is no real comparison with any part of Columbia Heights. This author should be ashamed of himself for offering an opinion of an entire neighborhood when he clearly has only looked at the one block radius around the CH metro stop.

    • Area Man

      Dude, I live in Silver Spring, and I can assure you that the “manufactured town centerishness” covers all of two blocks on Ellsworth Drive. That’s it.

      The rest of downtown Silver Spring is a mix of old, lackluster buildings with independent businesses (some of them being outstanding restaurants and bars), a few large office buildings and hotels, etc.

      It sounds like you’ve only looked at the one-block radius around the Majestic theatre.

      Some of the gems in Silver Spring include:

      AFI (this is a world-class art theater)
      Mandalay (excellent Burmese food)
      Quarry House (great dive bar)
      Jackie’s (outstanding food)
      Ray’s the Classics
      Ghar-e-Kebab (some of the best Indian food I’ve eaten in the DC area)
      Oriental East (excellent dim sum)
      A bunch of Ethiopian restaurants/cafes
      A bunch of Salvadoran & Latin restaurants
      A new, surprisingly good Greek gyro place run by Salvadorans
      Piratz Tavern (a bar where they dress up like fricking pirates and do fire-breathing demos, for f**k’s sake)
      A comic book store
      The best hardware store in the area (Strosnider’s)

      Clearly the downtown Silver Spring area is never going to rival Prague as a thing of beauty. But it’s like you’ve never even been to any part of Silver Spring except the walk from the Metro to Red Lobster. You’re guilty of the exact same flawed thinking that you’re accusing others of espousing.

  • dbv

    i moved to cH from forest hills three years ago. my kids were gone and we needed a smaller home. i love my row house, it is so nice to walk out my front door and be able to shop in small markets. i find the people so friendly and i will admit my spanish helping bring a smile to someone face when como esta is said instead of hi!. change is happening and will continue to happen. i view the shopping center as a good thing all towards making the area more user friendly. the small plaza a nice place to sit and enjoy a cold drink on nice night watching as the kids run around the shooting sprinklers of water. yes there are chain restaurants but there are also plenty of non chains.

    i feel pride in what we have here in CH, and it is building and will continue to build. i was sad to see the posting about the green teams leaving the area but just means that we, the residents MUST pick up the slack. lets take pride in our space and continue to pull CH progress upward! so yes do plant trees, flowers and everything in the middle. lets make CH an area of town where when people walk through our street they find themselves thinking…. i would like to live here!

  • andy

    I think it’s that bohemian paradigm that’s the core of the problem here. People need to realize that’s only one point in the process of urban renewal.

    It seems at some point in their lives, many people want neighborhoods that look a little rough, the people unfriendly, but if you just get to know them, they’ll warm up to you. So that you, the white dude in the flannel and black thick-frame glasses, have a secret connection to the black/Hispanic urbanity that the rest of America rejects as unsavory. You want little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that don’t see the likes of well-educated urban explorers folks that often, so retain a bit of exotic otherness that makes them exciting to visit when the veggies in your backyard garden get boring. You want little record stores only you and your friends know about and antique/vintage shops, urban pioneer bike shops, bars that make a point of selling beer in cans, etc. You want to look down on the suburbs with their strip malls, gated mcmansionvilles, and that “I’m OK – I’m OK” anti-communitarian white flight mindset.

    There are places close to that in DC if you want to be among the first wave of yuppies. Brightwood, Petworth, 16th Street Heights, Takoma, and many other places are beautiful but not yet fully yuppified. Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle, have finished that part of the urban renewal life cycle and are no longer undiscovered bohemian gems. They’re bourgeois. The real-world economy has reached them, so the little stores struggle against stores where people have more choices and convenience and retail begins to cater to people with more cash to spend than time to garden, search for records, or refinish original hardwood floors themselves.

    These neighborhoods now attract people who would otherwise become suburbanites. Isn’t that the way urban renewal is supposed to work? Keeping those people in DC probably means a little bit more suburbanity in the old neighborhoods. Well, come on in people, the water is plenty warm. We need a little bit of suburban-style convenience and maybe even things like suburban-style bend-over-backwards for education quality radicalism.

    People forget that the old bohemian neighborhood used to have a decent amount of angry miseducated dudes who like to shoot at each other because the modern economy shut them out and they couldn’t handle it. That everybody hated that you had to eat canned mackerel and other bodega wares. That the locals wanted more services and commercial options and weren’t that interested in the sweet record stores. That decades after the urban economy collapsed people were still streaming out and these neighborhoods were like hollow shells with empty lots full of trash, beautiful but empty houses unmaintained for years, and empty storefronts aplenty.

    And because of all the things that were lacking you could buy your sweet 1910s Wardman or Victorian on the cheap, put some sweat in and have a place better than a ‘burb townhouse, even if your neighbors were dope-smoking squatters and your house got broken into.

    Think about what everybody complains about who lives in Petworth. Kids shot on the corner, the horrible Safeway, a lot of people getting poorly educated, limited dining options and white dudes in their 30s pretending they don’t feel out of place just a little bit among black neighbors who’ve been there for decades.

    The ideal alterna-yuppie urban explorer bohemian neighborhood exists only for a moment in a longer, painful, urban transition. Savor the different flavors at the different points you get in the process. Don’t fetishize a certain phase in the process and wish the cycle of urban renewal would end there.

    • Anonymous


    • El Gringo

      interesting and thoughtful.

    • dcdude

      Overall, very thoughtful, but I do take issue with the following: “The real-world economy has reached them, so the little stores struggle against stores where people have more choices and convenience and retail begins to cater to people with more cash to spend than time to garden, search for records, or refinish original hardwood floors themselves.”

      I don’t think most people’s gripe with CH is that all the new retail caters to the well-heeled. Just the opposite. They are upset that not enough of it does. Yes, they hate the IHOP and the Target, and almost started a revolt when there were rumors of a Ross opening there, but ask them if they would oppose a Whole Foods or an REI. It’s not about chains vs. indies. It’s bout rich vs. poor; old vs. new.

      • Area Man

        Am I the only white, professional 30-something who will admit to loving Target?

        When the Target moved into the Bronx (Marble Hill) near my old place in NYC, I was so excited I went twice on the first day.

        They may not be “cool” and “authentic,” but they sell contact lens solution for half the price of a drugstore and have really inexpensive, good-quality toiletries and medicines.

        Why do people find this something to complain about? Would you rather have to shop at the CVS? I mean, please.

    • Cornholio


    • SF

      Excellent. Well said.

    • Old Bohemian

      Damn – when the f**k did Bohemians start having paradigms?

    • Dizzy

      This post contains 100% win

  • Trixie

    I love that people are attacking him on a personal level for expressing his opinion, while commenting anonymously on a blog. Better still, attacking someone who has lived and written in DC for a long time, fairly impressive for a city of transients. Further, he’s been her long enough to remember when this city actually did have independent book and record stores.

    I’ve been here long enough (my whole life) and while I do think the neighborhood has improved 15X over, the whole DC-USA area still skeeves me out because it feels like an overcrowded Fairfax. The rest of it is pretty.

    Marcus, it’s not that far off the same “manufacturedness” of Silver Spring, both were sort of sprung up on top of what was blighted uglyishness, and fairly fast. The Silver Spring that is there now is not the Silver Spring that was there when I grew up here.

  • I thought my critique wasn’t as harsh as people seem to think it is. I was merely hoping to continue a discussion D.C. residents have been having for decades, that is: what do we want from our neighborhoods. I lived in D.C. for 15 years and spent a lot of time in Columbia Heights pre-gentrification. To argue that CH is subjectively better than it once was is a pretty safe stance. Who wouldn’t take new development over vacant lots, a sad, small Giant and gun violence (which still happens in the new Columbia Heights).

    It’s just that the overwhelming impression of CH is that it’s becoming an airport or a food court. I agree with the whoever argued for more trees. Damn, 14th Street is all concrete.

    And yes, Columbia Heights is sort of diverse. And yes, Dupont Circle is not that great. I lived there, too. I’d chose CH’s Giant over Dupont’s 17th Street Safeway any day.

    Maybe I didn’t read the comments close enough, but I didn’t here anyone championing the Panda Express. Waiting for it.

    I’d also love to find an instance when PoP was even marginally critical of any new development.

    • andy

      Who LOVES panda express? Probably nobody, but:

      1. Where’s the bulletproof glass?
      2. Can you buy wings with your Chinese there?
      3. Praise the most high, you are not required to take your styrofoam clamshell and eat your Chinese/wings on the curb.

      • Anonymous

        what’s wrong with wings and chinese?

      • Denizen

        At first I read point #2 as “can you buy wigs.” I need new reading glasses, but somehow it’s just as appropriate.

    • Marcus Aurelius

      You certainly have a right to your opinion but you continue to focus on ONE FREAKING BLOCK in Columbia Heights. And Panda Express is ONE FREAKING STORE. How about walking a couple of blocks over to 11th St. If the airports you fly into have places like Meridian Pint, Wonderland, and Room 11, and Red Rocks lined up together, please let the rest of us travelers know.

  • One other point: Adams Morgan has essentially three record stores within a five minute walk of each other. All independent. The neighborhood also has supported a used book store for years.

    I admit that record stores and book stores are businesses I wouldn’t want to start. My point is that we don’t have to settle for Panda Express. Many of you celebrated some of CH’s mom and pop restaurants, etc. So maybe were in agreement that those are vital to making a neighborhood unique.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      Funny how different you sound now that you’re trying to ‘clarify’ what you meant. You have in fact changed your tone quite a bit (less snotty, a *little* more thoughtful and actually backing up rants with legit examples). Bravo.

      Maybe if you had approached the question in the first place with a more mature attitude, you wouldn’t have churned up such a sh*t storm of personal attacks.

      And in my book, I don’t have to know a thing about your personal history (where you’ve lived and for how long), as some have suggested, in order to judge you on your statements.

    • TGAA

      Give the man credit. He stirred up a hornet’s nest and is standing tall. I no longer want Dan Snyder to sue you too.

      • TaylorStreetMan

        Is that your only criteria for looking up to someone? So if some other guy on some other day said some really foul racist BS but, by golly, stuck to his guns and ‘stood tall’ you’d be championing him too?

        • TGAA

          Not championing. According him a measure of respect. Not the racist, that is kind of an incomparable situation is it not?

          • TaylorStreetMan

            Not equating racism with beating up on CH. Just taking the example to an extreme in order to make a point.

    • Denizen

      I think that it’s fantastic that DC has as many record stores as it does, and I’ve been happy to notice a couple of new book stores opening as well. That being said, you can’t cook on an LP, wear a screen print and William Faulkner isn’t going to fix my busted window sash. I’m not ashamed to admit that DCUSA was one of the reasons I decided to move back downtown. It was a signal that life in the city had become viable again.

  • I remember a piece Cherkis wrote about Petworth around the time I moved here in 2001. Something about how all the “We Will Buy Your Home” signs meant it was a terrible neighborhood. To his credit, he and Wemple came to an ANC meeting to discuss the ire his piece raised in the community. But you would have to weigh that against the fact that the piece was shallow, mean-spirited, uninteresting, and written from a “glass half empty” perspective.
    Haters gonna hate.

  • cookietime420

    Good summary Dan. Cherkis is ridiculous. Columbia Heights is a great place and getting better. I grew up in DC, in Tenleytown to be precise. Nearly all my life, Columbia Heights was filled with a lot of good people but there was also a lot of crime, substandard housing, lousy schools and a severe lack of services. A lot of that is changing, and much of it for the better. I’d be curious to hear where Cherkis’ favorite places are. They probably aren’t too different than Columbia Heights.

  • edc

    Those tweets were just troll-bait.

    These kind of critiques are leveled at every city by emigrants who don’t want their memories tarnished.

    It’s another person who doesn’t want to see their playground change after they leave the neighborhood.

    You all live here and enjoy it. Just ignore him.

    • Keith

      Perhaps it was all a premeditated scheme between Cherkis and PoP to drive traffic to the site 😀

      • anon.

        Not premeditated as in coordinated.
        Predicted. It worked.

  • noona

    who gives a shit what some guy thinks about columbia heights?

    I think Beyonce is a talentless drag queen, but that probably don’t matter to Jay-Z.

  • Jason

    A lot of jealously directed toward Silver Spring. You hate that which you aren’t. Transplanted suburbanites at the end of the day long to sleep to crickets and to get general tsos at chains. Its in their blood. Stop fighting your inevitable destiny. Blah-ness.

  • dp

    What a cherkoff

  • El Gringo

    I’m glad you defined the neighborhood boundaries up front PoP. Misconceptions about what constitutes CH are the root of the problem here!

    These negative perceptions of CH are the result of a “convenience sample”…i.e. people analyze and define the neighborhood based on the 2-3 blocks immediately surrounding the Metro stop.

    Neighborhood locals are already familiar with the side streets and areas not immediately adjacent to the Metro, and long time residents remember the area before DC USA – so we have no trouble thinking of CH more broadly.

    Ironically, the haters are only judging what they see…ON THEIR WAY TO TARGET. 😉

    • Anonymous

      “Ironically, the haters are only judging what they see…ON THEIR WAY TO TARGET.”

      This is true, but mainly because there is not much else worth traveling to CH for.

      That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. Wonderland is cool, I guess.

      There’s no doubt that CH is a tremendously convenient place to live. However, it is severely lacking in art/culture and entertainment.

      (Former CH resident)

      • El Gringo

        Fair enough point about traveling to CH…but I’m judging it as a resident not a commercial tourist.

        As for art culture – what is it you’re missing here? With the exception of an actual movie theater (which as a place of business is also starting to go the way of the book/record store) what’s the big hole in the lineup?

        I mean, so there’s no Kabuki performance or Monet exhibits, so what? Where is the minimum threshold?

  • Anonymous

    You people spend way too much energy and time on being consumers and critiquing the ways different groups of you consume and at which types of places you do your consuming.

  • Surprised that people get their back up so quickly here. I just want to point out I’m not slamming CH residents. Just the big-box clutter, the overall ugly impression of CH. CH dwellers are way better than Adams Morgan dwellers!

    I don’t remember every writing about Petworth. I think you have that confused with a piece Dave McKenna wrote. (And he lives in Petworth).

    Favorite places off the top of my head: H Street any time, that park on Columbia Road near Mintwood, Malcolm X Park during the summer, Politics and Prose, E Street Cinema, Takoma rec center.

    • TaylorStreetMan

      You can backpeddle all you want, but I’ve cease to care what you think.

      • Trixie


  • x

    the city paper takes itself seriously? i thought they were self-aware of how vapid and pointless their “paper” is

    • Anonymous

      Stick to USA Today

      • kazootime

        Knock it all you want, but no other paper has their beautiful color scheme

  • Stephanie

    All these neighborhood battles… remember, as of 2011 we are “One City” 🙂

    Just saying…

    • TGAA

      + 10. I forgot. Vincent Gray will teach the blind to see and the lame to walk … or at least hire them back to their prior jobs in DC government.

    • MichelleRD

      My favorite comment of the day.

  • Paul

    Be happy we have all of these retail options in DC. Most US cities have little to nothing left in their urban core. I would think if these hipsters lived in Detroit the would be moaning at how DC has this amazing urban metro centric development with Target, a gym, Best Buy etc. They would even tout how many jobs it brought to people in the neighborhood. Get perspective people. Columbia Heights is one of the best neighborhoods in DC. Lots of amenities, central to most neighborhoods, and great metro options.

  • Tres

    I sincerely like both SS and CH. I didn’t read all the comments, but one reason why I’d say CH is superior in terms of neighborhood amenities is it’s proximity to every other “hip” neighborhood in NW.

    Neighborhoods do not exist in a vacuum. A hood’s geography is a integral part of it’s identity. The fact that you can cab from CH to U St or Logan in about 5 minutes is one of the advantages of CH. SS to any NW hotspot is -minimum- 25 minutes with traffic or via metro. If you’re an urbanite, the city is your oyster. If you’re a sub-urbanite, you might have a really great neighborhood, but that neighborhood is all you get.

  • No one who reads this blog eats at Panda Express

    Does he really think gentrifiers are eating at Panda Express? A real reporter might go in there and look around at the demographics.

  • billindc

    “It’s just that the overwhelming impression of CH is that it’s becoming an airport or a food court. I agree with the whoever argued for more trees. Damn, 14th Street is all concrete.”

    That’s only the overwhelming impression if you stick to 14th Street from Girard to Newton. If you walk a block off that strip it doesn’t. I suppose that excising the 90% of the neighborhood that contradicts your thesis makes it easier to utter fashionable opinions…unfortunately, it also exposes them as trite, narrow minded and simply wrong.

    Let’s hope you don’t report that way, eh?

  • anon

    i think that people can acknowledge the value of Target/Giant/etc. to a neighborhood, and still think that they suck. I don’t think Cherkis is saying that CH sucks because these establishments are present there. I think that he is trying to say that the commercial section of CH has been completely overrun by these chains, and that in a neighborhood where there is so much vitality, we should really expect more. More mom & pops, more culture (instead of more chain restaurants).

    Also, I think Dan was trying to gin up page hits by citing to Cherkis’ tweets. Agree with Cherkis or not, he’s a reliable, honest voice on issues relating to poverty and social services in this city, and isn’t afraid to call out local leaders on their failures. The fact of what section of DC he currently lives in, whether he rents or owns, or how long he’s lived here, is really irrelevant.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      I know who you are. Hahaha. Awesome. Way to be honest.

      • Sara Cherkis

        This was me:

        “i think that people can acknowledge the value of Target/Giant/etc. to a neighborhood, and still think that they suck. I don’t think Cherkis is saying that CH sucks because these establishments are present there. I think that he is trying to say that the commercial section of CH has been completely overrun by these chains, and that in a neighborhood where there is so much vitality, we should really expect more. More mom & pops, more culture (instead of more chain restaurants).

        Also, I think Dan was trying to gin up page hits by citing to Cherkis’ tweets. Agree with Cherkis or not, he’s a reliable, honest voice on issues relating to poverty and social services in this city, and isn’t afraid to call out local leaders on their failures. The fact of what section of DC he currently lives in, whether he rents or owns, or how long he’s lived here, is really irrelevant.”

        • ontarioroader

          Are you his mom? F’ing hilarious. A reporter has to get family members to come on a blog and defend him? No wonder local media here is a complete joke.

  • Sorry. My mother doesn’t read blogs. That’s my lady stepping into some PoP BS.

    This local journalist stands by his belief that neighborhoods are better off without big union-busting chain stores—doesn’t anyone read Naomi Klein, Jane Jacobs, or Mike Davis?—which I think as someone above alluded to earlier get huge tax breaks to come here.

    Keep that in mind as you watch the D.C. Council slash services to make up for the budget gap as they consider giving a tax break to Whole Foods to get them to move into Cap Hill.

    And just so were square, my wife and I had our first real conversation at Wonderland several years ago. So I can’t hate CH too much–just all of 14th Street. See you in line at Giant.

    • caballero

      We actually NEED more union-busting companies. The long lines at Giant that you cite are, in large part, because the employees are unionized.

      Citing Naomi Klein really tips your hand. An entitled brat who grew up in a comfortable family, she throws tantrums over private capital but proposes nothing as an alternative, except some kind of grow-your-own-food bullshit.

    • Tres

      I’m sick of explaining this to the uninitiated, but if DC gives them a break to get them to move into Cap Hill (meaning, their opening a store is conditional upon the break), then the net effect of offering the break is a decrease in the deficit. The Whole Foods will create positive cash flow to the tune of 10 or 11 million dollars per year. The cost to DC is supposed to be $1 million per year for 8 years.

      To recap: 10 million – 1 million = 9 million in positive cash flow per year if the break is offered. If DC refuses the break and Whole Foods doesn’t open: no effect. Which is better: receiving $9 million per year or nothing?

      That’s not to mention the ancillary effects of revitalization on the neighborhood.

      This is not the District writing a check to Whole Foods. This is a tax abatement. People should know the difference.

      And to the union busting chains comment: Whole Foods employees tend to make a couple more dollars per hour than unionized Safeway or Giant employees do. I’m very pro union, but the union that services Safeway and Giant is worthless and possibly corrupt. Making blanket statements about unions means missing the complexity of the issues at hand. Tell it to the employees of small box stores who make less than those at Whole Foods.

      • Old Bohemian

        Step away from the logic grasshopper. Let the facts dissolve into the air, flying free like the dragonfly on the wind. Or fly on the wind. Or be the wind. Whatever. . .

        People who can understand will understand. People who don’t understand will post often.

      • So I guess you supported the Whole Foods CEO coming out against Obama’s healthcare reform?

        • Old Bohemian

          unworthy non-sequitor

  • Old Bohemian

    Funny about you & wife first talking at Wonderland – Tonight around 5:30, (admittedly an extraordinary day) Wonderland patio was overflowing – at capacity – no seats at all. Red Rocks was slammed, Meridian Pint nearly full – We finally barely squeezed into the communal patio table at The Heights.

    And poor dear – do you know that pretty much any groceries you would want at Giant are now available at evil Target with never more than a 5 min. line?

    Of course we understand you stirring up controversy for publicity – but it’s still lame and tedious.

  • Old Bohemian

    And – “my lady” ????? What is that? A lovely way of say’n how much she loves me?

  • “We actually NEED more union-busting companies.” –this comment says it all. We’re not going to get anywhere w/ shit like this. But it fits with this blog.

    You all should be more careful readers. We all just took PoP’s bait. He writes really lame blog post taking my tweets out of context–I was cracking jokes on the news that CH is getting a Panera Bread–and then goes on to defend CH’s riches. Take one look at his ads. Who is giving this guy money? Real Estate companies and all the newbie storefronts and restaurants from CH and Petworth. I haven’t read his blog in a while. But does this guy ever write anything critical about any new development, storefront or restaurant?

    Of course, PoP is going to defend CH and its businesses. They pay his salary.

    And we all fell for it.

    • Anonymous

      I’m going to give Cherkis a point for this one. I would be shocked to see a post here ever criticizing any CH business.

      And it’s pretty obvious that CH residents are climbing the ladder in the race to see which DC neighborhood has the most thin-skinned residents. I mean, they’re miles from the leaders — that would be Trinidad residents, who absolutely lose their minds if you describe their still-very-problematic neighborhood as anything but an urban utopia — but they’re gaining on Bloomingdale and may have surpassed Eckington.

      They’ve left Petworth residents in the dust.

  • Old Bohemian

    No dumb-head, that comment says the opinion of one lame-ass anonymous commentator. You, as an alleged journalist, have a more public platform, a supposedly more vetted voice and therefor greater responsibility to present a rational opinion. “We” are careful enough readers to understand that.

    And “we” probably don’t think you are really a snippy little brat whining about PoP being “not fair,” but you are not making it easy for us.

    Go forsooth, seek succor with “your lady,” and shut the hell up already.

  • Area Man

    Wow, this entire thread just highlights what I’ve felt about DC almost since I moved here four years ago – it’s like being stuck in junior high for all eternity.

    • Sunny Florida Avenue (Yancey William Burns)


  • Since the number of record stores is clearly the yardstick by which the value of a neighborhood is measured, it should be noted that Silver Spring has TWO record stores.

    • And a used book store!

  • Eat it, Cherkis:


    (Just kidding … but gotta love the timing :)!)

    • Annon

      Wonderful! Props to all the places on 11th St that serve to negate the blandness of DCUSA

  • RD

    just when i didnt think it could get better, this clown’s wife comes with an anonymous username pretending to be an impartial third party to defend him. and gets called out on it. priceless.

    • Stavros

      Gets funnier every time she refers to him as “Cherkis”. Bravo!!

  • bloom

    ok, i was almost completely apathetic on this one…

    but suddenly

    i’m IN LOVE with Cherkis and whatever it was he was talking about…

    thanks the variety of vitriolic and anonymous postings!!

  • dcnative

    I have lived in CH for 21 years and it has seen worse days. There is nothing that irks me more than a transplanted suburbanite who thinks we are ‘up and coming’. The Shitty Paper readers voted CH as the best ‘up and coming’ neighborhood. Get a life and get out of CH. In my opinion we have lost some charm due to yuppies (now termed hipsters) but it is still a great place to live.
    Unfortunately ‘safe’ does not describe us as of late. We have the highest violent crime rate in the city. Maybe that will scare some of the trend followers back to the burbs. One can only hope.

  • T R

    I moved to Columbia Heights two years ago and have heard stories about how far this neighborhood has come. As a new resident though, its difficult to appreciate the place from where its come to where it is now.

    While I appreciate how easy it is to get to anywhere from here, I’ve become less keen on the culture of the neighborhood, the terrible traffic and the high crime. I do like the establishments on 11th street during the week, but as a whole Columbia Heights isn’t the type of urban neighborhood I can really invest in.

    As I’ve gotten to know DC, there are much more livable neighborhoods with equal convenience, but much more community and flavor.

    From what I understand the entire NW has come a long way from the urban plight that plagued this city. When I look around at all the neighborhoods coming up, Columbia Heights just isn’t one of those neighborhoods that’s heading in a direction that would keep me here. It’s just too commercial and most importantly way way way overpriced in terms of rent.

    I gotta agree with Cherkis on this one, while harsh, I think the gentrification of CH is just skin deep and there are better neighborhoods with deeper community roots.

    Just my opinion though and hey live and let live. If you love this neighborhood, by all means defend it.

    • mark

      Bye! Be sure to send a postcard from your more convenient & less commercial, less crowded & less expensive, more “flavorful” & more livable DC neighborhood.

      Are only members of the gentry allowed to live there? Because you seem to admire gentrification, even though it’s technically bad for everyone else. One the other hand, if you are gentry and you’re leaving Columbia Heights, then that’s one less gentrifier to worry about.

      • Tr

        Hate to break it to you, because I don’t know what neighborhood you live in, but CH is already well on its way to gentrification. What do you pay in rent? If you think the neighborhood is affordable then by all means stay put, because you’re exactly the type of person that should be in CH.

        Heres what I see when I look at housing prices: http://bit.ly/dSSNjn

        • real estate mogul #3

          Just saw that link.

          WOW. The prices for CH are incredibly inflated! Reminds me of the stupid market for houses in the past decade and all the foreclosures.

          Washingtonians — do. not. bite.

          CH may well be a great place — no arguments. In any case the current prices are overpriced, like they’re overpriced, like they’re overpriced.

          Do not sell out!

  • Anonymous

    The shootings on Sherman say it all about CH: Sanitized suburban shopping experience on one street, stupid ghetto violence just a few blocks away.

    It’s the worst of both worlds!

  • mark

    Are you the same “TR” or a different one? Because you’ve gone from wanting to leave because “the gentrification is just skin deep”, to wanting to leave because “CH is well on its way to gentrification.” I’m pretty sure you don’t know what the term means, or even if you want it or not. But that’s beside the point.

    The point is, urban, walkable, transit oriented neighborhoods are rare and popular — so popular, in fact, that even a high crime rate doesn’t deter people from paying top dollar to live there. But you haven’t answered my question about which urban neighborhood you’re moving to, that will be as convenient, but less crowded, less expensive, and safer.

    • TR

      You are an idiot.

      Read your own reply to my post, which has no real question or point.

      I did however want to respond to you, but seeing now that you are a lone idiot having a conversation with yourself, I see no reason to carry on.

      Besides everything you just said in this last post is exactly why Columbia Heights is not for me, but obviously for you. Feel free to pay top dollar for a high crime, urban, walkable, and transit oriented neighborhood. It’s your money.

      • El Gringo

        Vote with your housing dollars.

        That’s what everyone else is doing.

        …and even super-high priced places like Highland Park above the CH metro has 99% occupancy…and it’s $2600/month to get into their *cheapest* 2 bdrm!

        It may not be your preference (it’s not mine) but there is clearly a large demand for it.

  • Laughing
  • My2Cents

    Who cares? Hate on Target or IHOP or the Wonderland Ballroom or whatever you want to hate on. I’m going to hate on Anacostia, Herndon and for just the giggles of it, the entire state of Idaho.
    The fact is that if I consume too much beer at Wonderland and then stop at IHOP, I then need to visit the Target to buy toilet paper. (Pancakes don’t stick with you when you aren’t sober)
    I’ve never been to Anacostia or Idaho, so I don’t know much about them. I have been to Herndon and it’s what happens when a truck stop grows unchecked. I still hate all 3.
    The whole point is it’s all pointless. I hate your neighborhood, you hate mine. I call you names and you call me names. The anonymous poster wins every time with the snark and vitriol we expect.


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