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Friday Question of the Day – Naming Neighborhoods, Is U Street a Neighborhood? (reader request)

by Prince Of Petworth July 21, 2011 at 10:22 pm 103 Comments


Photo by PoPville flickr user ewilfong

“Dear PoP,

What’s your take on this? Has U Street evolved to where it should be called a neighborhood?

If you ask people who live at 13th and T, NW where they live, they’ll probably say near U Street. Same goes from residents at 10th and V. And so on.

How’s this for neighborhood boundaries: Florida Ave. (north); T Street (south); 16th St. (west) 9th Street (east).”

Personally, I think U street is absolutely a distinct neighborhood (and I think your borders are more or less spot on.) There are certain neighborhoods like Shaw (where technically U St resides), Columbia Heights, Capitol Hill even Petworth that are so large that they have very different feels within them. I also think that neighborhood names evolve over time. One of the things I used to use was the closest metro stop name (but obviously some neighborhoods aren’t served by metro.)

We can also look at Capitol Hill which we’ve done many times in the past. The fact that some people call the area by Capitol South metro the same neighborhood name as the H St, NE area is ridiculous to me. Just like I think U Street is a neighborhood, I also think H Street NE (or Atlas District as some people call it, though I prefer H Street) is a distinct and separate neighborhood.

Having said all that – at the end of the day – I’m perfectly fine with people self identifying what neighborhood they live in. I’m not a big fan of fake Realtor names like “East Dupont” but if someone identifies their neighborhood with Ledroit Park but they really live one block from the border in Shaw, I’m not going to lose any sleep over it. I know people who are a lot older than I am and have lived here a lot longer than I have and they say they live in Petworth though they are technically over the border. Well, I have no problem with them saying they live in Petworth.

And as the city continues to change and develop I have no problem with the invention of new names like NoMa as long as the residents like it. But that’s just me.

What do you guys think?

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