Where We Live: Logan Circle

Photo courtesy of
‘Logan rowhomes’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

This week: Logan Circle! With a great mix of housing and retail, good connections to the city’s transportation network, and proximity to downtown, Logan Circle is one of DC’s most sought-after neighborhoods. What makes it so great? Well…

History: Logan Circle was part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan for DC, and was called Iowa Circle until 1930, when Congress renamed it to honor Civil War hero John Logan. After the Civil War, the area became home to DC’s wealthy and powerful, and by the turn of the century it was home to many black leaders, including Mary McLeod Bethune. Logan Circle, along with nearby Shaw, became the epicenter of Black Washington in the early- to mid-1900s.

The neighborhood then attracted a number of car dealerships was was called DC’s “automobile row”, but then fell into decline by the mid-20th century (huh? Car dealerships don’t make for good community development?). The 1968 riots hit the area hard, and for most of the second half of the twentieth century the area was known for crime, drugs, prostitution, and dilapidated housing. Efforts at redeveloping the area began in the 1970s and culminated in the opening of the Whole Foods on P Street NW in 2000. Since then, the area has seen lots of high-end residential development (those old car dealerships are now luxury lofts!) as well as redevelopment of older homes. P Street NW is now one of DC’s most successful streets, with neighborhood-serving retail and mixed-use development.

Neighborhood Character: Logan Circle contains a mix of historic row houses, brand new luxury condos, and a wide variety of retail. It has one of the highest concentrations of apartments in the city and represents a variety of architectural styles, but the gentrification othat has come to the area in the past decade has significantly raised rents, and affordable housing is a concern.
Photo courtesy of
‘Vegas Lounge’
courtesy of ‘NCinDC’

14th Street NW has much to offer: art galleries, liquor stores, an odd concentration of high-end furniture and home goods stores, and some great restaurants. P Street NW between 14th Street and 15th Street is the heart of Logan Circle and also the face of gentrification (dogs everywhere! organic food! yoga!), with Whole Foods, Vida Fitness and Bang Salon, Lululemon, and Commissary.

Transportation: While not exactly close to any particular Metro station, you can easily walk from Logan Circle to any line on the Metro system. It’s 5 blocks to McPherson Square (blue/orange), 6 blocks to Dupont Circle or 7 to Farragut North (red), and 6 blocks to Shaw/Howard or 7 to U Street (green).

The 52/53/54 buses run pretty frequently along 14th Street, connecting the neighborhood to Takoma/Columbia Heights/downtown/L’Enfant Plaza. And, in very exciting news, a new Circulator route opened March 29th, connecting Logan Circle and Adams Morgan by way of U Street. It’s definitely a great new service to connect these two neighborhoods that aren’t right on a Metro line.

The neighborhood has a large number of Zipcars and a Smartbike station at 14th Street and Rhode Island Avenue NW. The area is very walkable, and it shows: 38% of Logan Circle residents walk all the way to their jobs.

Points of Interest:

  • Catch a show. Studio Theater, located at 14th and P, it opened in 1979 and was a major anchor of redevelopment in the area. Check out the schedule.
  • Outfit your home. Logan Circle has become the center of home decoration in DC. Get some tools at Logan Hardware, green up your place with some indoor plants at the Garden District, and get some furniture at Reincarnation Furnishings, Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams,  Home Rule, or Maison 14.
  • All that furniture shopping has probably made you hungry. Lucky for you, there are some great restaurants in the area, including newcomer Posto on 14th Street. The crowds there caused WaPo restaurant critic Tom Sietsema to remark, “If there’s any doubt Logan Circle can use more restaurants, [Posto] disproves that notion.” Other neighborhood favorites include Thai Tanic for affordable and delicious Thai and Lalibela for an unforgettable Ethiopian experience.
  • The neighborhood has its share of bars, including gay hotspots Halo and BeBar. Wine bar Cork opened recently just up 14th Street, Helix on Rhode Island Avenue offers a good selection of drinks in a very trendy atmosphere, and Stoney’s offers a more low-key, relaxed neighborhood bar feel.

Neighborhood Blogs:

  • 14th & You: Lots of information on development in the 14th Street corridor, as well as community news and crime reports.
  • Borderstan: Community-oriented blog focused on public safety, local businesses, and community events in the area between 14th and 16th Streets NW and P and S Streets NW.
  • district, schmistrict: A twentysomething married couple blogs about local businesses, development, food, and culture.
  • Logan Circle News: While not exactly ‘news’ (it’s updated once a month, if that), this blog posts information about community events and public safety.

Why We Love It: Logan Circle has much of what city dwellers want: good restaurants, a grocery store you can walk to, a variety of housing types, access to public transportation, and great places to hang out (the tables in front of Whole Foods, the outdoor patios along P Street NW, the circle itself), all within walking distance to downtown. While it’s not perfect—there’s still crime, the section of 14th Street between N and Rhode Island is a mess, and rising housing prices have forced out many lifelong residents—it’s about as close as you can get in this city. So readers, tell us: what else do you love about this neighborhood?

Shannon grew up in the greater DC area/Maryland suburbs, went to Virginia for college and grad school (go Hoos!), and settled in DC in 2006. She’s an urban planner who loves transit (why yes, that is her dressed as a Metro pylon for Halloween), cities, and all things DC. Email her at Shannon (at) WeLoveDC.com!

13 thoughts on “Where We Live: Logan Circle

  1. Logan Circle is my go-to for everything – I always go to the Whole Foods (when in need of the whole-foody kind of stuff) and love love love Logan Tavern. I keep telling myself I’ll go to a yoga class there, but I have gotten some awesome stuff at lulu. I live at 12th & mass, and can’t wait until I can actually *afford* something much closer to Logan. It has a very nice neighborhoody feel.

  2. Thank you for linking to reputable sources in the history section of this post! As a librarian it irks me to no end to see bloggers who link to nothing but Wikipedia. Well done!

  3. Far too many Tyrones in Logan Circle. They need to be moved.

    Stoney’s is good, though.

  4. Great round-up of Logan Circle highlights! Some of my favorites that weren’t mentioned include ACKC for all your chocolate needs, Redeem for fashion assistance, and Rice for my favorite approach to Thai (and of course, rice) in the city.

    I also have no idea what a “Tyrone” is…

  5. If you think there are too many crackheads in Logan now, you should’ve seen it in the eighties/nineties. Or Thomas Circle as the hotbed of prostitution in the nineties. Comparatively it’s all so much better…

    I lived right on the circle in ’97-’00 and regret so much not buying then and there – houses on Kingman and Vermont in the 350′s. Crazy days.

  6. I love the fact that I can bring my dog into Logan Hardware. I wish more businesses allowed that. Not only do I get some errands done, my lab gets a walk too. He doesn’t do so well being tied up outside, so going next door to Whole Foods on the same trip is out of the question unfortunately.

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