Cleveland Park is the focus of this week’s Where We Live. This neighborhood has so much to offer, including great Metro access, proximity to major attractions, charming residential character, and some very cool neighborhood hangouts. It’s one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in the city, with its views of Rock Creek Park and tree-lined streets, and it is a bit removed from the urban grit of downtown. Read on for more information on Cleveland Park, including how it got its name and what to check out when you’re there.
History: Back in 1793, an aide of George Washington named Uriah Forrest built an estate called Rosedale. More estates were constructed in the area, a suburb of Washington City, throughout the nineteenth century. This was considered an upscale suburb in that era, as the higher elevation and breezes were an escape from the hot, humid air of the city. In 1886, President Glover Cleveland purchased a house in the area and remodeled it as a summer estate. Even though Cleveland lost his bid for reelection in 1888, the name Cleveland Park stuck with the neighborhood.
In the early 1890s, a streetcar line was built to serve the area, and the character of Cleveland Park changed from a collection of summer estates to a streetcar suburb, and then eventually into the neighborhood that we see today. The architectural styles of the area vary, as many were developed by the Cleveland Park Company during the streetcar boom, but many were also designed by individual architects like I.M. Pei in more recent years.
Neighborhood Character: Cleveland Park has two main commercial strips, on Wisconsin Avenue and Connecticut Avenue. In between those thoroughfares, there are rowhouses and single family homes and apartment buildings mixed together. The streets are walkable and beautiful (especially this time of year– I’m a sucker for streets full of changing leaves, just like Rachel) and lined with historic homes. The residential sections are quiet, but the Wisconsin and Connecticut corridors are bustling and active with bars, restaurants, and the Uptown Theater.
Transportation: Cleveland Park has a Red line Metro station by the same name right in the middle of its commercial corridor along Connecticut Avenue, with a majority of the neighborhood’s housing within a short walk. There’s good bus service in the neighborhood too, with the L1 and L2 buses connecting Chevy Chase with downtown, the H2 and H4 buses to Brookland and Tenleytown, or the 30 series on Wisconsin Avenue. Five Zipcars live here, and it’s a very walkable and bike-able (if you’re up for some hills) neighborhood.
What to See: Even though Cleveland Park is a little removed from downtown and more of a residential area, there’s no shortage of things to do in the neighborhood:
- Head over a few blocks to the National Cathedral. Re-enact parts of The Lost Symbol, check out the gargoyles, or take a tour. There are events happening at the cathedral every day; check the schedule for tours, film screenings, forums, and workshops.
- Visit the Zoo! DC locals know that the Woodley Park/Adams Morgan/Zoo Metro station is named incorrectly– even though the Zoo entrance on Connecticut Avenue is about equidistant from that Metro and the Cleveland Park Metro, it’s a nice downhill walk from Cleveland Park.
- You can’t visit Cleveland Park without stopping by the Uptown Theater. This theater provides an old-time movie-going experience, with balcony seating and a big screen, showing only one movie at a time. Get there early for popular movies, it fills up fast.
- There are so many great places to eat in the neighborhood. Definitely try out Dino for fantastic Italian food and a year-round restaurant week deal, Palena for great upscale New American food, or Indique for delicious Indian cuisine.
- The neighborhood has plenty of local shops too, like Potomac River Running for all your athletic needs, and Wake-Up Little Suzie for cute gifts and jewelry, right on top of the Metro station.
Neighborhood Links: I couldn’t find any bloggers who are blogging about this neighborhood (please speak up if you know of one!), but there are some active citizens’ groups here:
- The Cleveland Park Citizens Association has been around since 1911, and they’re a very active group. Marc Fisher calls them “Not in My Backyard zealots” about redevelopment in the area, but no matter how you see it, you have to admit they’re passionate about their neighborhood.
- The Cleveland Park Historical Society keeps the history of the neighborhood alive and plans community events throughout the year. They also publish a newsletter called “Voices” that focuses on the community.
Why We Love Cleveland Park: A historic neighborhood with gorgeous tree-lined streets, close to major DC attractions and a bunch of great neighborhood restaurants– what’s not to love? Cleveland Park still retains parts of its original ‘upscale suburb’ past, but now it has its own attractions to draw people from other neighborhoods. The houses are beautiful, the restaurants, bars, and shops are fantastic, and residents are close enough to downtown but far enough to have some peace and quiet. Sounds like the best of both worlds to me.