Welcome to another installment of Where We Live. As we’re wrapping up the District’s neighborhoods (if there’s one I haven’t yet covered that you’d like to see, speak now!) before moving onto Maryland and Virginia, this week’s feature tackles a town that sits in both the District and Maryland: Chevy Chase. This neighborhood has a charming residential character, and beautiful tree-lined streets, and it’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
History: About 130 years ago, a senator from Nevada and some friends started acquiring farmland in northwest Washington and Montgomery County to build a streetcar suburb, and in 1890 the Chevy Chase Land Company was founded. A few years later, the Chevy Chase Line started running and connected the area with downtown, and the area began developing as a middle-class residential neighborhood. The community grew around the streetcar line, and because it is a bit removed from the rest of the city (Rock Creek Park is to the east of the neighborhood), the small-town character of Chevy Chase has been preserved. While nearby Friendship Heights and Tenleytown have become homes to national chains of retail stores, Chevy Chase has retained its independent businesses.
Neighborhood Character: Chevy Chase doesn’t feel like it’s in the city. The houses are huge (and the incomes in this area are correspondingly high), and it’s more of a park-like setting with lots of big trees, rolling hills, and smaller streets. You’ll see lots of families in the area– kids playing in yards and riding bikes, and lots of strollers on the sidewalks. Almost all of the homes in this area are single family, with just a couple condo buildings on Connecticut Avenue. Since the heart of Chevy Chase is a bit removed from Connecticut Avenue, it’s a lot quieter than nearby neighborhoods of Friendship Heights and Tenleytown.
Transportation: Chevy Chase is close enough to public transportation, but the more suburban character of development in the residential parts of the neighborhood mean that buses and Metro don’t stop right outside your front door. The Van Ness, Tenleytown, and Friendship Heights Metro stations are within walking distance to some parts of the neighborhood, and several bus lines, like the L1/L2/L4 along Connecticut Avenue and the E2/E3/E4/E6 along Military Road stop in Chevy Chase. There aren’t bike sharing stations in this part of the city yet, but there are a couple Zipcars scattered along Connecticut Avenue. And if you’re interested in biking/hiking/walking/jogging, Rock Creek Park and the Capital Crescent Trail are nearby.
What to See: Next time you find yourself in this corner of the District, here are a couple things to check out:
- The Avalon Theatre first opened in 1923, and it has a great history. The non-profit Avalon Theater Project plays first-run movies in a very cool setting.
- Grab a bite to eat– most restaurants in the area are right along Connecticut Avenue. Comet Ping Pong has good pizza in a cool environment, American City Diner has the best milkshakes in DC, and Pumpernickel’s Deli has great bagels and sandwiches.
- Take advantage of the proximity to some great recreational features in the area! Go for a run in Rock Creek Park, play in a neighborhood park, or head down to Tenleytown to swim in the best pool in the city.
- There are plenty of shopping options in the area, like the Mazza Gallerie or the Chevy Chase Pavilion in Friendship Heights.
Neighborhood Links: Not a huge blogging community (unless I’m missing something), but here are some good online resources on the Chevy Chase area.
- The Chevy Chase Citizens Association is a very active neighborhood group that holds community events and meetings. Their news page keeps residents up to date on Chevy Chase issues.
- Friends of the Chevy Chase DC Library support the library through book sales and other events.
- The Maryland side of Chevy Chase gets lumped together with Bethesda a lot, like in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Trot, or even this week’s Bethesda-Chevy Chase Restaurant Week.
What’s Nearby: Chevy Chase is north of Cleveland Park and southeast of Bethesda.
Why We Love Chevy Chase: Chevy Chase is one of the District’s most beautiful neighborhoods. Walking through the hills of the neighborhood, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the city– it’s more like a wooded suburb. The houses are gorgeous (and huge), Rock Creek Park is right next door, and you’re just a short bike ride from the retail in Friendship Heights or Tenleytown. If you’ve got a family, a car, and want some space of your own while being close enough to the city, Chevy Chase is just perfect.