Thanks to your great suggestions telling me where you live, we have several more neighborhoods in the District, Virginia, and Maryland to profile over the coming weeks. This week, we’re heading back in to DC to look at a very neighborly neighborhood: Bloomingdale. It’s a beautiful neighborhood close to the center of town but it feels worlds away. Read on to find out what makes Bloomingdale a great community, and the number one thing that residents love about the neighborhood.
History: Bloomingdale wasn’t part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan, and started out as a pretty rural area. It was next to the planned suburb LeDroit Park, and didn’t really see much residential development until the 1890s when streets were paved and a streetcar connected through the area. Bloomingdale quickly became home to rowhouses, churches, and schools, and it has remained a quiet residential neighborhood ever since. More on the history of Bloomingdale over at Bloomingdale DC.
Neighborhood Character: If you want to live in a neighborhood where everybody knows your name, this is your place. The neighborhood consists of several blocks of tree-lined streets of Victorian rowhouses with porches and front stoops, and residents make use of them. Elle, In Bloom writer and area resident of about a year, says that her favorite thing about the neighborhood is that “it can take over an hour to walk a block because my neighbors all want to say hello and have a chat.”
The heart of the commercial side of Bloomingdale centers on Rhode Island Avenue and First Street NW. There’s yoga, food, and liquor here, but many residents head over to U Street or downtown for a larger selection of bars and restaurants.
Transportation: There’s no Metro station in Bloomingdale, and the closest Metro stations (Shaw-Howard University and New York Avenue) are both more than half a mile away. But Bloomingdale has good bus access, with the G8 and 80 coming right through the neighborhood, and several other bus lines stop nearby too. Capital Bikeshare will soon have a station in Bloomingdale, and Zipcar already serves it. But because it’s a bit removed from the Metro and downtown, Bloomingdale really feels like a small town suburb, and residents like it that way.
What to See: Bloomingdale is a small neighborhood, so it doesn’t have a huge commercial district. But there’s enough here that it is worth a visit:
- Bloomingdale hosts a number of community events, including a fantastic weekly farmers’ market (Sundays from 10 AM to 2 PM) and an annual Halloween block party called the Thomas Street Spooktacular.
- If you have visitors coming from out of town but just can’t find space for them in your studio apartment, tell them about the Bloomingdale Inn, a fantastic bed and breakfast in the neighborhood.
- Hungry? Big Bear Cafe is a local favorite, and Windows Cafe has good sandwiches. But for a truly unique experience, try Thai X-ing. It’s fantastic Thai food and a dining experience you won’t get anywhere else in the city.
- Neighbors swear by Timor Bodega, an organic grocery featuring local produce.
- Get outside (okay, maybe once this ridiculous weather calms down a bit)! Bloomingdale is home to the lovely Crispus Attucks Park, a neighborhood park that Elle calls “a beautiful example of what a community can achieve together.” And while the 25-acre McMillan Reservoir is just to the north of Bloomingdale, it is fenced off and inaccessible. But what if it was reclaimed as park space?
Why We Love Bloomingdale: It’s a neighborhood where residents love their front stoops, where families, college students, long-time residents, and immigrants get to know one another, and where the small town suburban feel has remained despite significant development over the years. Many District neighborhoods wouldn’t really quality as ‘communities’ as they’re full of residents who don’t really know their neighbors, but Bloomingdale is just the opposite.
Em of Metro-Venture, who has lived in Bloomingdale for three years, says it perfectly: “It sounds kind of silly, but you remember when you were a kid and watched Sesame Street and you wanted to live in the kind of place where people sit on their stoops and walk down the street and wave hi to each other? Bloomingdale is that kind of place and what I like best is that it’s an authentic urban neighborhood where people genuinely care about each other.”