Welcome to the last Where We Live of 2009! It’s been a fun year exploring DC’s neighborhoods, and to close out the year I wanted to profile one of the lesser-known neighborhoods in the city: the Palisades. This neighborhood is beautiful and scenic and has a real sense of community, but because there’s not great transit to the area it is a bit cut off from the rest of the city. And since it is lesser-known, here’s where it is: it runs along the Potomac River, from the western edge of Georgetown University all the way to the Maryland border. Read on to see why it’s worth a trip out there!
History: This is another neighborhood that was developed on a streetcar line. The area was laid out in 1893 by the Palisades Improvement Company, and was developed as a streetcar suburb on the line that connected Georgetown and Glen Echo. The residential character of the area grew, and by the twentieth century the area was being developed with large homes and estates. The streetcar line was shut down in 1961, but the prominence of the area grew. The post-war era attracted developers to fill the area with subdivisions and large homes, and today the Palisades is a mix of houses from many different eras.
Neighborhood Character: The Palisades is known for its tree-lined streets and small-town character. The area is predominately residential, but MacArthur Boulevard is the neighborhood’s commercial strip. It is lined with restaurants and shops, and it’s very walkable. This part of the city really doesn’t look like it’s part of a city at all– it really feels like a small town tucked away in a beautiful natural area. The people who live in this area don’t necessarily look like many other DC residents either: the Palisades is home to an overwhelmingly white and affluent population, with a lot more families with young children than you’d see in other neighborhoods.
Transportation: As I mentioned earlier, this area isn’t very transit accessible. It itself is a walkable neighborhood, but to get anywhere outside the neighborhood you’ll probably need a car. There are some options for buses in the area though: the D6 connects the area with downtown to Stadium-Armory, and the N6 connects via Massachusetts Avenue. No Zipcars to speak of, or bike sharing stations yet– but it’s a great area to walk or bike. The Capital Crescent Trail and the C&O Towpath (some of the area’s best bike routes) are great biking or running trails, and via bike this neighborhood is just a few minutes away from Georgetown and downtown DC.
What to See: You’d think that for being a residential-dominated neighborhood with little transit access, there wouldn’t be that much to see or do in this area. You’d be wrong! Check these options out:
- Take advantage of the natural setting. Head to Fletcher’s Cove to rent a kayak or canoe, or go fishing in the Potomac River. You can even rent a bike at Fletcher’s Cove to explore the Capital Crescent Trail.
- Do something cultural. You can check out antiques at Capital Antiques, or find some art to decorate your home at the neighborhood’s American Painting art gallery.
- Time to eat? You’ve got lots of options for great food in this neighborhood. Check out Figs for Middle Eastern food, Palisades Pizzeria for pizza or clams, or Et Voila! for great Belgian food.
- Just walk around the neighborhood and take in the beautiful architecture. Don’t miss the converted MacArthur Theater, which was showing movies from 1946 to 1997. It’s now a CVS, but a very cool looking CVS (see below).
Neighborhood Links: I may have come down hard on Cleveland Park for not having any bloggers, but at least that neighborhood has an online presence! The Palisades doesn’t have any bloggers or any websites about the neighborhood except for the local citizens’ association. The Palisades Citizens’ Association is an active group that publishes a monthly newsletter and organizes community events, like the 4th of July community parade (you’ve really gotta check it out one year!). But other than that, there’s just not much out there about the Palisades on the interwebs.
Why We Love The Palisades: There are plenty of neighborhoods in DC with tree-lined streets and beautiful rowhouses, but Palisades is just spectacular. The houses are huge, the views are gorgeous, and because it’s removed from the hustle and bustle of downtown it really feels like a small town. The proximity to nature is fantastic, and it’s hard to believe you’re still in the city when you’re walking around this area. For those who value peace and quiet, and who want a small-town feel while still living in the city, Palisades is the place for you (good luck affording it).