The Washington, DC region is great >> and it can be greater.


Want the urban lifestyle? DC's best corner is...

Imagine a generic urbanist. Someone who loves walkable, transit-friendly, mixed-use cities. Without knowing where this hypothetical person works, where their friends live, or how much money they might have, what single DC street corner would be the most ideal place for him or her to live?

Put simply, what's DC's most livable urban address?

14th and P is the epicenter of everything. Image from Google.

The answer is 14th and P, NW.

There are thousands of great places to live all over the DC region, but to find the singular best corner, one has to apply some pretty strict criteria.

The ideal corner will be within easy walking distance of all 5 Metrorail lines. It will be on a major commercial main street, within one block of a supermarket. It will have bikeshare access, and it will be near a wide variety of shopping and dining amenities. There will be a park nearby, but it need not be quite as close as the supermarket.

The Metrorail requirement eliminates everything but Downtown and the southern end of Dupont & Logan. The Capitol Hills and Columbia Heights of the world are wonderful, but comparatively less well-connected.

The major grocers in that area include the Safeway at 5th and L, the new Giant at O Street Market, the Safeway at 17th and Corcoran, and the Whole Foods at 14th and P.

5th Street and O Street have fewer other amenities nearby. Chinatown is close, but not right there. They're less desirable than the other two.

Corcoran Street has all the amenities, but it's on the very outer edge of walkable from the Orange & Blue Lines.

That leaves P Street. It's at the middle of all 5 Metro lines, on 3 major bus routes, has a bikeshare station, and is within a block of the best cycletrack in the city. It has a grocery store, a CVS, a hardware store, and tons of restaurants right there. Logan Circle park is a block away. All the riches of the 14th Street corridor are in easy reach. It's perfect.

And that's why 14th and P is the city's most livable urban corner. Others are nice, others may be better for you given your circumstances, but 14th and P is the prime address.

But what do you think?

Cross-posted at BeyondDC.

Dan Malouff is a transportation planner for Arlington and professor of geography at George Washington University, but blogs to express personal views. He has a degree in urban planning from the University of Colorado, and lives in NE DC. He runs BeyondDC and contributes to the Washington Post


Add a comment »

I agree. If only for the great mix of it's housing stock.

by Thayer-D on Dec 12, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

I'd rather be on quiet Church St, just behind 14th & P, but yeah, that is an awesome spot. But being in the middle of multiple Metro stops is not as nice as being within 2 blocks of a Metro stop. Hurry up and build a line under M St!

by Michael on Dec 12, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

Sure it's a great spot. That's why it's one of the very most expensive places to live in the city.

I'm not quite sure it can count as most livable if only a top echelon--a minority even of well-educated Greater Greater readers--can afford to live there.

by that guy on Dec 12, 2013 11:53 am • linkreport

Your criteria of an "easy" walk to all 5 Metro lines forced your choice down to an area that is actually kind of an equidistant pain in the butt to get to any Metro line. 15 minutes to Red, 10+ minutes to Blue/Orange, and 15 minutes to Green/Yellow.

by MLD on Dec 12, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

14th & U is better solely for closer Metro access.

Also, the most "liveable" cities in the world are also among the most expensive. Affordability is not a prerequisite.

by Phil on Dec 12, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

Well then its simple. We can create more areas like 14th and P in the city. In some places that mean more density. In others, more transit. In others still, both.

by drumz on Dec 12, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

I wouldn't call Whole Foods a "grocery store," at least not on my budget. But if being in the middle of a bunch of overhyped, overcrowded, overpriced restaurants is your idea of the good life, it is pretty hard to beat that location.

by jimble on Dec 12, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

drumz +1 with the caveat that architecture is very important. People like character, and that's what Logan Circle has in spades. I don't think you can legislate character, but to think it will simply spring up by it self is not realistic. Fortunatley, DC still has some great neighborhoods full of character. I'm looking at you, Rhode Island Avenue...

by Thayer-D on Dec 12, 2013 11:59 am • linkreport

I'd still rather be downtown east (ie a block or two from 7th and h St NW). Sure maybe grocery is a little further but you are closer to all types of transit and the restaurants are better.

You are also discounting access to the most important transit station in the whole region - union station. Easily walkable from my location but not yours.

by h st ll on Dec 12, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

I agree with MLD, generally if you are close to that many Metro stations, you aren't really close to any of them. I go up to to that area from time to time and it's always just a bit annoying to get to.

by Steven Yates on Dec 12, 2013 12:12 pm • linkreport

As pointed out above I'm a huge fan of being a couple of blocks away from main drags. If I had my druthers I'd say somewhere between T and P on 15th or 17th

by BTA on Dec 12, 2013 12:14 pm • linkreport

The fact that there is only one of these corners is a good summary of DC's problems with urban design.

by Tyro on Dec 12, 2013 12:15 pm • linkreport

Kind of mind blowing for us old timers. It's not that long ago that 14th & P was the epicenter for prostitution and not much else.

by c5karl on Dec 12, 2013 12:17 pm • linkreport

Logan has probably the highest ped commuter rate in the city right? Lots of people are so close to work not mention other destinations you generally don't even need to think about getting on transit and if you do 16th and 14th have a plethora or bus options, not to metion stuff like CaBi or the occasional taxi when you need to take a lot of stuff with you.

by BTA on Dec 12, 2013 12:18 pm • linkreport

14th & U, of course is getting a Trader Joes.

Within a few years, Capitol Riverfront/Navy Yard, which already has three metro lines within a ten minute walk and good bus service, will have two grocery stores in the immediate neighborhood and Safeway a 20-minute walk away. There are more dining and nightlife options, also, it seems evey day.

by 202_cyclist on Dec 12, 2013 12:21 pm • linkreport

I'd probably opt to live a little closer to U street or in Shaw but at that point I'd be riding my bike a lot more leading to less reliance on metro.

HOWEVER, when the weather isn't terrible I'll totally get off at McPherson and simply walk up 14th to U street/environs. It's about a mile and I like walking. Plus on the weekends it could probably save time from dealing with a transfer.

by drumz on Dec 12, 2013 12:22 pm • linkreport

Agree on everything but one major omission: the schools in that area aren't the best. Shouldn't a major criteria of urban living be that you can walk to a decent neighborhood school?

by Bob on Dec 12, 2013 12:24 pm • linkreport

I wouldn't say there aren't other places that qualify, CityCenter is pretty well positioned. And if you can live without the Red Line the Waterfront/Navy Yard area could tick most of the boxes with some reigning in of the roads in the area. Now that I think about it I'm kinda surprised CityCenter doesnt have some kind of grocery component to the plan like a Dean and Deluca or something.

by BTA on Dec 12, 2013 12:26 pm • linkreport

Shush, or we'll never be able to afford it! :-)

by Matt O'Toole on Dec 12, 2013 12:30 pm • linkreport

I love Foggy Bottom.

by LoyalColonial on Dec 12, 2013 12:43 pm • linkreport

I agree that 14th and P is a great area, right in the center of everything. But I don't understand why one of the criteria is being walkable to ALL Metro lines. U Street, Columbia Heights, Dupont, Foggy Bottom, etc. are all great urban neighborhoods. I don't understand why having to transfer when going across town disqualifies them.

Especially when, as much as I love 14th and P, I consider its comparative LACK of Metro access a deterrent sometimes--I usually Uber, rather than spend an extra 15 minutes walking from one of the Metro stations (on every line).

by DM on Dec 12, 2013 12:44 pm • linkreport

It's a really nice area for sure and I go there fairly often (Whole Foods, etc.) but I don't think most people would consider it to be within walking distance of *any* Metro lines. Sure I'd do it, but what about the average person or in the summer? I doubt it.

Rather than specifying access to 5 Metro lines, and replaced that with "excellent transit access" then places like 14th & U Street (GR/YL, 90s/50s/Circ, Meridian Hill, Yes/Trader Joes, diverse housing stock) might be a bit better positioned.

I do think the sweet spot is somewhere among Shaw, Logan, and Dupont.

by Jonathan P on Dec 12, 2013 12:46 pm • linkreport

Does the generic urbanist love high housing prices? That's not a rebuke of 14th and P St. as the best urban corner in DC, but I don't think a simple, back of the envelope analysis can omit what is likely the most important requirement for an individual or family.

by Fitz on Dec 12, 2013 12:47 pm • linkreport

In addition to requiring access to all five Metro lines, I'd say having a supermarket within 1 block is too strict of a requirement. I'd increase it to a 3 block max, allowing you a move over towards 11th and O, NW. That gives about a 5 minute walk to the O Street Giant and less than 10 minutes to the Whole Foods. You're a 5 minute walk from Yellow and Green Lines and 10-15 minutes from Red/Orange/Blue if transferring trains freaks you out and you're ok with walking a tad farther.

by jh on Dec 12, 2013 1:07 pm • linkreport

I agree that 14th and P is just far enough from ALL rail lines that it's not convenient to any of them.

by recyclist on Dec 12, 2013 1:09 pm • linkreport

If this had been asked 10 years ago, I would've said 17th & P (which is closer to a good school/metro line). But the center of urban life continues to trek Eastward.

by Brett on Dec 12, 2013 1:21 pm • linkreport

I live there - in that building. YES! My whole existence has been validated lol.

by David on Dec 12, 2013 1:28 pm • linkreport

Also, the most "liveable" cities in the world are also among the most expensive.

Livable and high wages always have a positive correlation, nothing new there. Most people moved here for the money, let's be real! Take the government away and it would as livable as Detroit is right now. The streets of DC would shrivel up like a worm in the sun.

by Seth-Moved to DC in 2012- on Dec 12, 2013 1:59 pm • linkreport

Nope, won't have the hardware store anymore. Logan Hardware is moving up here to 14th and S.

MetroRail is pretty worthless to residents around here so how many lines we have doesn't matter. We mostly walk, MetroBus or cab.

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 12, 2013 2:05 pm • linkreport

I'm curious who uses 5 metro lines.

by charlie on Dec 12, 2013 2:16 pm • linkreport

I've lived at the intersection for four years and agree completely. My commute is a 15 minute walk to DuPont. The convenience of walking to a local hardware store, 24-hour drug store, grocery store, barber shop, dry cleaner, liquor stores, dive bars, restaurants and great parks within one block dramatically improves everyday quality of life. There are entire weekends that I don't leave that block because there is just no reason to, and there are entire weeks that go by without getting in a car or riding a bus or metro.

by Wil on Dec 12, 2013 2:35 pm • linkreport

A functioning metro system would eliminate the need for living near all five lines. I disagree from a transit standpoint that this is an ideal location.

by MJ on Dec 12, 2013 2:40 pm • linkreport

I live at 17th/P which is damn convenient to everything and I rarely take even the Red Line, but living on P street is nice because it's an easy walk to the Blue/Orange line when heading to Eastern Market, DCA, or spots in Arlington.

by Mony on Dec 12, 2013 2:58 pm • linkreport

I'd move it to 10th and N. One block from a park, one block from a grocery store, two blocks from a park (one block from a small park), one block from a strip of bars and restaurants, three blocks from the Yellow/Green Line, six blocks from blue/orange/red, AND it's a quiet, residential street with a bike lane that remains more affordable than the immediate surroundings of Logan Circle.

by smax on Dec 12, 2013 3:08 pm • linkreport

The idea that 14th and P is better connected than, say, Columbia Heights is complete bull.

Sure, you have to transfer, but I can transfer to any line faster than I could walk to any metro station from 14th and P.

Better connected? Riiiiiight.

by JoeyDC on Dec 12, 2013 3:18 pm • linkreport

The question bothers me as the answer seems to focus on best neighborhood, not best corner. I would opt for 14th & Rhode Island as a better corner in the same neighborhood. I would also opt for 13th & U as a corner/neighborhood, as you are on top of a metro station with great outdoor street life, and wonderful brownstones to the north and south, with stoops made for enjoying the street activity. I will match up Meridian Hill/Malcolm X park with any in the city as a neighborhood amenity.

by Just Me on Dec 12, 2013 3:47 pm • linkreport

I know it's not in DC, but I think it's hard to beat 34th and Bunker Hill. Within a block you've got a park, a library, a half dozen frequent bus lines going to DC, UMD, and Takoma, a well-stocked locally owned grocery store, several restaurants, a movement emporium, a good amount of retail for day-to-day needs, and some inspiring abandoned buildings. The intersection itself actually contains parking for up to 5 bicycles. And 14th and P is a mere 75-minute walk.

by 20712 on Dec 12, 2013 3:54 pm • linkreport

When my mother came to Washington during THE war, she lived on RI Ave. She remembers riding the bus home and hearing a woman request to get off at "14th and P." The bus driver's response was "I'll stop, but I can't wait."

by Capt. Hilts on Dec 12, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

I just want to shout-out to the far-superior-to-Safeway Capitol Supermarket on 11th between M & N, NW. Definitely a value-add to this most ideal of intersections.

by David Edmondson on Dec 12, 2013 4:25 pm • linkreport

& it's probably no coincidence that the 15th & P Cabi stop is the most used in the system.

by Kolohe on Dec 12, 2013 5:19 pm • linkreport

WHY do "experts" always connect transit like Metro to livability in inner city neighborhoods? Do they actually think people in Logan or Dupont thrill at being able to quickly take Metro to cafes, etc. in Congress Heights, Deanwood, Greenbelt etc? Don't they realize Metro is basically a suburban commuter train line with almost no functioning as inner-city transit?

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 12, 2013 5:50 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris

As a resident of Dupont, no, I do not thrill at being able to quickly take Metro to Congress Heights, or Deanwood, or Greenbelt. But I do thrill at being able to quickly take Metro for dinners and nights out in Chinatown, for shopping at Friendship Heights, for visiting my friends in Arlington, for reading and checking out books at MLK library, for easy access to DCA, and the list goes on. Metro is by no means perfect, but to suggest that it has almost no function as an inner-city transit is silly. I'm sorry that you do not find Metro useful for your inner-city transit needs but I certainly do.

by JDS32 on Dec 12, 2013 6:25 pm • linkreport

Perfect if you are well paid and childless.

by David H (left DC in 2000) on Dec 12, 2013 7:16 pm • linkreport

the epicenter for prostitution

Where is that now? (I'm asking for a friend)

by David C on Dec 12, 2013 9:05 pm • linkreport

As an interesting side note, the only place in New Orleans (as of a year plus ago when I checked) with an 800 (perfect) walk score is 800 Bourbon Street - home of Oz, the oldest gay bar in the United States.

by Alan S. Drake on Dec 12, 2013 10:26 pm • linkreport

@David H is spot on -- 'perfect if you are well paid and childless'...

The problem with Metro DC/DMV -- and the United States more generally -- is that these kind of livable, urban environments are the exception and not the rule.

by James on Dec 12, 2013 11:22 pm • linkreport

@Alan S. Drake
...only place in New Orleans...with an 800 (perfect) walk score...
What walk score system uses 800? The most common walkscore system called "Walk Score ® " goes from 0-100.

by Seth-Moved to DC in 2012- on Dec 13, 2013 7:20 am • linkreport

sorry, my apologies. It was over a year ago. It has a walk score of 800 Bourbon Street has a walk score of 100.

by Alan S. Drake on Dec 13, 2013 8:20 am • linkreport

Seth-Moved to DC in 2012. Move away man.

by NE John on Dec 13, 2013 8:25 am • linkreport

The entire concept of walkability is beginning to smack of elitism. It's defining characteristics, at least as practice around here, is strongly titled to affluent areas. Walkability as code for exclusion?

How much income diversity is left in this area? Central Union Mission was chased out to make way for the affluent walkables.

This area is being completely rebuilt with expensive housing, restaurants and stores. The incoming population is likely unrooted, transient, anonymous, and unconnected to the area. They are likely to walkability right over you, should you collapse on the sidewalk.

The concept of "walkability" reminds me of college rankings. Too bad you didn't get into Harvard! Too bad you're not living at 14th and P! (In this case, I think the fallback choice Irving and 14th is far better. It actually has a Metro stop, and hasn't been completely ruined by high-end developers)

by kob on Dec 13, 2013 10:07 am • linkreport

"The incoming population is likely unrooted, transient, anonymous, and unconnected to the area. "

I used to have a name, till I began to walk and bike and eat frozen yogurt. Then I became anonymous. Please give me curb cuts, large parking lots, wide uncrossable arterials, and super blocks, so I can get a name again.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 13, 2013 10:10 am • linkreport

The entire concept of walkability is beginning to smack of elitism. It's defining characteristics, at least as practice around here, is strongly titled to affluent areas. Walkability as code for exclusion?
I agree completely. We need to make sure places aren't walkable, because then they'll be open to everyone! Better yet, we need to make them inaccessible by transit. That would be the ultimate anti-elitist move, and would make them truly open to everyone. Well, except those who can't afford cars, or are too young to drive, or can't drive due to health reasons. And horrible traffic might also prevent lots of people from getting there, but that's a small price to pay.

That'll show those elitists!

by Gray on Dec 13, 2013 10:12 am • linkreport

14th and P is a little over one half mile to 15th and K, virtaully the center of high paid employment in the center of the metro area - the capital of the US and one of the largest metro areas in the USA. That it remained so affordable, despite a lower density of housing than today, was surely a situation that couldn't last, and was made possible only by high crime rates, problematic city services, and an upper middle and upper class population largely frightened of cities in general, and of DC in particular.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 13, 2013 10:17 am • linkreport

How much income diversity is left in this area? Central Union Mission was chased out to make way for the affluent walkables.

They also made a boatload of money and are moving to a much nicer facility that will be able to provide more services.

by drumz on Dec 13, 2013 10:21 am • linkreport

Kob does have a point. When people who have the means to choose a lifestyle choose an urban one, it does change the economics of where they choose to live.

That's not walkability's fault, though. These are walkable areas that gentrified, gaining more resources in the process. The problem is that a lot of the walkable areas are gentrifying, and people who can't afford the rents there are stuck moving to old suburbs.

by Neil Flanagan on Dec 13, 2013 10:22 am • linkreport

True, changes can mean negative things. But that's part of the overarching economic system we have than any specific feature of urban/suburban life. It's easy to identify the problems but harder to understand what the alternative is.

Those alternatives are what I think a lot of people fail to consider when the argue against building more supply to meet demand re: DC's housing, etc.

by drumz on Dec 13, 2013 10:28 am • linkreport

*negative things for an individual.

by drumz on Dec 13, 2013 10:31 am • linkreport

@Neil Flanagan:
These are walkable areas that gentrified, gaining more resources in the process. The problem is that a lot of the walkable areas are gentrifying, and people who can't afford the rents there are stuck moving to old suburbs.
Yes, this is related to the discussion a couple of days ago about how refusing to build anything in areas where there's lots of demand (i.e. already gentrified) means that developers have to build in other areas. And because they can only build a small amount even there, they build exclusively luxury housing. So this is what we get.

by Gray on Dec 13, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

"Imagine a generic urbanist."

This is dystopian. Though an article that pinpoints an intersection that is the epicenter of development projects and yuppie desirability doesn't add much to the conversation. Walkability is an important concept, but how different would an article have been if the question one "where can I find the most expensive 1 BR condo in DC?"

Of course 14th street is a nice place to live!

Also, walkable for whom? A 20 or 30 something who works downtown and goes to happy hour at Pearl Dive? For sure. What about a family who would prefer walkability to a park? (Arguably, Malcolm X is the answer.) Or schools or libraries?

by G2013 on Dec 13, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport


>Also, walkable for whom?<

That is the essential question. Everyone will make their own spreadsheet, and 14th & P doesn't bring any special advantage. It may have access to 5 metro lines, but you need to walk some distance to each one.

Consider Foggy Bottom. The Blue/Yellow Line is in the heart of it, and can you run down the steps in less than 20 seconds. You are one-half mile from the Mall and some of the District's best jogging areas. Georgetown and Dupont are quick walks, as is downtown. There's a Trader Joes and now a modified Whole Foods. The stretch between 14th and the White House is getting increasingly lively. Oh, and there's the free early evening concerts at the Kennedy Center.

by kob on Dec 13, 2013 11:32 am • linkreport

Correction: stretch between 24th and the White House

by kob on Dec 13, 2013 11:35 am • linkreport

I knew when I saw the title of this article it would be chock-full-o'-comments. As someone mentioned, people will begin to associate or infer that from this corner, the neighborhood is better than any other. You'll be offending a lot of people, obviously those who do not live at this intersection or even nearby. Since this intersection is at the heart of Logan, while I think it's a fabulous neighborhood in many ways, it will be right for some people and not right for others (for a lot of different reasons).

I would say that it's pretty right on in terms of it being pretty central in terms of NW DC and often what people will gravitate towards in DC (not necessarily residents but if you don't know DC as an insider, think of the "attractions" that are meant to attract you). This is not to say good things don't exist in any other quadrant - they do, and development is reflecting some of this, too. Albeit, slowly, for some. Fourteenth and P streets NW are pretty much central to NW, if you think about getting to downtown, NoMA, Shaw, Dupont/Adams Morgan, and even Petworth. It's hard to beat the central location of this intersection. It also right now seems to be the center of activity/development. And, for this reason, people like it. You can do everyday shopping (groceries, etc.), you can go out with a slew of choices for restaurants, smaller music venue, to it has a lot to offer.

The argument for the metro is take it or leave it, as far as I'm concerned. It's something that I think RE agents use to make a place more appealing or less appealing. While it has some weight, the issue of having to walk 10 or 15 minutes is absurd. You get 5 different metro lines by walking in a specific direction, which is a nice perk. If you live in Adams Morgan, you have to walk 10/15 minutes in either direction to get a metro line (same amount of walking) but you only get the red line. Of course, you can transfer, but it seems that people don't want to be inconvenienced in any way. If you talk about proximity to metro, I'd take walking the same distance but having access to 5 different lines instead of 1 line, given the option. That's about choice.

It's interesting - the person who brings up walkability. I always thought walkability was appealing because well, it means that it is accessible to more people (given that you don't need to take a cab, ride a bike, public transportation or drive to get somewhere). However, point well taken in that it has also come to mean that walkability might also mean becoming more exclusive. However, this is not always the case (think Georgetown) so I don't think we can make a generalization about walkability being elitist.

by DC Anon on Dec 13, 2013 12:29 pm • linkreport

An epicenter is the point above the center (the epicenter of an earthquake is the point on the surface above the center of the quake). So if 14th & P is the epicenter, the actual center is somewhere underground. And Metro is underground! So Metro is the real center. :-)

by Steve Dunham on Dec 13, 2013 12:34 pm • linkreport

@Tom Coumaris - My cousin recently moved to a condo near 14th and P. She used to be a heavy Metro user when she lived in VA but never sets foot in it now! She says everything she needs to get to now is either a short walk or $5 cab ride away. I've noticed I hardly ever use Metrorail either, since moving to the city, although there are certain Metrobuses I use.

by Capitol Hill SE on Dec 13, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

What does cost of living or affordability have to do with it being urban or not? If anything, the cost-to-urbanness correlation simply validates that urban amenities are scarce and in high demand.

by Capitol Hill SE on Dec 13, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

@DC Anon

Regarding Adams Morgan (my neighborhood) Green is about an equal walk, especially when you consider the long escalator ride at Woodley. (I would argue that the escalators at Dupont and Woodley metros make these stations very inefficient and painful time-wise.)

Overall, there seems to be too much focus on Metro rail as essential to walkability. The buses do actually work. Adams Morgan is served by Circulator, the 42, 90s, L and few others. Once you master the bus lines and the GPS-enabled apps, bus use is very good. I use the buses way more than the Red, in particular. The Red line just isn't worth it.

by kob on Dec 13, 2013 12:53 pm • linkreport

"It's not walkability's fault!" [Deleted for violating the comment policy.]
Of course it is. We can all wax philosophical about the benefits of smart growth to our communities -- but the truth is this image of a walkable town center has been commodified and marketed exclusively to those of means. It is ruthless capitalism disguised as environmentalism or community improvement. Make no mistake, the developers gentrifying these neighborhoods are NOT some sort of benevolent force for good. They have learned that there is a lot of profit in turning neglected areas into "mixed use" retail centers (read: outdoor shopping malls with apartments on top). Do you think the Whole Foods just appeared in Logan Circle by, what, magic? No, someone decided that this would be the next playground for the rich. I live not far from Brookland where the luxury apartments being built start at nearly $2K for a 1BR. This is not equitable, and will not be until there are incentives to building housing stock for the middle class and families.
If urban planning decisions were made by the people, and not by developers, perhaps we'd have a chance at realizing smart growth as it is intended. But stop pretending that this is how it operates here in DC. A short commute to work and to happy hours is a luxury only the affluent have access to. Step outside your Ward 3 bubble and then you'd understand.

by Ginevra on Dec 13, 2013 1:30 pm • linkreport

" This is not equitable, and will not be until there are incentives to building housing stock for the middle class and families."

DC already has IZ requirements for new housing (as do some other jurisdictions) What would additional incentives look like? Are there examples of other jurisdictions that have successfully implemented them?

Once upon a time pretty much all neighborhoods in metro areas in the USA were "walkable". They were commodofied, of course, because the USA was then a capitalist society. They were not out of reach of most however. From roughly 1940 to 1990 or so, we stopped building walkable, as the population grew, and since 1990, we have built walkable again, but the population has continued to grow - and the shift in taste away from walkable has reversed. So naturally its a now a scarce good. Should we have a means other than price to allocate scarce goods - perhaps. Thought I believe making it possible for more people to have access to a short commute is more important than reallocating who gets a short commute.

by AWalkerInTheCity on Dec 13, 2013 1:42 pm • linkreport

the truth is this image of a walkable town center has been commodified and marketed exclusively to those of means

It seems more likely that the "gentrification" of walkable areas is a function of market forces: younger upper middle-class folks want to live in walkable areas where they don't have to face a two-hour a day car commute, and where they can walk to amenities. You seem to think otherwise--could you explain a mechanism whereby all of those folks would be living in a cul-de-sac in Mclean had not "developers" "commodified" the image of a walkable town center? How does that work exactly?

This is not equitable, and will not be until there are incentives to building housing stock for the middle class and families.

You haven't explained what "building housing stock for the middle class and families" means? 3 bedroom condos? Would those be cheaper than the $2000 per month 1 bedroom condo somehow? Or by "housing stock for middle class and families" do you mean razing dense urban buildings and building split-level ranch houses in culs-de-sac at 14th and P?

If urban planning decisions were made by the people, and not by developers, perhaps we'd have a chance at realizing smart growth as it is intended.

Again, what would that look like? You seem to have vague notions of malevolent forces at work, but you can't seem to put them into words besides shadowy references to "developers".

by oboe on Dec 13, 2013 1:45 pm • linkreport

Ginevra, you should hang out in Columbia Heights. It's very walkable and it's possibly the most income diverse place in the city.

by BTA on Dec 13, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

You seem to understand economics better than me. What kind of incentives create middle-class walkable areas, preserves communities, and prevent developers from making profits?

Seriously, I'm listening. The declining affordability of walkable neighborhoods is a serious problem.

by Neil Flanagan on Dec 13, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

Perhaps instead of complaining about particular neighborhoods being exclusive we should just be focused on what can make more neighborhoods around the region walkable like better zoning, better streetscaping, better transit, and enough density in whatever form works best to support neighborhood amenities.

by BTA on Dec 13, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

HOLY CRAP! Look at how much people have to say on this. WOW.

Thanks for the article. I, like everyone else here, have nothing constructive to add. Thanks.

by JM on Dec 13, 2013 2:15 pm • linkreport

Make no mistake, the developers gentrifying these neighborhoods are NOT some sort of benevolent force for good.

I don't think they're benevolent (and indeed, that's why I think there is a need for things like zoning) but they are the way we've pretty much always built our cities in this country. Gov't does the planning and developers build the buildings. What's the alternative model that DC should employ?

by drumz on Dec 13, 2013 2:21 pm • linkreport

If 14th and P is the paragon of DC urban living, that's a sad commentary on what DC has become, yet still sorely lacks. I would take just about any city block in Manhattan, Park Slope, the Back Bay, or Outremont in Montreal over this area, which has poor schools, a transient population, and very little community spirit. Not to mention that the nearby Whole Foods is without a doubt the seventh circle of hell!

by Dan on Dec 13, 2013 5:52 pm • linkreport

I don't know what the solution is -- I am not an urban planner or a lawyer or zoning expert. It's not for me to say. Maybe that's a cop out, but then again so is everyone's retort to me that my description of the realities of how smart growth has played out is invalid simply because I don't offer solutions. Surely there is some scholarly literature or case studies you can look up.
It's not that I am against smart growth; far from it. It's just that I think this community here on GGW is doing itself a disservice by ignoring the realities of implementing it within our country's capitalist framework.

by Ginevra on Dec 13, 2013 6:57 pm • linkreport

It's not that I am against smart growth; far from it. It's just that I think this community here on GGW is doing itself a disservice by ignoring the realities of implementing it within our country's capitalist framework.

I don't think GGW ignores it, in fact it's pretty much the only thing we talk about, that is, how do we shape the regions growth. For example, all te articles we have about inclusionary zoning.

Anyway, smart growth is a design philosophy foremost and its economic components deal with how to get it implemented and it's effect on municipal budgets. It's not a framework for creating or distributing wealth. So yes, in America it's meant to exist in a capitalist framework but that's because that's how our society is structured. That for good or ill, is unlikely to change.

by Drumz on Dec 13, 2013 7:35 pm • linkreport

I lived at 15th and Church for years and never ride metro, so that's a false metric. Schools is a real one, and the reason we moved.

Still in DC and unimpressed with the comment bait post.

by Dad on Dec 13, 2013 7:44 pm • linkreport

To kob, you are right - the green line is about a 10 or 15 minute walk from the Adams Morgan neighborhood. I did know that but I forgot about that one when writing my comment. It still doesn't give you access to 5 lines but it gives you a little more choice than just the red line. I'm not even going to include escalator irritations or delays or, ahem, accidents (some fatal). Anyway, I think the Adams Morgan neighborhood is only decent for being central to NW DC. It isn't bad but it isn't quite as centrally located to NW DC as the intersection of 14th and P Streets NW - like it or not - 14th and P NW simply is more central to NW DC.

I think metro access (10 or 15 minute walk is plenty close and accessible) if you live in a very walkable city or part of town. If everything is so walkable, then metro access is helpful not as necessary when you live further from the "center." Regardless, 10 or 15 minutes is not that big a deal.

by DC Anon on Dec 14, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

I dont know why the determining criteria should be all 5 Metro lines. The beauty of Metro (ok dont laugh) is if you can get on one you can connect to all. So I vote for Connecticut and Nebraska Aves NW. Dining, CVS, bus lines, walk to Vanness,Tenleytown or Friendship Heights Metros, Independently owned Politics and Prose Bookstore, Giant, Safeway, Wholefoods, Magruders, Brookville groceries, paint stores, etc., etc.

by Dee on Dec 14, 2013 2:24 pm • linkreport

HISTORIC ANACOSTIA by a longshot. Who needs 4 metro stops, when you can have real neighbors, single family homes (with porch and yard), AFFORDABILITY, Art district, walk to major bus terminal/metro-rail green line (ONE STOP FROM NATIONALS PARK), easy access to 295/395 for trips to VA/MD, Anacostia park, Future Streetcar Line, Homeland Security/St E's Development, and the character that is Frederick Douglass, and our own Smithsonian Anacostia Museum? I see tour buses over here all the time. You can't get anymore urban than the intersection of MLK Jr., Ave and Good Hope Road....

by Les Johnson on Dec 15, 2013 6:15 am • linkreport

The big advantage of both P and U I envy over my position on S is that they have Circulator stops which are enormously popular here AND they have crosstown buses which are extremely rare.

The only time any Metro is useful to me is the direct route to DCA.

by Tom Coumaris on Dec 15, 2013 11:49 am • linkreport

I miss the days when BBQ Iguana was there and the neighborhood was not that great. It was a good alternative rock club even though they had no liquor license and you had to BYOB. But there was a liquor store or two nearby if your really needed that stuff. The original 9:30 Club on F st will never be duplicated, the new one is just a renovated WUST Radio Music Hall that they stuck the 9:30 name. It would never fit into todays F street.

by Nightman on Dec 27, 2013 12:16 pm • linkreport

Add a Comment

Name: (will be displayed on the comments page)

Email: (must be your real address, but will be kept private)

URL: (optional, will be displayed)

You can use some HTML, like <blockquote>quoting another comment</blockquote>, <i>italics</i>, and <a href="http://url_here">hyperlinks</a>. More here.

Your comment:

By submitting a comment, you agree to abide by our comment policy.
Notify me of followup comments via email. (You can also subscribe without commenting.)
Save my name and email address on this computer so I don't have to enter it next time, and so I don't have to answer the anti-spam map challenge question in the future.


Support Us