Monday, November 14, 2011

Capitol Hill

While the rest of the world knows Capitol Hill as the seat of the U.S. Congress, Washingtonians know that it's also a great neighborhood, at once both intimate and stately, yuppified and rough around the edges. It's where I lived when I arrived in 1983, jobless with little furniture, in a roach infested apartment where the bathroom was in the hall just beyond our locked front door, just above a corner grocery that had seen better days. And it's also the site of my first real Washington home, a rented room in a typical rowhouse, where the landlord quickly became my dear friend, the scene of late nights laughing, creative cooking, and Sade playing on the stereo. And then after that, it was the place where I had my very own apartment, albeit with a one-butt kitchen and no air conditioning.

When the time came to buy a house, my husband and I hopefully looked at several Capitol Hill properties and finally realized we could get more for our money and fewer home renovation worries if we bought a house in Upper Northwest. But my enthusiasm for Capitol Hill has never really waned and it was great to be back there recently, passing by the places I lived, seeing how the neighborhood had both changed and endured.

Green and low rise, lined with nineteenth century mansions and early 20th century rowhomes, Capitol Hill is kind of the place where you know your neighbors because you see them every day walking dogs, tending their tiny yards, and sitting on the stoop, watching the world pass by.   And though parking is at a premium, there's actually precious little traffic except for on a few main arteries like Pennsylvania Avenue and East Capitol Street.

Quiet streets

Great architectural details.

Amazingly enough, this quiet alley is just two short blocks from the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, and the Library of Congress.  It feels like miles and decades away from the hustle and bustle of lawmaking.


  1. I, too, love that part of DC and have had dreams of owning one of those beautiful historical soon as we win the lottery :) Great to go back there again through your post, thanks!

  2. Lovely post, great neighborhood... and not really out of reach, by the way, for those who would like to live here. There are homes of all sizes and price ranges in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. No lottery required : )

  3. Ah, bringing back fond memories of my English basement apartment on North Carolina Ave, & daily shopping at my absolute favorite DC institution: Eastern Market. Great place to live -- if you don't have school-age kids.

  4. You are inspiring me for a possible Washington, DC move! We lived in the NW (Cleveland Park) last time, but I'd love to try something new.

  5. Ann: You would particularly enjoy Eastern Market with its many different food stalls -- butchers, greengrocers, etc. Stay tuned for a post, particularly about the blueberry buckwheat pancakes served at the lunch counter on the weekends.