loading...

Shepherd Park: DC’s Garden of Diversity

by Shilpi Paul

image
Shepherd Park

When young people in DC couple up and start a life together, many start looking towards the suburbs for homes that give their families some breathing room. But in recent years, Shepherd Park, a neighborhood with suburb-quality homes, leafy streets, bicycling kids, neighborhood picnics, and a great elementary school, has become an affordable destination within the city borders.

An Interesting Integration Story

Shepherd Park is located at the top of DC’s diamond and is roughly bounded by Eastern Avenue to the north, Georgia Avenue to the east, Fern Street and Alaska Avenue to the south, and 16th Street to the west. Some extend the western border a few blocks further, to Rock Creek Park.

Even for ever-shifting DC, Shepherd Park has had a particularly fascinating integration story. “Shepherd Park’s unofficial slogan is The Garden of Diversity,” Tim Shuy, a neighborhood resident and current president of the Shepherd Park Civic Association, told UrbanTurf.

Originally a largely Protestant community due to covenants that banned Jewish and African-American citizens, in the 1940’s and 50’s Shepherd Park opened its arms to the city’s Jewish population, which, according to the Ohev Shalom National Synagogue website, came to comprise about 80 percent of the neighborhood during those decades. Though many of those families have moved away, the neighborhood still has two active synagogues and a moderate Jewish population.

image
A recently sold home in the neighborhood.

The next change in population occurred in the late 1950’s and 60’s, when African-American families moved to the neighborhood. Amidst the civil rights activity going on around the nation, an organization called Neighbors Incorporated (NI) aimed to keep Shepherd Park and the surrounding neighborhoods intentionally interracial and to achieve a balance of white and black residents. From an academic paper written by Catholic University:

“The organization saw neighborliness as fulfilling the newly expressed national commitment to racial desegregation. By choosing integrated housing, the NI white families gave up the white privilege of ignoring the racial inequalities created by segregated housing markets; they experienced what could happen in black neighborhoods: city agencies cutting services and public schools declining.”

image
Ohev Shalom, Courtesy of Green Prophet

The area still prides itself on its diversity, and residents speak proudly of having neighbors of all races. Along with ethnic diversity, the community has age diversity, as in recent years, the area has become a favorite destination for young families, who have moved in alongside families that have been there for multiple generations. “My next door neighbors work for the government, two doors down is the Ambassador to Malta, next to them is a family who has owned the home for generations,” Shuy explains.

A Lack of Retail…For a Few More Years

Perhaps because of activist roots, you can still find a lot of civic activity in Shepherd Park. ANC meetings, community meetings and various hearings are full of vocal citizens.

Recently, plenty of civic action has surrounded one of the city’s biggest development stories, which is happening right at Shepherd Park’s southern border: the redevelopment of Walter Reed. The expansive plans on the boards feature 3.1 million square feet of development, including 90 townhomes, 1,864 multifamily units and more than 100 homes for homeless veterans. Retail is also planned, including perhaps a Wegman’s, and the site will have two bilingual charter schools (one Spanish-English, one Chinese-English) and a Howard University ambulatory care center.

image
The current land use plan for the redevelopment of Walter Reed. Click to enlarge.

Though the retail portion won’t be built for several years, the neighbors have been actively participating in the community meetings surrounding the reuse plan. “A lot of neighbors are involved,” said Shuy. “It’s a unique opportunity to shape the neighborhood character and provide jobs and amenities.”

Until the development is complete (the project will arrive in stages over the coming decades), residents travel to Silver Spring for necessities and occasionally to the shops on Georgia Avenue. Shepherd Park’s relative proximity to downtown DC—compared to the outer suburbs—is a selling point: Shuy and his family actually move to Shepherd Park from the suburbs in order to be closer to the city. That said, the lack of retail may be the biggest reason that Shepherd Park is not talked about as much as other neighborhoods.

Chevy Chase Homes, Shepherd Park Prices

Shepherd Park’s location at the northern point of DC also gives it an interesting “two-world” position—closer in than the suburbs and ruled by the DC government, but still full of large family-friendly homes.

The housing stock and atmosphere is spacious, leafy and family friendly. On streets with names like Iris, Hemlock and Holly, the large single-family homes sit on big lots surrounded by mature trees. Many were built within a short time frame in the 1920’s and 30’s, but they look varied, with brick, stucco and stone facades on Tudors, Colonials and Spanish Haciendas. Most families have at least one car in their garage, though the Silver Spring Metro is within a mile of most homes and bus lines run up 16th Street and Georgia Avenue.

image
Shepherd Park Playground. Courtesy of Shepherd Park Citizens Association.

The homes that sold recently have three to five bedrooms and are going for roughly between $400,000 and $700,000, with some outliers on either end. Though new housing rarely becomes available—right now, there are just five listings on the market—Shuy tells us that many of the new residents who manage to find homes are young families. This year at the annual picnic, about 400 people showed up, many new families with children.

Schools

The young families are likely drawn in by one very important factor: a very good elementary school. Shepherd Park Elementary is in the neighborhood and is spoken of highly. Students are also served by San Miguel Middle School and Coolidge High School. A few private schools are nearby as well, including the Lowell School and St. John’s College High School.

The Bottom Line

With a history of intentional diversity and the upcoming development project at Walter Reed, Shepherd Park has the stability and know-how to accommodate change while maintaining the essence that it has had for decades.

  • Zip Code: 20012
  • Shepherd Park real estate data from Redfin

 

See other articles related to: shepherd park, hoods

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/shepherd_park_dcs_garden_of_diversity/5711

2 Comments

  1. Lindsay Clark said at 2:28 pm on Friday June 29, 2012:

    Shepherd Park is a great neighborhood with a lot to offer! Great article. One thing to note, is the neighborhood middle school for Shepherd Park is Deal Middle School, according to the DCPS website http://dcatlas.dcgis.dc.gov/schools/

  1. DCviaSD said at 10:54 am on Friday May 29, 2015:

    Will the Shepherd Park article be updated anytime soon?  A few things have changed since the writing of this, including home prices (now more in the ~700K and up range) and school zones (in 2015, will be zoned for Shepherd, Deal, and now Wilson H.S.).  The Walter Reed redevelopment plans have also changed a bit.  Finally, there are some new developments planned around the neighborhood, along Georgia Ave.  Thanks!

Join the discussion

UrbanTurf now requires registration in order to post comments. Register here, or login below if you are already registered.

Click here if you forgot your password.



DC Real Estate Guides

Short guides to navigating the DC-area real estate market

We've collected all our helpful guides for buying, selling and renting in and around Washington, DC in one place. Visit guides.urbanturf.com or start browsing below!

Northern Virginia

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods across Northern Virginia

Ballston
Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
Clarendon
Happily Straddling the Line Between City and Suburb
Columbia Pike
Arlington’s Neglected Stepchild is Getting a Makeover
Crystal City
Turning Lemons into Lemonade
Lyon Village
Developing An Air of Exclusivity?
Rosslyn
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
Shirlington
An Urban Village Hitting Its Stride
Del Ray
Virginia’s Small Town Near the Big City
Eisenhower Avenue
The Vibrancy Might Take a Few Years
Huntington
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
Parkfairfax
132 Commerical-Free Acres
Downtown Falls Church
Staying the Same in the Midst of Change
Tysons Corner
Radical Change Could Be On The Way

See more Northern Virginia »

Maryland

Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Annapolis
Small-Town Living in the State Capital
Bethesda
Bedroom Community Gets Buzzing Cache
Cabin John
In With The New While Maintaining the Old
Chevy Chase
Affluence, Green Lawns and Pricey Homes
Downtown Silver Spring
Experiencing a Resurgence After a Bumpy History
Potomac
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
Wheaton
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
Hyattsville
Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
Mount Rainier
Artists, Affordable Homes and A Silo Full of Corn
National Harbor
A Development Rises Next to the Potomac
Riverdale Park
A Town Looking For Its Identity

See more Maryland »

Northwest DC

30+ neighborhood profiles for the city's biggest quadrant

16th Street Heights
DC's Sleeper Neighborhood
Bloomingdale
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
Brightwood
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
Burleith
DC’s 535 House Neighborhood
Cathedral Heights
Do You Know Where That Is?
Chevy Chase DC
Not to Be Confused With the Other Chevy Chase
Cleveland Park
Coming Back After A Rough Year
Columbia Heights
DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?
Crestwood
An Island of Serenity East of the Park
Dupont Circle
The Best of DC (For a Price)
Foggy Bottom & West End
Where the Institutional Meets the International
Forest Hills
Ambassadors and Adventurous Architecture
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
Georgetown
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
Kalorama
A Posh View From Embassy Row
LeDroit Park
A Quiet Enclave in the Middle of the City
Logan Circle
Trendy Now, But Not By Accident
Mount Pleasant
Sought-After Homes Surround Main Street in Transition
Mount Vernon Triangle
From Seedy to Sought-After
Palisades
The Long, Skinny Neighborhood at the City’s Northwest Edge
Park View
It’s Not Petworth
Penn Quarter/Chinatown
DC’s Go-Go-Go Neighborhood
Petworth
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
Shaw
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Takoma
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
Tenleytown
Not Quite Like Its Neighbors
U Street Corridor
The Difference a Decade Makes
Woodley Park
Deceptively Residential
Adams Morgan
No Longer DC’s Hippest Neighborhood, But Still Loved by Residents

See more Northwest DC »

Southwest DC

The little quadrant that could

Southwest Waterfront
A Neighborhood Where A Change Is Gonna Come

See more Southwest DC »

Northeast DC

Profiles of 10 neighborhoods in NE

Brookland
New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
Deanwood
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Eckington
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
Langdon
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
NoMa
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Rosedale
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
Trinidad
The Difference 5 Years Makes
Woodridge
Big Houses, A Dusty Commercial Strip and Potential

See more Northeast DC »

Southeast DC

6 neighborhoods from Capitol Hill to East of the River

Capitol Riverfront
Still Growing
Hill East
Capitol Hill’s Lesser Known Neighbor
Congress Heights
Gradually Rising
Hillcrest
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »

Upcoming Seminars ▾