Eckington: Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale

by Andrew Siddons

Please see our 2018 updated profile on Eckington here:

Eckington: Industrial Past, Commercial Future


Eckington: Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale: Figure 1
Colorful row houses near 2nd and U Street NE

As one of DC's oldest neighborhoods, it is a little bit ironic that Eckington has a much lower profile than the neighborhoods surrounding it. However, as the city undergoes a "mixed use" renaissance, the neighborhood to the east of North Capitol Street, with its turn-of-the-century row homes and older industrial buildings, is seeing its landscape change as new residential developments break ground.

Location and History

Eckington is bounded by North Capitol Street to the west, Rhode Island Avenue to the north, the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the east, and Florida Avenue to the south. In the center of it all, the campus of McKinley Technology High School looms large over the neighborhood.

The land was originally home to the summer estate of Joseph Gales, Jr., a newspaper editor and mayor of Washington in the late 1820s. Named for the village in England where Gales was born, the Eckington estate was eventually criss-crossed by the B&O Railroad, bringing with it industrial buildings that still define the neighborhood's eastern edge. The property was bought in 1887 by George Truesdell, who began developing it into square blocks that were an extension of the grid laid down in the L'Enfant plan. Truesdell also established a streetcar line that went from T and 4th Streets NE to New York Avenue and 7th Streets NW, and he would oversee construction of the area's first row houses and apartment buildings. In the 20th century, the construction of Union Station and its converging railroad tracks coincided with more industrial development in Eckington, including a biscuit factory and a Schlitz beer brewing plant on Randolph Place. Today, the industrial landscape includes an air compressor rental company, a US Postal Service vehicle maintenance facility, and wholesale flower retailers.

Eckington: Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale: Figure 2
Victorian row houses near 1st and T Street NE

Between Bloomingdale and NoMa

Across North Capitol Street is Bloomingdale, the neighborhood that people often confuse for Eckington. "You will find exactly the same properties on the east side of North Capitol that you will on the Bloomingdale side, they are often just less expensive,” Suzanne Des Marais, a real estate agent with Urban Pace, told UrbanTurf. “You're starting to see a lot of competition among home buyers on the Eckington side, as a result." Bloomingdale's retail stretch of restaurants, coffee shops and convenience stores along 1st Street NW aren't that far from Eckington, but Des Marais said that the North Capitol Street boundary creates a geographical divide, since there are very few spots you can cross safely. On the Eckington side, there are small corner markets scattered around, as well as a few carry out spots, but not much else in the way of commercial options.

Eckington: Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale: Figure 3
Rendering of NoMa West

To the south of Eckington is NoMa, one of DC's newest neighborhoods, which offers Eckington residents transportation (the New York Avenue/Florida Avenue Metro Station) and grocery options (a new Harris Teeter at First and M Streets NE). As for new development of its own, on the vague edge of the neighborhood at Eckington Place and Harry Thomas Way, a new mixed-use development known as NoMa West has broken ground. It will include 603 residential units and 1,500 feet of retail, according to Sam Simone of Mill Creek Residential Trust, the developer behind the project. On the other side of Eckington, at 329 Rhode Island Avenue, the 21-unit Mint Condominium, which also includes a street-level retail element, is expected to deliver soon. With these projects will likely come some home appreciation (incremental, not huge jumps). But for now, housing prices in the neighborhood are pretty reasonable: the average single-family home price this year has been around $336,000, and the average condo price was $233,000.

The Best Neighborhood We Could Afford

When Katrina Lee bought a home in Eckington a decade ago, she didn't know anything about it. "I don't think you'll find many people [that bought back then] who say 'I drove through Eckington and found it thoroughly charming,'" she said. Still it was the best neighborhood that she could afford at the time. Now, she says that instead of people coming in and buying row houses, newer residents are looking at the condos that have sprung up. Before 2005, there was only one building with condo ownership sales in Eckington. "Since 2006, the number of condo projects has increased to nearly twenty," Des Marais explained.

Eckington: Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale: Figure 4
Metropolitan Branch Trail

Signs of gentrification aren't necessarily obvious walking around Eckington, but that doesn't mean there isn't a divide between older and newer residents. Lee thinks that the home buyers in the early 2000s were able to adapt to the culture of the neighborhood more easily by settling down and realizing that there were valuable things about its character. "When you park in front of somebody's house, and they're standing in the front yard, you say hello,” Lee said. “Newer residents aren't as quick to do that. They see themselves as moving into a city and not into a neighborhood." Her notion of a split between the two sets of buyers are echoed in the comments of Rossen Tsanov, who moved into a condo conversion at 3rd Street and Seaton Place NE in March 2010. Like Lee, Tsanov was attracted to the area because of the low home prices and convenient geography. But in terms of neighborhood involvement, he is not very charged up. "I am sort of indifferent to the locals, its problems, and its rapid development," he said.

Not Without Its Problems

Despite what Lee describes as a "back fence culture" (neighbors who look out for each other in their alleys), police department statistics show that violent crime in the area has been steady, around 50 instances a year since 2008 within 1,500 feet of the heart of the neighborhood. Theft has also increased: in 2009, there were 114 instances of theft; in 2010 there were 133; and this year to-date there have been 94. And the Metropolitan Branch Trail along Eckington's eastern border, which is never very crowded, has come under the spotlight this year because of a spike in crime against bike commuters and pedestrians. Subsequently, Guardian Angel started regularly patrolling the trail this summer.

The Bottom Line

Eckington will likely continue to be defined by division: between older and newer residents, between its residential and industrial elements, and by major roads cutting it off from retail amenities. But for some, like Lee, Eckington's residents and traditional character gives it what it needs. "It's remarkably convenient, people are still friendly and talk to one another, and there are still some streets that have big trees, and look old and kind of unspoiled."


See other articles related to: hoods, eckington, dclofts

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/eckington_not_to_be_confused_with_bloomingdale/4109


  1. MikeP said at 1:05 pm on Thursday September 8, 2011:
    "the average single-family home price this year has been around $336,000, and the average condo price was $233,000." Where were these numbers from? I have only seen a handful of houses in the 300s and they were gutjobs.
  1. Andrew Siddons said at 2:02 pm on Thursday September 8, 2011:
    They were provided by a realtor who has access to the prices of houses sold in the neighborhood this year. While there were houses sold for as much as $650,000, there were also places sold for as little as $160,000.
  1. Kboogy said at 3:34 pm on Friday September 9, 2011:
    I hope Eckington can get more desperately needed retail to the community and I'm disappointed that NoMa West will only have 1,500 sq./feet of retail rather than the 5,000 sq./feet that was planned in the original PUD. I was also surprised that there was no mention of St Martin's Apartments in this piece given the amount of controversy that it has generated over the past couple of years.
  1. Observation said at 3:29 am on Saturday September 24, 2011:
    This was a bit of a hit job on Eckington. 50 violent crime instances a year? You fail to note if that is high relative to other areas? How many within 1500 feet of the Columbia Heights Metro, for instance? And whats with the "new" vs "old" residents dynamic? And "signs of gentrification"... The write up on bloomingdale was far more positive, so its a bit of a veiled shot to say eckington shouldnt be confused with it. Its basically the exact same place, except with a road in between (and the notion that N Cap can only be crossed in a few places is based on perception not reality since from Florida to Rhode Island, 6 out of 9 streets go all the way across, and really 6 out of 8 if you dont include the one that terminates at North Cap. I find this piece to be thoroughly inaccurate.
  1. Steve said at 10:21 am on Wednesday March 21, 2012:
    This piece was very accurate. I've lived in Eckington for over a decade and was once a newbie. The retail corridor of historic Eckington is 4th Street and Rhode Island Ave NE. That corridor needs redevelopment if Eckington is going to become a commercial destination. Too much focus on NoMA and Bloomingdale.Let's focus on Eckington's high potential for arts and entertainment. All those warehouses could be lofts, nightclubs and mixed use developments.

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

Looking to Give People A Reason to Stay Past 6pm
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?
Hitting Its Growth Spurt
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
The Quiet Neighborhood By the Beltway
Old Town
Mayberry By The Potomac
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 »


Profiles of 14 neighborhoods in suburban Maryland

Small-Town Living in the State Capital
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
A Suburb on Steroids
Rockville Town Square
Despite the Dynamism, Still Somewhat Generic
Takoma Park
More Than a Little Bit Quirky
A Foodie Magnet on the Verge of Change
Capitol Heights
Kudzu, Front Porches and Crime
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
Where (Almost) Everyone Knows Your Name
AU Park
One of DC’s Last Frontiers Before the Suburbs
DC’s Northern Neighborhood on the Cusp
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?
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
Foxhall Village
350 Homes Just West of Georgetown
Friendship Heights
A Shopping Mecca With a Few Places to Live
History, Hoyas and H&M
Glover Park
One of DC’s Preppier and More Family-Friendly Neighborhoods
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
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
Getting a Vibrancy of Its Own
The Duke’s Former Stomping Ground
Shepherd Park
DC’s Garden of Diversity
Spring Valley
A Suburb With a DC Zip Code
Not To Be Confused With Takoma Park
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

New Development Could Shake Up Pastoral Peace
A Little Bit of Country Just Inside the District’s Borders
Not to Be Confused With Bloomingdale
Fort Totten
Five Years Could Make a Big Difference
H Street
A Place To Party, and To Settle Down
The Northeast Neighborhood That Few Know About
Michigan Park
A Newsletter-On-Your-Doorstep Community
Evolving from a Brand to a Neighborhood
Ripe for Investment Right About Now
The Difference 5 Years Makes
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
Notable for Its Neighborliness
Historic Anacostia
Future Promise Breeds Cautious Optimism
Eastern Market
A More European Way of Living

See more Southeast DC »