Park View: It’s Not Petworth

by Dena Levitz

Park View: It's Not Petworth: Figure 1

Surrounded by Columbia Heights, Petworth and Howard University, Park View tends to be lumped in with one of these more prominent destinations, its name often confused or left out of the dialogue altogether.

Once inside the NW DC neighborhood, though, the sense of identity is one of the main factors that residents cite for attracting them to the area, or keeping them there.

“There’s a Facebook group that everyone follows to get updates and know what’s going on,” said Lucy Plaugher, who settled in Petworth and then Park View when she moved to the city a year ago. “Within days, I knew the people around us.”

Park View has historically been a residential hub for black families, but its population has soared and diversified over the past decade. Occupants like Plaugher — who shares a house with several other 20-something professionals — represent the latest addition to the still-residentially focused community.

However, like the neighborhoods around it, Park View is coming into its own as a magnet for development, with new bars and restaurants popping up and more on the way.

Overlooking a Park

Historical records show that Park View came into being in 1908 when several neighborhoods were combined. It sits east of Columbia Heights, bounded by Rock Creek Church Road to the north, Gresham Place to the south, Georgia Avenue to the west and Park Place and the grounds around the Old Soldier’s Home to the east. There’s also a small triangle formed by Park Road, Georgia Avenue and New Hampshire jutting out to the west that is included, depending on who you ask.

The “park” in Park View refers to the nearby grounds of the Old Soldiers’ Home, which used to be open to the public as a space comparable to New York City’s Central Park. The home has since been fenced off, yet the majority of neighborhood streets running east to west dead end into the grounds. This past July 4th, some 1,500 people were able to celebrate on the sizeable grassy area around the Old Soldiers’ Home, and the hope is to replicate this in the future.

Beginning to Fill a ‘Pent-Up’ Need

Retail in Park View is concentrated along Georgia Avenue, especially in the blocks closest to the Petworth Metro. It may not seem like an exciting opening, but ANC Commissioner Kent Boese, who writes a popular blog about goings-on in Park View, touts the 2010 addition of a CVS Pharmacy as important in providing a “staple” store close to residents’ homes.

Park View: It's Not Petworth: Figure 2
The bar at The Looking Glass Lounge. Photo courtesy of The Looking Glass Lounge.

Since the addition of CVS, a handful of bars and restaurants have opened around it. The Looking Glass Lounge serves cocktails in what used to be Temperance Hall. DC Reynolds only opened its doors a few months ago, however the eatery and adjoining patio has developed enough of a following to cause the owners to start serving weekend brunch.

“It really showed that there was a pent-up need for more restaurants,” Boese said.

Another business along that stretch is Fish in the Hood, which sells fresh fish cooked to order for dine-in at one of the four tables or to go. Much was made about the fact that the owner recently opted to rename the establishment Fish in the Neighborhood, thus putting a spotlight on the area’s gentrification. Gena’s Creative Beauty Salon, on the same block as DC Reynolds, has become regarded as an institution as well.

The lingering problem now is to open even more businesses. Walking around the streets of Park View, vacant storefronts and empty properties still persist. According to Boese, blight is being tackled, yet in a piece-meal manner.

Park View: It's Not Petworth: Figure 3
A home that recently sold on Otis Place.

First-Timers Snatching Up Limited Housing

By and large, homes in Park View are row houses in the DC-trademark Wardman style. Like the rest of the city, the inventory of homes for sale is historically low, which means that those on the market tend to sell quickly, and prompt bidding wars. The house pictured recently sold after receiving approximately 20 offers.

Realtor Kevin Wood of William Sawyer & Co. said that despite rising prices, Park View is still a relatively affordable place to buy a home.

“I sold a house last year that was totally renovated with three bedrooms and 3.5 baths for $535,000,” he said. “The same house on the other side of Georgia probably would have gone for $650,000. This year a house fully renovated will go for even more.”

Developers have started to take notice of Park View, as evidenced by projects like The Avenue, a new rental building at 3506 Georgia Avenue NW. Still, the area is primarily seeing an increase in young couples who want to make their first home purchase come in to Park View.

“There are a lot of people who have been renting in DC for awhile, and now want to transition to buying,” he said. “Georgia Avenue used to be the boundary for this, but the boundary has been breached.”

Park View: It's Not Petworth: Figure 4
A mural alongside the recreation center.

Gardens and Recreation Serve As Uniters

With ample greenery, Park View has become home to a few notable community gardens in the past year, including Wangari Gardens and a garden affiliated with the Armed Forces Retirement Home. The gardens have been a way to grow fresh produce as well as unite neighbors in a collaborative project.

“This is the kind of thing that would have never happened six or seven years ago when we first moved here,” Debra Brunk said while working in Wangardi Gardens with her husband. “There are 50 plots inside, and a requirement for having one is to put in two hours of work a month. But we’re pretty much here every day.”

Another project that has taken on particular pride in Park View was an effort to fix up the neighborhood recreation center on Otis Place. Resident input resulted in the construction of new basketball courts, a soccer field and a playground structure, giving children an outlet after school, on weekends and during the summer, Boese said.

Park View: It's Not Petworth: Figure 5
The pride and joy of the recreation center seems to be the new outdoor basketball facility.

Theft Concentrated to Cars

The one category of crime that’s seen a steady increase in Park View of late is theft, particularly from vehicles. According to crime statistics from the Metropolitan Police Department, this subset has climbed between 100 and 200 percent over the past year, depending on the section of the neighborhood that is being analyzed. Violent crime, however, remains low.

Boese said that the increase in thefts makes sense given that individuals and families of greater means are moving to the community. “For lack of a better term there are simply more things to steal,” he said.

The Bottom Line

Park View may be a small neighborhood that’s frequently mistaken for Petworth, but it has a strong sense of community among its residents who will pitch in to fix up neighborhood infrastructure. As retail grows along Georgia Avenue and home prices remain reasonable, the area will continue to be a draw for years to come.

Dena Levitz is a freelance writer and digital strategist whose work has been featured in The Atlantic Cities, Washington Post, City Paper and Bloomberg News.

See other articles related to: park view, hoods, dclofts

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/park_view_its_not_petworth/5851


  1. CTK said at 3:22 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    Before my wife and I bought a house in Park View last year, I had never heard of it. We're very happy to have moved here, as we really enjoy our many great neighbors and quiet little residential corner of the city with a growing number of amenities. It's good living in PV.
  1. Mark said at 3:41 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    "Surrounded by Columbia Heights, Petworth and Howard University," Pleasant Plains, not HU.
  1. Don said at 4:28 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    A great look at my neighborhood. And the headline is right on!
  1. Kate said at 5:26 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    Any particular reason why you included Pleasant Plains in the Google Map of Park View?
  1. scott said at 6:00 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    I don't believe this author ever met Doll Fitzgerald and heard her talk about neighborhood boundaries.
  1. PleasantPlainer said at 6:20 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    Thanks Mark, and Kate - I too was perplexed as I live in Pleasant Plains, but in this post, it shows my home (well, mostly the Bank's home😉 being in Park View. Over here in PP we have water views!
  1. Dena Levitz said at 6:35 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    For the boundaries I went off of research done by ANC Commissioner Kent Boese, from his blog and book. If something's off, please let me know and I can remedy. It was definitely my goal to capture the essence of the neighborhood (including where exactly it is).
  1. PleasantPlainer said at 6:58 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    See: https://sites.google.com/site/pleasantplainsdc/ and map at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasant_Plains,_Washington,_D.C. and
  1. DD said at 7:33 pm on Friday August 3, 2012:
    It appears that the borders of Pleasant Plains are very much up in the air. Case in point: Three links, three separate sets of borders. http://dcfca.org/associations/pleasant_plains.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleasant_Plains,_Washington,_D.C. https://sites.google.com/site/pleasantplainsdc/

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 »