Can you describe Washington DC in NYC terms?
January 18, 2010 5:21 PM   Subscribe

I might be relocating to Washington DC. I've visited a few times as a tourist but I know nothing about what life is like there. I've found a few discussions in the archive about moving to DC, but they seem to be written for someone who is trying to figure out where to move to. But I'm not at that point yet. I'm mainly trying to get a sense of what DC life is like for someone whose career is not in politics. Really what I want is a description of life in DC that uses NYC as a frame of reference, comparing neighborhoods, transportation, dining, night life, etc.

For example, I currently live on the Upper West Side, where I enjoy being in walking distance to a huge park for recreation. I don't need a car because I use the subway. I spend a lot of time downtown, in the East Village.

How does this map to DC? Is there a neighborhood like the Upper West Side? Is there a neighborhood like the East Village? If I live in the city, will I still need a car? What is city life like compared to NY life? Can I get good Indian food (or other cuisine) at a moment's notice?

I don't work in politics. I'm an artist (I work mainly at home, so my commute isn't an issue).

I know what neighborhoods to visit in NYC for gallery openings. Is there a similar artsy area in DC? Where do the creative folks live and hang out?

What are things you could tell someone who calls NYC home about the biggest similarities and differences to DC?
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (36 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You can get around on the Metro to almost everywhere in the District, as well as pretty far out into Maryland and Virginia. However it closes down at midnight, or did when I lived there. You can get by without a car- I personally wouldn't want to, but it's definitely one of the better U.S. cities for public transport.

Coming from NYC, I'm afraid you will find it really dead, culturally and artistically. While it's not true that everyone is in politics, almost everyone is either in politics or something else equally square. A lot of suits and ties, a lot of bars full of loud, fratty guys. Kind of like a Wall Street vibe except they're obsessed with power and money, instead of just money.

I think Adams-Morgan and Dupont Circle are still the artiest neighborhoods, but someone who still lives there will have to check me on that.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:31 PM on January 18, 2010

NY and DC don't really scale, because of the size and population, but to answer a few specific questions:
East Village and artsy and might like Adams Morgan, Takoma Park, Mount Pleasant, Eastern Market
I didn't have a car for most of the years I lived there (Dupont Circle)

As to restaurants, I didn't find DC to be a great fine dining restaurant town (and there's no good pizza), but you're good for Indian (especially in Rockville), Ethiopian and some others.
posted by Pax at 5:32 PM on January 18, 2010

I went to college in Washington, DC and was born and raised in Manhattan and currently live in Manhattan.

I will posit, therefore, that I am qualified to answer this question.

(1) There is no city like New York City, of which point you must be well aware.

(2) That said, there are a few cities, Washington, DC among them, which are walkable.

(2a) Not all of Washington, DC is walkable in the manner you describe

(3) Neighborhoods in Washington, DC that are walkable include, among others, Georgetown and Foggy Bottom

(4) Partisans will claim that Washington's art museums are second to none; this is not true. NYC, San Francisco, and even Chicago and Los Angeles, have better museums. Washington, DC is distinctly second-class when it comes to galleries/museums. Though first class is an awfully high bar.

(5) Biggest differences is the provinciality and insularity of Washington, DC as compared to New York. Washington, DC is primarily a one trick town; virtually everyone there other than the poor works in politics in some form or another. There are (minor) exceptions to this rule but it's not uncommon to go to a party there, start talking to a stranger, and find that you have nothing in common with the stranger because he's a legislative aide for Senator Kentucky and is interested only in talking to lobbyists from the bourbon industry and horse racing industry. Seriously. All that mixing of culture and business and art and commerce that you find in NYC? Yeah, not so much in Washington, DC.

(6) Washington's weather is awful; on that score, it is on par with New York.

In balance, I'd say there are far worse places than Washington, DC to live, but, at the same time, it ain't New York.
posted by dfriedman at 5:33 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have no serious NYC experience, but did live in DC (with SF before and after/now). You can live in DC without a car. You can get to parks without a car. Nothing in DC is quite NYC or SF. But you'll probably want to kill yourself if you don't live in one of the more "hip" (for lack of a better word) within-city neighborhoods like Adams Morgan, maybe Mount Pleasant, Logan Circle. I'd avoid the VA/MD suburbs.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:33 PM on January 18, 2010

What Pax says -- I forgot Takoma Park & Eastern Market.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 5:35 PM on January 18, 2010

Also keep in mind the District itself is tiny, many people actually live in Maryland or NOVA (Northern Virginia.) Which one you live in might or might not be significant for tax or other reasons.

Montgomery County, MD is kind of like Connecticut; Bethesda and Potomac are super-wealthy towns (although I used to live pretty cheaply in downtown Bethesda.) Prince George's ("PG") county on the NE ranges from "funky" to downright dangerous.

Virginia is just kind of... ehhh.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2010

A lot people would say Georgetown is like the UWS and UES combined. Upscale, residential, a bit quieter, bit still distinctly uban.

There are neighborhoods that are hipper and more bohemian (Adams Morgan, etc.) but they're nothing like the East Village or LES, IMO.

By far the most common are neighborhoods / residential districts like Murray Hill or West-40s dense, close to work, but low on character; dining and bars all strictly local.

Most people with modest or better money in DC keep cars, although depending on where they work they may not drive daily. Like Chicago or SF in that way, more than NYC.
posted by MattD at 5:36 PM on January 18, 2010

I expect you'll find that bars and nightlife shut down earlier than in NYC- I assume this is mainly a consequence of the fact that our subway shuts down at midnight/3am, and of the fact that the lower ratio of residential space downtown keeps people in the suburbs at night. And while we have lots of great parks, and the mall is unique, we have nothing that that compares to Central Park in its utility to locals.
posted by gsteff at 5:39 PM on January 18, 2010

You won't need a car in most neighborhoods in DC proper, or certain neighborhoods in Arlington, VA or Maryland (I'm thinking Silver Spring, but am less familiar with MD).

In terms of amenities like food and "city life" there will be a notable stepdown from NYC. It's inevitable; New York's one of the biggest cities in the world. Any kind of cuisine you could think of is available, although perhaps not 24 hours a day, with the notable caveat that a lot of the great ethnic food is in the suburbs. The best Korean and Vietnamese restaurants in the city, I think, are in Falls Church and Annandale, which are close-in suburbs in Virginia. Similarly, I think most of the authentic Chinese food is in Maryland. But there are reasonable enough approximations of all these things in the city itself.

Neighborhood-wise, I think you should look into Mt. Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Dupont, and Capitol Hill.

Don't worry about being too consumed with politics; you have to live in that world to be bothered with it too much. Just like not everyone in NYC is a banker or fashion designer, not everyone in DC does politics.
posted by downing street memo at 5:40 PM on January 18, 2010

Here's the fundamental point in my opinion, having lived in both: if you're the kind of New Yorker who can develop a certain semi-ironic appreciation for the ways in which DC is so much more of a small town than NYC, if you can chuckle ruefully at the fact that you'll be choosing from a far smaller number of good restaurants/clubs/whatever (though they are still good), and relish the occasional trip back to NY, you'll be absolutely fine and have lots of fun. If you're the kind of New Yorker who is simply, straightforwardly aghast at that prospect, it's a bad move. I strongly urge you to live within the district, not in the suburbs.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 5:50 PM on January 18, 2010

Eastern Market might've been "artsy and funky" twenty, even 15, years ago. Not any more. EM and the Hill are increasingly like white upper-middle class suburbs. I miss the Capitol Hill I once knew - mixed in both race and class. The Eastern Market Craft Fair (Saturday) and Flea Market (Sunday) have artsy and funky vendors, but most are not "native" to the Hill area.

Try H Street NE and the U Street Corridor.

But I'm a political hack; what do I know...
posted by jgirl at 5:59 PM on January 18, 2010

Seconding game warden on the need for a sort of ironic detachment from DC's inadequacies. Once you come to terms with them, it's pretty enjoyable.

DC is zoned in a really odd fashion for a "city," much differently than the UWS such that you have a bunch of residential dead zones, followed by a commercial area with access to retail amenities, followed by a residential dead zone.

I'm not as down on DC socially as some other people are. My experience is that everyone is always doing something interesting. Yes, there are a lot of congressional aides and lobbyists, but you find a lot of artists, scientists, and economists and the like. One of my friends just won a seat in parliament in her home country and is splitting her time between there and DC.

People are very transient here, but the advantage to that is that they are all very outgoing because, like you, they moved here without knowing anyone, so there's always a social event going on and people are always up for meeting new people. I think you'll also find a fairly active live music scene here along with cultural events (authors always pass through promoting their books in DC, as surely as they will stop in NYC).
posted by deanc at 6:02 PM on January 18, 2010

Live near the Red Line on the Metro. You might like Cleveland Park, Van Ness UDC, or Dupont Circle.
posted by cwarmy at 6:07 PM on January 18, 2010

Forgot to mention the Woodley Park / Zoo area, which is between Cleveland Park and Dupont Circle. It's by Rock Creek Park.
posted by cwarmy at 6:14 PM on January 18, 2010

There are some interesting film and cultural events in DC at the Goethe Institut and the Alliance Française you might want to check out. I've been to their events in New York, London, and Los Angeles and the scene's pretty much the same everywhere.
posted by aquafortis at 6:16 PM on January 18, 2010

I've lived in NYC and have spent a lot of time in DC since I live in Baltimore and I think that DC is basically NYC writ small.

There are great bars, restaurants, public transport, parks, museums, etc. There are just less of them. Personally, I prefer DC because of this. I don't need 800 choices when two or three good ones will serve me just fine. There are some people that thrive on the sort of NYC scale, though. Only you know if you're one of them.
posted by youcancallmeal at 6:22 PM on January 18, 2010

Low key and cool.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:22 PM on January 18, 2010

I just moved from Dupont Circle to Union Square. We should have organized a flat trade.

The one big difference I have seen so far: DO NOT EAT ON THE DC METRO. The Metro Police will arrest you. Seriously.
posted by autopilot at 6:50 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

DC is a weird place. To me it's not even really a "city" at least in the sense that NYC and some of the other cities mentioned are; it lacks the scale and density. I feel like it is a big suburb that just happens to house the nation's capital. The only time that I've felt that it had a palpable sense of a unique energy and excitement was during the periods leading up to presidential elections. I really don't think that you're going to find any neighborhoods that compare to the upper west side or the east village. Frankly I don't think that the creative types can afford to live in DC, but I'd try U-Street or Columbia Heights.

I've lived here for 5 years (and for clarification I live in a MD suburb, but less than 2 miles from the DC/MD state line). I partially made that decision because DC doesn't feel like a city to me so it was less important to me to live right in the middle of things (there is no "middle of things"). Anyway, unlike some of the others who've posted, I've never met anyone who works in politics although I have met a lot of people with government jobs (but most are arts related). I've said this in at least one other DC thread, but the thing that sticks out to me the most about the people that I've met here is that they are very conventional. This is particularly striking to me since most of the people that I've met here are only in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. They are not necessarily politically conservative, most self-identify as liberals. But there all about their government jobs, pay grade, settling down, getting married and buying houses. There's nothing wrong with any of that per se, but it just seems that there are a lot of 20-30 somethings going on 50. And I'm closer than I'd like to 50 and freaks me out; I don't know how I'd have felt if I moved here when I was younger.

On the positive side, you can definitely live in DC without a car. I'd disagree with dfriedman's harsh assessment of the museums here. Do they compare with NYC's riches? No, but I think that stand up to and most likely surpass Chicago, LA and especially SF (which is otherwise my favorite city in the US), unless you speaking strictly in terms of contemporary art. I would say that the contemporary art scene in DC seems pretty lackluster. However, there are a couple of OK galleries and the Hirshhorn highlights up and coming artists with their Black Box series and put on some good exhibitions. There are a lot of artists' talks (I heard Yinka Shonibare at the Hirshhorn in November and there were several talks by other artists last fall that I missed). Although it's not the greatest for modern or contemporary art, I really like the National Gallery. They always have a least one interesting exhibition on and they also have some really great film series.
posted by kaybdc at 6:52 PM on January 18, 2010

DC is NOT New York. Neighborhoods in DC do NOT compare one-to-one with neighborhoods in New York. "Scenes" in DC do NOT compare to "scenes" in New York. We are our own city. If you're expecting DC to be just like New York on a smaller scale, you will NOT be happy here.

DC has its own vibrant communities and some of them are really awesome. None of them are JUST LIKE the UWS or the east village. I mean, the yuppies live in upper NW (Cleveland Park, Glover Park, Chevy Chase, etc...), and the hipsters hang out in Mt. Pleasant, Petworth, and the new "Atlas District". There are art galleries in Logan Circle, in Penn Quarter/Chinatown/Gallery Place, in Dupont, Georgetown, kind of all over the place. There is fantastic Indian food at Rasika downtown, but it's not the kind of place that you can run to in your sweats or have delivered to your front door (for that matter, DC is not an "instant delivery" culture like New York is at all).

Also, one of the largest misconceptions about DC is that everyone here is in politics and that everything in DC centers around politics. That is simply not true. It's more diverse here than you'd think.

But again, if you're expecting DC to be mini-NY, you will be disappointed. If you come here with an open mind, then hopefully you'll end up loving it here.
posted by echo0720 at 7:00 PM on January 18, 2010

Networky and careerist and conservative. But the restaurant scene is pretty good. You can't get anything you want at any time of day, it's just not that much of a late night city. A lot of social stuff revolves around happy hour, it is not like people go home and only start getting ready to go out around 10pm. There are art galleries in the Dupont Circle area, and Chinatown.. probably some interesting things going on around H St NE and that direction, but it's hard to live in that part of town without a car to be honest. It's difficult because the cost of living in the city itself is so high. The arts scene afaik is better and weirder in Baltimore because creative people who don't make a lot of money can still afford space there. It might depend on what kind of art you do and what you're looking for. DC just tends to be more conservative.
posted by citron at 7:01 PM on January 18, 2010

but the thing that sticks out to me the most about the people that I've met here is that they are very conventional. This is particularly striking to me since most of the people that I've met here are only in their mid-twenties to mid-thirties. They are not necessarily politically conservative, most self-identify as liberals. But there all about their government jobs, pay grade, settling down, getting married and buying houses. There's nothing wrong with any of that per se, but it just seems that there are a lot of 20-30 somethings going on 50.

This is pretty accurate.
posted by citron at 7:13 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

We're in the opposite situation; I've lived in the District for 4 years and will be moving to NYC later this year. DC can take a while to warm up to, but if you appreciate it on its own merits, I think you'll really enjoy it here. I think of it as my adopted hometown, faults notwithstanding. Yes, it can be provincial, but it seethes with interesting people doing interesting things. The museums are top-notch and, for someone like me without a lot of money to throw around, being free (with some exceptions) is a huge draw.

Also, it's important to think of the DMV as an organic whole: there's the capital-of-the-free-world part (and attendant trappings) and the part where real people live. This might also be the case for NYC. It's not just politicians and nightly news anchors. There are vibrant communities of academic institutions, music and the arts in general, yuppies like me (Glover Park, represent!), hipster gentrifiers, and that rarest of breeds, the DC native.

It's an odd place, horribly mismanaged and depressingly dysfunctional in many ways. For its conservative reputation, in many ways it's very liberal--but our government is ultimately at the mercy of Congresspeople that we didn't vote for using our city as a political football. Warts and all, I love it here. I hope you will, too.

Oh, and live on the Red Line by all means, but avoid riding on it if you can. I'm convinced it's cursed.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:38 PM on January 18, 2010

DC native here, evacuated to California long ago, but grew up in the MD suburbs then spent my late 20s-early 30s in Adams Morgan.

Agree with kaybdc that dfriedman's #4 assessment is inaccurate (starts with "art museums" but ends with "galleries/museums" -- which?) IMO DC's Mall museums easily trump NY, Chicago and SF because admission is free. And if art's removed from the equation, the Smithsonian wins the museum competition easily. Comparing art galleries is another matter entirely.

If you're into cinema, another steller venue is the American Film Institute (in Silver Spring near the Metro station) -- kinda like your Film Forum.

kaybdc discusses how square DC is, no arguement, it's why the cool people in my high school class split ASAP (many, for NYC). Also, I'd amend the statement:
You can definitely live in DC without a car with
But in NYC you can live well without a car.

One final note; I haven't had enough NYC exposure to really understand the subtle UES-UWS-LES differences but IMO DC definitely has an East Side-West Side divide that is class- and race-based. West Side - Montgomery County in MD, NW DC, and the VA suburbs. Richer, safer and whiter than the less affluent and darker East Side - Anacostia and PG County, whose inhabitants lament the lack of local high-class department stores and restaurants.
posted by Rash at 8:04 PM on January 18, 2010

First of all, I'm terribly sorry for your loss. You're definitely trading down.

I'm going on 3 years in the DC metro area. There's nothing comparable here to NYC. No, I take that back. The cost of living is comparable but you're not getting as much for your money.

Outside a pretty limited area, DC is not a walking town. Especially not after hours. You walk here at night, you are going to get mugged eventually. I spent 3 months in Manhattan working on a project in early '09. I lived in Chinatown/LES off Allen and Canal. I ate exceptionally well and I walked everywhere, fearlessly. I will not walk after dark in DC. I cab it, door to door. There's a palpable disharmony/tension in the air that makes the city an unpleasant place to be.

The nightlife is a joke if you're a true night owl (last call at 1:30? really?) and the best food really is out in the 'burbs and can require a vehicle to access.

I don't really think this is the best town for a free-spirit. It's 9-5 and buttoned-down. It's stuffy in the light and scary in the dark. It's squat and uninspiring. I watched a glorious sunrise from the steps of the Capitol building the other morning and honestly went "meh."

If you do move here, you may love it. You may find your muse. You never know where inspiration will strike, but imho, DC throws up barriers to such things.
posted by TheGoldenOne at 8:22 PM on January 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's a huge city. If you fall in with govdorks, it'll seem like it's run by them and they're all that weird boring-20-30s type crowd. But there are enough hip college grads who are less about settling down than playing music and partying hard to drive you in the same direction as well.

It's definitely doable without a car if you don't live in a suburb.

Note - Georgetown, while technically in DC, is actually a large, wealthy New Jersey shopping mall. Only accessible by timewarp, since they don't build a metro (quote: "to keep the riffraff out").

Live in DC proper and you'll have a fine time, it's a great city. There are a few good galleries opening up (U Street just got one), so check them out.
posted by tmcw at 8:32 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you live in the upper west side in New York, and you love it, I'd really prefer that you stay there and not bring another whining "ironic" pretentious voice to the chorus of DC hating transplants as demonstrated in this thread.

DC is a fuckload of fun depite the wonks and GWU rich kids that crowd the orange line out of town every night. There's plenty of beautiful hilarious committed young people with important jobs that they care about or artistic aspirations that more and more they can realize without moving to Brooklyn and fading into the background.

If you need to feel coddled and safe and assured that your every whim is being scrutinzed by your inhouse media vultures feel free to stay where you are. Us dc natives will keep on doing what we do--making our own houses, and welcoming anyone who wants to help to grab a nailgun and join in.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:59 PM on January 18, 2010 [8 favorites]

I'm just not seeing much of a free-spirited arts scene here. It's just not that kind of town. It's really transient. And expensive.

The other thing is that it is a divided city in many ways, and everyone here is mostly talking about the gentrified parts of NW DC and some of NE (Capitol Hill and a few metro stops east).

I'm not trying to be pretentious about it, I grew up in a very unpretentious and economically depressed town and DC has a lot more going on, but.. I have friends who are artists, theater people, writers, activists.. hilarious and creative people, living in group houses in cool neighborhoods.. all that was going on for a number of years post-college, and a little past age 25, one by one people moved away, and the rest to suburbs in MD and VA, and hardly anyone even tries to get together anymore. That's been my experience.
posted by citron at 1:48 AM on January 19, 2010

DC resident and frequent NYC visitor here. I agree with pretty much everything everyone's said here, really.

I prefer DC over NYC, but that doesn't mean I think DC is better in any quantifiable way; it just suits me more. Yes, there are a lot of 20- and 30-something strivers here, folks looking more to establish themselves politically or career-wise than to supporting the arts. Indeed, the suburbs are a lot closer to the city (and you can get rural really fast here--I know lots of normal folks who live on big farms and commute in every day). There are not nearly as many opportunities to just casually walk down to the bar district and see what's going on; you pretty much do need to figure out what you're doing first, then head to a specific destination.

That applies to the arts scene in general, too. The culture is there, but maybe needs to be sought out more deliberately than it does in NYC. Man, I've been to some funky shows here, some really out-there scenes, as wild as anything I've heard of in NYC, but it takes some effort to find them. And that scene is considered, you know, weird by lots of people here, not a part of the social fabric, but apart from it. As an artist, you'll be respected and valued, but you will be considered an outsider, socially. I kind of like that, sort of the big-fish-in-a-little-pond feeling, the most eccentric guy in the office, you know, but it can make one feel somewhat freakish.

If you're into high fashion, you'll be out of place here, for the most part. I noticed in NYC that nearly everyone was good looking and well dressed. The hipsters were uber hip, the yuppies uber yuppie. Even the people who weren't caught up in the fashion scene seemed to be actively avoiding being caught up in the fashion scene. No one here cares if you're wearing this season's shoes, or if you have your scarf tied in whatever the trend is this year. Think old money instead of new money--there's a lot more status in wearing a leather jacket that you've been breaking in over the last ten years than in something new and flashy. Outside of Congressional offices, if a GS-11 (you'll know what that means after you've been here a while) wears a suit to work, we'll wonder what he's trying to prove, what personal inadequacy he's trying to cover up.

The biggest difference, I think, is that DC is missing that NYC attitude, seen throughout this thread, that NYC is the freaking best place in the world, with the only food worth eating, the only museums worth going to, the only culture that isn't stifling, the only fashion scene that's worth keeping up with, and that anything else isn't merely a change, but a step down. I do believe that NYC folks are offering their honest, considered opinions; they really do believe in the utter superiority of their city. If you feel the same way, then, yes, you'll be unhappy here. I can sympathize—when I think about my hometown, or other, smaller places I've lived, I, too, shudder at the thought of moving away from the vibrant city life that I've come to love. But I don't think this is the only place worth living in. It's definitely true that fewer DC residents outright love their city, but there's a lot to like here.
posted by MrMoonPie at 5:43 AM on January 19, 2010

I complain about DC as much as anyone, but I hate seeing it trashed. There is an amazing amount of free stuff to do in DC. More than in any other city I've been to. There are cool, underground arty things happening...but you might have to work a little to find them. (Be sure to check out the Artomatic website for more info on the DC art scene.) Instead of a choice between 50 identical hipster nightspots, we have 3 or 4. You might need to actually start something yourself, but it's a small enough pond that that's actually do-able.

And remember that working for the government does not equal "being in politics". I work a day job in an office to support myself, just like lots of people.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:54 AM on January 19, 2010

And remember that working for the government does not equal "being in politics". I work a day job in an office to support myself, just like lots of people.

Amen to that. My dad has worked in the government for over 30 years, but he's not a politician -- he's an archaeologist. A vast number of people work for the federal government; I'm not positive on the numbers, but according to a couple of Wikipedia articles I've glanced at, at least a quarter of DC residents are employed by the government. This page says that about 320,000 civilians (so that number excludes the large number of military personnel in the region) in the area work for the federal government. Obviously, not all of them are politicians.
posted by malthas at 8:33 AM on January 19, 2010

And remember that working for the government does not equal "being in politics".
Yes, but...

It's pretty nigh impossible to work for a federal agency and not at least touch on politics. We in DC know far more about the appropriations process (hell, even what "appropriations process" means) than your average citizen, and are far more tuned into things like the election cycle and Congressional recesses and such, just by the nature of our jobs. Plus, your bartender is likely to be a poli-sci major at GW, your hairdresser's son works at the Treasury Department, and your daughter's friend's dad is at the Chinese Embassy.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:47 AM on January 19, 2010

I'm not trying to be pretentious about it, I grew up in a very unpretentious and economically depressed town and DC has a lot more going on, but.. I have friends who are artists, theater people, writers, activists.. hilarious and creative people, living in group houses in cool neighborhoods.. all that was going on for a number of years post-college, and a little past age 25, one by one people moved away, and the rest to suburbs in MD and VA, and hardly anyone even tries to get together anymore. That's been my experience.

@citron: citron, no offense, but you seem to be attributing frustrating life changes in your social circle to the place you are living in (DC) then to realizing that happens are part of life in your 20s and 30s.

DC is transient, but it also seems to be that way because the core area and core industries (the reason people move here) pull from a national labor pull. Thus, if you came for a federal job or a NGO, you are surrounded by people from other places. If you work in an industry that exists elsewhere but happens to be in DC (insurance, tech), you're going to be surrounded by a lot more people that grew up in the area.

Also, it happens to be that the range of areas that are 'urban' and considered to be acceptable by the posters in this thread on this board tend to be a small cluster of neighborhoods in mostly NW DC and Arlington. There's plenty of places with a strong community-feeling of invested residents, but they aren't necessarily in Columbia Heights or Woodley Park - ie, they're not trendy or centrally located.
posted by waylaid at 10:38 AM on January 19, 2010

Listening to people talk about what a shitty, provincial, ghetto little town DC is makes me so angry. I have been here for five years, and while I will agree that Manhattan is glorious in a way other cities are not, DC is still really kickass if you know how to do it right.

- If you are terrified to walk around after dark, no matter what neighborhood you're in, you are not doing DC right.
- If you cannot find good museums, funky people, and fantastic shows, you are not doing DC right.
- If you cannot find cool restaurants or chill-ass bars to hang out at, you are not doing DC right.

Come visit Mt. Pleasant or get crunk in Adams Morgan or visit H Street for a burlesque show. Go get Ethiopian food or some crazy avant-garde El Bulli-type shit and get macked on by a drag queen at Perry's brunch. Go see some shows at the Black Cat or the 9:30 Club or DC9.

Don't get me wrong, there are some not-awesome things about DC. Tons of 'em. But it doesn't mean we don't know how to have fun, and it doesn't mean it's not worth living here.
posted by harperpitt at 10:40 AM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

Listening to people talk about what a shitty, provincial, ghetto little town DC is makes me so angry. I have been here for five years, and while I will agree that Manhattan is glorious in a way other cities are not, DC is still really kickass if you know how to do it right.

Thank you harperpitt! I have lived in DC my entire life, and dated someone in NYC for many years, so it's sort of my second home. Honestly, I don't think the cities can be compared at all. Looking at it from a broad cultural perspective, rather than a neighborhood-by-neighborhood one...there's no comparison. DC is split into two areas, really - Northwest, the home of rich white people, and everywhere else, the home of everybody else. NYC has ethnic areas, DC doesn't have anything like that. (Even Chinatown, which is barely a tiny shadow of what once gave the area its name...very few Chinese people and businesses are in Chinatown.)

Don't get me wrong, I love DC with all my heart and I will be a Washingtonian till the day I die. But honestly it has very little in common with NYC.
posted by etoile at 8:17 PM on January 23, 2010

The comparisons are far from perfect, but this tool does give a general answer of what neighborhoods are comparable between any two major cities. homethinking
posted by vegetableagony at 3:57 PM on January 25, 2010

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