MeFites who know DC: Please talk to me about Bloomingdale.
November 11, 2010 1:33 PM   Subscribe

MeFites who know DC: Please talk to me about Bloomingdale.

I am considering a move to the Bloomingdale neighborhood in DC. You know, the little one east of LeDroit Park, west of Eckington, and just north of Shaw...?

I'm a 29 year old woman. I love the apartments I've seen, and they fit my budget.

Short version: What can you tell me about the overall safety of, and scene in, Bloomingdale? Personal experience preferred. I'm actively reading the blogs linked here.

Specific questions:
I have some concerns about safety in that area, moreso than other places I've lived (Cole Valley in San Francisco, Mt. Pleasant and North Dupont in DC, if that helps for comparison). I consider myself pretty city-savvy, and I know there are generally no guarantees of safety anywhere, but I'm not sure what to expect. I've walked around that part of Rhode Island Ave a bit after dark and felt "on alert but safe." I saw women jogging just about as often as I saw some shady characters, but that was a weeknight. Do I need to plan on taking a cab back from U St if I'm out late on the weekends, even though it's only a 10-minute walk? Should I be making sure that there are bars on my windows and doors (which I have grown very used to in my current and previous places)?

I also have some concerns about making the change from living within a stone's throw of lots of bars and restaurants to the few but seemingly decent-quality options in Bloomingdale. I'm not a raging party person anymore and I'm not seeking any kind of singles scene, but I like going out for dinner and drinks a few times a week. Will I be traveling to my old tried-and-true haunts (20-30 minutes walking) more often than not, or do folks in the neighborhood really hang out at the neighborhood places?

Anything else I should consider?
posted by juliplease to Society & Culture (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Not a Bloomingdale resident, but as someone who's lived in Columbia Heights for five years now (and moved here after being mugged at the front door of my previous apartment, in much-pricier Logan Circle) my impression is that crime can happen anywhere in the city.* If you feel "on alert but safe," that's definitely better than "I need to leave, now." There are plenty of crime maps available, but your own sense of safety is invaluable.

*An ex who lives in Petworth recently said, after hearing about a murder a couple of blocks from his house, "I thought that was the sort of thing that only happened around Dupont Circle." So... perspective is a funny thing.
posted by kittyprecious at 1:54 PM on November 11, 2010

Incredible nightlife on U street, but my impression is that it's not the best neighborhood. I used to go to afterparties at a friends townhouse on 2nd street up there and I was a little nervous just walking across the street. I've heard it's gotten a lot better in the last couple of years, though.
posted by empath at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2010

What can you tell me about the overall safety of, and scene in, Bloomingdale? Personal experience preferred.

I was concerned about this same thing when I first considered moving to Bloomingdale. I asked a friend of mine who was a single woman about her experiences regarding whether she felt safe, and she had said that she never had a problem with safety, which was especially telling given that she doesn't have a car and needs to bike or walk from the Shaw metro (a 10minute walk) to get home. If you do drive, you will find that you can generally find parking very close to your home. However, there have been a couple violent incidents, usually assaults, over the past several months. It isn't crime-free. Even outside of violent crime, bike theft seems to happen fairly frequently. I do walk home from U St on the weekends and have never had a problem, but take that with the same grain of salt you would take such a statement from any man who tells you that.

I find that the Big Bear Cafe and the new Rustik restaurant have both become hangouts for locals. However, when you want to meet up with your friends, you will find yourself walking over to U St.
posted by deanc at 1:56 PM on November 11, 2010

My ex lived up by Big Bear, and I (a 22-year-old female) would often walk from NY Ave or Shaw. I never had much trouble, and even listened to my iPod while walking. The same ex (a guy) was mugged right outside his place, and Windows, the liquor/convenience/kind of brunch place was held up a few months ago. A lot of my friends live up there currently, and I am up there a fair amount these days. I used to live in Petworth, though, and definitely felt safer in Petworth than Bloomingdale. At night, I do feel I need to be more cautious in B'dale than I did/do in Petworth.

I have and would walk from U St; I would have bars on windows/doors just as I would in any part of DC. I would not feel comfortable running at night.

Plenty of people hang out at Big Bear, and there's a nice weekend farmers' market outside BB (though that might be closed now). I'm not sure what the scene is like at Rustic Tavern. The area around ATF is totally dead at night, though the Five Guys is open. The aforementioned Windows is a nice place. I'm not sure where else there is to hang up there, though.

You can probably get delivery from Taylor Gourment, which I consider an important aspect of life in DC.
posted by quadrilaterals at 2:03 PM on November 11, 2010

Hello from Bloomingdale! I've had no trouble walking around the neighborhood early or late at night, but I also make sure to pay attention to my surroundings. Make eye contact and say hello to people on the street or sitting on their stoops, as that definitely helps.

With Rustik now in business, it's become another neighborhood hangout, although Boundary Stone will be opening up early next year, and Big Bear should get their liquor license soon. Windows Cafe and Market at1st and Rhode Island Ave. is open until 9 PM most nights, and Chinese Dragon next door gets a pretty steady stream of customers as well.

In addition to the blogs, you can also check out in bloom and the neighborhood Twitter account (@BloomingdaleDC).
posted by evoque at 2:50 PM on November 11, 2010

I looked at a place in southern Eckington last month, and ultimately decided against it, because neither me nor my roommates felt particularly comfortable in the neighborhood, and realized that we'd have a tough time convincing guests to come out our way. (And FWIW, I'm a guy who walks around alone in DC at night all the time, and rarely ever feels unsafe). From what I imagine, Bloomingdale would be fairly similar to this -- it seems fairly similar to Eckington and LeDroit (although I'm sure that actual residents of these neighborhoods can point out the various nuances between the three).

I wouldn't compare it much to Shaw -- the areas North and South of Florida Ave are different in a great many ways (which continues to hold true as you go further and further east)

Also, consider the lack of Metro connectivity. That would immediately disqualify Bloomingdale for me, unless I was getting a crazy good deal on an apartment. If you're coming from DuPont, I'm not sure that you'll be comfortable here...
posted by schmod at 2:54 PM on November 11, 2010

Woman here, living in Bloomingdale. The local joints are really wonderful (like, Big Bear is not just loved for lack of other options but because it's a great coffee shop), but for serious cuisine or heavy-duty going out, you'll want to leave the immediate neighborhood. There was a large Halloween party where lots of people were arriving in cabs, but that's unusual.

I know I've advocated this elsewhere on the green, but seriously consider getting a bike. Bloomingdale <> Dupont or <> Columbia Heights is 10-15 minutes on a bike. 5 minutes to U Street. It totally solves the lack of Metro access. Also, I wouldn't feel safe alone on foot at night (though it's likely ok), but I feel fine on a bike. I would not, under any circumstances, walk around listening to an iPod. Sorry.

I have heard about a few violent crimes around here, but as far as I know, they were all non-random. Theft is a problem (there have been a few smashed car windows lately) but, you know, don't leave your bike outside. For what it's worth, my windows don't have bars on them and that's true of a lot of houses in my corner of neighborhood.

Pretty sure there's a big difference between west and east of North Capitol Street.

Basically, it depends on your needs. I love living in a quiet, safe-enough neighborhood with a great coffee shop where ten minutes on a bike gets me to most fun things in town. But if you don't want to bike/walk/cab, or if you need to be rightthere, it might not be for you.
posted by the_blizz at 3:27 PM on November 11, 2010

Crime in DC: Block by block.

Caveat emptor: Not normalized for population density.
posted by schmod at 9:03 PM on November 11, 2010

I somehow borked that link. Here's the right one: Link
posted by schmod at 9:04 PM on November 11, 2010

Personally I wouldn't and I live in Petworth now. Its not very close to any metro's, unless you are driving you are sort of isolated from decent transit in general. Aside from Big Bear you basically have nothing in the way of amenities. The local ANC basically sucks, and there is something about that part of town that just seems a bit on the mean side (I used to live in Mt. Verson Square which was just south of Bloomingdale and it was basically scary in a way that Petworth isn't at all).

That being said its an investment neighborhood and who knows how it could be in a few years if you want to get in on the ground floor so to speak.
posted by BobbyDigital at 7:22 AM on November 12, 2010

I currently live in Mt. Vernon Square (neighborhood just SE of Bloomingdale) and think Bloomingdale is safer than my neighborhood. However, that's not saying too much since there have been two robberies by gunpoint in my neighborhood in the past week alone.

There really isn't too much going on in the Bloomingdale neighborhood (big bear, windows cafe, yoga district, rustik, timor and a liquor store), but if you're looking for a quieter location with a good price tag, Bloomingdale is a good option. In terms of walking back from U roomates and I do that all the time to our apartment. I think you'd been fine if you were with friends, not sure doing that solo though (especially if you were drinking). With the exception of Rustik, I don't really think there are any other real dining options in Bloomingdale. You'll likely spend most of your time heading towards Chinatown or U St for good food.

Feel free to message me if you have any other questions.
posted by VT@MU at 8:08 PM on November 12, 2010

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