Would we like Capitol Hill
April 2, 2011 11:13 AM   Subscribe

Calling all DC MeFites: What's it like living in Capitol Hill?

Our lease is almost up, and husband and I are starting to look for a new apartment.

Currently we live in the Kalorama Triangle neighborhood, between Woodley Park and Adams Morgan. We love the neighborhood, particularly the amount of green space and trees and metro access. But we also need a bit more space without a significantly large price tag. Also, while our place is currently convenient for walking to work, I will soon be working near Union Station and husband's job will be moving close to the L'Enfant metro stop.

Things we like in a neighborhood:
- Ability to easily walk around
- Metro access (we don't have a car)
- Safe
- Access to grocery stores, restaurants, etc
- Kid-friendly (although that would be in a couple of years)
- Fairly quiet

So, tell me what it's like living in Capitol Hill (or if you have any other neighborhood suggestions). We've walked around the area, but can't decide if it will be a good fit.
posted by statsgirl to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We love it on our block near Lincoln Park. Personally I think it is kind of a long walk to the metro (I'm lazy and bike everywhere), but otherwise meets all your requirements.
posted by exogenous at 11:20 AM on April 2, 2011

I live on Capitol Hill, 2 blocks from Lincoln Park, 2 blocks from Eastern Market Metro.

I think that the walk to Union Station wouldn't be awful if you lived near where we live (my partner bikes to Union Station every day to catch the MARC) and your husband would appreciate being near orange/blue with EM.

We walk everywhere except to get grocery at night at Harris Teeter with a kid. We usually drive at night because of the crime that has happened around there. We're also super close to 395/295, so running to Arlington or Alexandria isn't a big deal. There are tons of Zip Cars in the alleys and at Eastern Market.

Dining on Barracks Row isn't super duper awesome (but granted, I have a 2-year-old, so how I judge dining is different now), but there is a lot of variety and some good stuff for decent prices. There are bars but not tons of bars. H Street has more to offer and will probably be growing too.

Groceries - Harris Teeter is right here and there is a Yes! Market at the metro (although it is overpriced, but it is nice to be able to pop in for Zinc or something). There is a tiny CVS at the metro and a bigger one 1/2 way between Harris Teeter and the metro. Eastern Market has produce, obviously, but I find it overpriced. There are also bodagas around for milk or beer runs.

Quiet? Yes, this is as quiet as it probably gets while still being in an urban area. One thing that I didn't think about is the size of the street. We're on 11th, which is a busier numbered street. Our pals on 10th seem to have a much quieter street because there isn't all the through-traffic. 10th Street also has progressive dinners and a more "hang out" feel than 11th because the street isn't so busy. On a nice Sunday afternoon, there are kids that are doing hopscotch and riding trikes and scooters on 11th, but parents need to stay close because of the cars. On 10th, there is much more kid activity.

And onto kids... we chose Capitol Hill because it is so family/kid friendly. First - MOTH (Moms on the Hill) is the Hill parenting listserv and is super active and busy. There is no need to use Craigslist when you live here because people are constantly buying/selling. Also reviews for dentists, waxists, plumbers... it is constant and really helps when you're moving here.
Tons of nice parks. Tons of stuff to do nearby (only a few blue/orange stops to Smithsonian). Lots of kid infrastructure like classes and music and story hours.
More down the line, the public schools here are excellent and there are many options. (We're in district for public Montessori, Reggio-Emilio, and tons of other cool programs.) There are also a large number of private preschool options.
In terms of daycare, you may not know, but DC sucks for daycare overall. There just aren't enough spots. The majority of parents on the Hill use nanny shares instead. The MOTH group posts multiple times a day about finding nanny share families. It is really easy to do.

If I were you guys, I'd try to come out to dinner or something over here to see how you like the vibe. Please let me know if you have more questions.
posted by k8t at 11:39 AM on April 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

PS, there are frequent requests on MOTH for housesitters. If you're interested, MeMail me your real address and I can forward them to you.
posted by k8t at 12:11 PM on April 2, 2011

Grocery stores: There is also a Safeway at 14th St SE a few blocks north of the Potomac Ave Metro and a short walk from the Lincoln Park area. I find it to be perfectly adequate for my needs, plus there is a place to park my bike outside. There is also a Saturday farmers' market at Eastern Market in addition to the regular vendors inside.

Closer to Union Station, there's a small strip of restaurants along Massachusetts Ave NE by Stanton Park in addition to the places at Barracks Row/Penn Ave and H Street.

If you are close to Union Station the D6 Bus and the Georgetown-Union Station Circulator are convenient for evenings and weekends (during work commute times, not so much).

There are also two neighborhood libraries, one in Northeast and one in Southeast.
posted by bbq_ribs at 12:53 PM on April 2, 2011

If you live close enough the the metro, don't worry about grocery stores being near your home. There are plenty of grocery stores RIGHT by metro stations. Makes life a lot easier.

All the qualifications you put in apply to the Capitol Hill...except maybe the kid-friendly. Not that its NOT kid-friendly...I just don't think of the hill as being particularly kid-friendly.
posted by hal_c_on at 2:09 PM on April 2, 2011

Hal_c_on, I don't know if you've lived near here in awhile, but Capitol Hill is known as one of the most kid friendly 'hoods around.
posted by k8t at 2:36 PM on April 2, 2011

We chose Capitol Hill for all the reasons you listed, and we love it. Except grocery stores. We are total grocery store snobs, so we put up with taking a Zipcar to the Whole Foods in Arlington. Other than that we never drive. There are lots of exciting new restaurants on H Street, but depending on where you are on the Hill, they can be a pretty long walk.

And like you, we are looking for more space at the moment, which means (sniff) we may have to leave the Hill soon.
posted by Xalf at 7:42 PM on April 2, 2011

12-year Capital Hill resident here! 15th and Constitution, NE, now, but have lived in a few different spots.

Exogenous is a wimp about walking. We're friends, and he knows I feel this way. I pass his house on my walk to work every day--1.3 miles, each way. In my opinion, he's right around the corner from the Metro. I think walking from my place to Union Station is reasonable, too.

The neighborhood is perfectly flat, the sidewalks are wide and well-maintained. It is great for biking. Some famous folks, too! I know where Gene Weingarten and Eleanor Holmes Norton and Carl Levin live, and I see all of them with some regularity. There doesn't seem to be the huge turnover of residents here--I've seen the same folks out in their gardens and walking their dogs for years. The merchants at Eastern Market have been there longer than I have. I buy my Christmas tree from the same guy every year. That sort of continuity is rare in DC.

We, too are a bit snobbish about groceries, but things aren't worse here than in Kalorama. I get out to NoVa at least once a week, though, so I can get my shopping done out there. I see you don't have a car, but between Harris Teeter, Safeway, Yes, and Eastern Market, you should be covered. You're used to living in the city already, so prices won't shock you.

I do believe the crime is worse. Kalorama is more insulated, I think, while Capital Hill borders some rougher neighborhoods. I'm farther out than most who've commented here, and, yeah, we've had a prowler in the back yard and have bars on the windows. Much better since the genuine crack house across the street closed down a few years ago, but there's still grit.

Lots of green space and little pocket parks. On a nice night, there might be 100 people with their dogs at Lincoln Park. WAAAAY more kids than there used to be, for sure.

It is fairly quiet compared to your neighborhood. While there are bars on Pennsylvania and 8th, the neighborhoods are pretty strongly singe-use. I wish there were more dining options near me, but I guess that'll come. Plenty of decent places, but no real stars, I'm afraid. You might miss that.

We should brunch at Eastern Market, then go for a walk. That's how I was introduced to the neighborhood.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:06 AM on April 3, 2011 [1 favorite]

I wanna go to brunch too! :)
posted by k8t at 8:46 AM on April 3, 2011

Thanks to everyone for their input. Mr. Moon Pie, I think that we may have to take you up on your offer!
posted by statsgirl at 9:02 AM on April 3, 2011

Just chiming in to say that you should definitely meet up with MrMoonPie. He and his wife are both ace.
posted by terrapin at 3:22 PM on April 3, 2011

Exogenous is a wimp about walking. We're friends, and he knows I feel this way. I pass his house on my walk to work every day--1.3 miles, each way. In my opinion, he's right around the corner from the Metro.

It's all about time, my friend. Door-to-door, I could be almost anywhere downtown faster via bicycle than after walking to the metro (which I seldom do anyway thanks to Capital Bikeshare). Some people are wimps about biking in the city (not our councilman, thank goodness), but a great thing about the neighborhood is the bounty of transportation options.
posted by exogenous at 3:56 PM on April 3, 2011

I've been on the Hill for 30 years. It has changed a lot, and I am having some difficulty with the changes. Nevertheless, it is a great urban village. I am childless, but I would not hesitate to raise a family here. MeMail with any questions.
posted by jgirl at 5:31 PM on April 3, 2011

I guess I should say what changes. The Hill is, to me, much, much more suburban. It is undeniably whiter, completely white collar, and richer and much younger. (I miss the widows of the Navy Yard workers from my all-but-former parish.)

I miss the Hill I used to know, but I think you will love the one we have now.
posted by jgirl at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2011

Jeez. How many MeFites live here, and why was I never told!?

In any event, the "Hill" is a fairly big place. I'm north of H St, which will be quite different from Lincoln Park, which will be (not quite as) different from Eastern Market. All of them are quite nice.

For what it's worth, you may want to consider future developments occurring on the periphery of our neighborhood. There's talk of a Whole Foods going in somewhere north of the Navy Yard, a new Harris Teeter just opened up near the NY Ave Metro, and there's also a new Giant that will be opening on H St in the next few years, along with streetcar service on H St. H St today is unrecognizable from 5 years ago, and will be similarly unrecognizable 5 years from now.

Personally, I love Capitol Hill. It's dead easy to get into "proper" DC, has tons of great amenities, and is just that tiny "notch down" from the rest of the city that makes it actually feel like home. It's also gorgeous once the trees come into bloom. The bicycle-friendliness is just icing on the cake.
posted by schmod at 10:13 PM on April 3, 2011

Whole Foods near Navy Yard? WAHOOO!! ;)
posted by k8t at 12:25 PM on April 4, 2011

The proposed site is 800 New Jersey Ave. Not great if you live on the east end of the Hill, but hey -- it still beats driving over to P St NW if you just HAVE to buy some flax seed.

JDLand (who is generally very reliable on these sorts of things) also suggests that Harris Teeter have also been eyeing a spot on 4th & M SE. Their mixed-use stores on Potomac Avenue and in NoMA have both been very successful, and I don't think there's a single Hill resident who isn't glad that they'll never have to visit the Rhode Island Giant or Bladensburg Safeway ever again.

Being within walking distance of a good grocery store is one hell of an amenity to have.
posted by schmod at 1:32 PM on April 4, 2011

it still beats driving over to P St NW if you just HAVE to buy some flax seed.

I can walk a block and a half to Roland's for flax seed. The Hill is not a flax seed wasteland, not even in the outer areas. Go to Yes or some corner stores.

(I know you were being [largely] tongue-in-cheek.)
posted by jgirl at 5:56 AM on April 5, 2011 [1 favorite]

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