East Capitol/Potomac Ave Safe?
April 29, 2011 4:07 PM   Subscribe

How dangerous is Potomac Ave Metro area of DC (East Capitol) compared to the rest of Capitol Hill, Eastern Market or Columbia Heights?

I'm considering a place that is .3 miles from the Potomac Ave Metro. I know that it is a "transitional" neighborhood, but I am having a very hard time judging whether it is significantly more dangerous than say Stanton Park, Lincoln Park, Eastern Market or H Street. I'm a single female who would be living alone. My largest concerns are walking to and from the metro and bus stop from work. As well as walking to and from all the restaurants and bars on 8th St. Is it the type of situation where I could safely walk to happy hour on 8th street early in the evening and then cab it back, or would walking anytime after sunset be out? Are there blocks nearby that I need to avoid no matter what?

Is it on par with say Columbia Heights or is Columbia Heights safer?

I realize that crime is an issue throughout DC. I'm far more concerned with violent crime than say my car getting broken into. Also the building I would be moving into has plenty of security. So it is really the walking around alone that worries me (and I like to walk around!). Not to mention being able to walk to stuff is half the reason I want to move to the area.

I've tried looking at the crime stats, but I've found it very hard to compare neighborhoods that way.
posted by whoaali to Society & Culture (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
.3 miles in which direction? While that neighborhood is a lot safer that it used to be, and I walk there alone quite a bit, including at night, it varies widely block to block. A lot of parts of DC are like that, so the specific location matters. There are blocks near Potomac Ave that are safer than many blocks in Columbia Heights, and vice versa.
posted by decathecting at 4:15 PM on April 29, 2011

13th & K, round the corner from the supermarket.
posted by whoaali at 4:19 PM on April 29, 2011

Here's a crime map.
posted by Sys Rq at 4:43 PM on April 29, 2011

Unless it's changed in the past couple of years, I wouldn't feel real comfortable living any where near that area, myself.
posted by empath at 5:33 PM on April 29, 2011

I agree with decathecting about the direction being important. I live about .3 miles from that Metro stop too, in but the other direction. I feel pretty darn safe on my street and on my walk from the metro even at night (I am female). But, the area around Potomac Gardens (13th/Penn/I) has had a LOT more crime, some of it very violent and random. I'm not sure I'd recommend that one of my girlfriends live there. However, if you can find a place a bit north of Penn (somewhere in between Potomac Ave Metro and Lincoln Park, or even a bit north of Lincoln Park) my answer would totally change. I really do love the neighborhood overall. Fell free to memail me if you want to talk more about the neighborhood.
posted by jay dee bee at 6:16 PM on April 29, 2011

The boyfriend of a college friend lives right there. They don't let me walk around by myself at night. He has a car, so he's not often walking from far away. Plus he's a big dude.
posted by emkelley at 6:34 PM on April 29, 2011

Yeah, I don't walk alone on that block at night. (30something white female, I live near Lincoln Park)
posted by k8t at 6:42 PM on April 29, 2011

Hmm very unfortunate, but I don't want to be unsafe. A friend who lives nearby said something similar, but safety is often so subjective that I wanted a second opinion given how close it is to so many things and what a great place it is. Thanks for everyone's answers.
posted by whoaali at 7:13 PM on April 29, 2011

I live in Columbia Heights and have friends who live in Columbia Heights. If I could avoid it, I wouldn't walk in the Potomac Ave area alone after dark, but it's not absolutely horrible.

I used to live around 8th & I SE, and would sometimes walk to the grocery store near that metro. I got semi-harassing comments directed toward me by men who lived in the housing projects near there (though, there were also older women -- presumably older relatives -- who reprimanded the guys for heckling me). I also did have people be (non-creepily) super nice to me, though.

Honestly, I think you'd be fine living there, but Columbia Heights is much less sketchy, plus has (arguably) better nightlife and is closer to other "desirable" neighborhoods in which all of your friends will be hanging out in. Regardless of where you live, I think you can avoid a lot of the sketch-factor by getting a bike and biking instead of walking to happy hours + etc.
posted by aaanastasia at 9:08 PM on April 29, 2011

Use the crime map if you are serious about your question--real evidence is worth much more than broad impressions based as much on personal baggage as real crime.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:37 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]

Well so here's the issue with the crime map, which I had actually looked at before posting this. DC is just covered with so many little characters all over that almost all the neighborhoods look the same, when clearly they aren't. Even when you zoom in and eliminate the non violent crimes it is still hard to determine your risk.

I went and looked at the dc police website that let's you put in an address and get the crime stats for a given period of time. This was more helpful, but still difficult because the numbers are sort of meaningless until you put in other addresses in parts of town that you know are safe or unsafe. And even then it's hard to determine the severity of the crime and especially important whether random people on the street are being specifically targeted. The different types of crimes are specified, but that still leaves the question of for instance assault: Is there a bar nearby where the local idiots go to pick fights with the other drunken local idiots or are people cruising around looking to kick the shit out of someone just for kicks?
posted by whoaali at 11:56 PM on April 29, 2011

I don't think bars filled with drunks will be the issue in that area. I'd b more worried about being robbed.

But anyway, I'm going against the grain here and "anecdotally" suggested that it's a decent area. Columbia Heights is at least as bad, though it certainly has more to do.

Just check the crime map in different areas. Check different time periods to see any trends.
posted by The Lamplighter at 8:56 AM on April 30, 2011

Find real data. I suggest perusing the Urban Institute's DC Crime reports. Lots of real data AND maps.
posted by Hey, Zeus! at 5:23 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]

Hrmm. That particular intersection is tricky, because it's so isolated from the rest of the city due to the freeway (which, with a little luck, won't be there 10 years from now).

My opinion would be that it's not as safe as the rest of the Hill (which is very safe), but also nowhere nearly as dangerous as others here are making it out to be. In particular, for some reason, folks from Columbia Heights seem to love to dis other neighborhoods for being dangerous, while simultaneously ignoring the absurdly high crime rate in their own backyard.

The extent to which Potomac Gardens is a "problem" is highly debatable and controversial. Newer, more affluent residents love to complain about the housing project in their neighborhood. However, there's nearly a constant police presence outside of the complex, and crime doesn't seem to actually spill over much outside of the complex itself, or be nearly as violent or random as many accuse it of being. It might make you uncomfortable, but it probably won't affect you directly.

(Oh, and I bike through 11th & K SE every night after dark. 13th is definitely in the "wrong" direction, but I shy away from telling people that they live in bad neighborhoods, because this insult has been frequently been hurled at me, and is patently untrue. I'd probably watch my surroundings there, but wouldn't feel explicitly unsafe.)
posted by schmod at 8:57 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I ended up going for another place in Mt. Vernon Square. The price of the place I was considering in Potomac really wasn't a good enough of a deal to justify the safety risks. Even if it had been a better deal, I probably wouldn't have taken it. I've had so many friends that have been the victims of violent crimes in the supposedly safer parts of DC that this just seemed like too big of a risk.

I did look extensively at the crime stats, but honestly they were very hard to parse as there is violent crime in all of DC so comparing different areas to determine relatively how dangerous they were is not the easiest thing in the world, but it did appear there was a lot of crime in the area. And from the newspaper articles I saw, some of it was rather disturbing.
posted by whoaali at 9:46 AM on May 11, 2011

(FWIW, Potomac is an extremely wealthy suburb in Maryland. Potomac Avenue is a Metro Station and a working-class neighborhood within Capitol Hill.

Also, please be careful around Mt. Vernon Square. It's in a much more heavily-trafficked part of town, but certainly has its own crime issues.)
posted by schmod at 12:07 PM on May 13, 2011

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