What do you see when you picture a classic, city neighborhood in the early evening? Coworkers in suits popping in out of restaurants. Moms pushing strollers heading home from the grocery store. A couple on a leisurely stroll gazing into windows and open shop doors. A line of teenagers under the movie theater marquee waiting on tickets and popcorn.
This is Cleveland Park. This community has succeeded in preserving pieces of an American culture that have disintegrated everywhere else.
"Stylistically, the neighborhood is a veritable museum of changing tastes representing the overlay of history in a continuous line of development from 1894 to 1941." National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for the Cleveland Park Historic District
The charm of Cleveland Park is obvious in certain ways....the Uptown Theater, an art deco movie palace, takes center stage on Connecticut Ave. Beaux Art and modernist apartment buildings sit at every corner. Walk up one of the side streets and you'll see everything from Italianate mansions to Craftsman bungalows to Sears and Roebuck cottages.
But there's more creating this feeling than just facades. When walking up Connecticut Avenue, you'll notice that everything is at a human scale. There's not a building taller than eight stories, a parking deck, or a big box retail store in sight. People can literally window shop along the locally-owned specialty stores. Just like in the old days, stores specialize in one type of product. We have a frame store, lamp store, vacuum and sewing machine store, bakery, grocery, jeweler, and Italian deli (which happens to sell the best pizza in DC!). The front doors of these shops are open nearly all the time.
The city was quiet as I carefully ventured out on icy sidewalks early Saturday morning. Winter had finally arrived...a few thin layers of snow and ice made the streets glisten.
Sometimes I think of Connecticut Avenue as an upscale urban jungle...giant trees fighting with art deco apartment buildings. Honestly, I don't think the buildings stand a chance.
Right outside our apartment is the Connecticut Avenue bridge over Klingle Valley. A road once ran through the valley, however it has been abandoned now for over 20 years. If you peak over the green rails, you'll see the forest and stream literally taking over the concrete. Nature is demolishing the work of man.
I crossed the bridge and passed the Kennedy-Warren, one of the finest examples of Aztec Art Deco architecture in the country. Its glamour has attracted the Washington elite for over 80 years, from Presidents and Senators to historians and writers.
The zoo came next. The gates were closed and two honorable lions stood guard. How strange to see a lion covered in snow.
I hope you had a weekend full of peaceful moments and lovely surprises.
Happy 2012! Yes, I know I'm a little late, but it's been a busy few weeks. I'm excited for the new year and all the fun things in store. And what better way to kick off the new year than to gallivant through salvage yards, consignment shops, and antique stores! My friend Laura and I spent this surprisingly cold (it's January, I really shouldn't be surprised) Sunday afternoon picking through everything from medicine and milk bottles to doors and window frames. Some of the most interesting finds were antique sewing machines, a jukebox, a phone booth, and a scale that tells you not only your weight but your fortune! (Quite a scary combination if you ask me.)
We first checked out Community Forklift, a salvage yard in Edmonston, Maryland, then headed back into the city to 14th street where we visited Miss Pixies, Hunted House, and Good Wood. The ever-popular Miss Pixies has an amazing selection of furniture, most used and some we decided was probably made by local artisans.
The concept behind Hunted House is very unique. The store is located in a historic rowhouse and all the furniture is displayed in rooms as if people are living there. Surrounded by Eames-style bucket chairs, teak coffee tables, leather couches, and old clock radios, customers feel like they should be sipping a Manhattan with Don Draper.
As Laura pointed out, Good Wood feels like a place frequented by very important men...those who have many leather-bound books and whose apartments smell of rich mahogany. Antique lovers and Ron Burgundy admirers alike would get a kick out of Good Wood.
P.S. The pink appliances above are actually miniature. They were so cute! Oh if only they were real. On the left is a picture of multi-colored toilet covers at Community Forklift...just in case you're ever in the market.
Woodley Place may be one of the best neighborhoods to live in DC. The tree-lined street is nestled up against Rock Creek Park and the National Zoo. Residents enjoy historic row houses with landscaped front yards and porches running the width of the house. As I walked down the street on an unseasonably warm New Year's Eve, the squirrels were chasing each other, birds were chirping, and neighbors were jogging and walking their dogs. Not only are the residents blessed with nature, but they are a block away from the shops and restaurants on Connecticut Avenue.
What I love most about the neighborhood is that the houses look lived in. Paint is chipping, bikes and toys are strewn about, and the landscaping looks a bit wild. This somewhat chaotic look gives you a sense that people really use and appreciate their homes and yards. Sometimes I walk through other neighborhoods in DC (like Cleveland Park or Georgetown) and wonder where all the people are. The houses are pretty and well-maintained but their perfection feels sterile. If I had one of those enormous porches, I would be sitting out there all the time...
Happy New Years!
Christmas is officially over. I'm officially stuffed and officially exhausted. The few days after Christmas are always a bit strange...there was so much preparation and anticipation and now it's all over. Luckily, the sparkle of the holiday season is still lingering with New Years (and my birthday) around the corner! Paper snowflakes and twinkly lights hanging about the apartment are certainly helping in the fight against today's cold, winter rain.