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A Local's Guide to Columbia Heights, D.C.'s Hip and Up-and-Coming Neighborhood

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See what you should know about this popular area

Columbia Heights is a neighborhood that has it all — retail, restaurants, bars, and even a Metro stop. In the mid-1990s, though, there wasn’t much to look at. According to UrbanTurf, the neighborhood was one of several that were destroyed during the riots of 1968. After the Columbia Heights Metro station opened in 1999, developers began to take notice of the area, and after a decade, a whole new neighborhood center and mall were born.

Andrew Wiseman, New Columbia Heights blogger and Columbia Heights resident since 2007, defines the borders of the neighborhood as Florida Avenue NW to Quincy Street NW and then 16th Street NW to Georgia Avenue NW.

Originally, the area was a horse track, farmland, and the home of Columbian University, or currently George Washington University. It wasn’t until 1881 that the area took on the Columbia Heights moniker due to Senator John Sherman purchasing and naming the site after Columbian College, according to WeLoveDC.

David Ehrenberg, Redfin real estate agent, said, "Now that it’s such a well-rounded area, I don’t think that you’re going to see that rapid kind of change anymore, but it’s an area that I think will continue to be popular because it has everything that homebuyers are looking for."

"It’s definitely changed a lot," said Wiseman, who added that there are worries about retaining residents who have been in the neighborhood for decades.

Overall, the neighborhood has steadily gotten more popular and more pricey. Since 2012, the median sale price per square foot on a listing in the neighborhood has jumped from $350 to $500 in 2016, according to research from Redfin. Meanwhile, the median days a listing is on the market has fallen from around 35 in 2012 to a little under 25 in 2016.

When it comes to what causes people to be attracted to the area, Ehrenberg said, "I think Columbia Heights is a neighborhood that appeals to people who are still looking for an area that feels like it’s close in to D.C., but I think what’s great about Columbia Heights is that it still has that urban feel where you’re not moving up to the suburbs."

The neighborhood is attractive for families, too. Wiseman said that the area offers plenty of playgrounds, tutoring programs, and activities for children like the local arts space, known as BloomBars.

While some may focus on the shops and restaurants on 14th Street NW, 11th Street is really the hidden gem of the neighborhood.

Ehrenberg said, "I think a lot of people who are newer to D.C. or might not necessarily spend a lot of time in the area think of the Target sitting on top of the Metro and that bustling commercial area along 14th Street, but if you head a few blocks eastward, you’ll actually find a quieter block of good, local restaurants and bars that really add a lot of appeal to the neighborhood for people who live closeby."

Wiseman further described 11th Street as "the social hub" of Columbia Heights.

For now, if you want to stay up-to-date on what's going on in Columbia Heights, be sure to check out Wiseman's blog New Columbia Heights or follow Curbed DC.

New Columbia Heights [Official Website]

Columbia Heights: DC’s Most Diverse Neighborhood, But For How Long?[UrbanTurf]

Where We Live: Columbia Heights [WeLoveDC]