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DC Narratives: A D.C. Resident Remembers Chevy Chase, Housing, and More

Below, Diana Bulger, area director of Fairmont Hotel, remembers her college days in Washington, D.C., the current restaurant scene, and more.

DC Narratives

Welcome to DC Narratives, a collection of first-person accounts commemorating, celebrating, and reflecting on the lived experience in Washington, D.C. Read more stories here.

After college, I moved here back in the late ‘70s with some friends who thought it would be fun to live in D.C. When I first moved here, I lived right near where I live now. In the D.C. side of Chevy Chase, we rented a house from someone who worked for the State department and travelled all the time.

Back then, it was similar to what it is now except we didn’t have as many restaurants and shops around the Connecticut Avenue area, which is where we like to shop and eat, a but it was still very nice.

We rented a house for $600 a month, and we each paid $200. It had three bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms, a kitchen, a big backyard, [and] a garage. It also had a nice fireplace.

[When it comes to major changes in the city,] housing [is] one thing. There are so many places to live now, and it’s becoming very expensive I think especially for young people.

I know a lot of young people want to live in City Center. There are all these modern, beautiful new buildings, but they are very expensive. So, I think that a lot of them are looking for smaller spaces because young people really want to have more experiential lifestyles as opposed to maintaining a large and expensive home.

I think  the housing market is a little bit oversaturated right now. There’s a lot out there, but it’s just getting too expensive. That’s the one thing that I am concerned about because I know there are so many people who want to move into this city, but it’s becoming unaffordable in some areas of the city.

In the neighborhood that I live in, many of the homes in tripled in value since 2000. It’s very difficult for people to find neighborhoods that are affordable  in D.C these days.

I remember some of the shops that are not here anymore like Dorothy Stead in Georgetown and some of the old restaurants like the Third Edition, San Souci, and Le Steak. Now, they have several amazing new restaurants. It seems like there is a new restaurant opening all the time.

I also love the West End  because it’s residential and quiet and there are also some lovely restaurants around here.  You can walk right into Georgetown. It’s two blocks away up to Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom where Metro stations are.

The restaurant scene has become amazing in this city. We have Michel Richard, Mike Isabella, Ris Lacoste and many other renowned chefs.

In D.C., you can [also] see the sun all the time. I was just in New York this week on business and the buildings are so tall you would be l on one side of the street and you can’t even see the sky. In DC, we’ve got so many open and  green spaces, our city is so clean. People take care of the lawns and in front of the buildings. Washington is a friendly city too.

I don’t necessarily have a story, but [people] usually just ask me what there is to see and do.

People should explore and see what they’re most comfortable with. There is something for everybody here.

Go check out Adams Morgan for the day. Go to a Smithsonian museum or to Capitol Hill. Walk or get on one of the tour buses that lets you get on and off throughout the city.

it’s a city of networking, so people like to help each other and that’s important.

My husband, Tom, and I are very happy living in D.C.

Photo by Michelle Goldchain