Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What do you call the area north of Spring Road around 14th Street?

This is something I was wondering the other day sitting on the roof of the Red Derby -- what's the area north of Spring Road around 14th Street called?

It depends on how you define Columbia Heights (and we've talked a lot about that, see our previous debates) but many people consider Columbia Heights's northern boundary to be Spring Road (which is the ward boundary, and so thus a good border) or a little farther up, like Quincy Street. But then what's above that?

Is it southern (or southwestern) Petworth? That usually seems to be farther north and east, though. Wikipedia would have that area as Petworth. To me it's a different character than Petworth -- and if you look at the history of that map (scroll down), it's changed a number of times and doesn't seem to be based on any official things (it says Census, but that's the basemap, and the Census as far as I know doesn't define neighborhoods.) To add to the confusion, many people say the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro isn't in Petworth, or just at its very southern tip.

There's a neighborhood called 16th Street Heights, but the borders for that are pretty unclear too. Google seems to place it farther north, around Hamilton Street NW. I've even heard of a 14th Street Heights, but I've never heard anybody say that. And what, is 14th Street Heights one or two blocks wide, then it's 16th Street Heights? That seems strange.

Farther west there's Crestwood, which seems to be between about 16th and Rock Creek, with Piney Branch as the southern boundary and Colorado Avenue on the north. Does it goes that far east and south to cover the Red Derby and up to Upshur?

At 14th and Taylor there's the Twin Oaks Community Garden, and just down the street there's a big apartment complex called Twin Oaks -- maybe we should start calling it that? It has kind of a nice ring.

Some people even coined the GaP for around the Georgia Ave-Petworth Metro, but I think that's really dumb.

The maps sites are no help either -- Google, Bing and OpenStreetMap are unclear there.

What do you think it's called? I suppose you could even coin something silly like NoDerb (North of the Derby.)


  1. 14th Street Heights or Central 14th Street.



  2. Anon, I linked to that same Post article, but I have never heard of anybody actually using it in a conversation. Have you?

  3. North Columbia Heights? Columbia Ridge?

    NoCo? SoPe (south petworth)? ChiASS Lair?

  4. Columbia Heights. Or you could call it North Columbia Hts or even New Columbia Heights! 16th St Heights starts at about Taylor. Petworth is at GA Ave, not west of there by 5 blocks. 14th St Heights only exists on the old signage meant to brand the commercial strip from Allison to Delafield on 14th.

    People have a poor conception of the southern end of 16th Street Heights. It's east of Crestwood (16th), West of Petworth (Georgia), north of Columbia Heights (Taylor-ish) and south of Brightwood (Military Rd). There are debates around the margins, but it's not Petworth's western half or any some such.

  5. Haha, what's ChiASS Lair?

    Andy, maybe, but it's unusual that neighborhoods cross ward boundaries. I mean I usually say "sort of northern Columbia Heights" but I dunno, it seems like a stretch to me.

  6. I say 16th Street Heights, until something definitive comes along saying otherwise.

    The Spring Road northern boundary of Columbia Heights is a very old one. Of course, the cachet of the neighborhood has increased exponentially lately, so I can see what people would want to glom on to the name.

  7. We recently bought a house on the 3800 block of Kansas Av. All of the documentation provided by the city lists the neighborhood as Columbia Heights. We honestly don't know what to call it either! We typically say we are on the northern border of CoHi and southern edge of Petworth. We are only two blocks from the 11th St strip (meridian pint, red rocks, etc). In my view, the area has the vibrancy of CoHi, but also a close knit neighborhood of Petworth. Typically, I hear Northern Columbia Heights alot...

    Folks should really look at defining this area more as its such a convenient location. 7 blocks to the CoHi Target, 2 blocks to 11th St, 2 blocks to Red Derby and 2 blocks to the Petworth Metro, Saafeway and Chez Billy. The Domku strip up on Upshur is only about 5 blocks.

    We love the area so far.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Anon with the house: the city has these "Assessment Neighborhood" on those kinds of documents, but generally those don't relate to actual neighborhoods. For example, there's no Adams Morgan, and if you buy one in Logan Circle it says Old City II, which no one ever says. It's strange they even have them!

  10. As with all of these discussions, the problem is that some neighborhoods have always had clear boundaries (e.g. Petworth), and others have been more or less vague notions. The Library of Congress web site has a number of old survey maps, but they only go up to the 1919-1921 edition, at which point a lot of the property in this area still hadn't been built yet. In the relevant plate (18) Shepherd St is developed and labeled as "North Columbia Heights", while the area around Allison St is labeled "14th St Heights" and north of that is the prosaically named "Saul's Addition." Meanwhile to the east, Petworth has clear boundaries set off by the background color (notably Georgia to the west, and Hamilton -- not Kennedy, not Decatur -- to the north).

    I don't have time on my lunch break to dig through and find maps with the old boundaries of the Holmead estate which became Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Pleasant Plains, and at least part of Park View, but if I recall correctly from the last time I did that research, it did cut off at Spring.

    I think there are reasonably strong arguments to be made that the area isn't Columbia Heights or Petworth, but whether it's North Columbia Heights, 14th St Heights, or some other thing is rather an open question.

  11. This is Petworth, no ifs about it. Petworth is bounded by Gallitan, 16th Street, Spring Road/Rock Creek Church, and the cemetarty/Armed Forces Home. Crestwood is west of 16th Street, and 16th Street Heights is north of Gallitan. The wards, police districts, street layout, ANCs, and District maps all support this.

  12. Anon: Can you please provide links all these sources that you claim support your assertion?


  13. I for one would like to see the map with Gallitan and the Cemetarty, because none of my maps have either. Clearly I've been hoodwinked into buying a number of bogus maps.

  14. Funny that people get so worked up about this question. It'd be interesting to see a project like this for DC: http://bostonography.com/2013/neighborhoods-as-seen-by-the-people/

  15. Most recent anon, I thought about that but don't have the tech skillz. I'll ask around.

  16. Just bought on Shepherd recently and my deed says "North Columbia Heights."

  17. Uh, there's no way I can get from the 3800 block of Kansas to Meridian Pint. it's half a mile away!


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