Where We Live

Kalorama Triangle Offers Old World Style, Convenience Right in the Heart of D.C.

By Amy Reinink
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, August 22, 2009

Justin Abad gazed out the window of Cashion's Eat Place, his Kalorama Triangle restaurant, savoring a view that sums up why he loves this neighborhood.

There's the eclectic mix of restaurants, offering Peruvian chicken, fresh nigiri or fine champagne within a single city block. There's the row of century-old storefronts, preserved in the neighborhood's historic district. Most important, there's the lively and diverse mix of residents that drew Abad to the neighborhood several years ago.

"I just look outside and smile," says Abad, who bought Cashion's with two business partners in 2007 after starting there as a 19-year-old waiter in 2002. "The diversity of the people -- culturally, racially and socioeconomically, even politically -- is just really interesting. It's a mix that doesn't exist in many places, and it makes the neighborhood feel very real."

Residents say that diversity, plus a rich history and strong neighborhood involvement, defines Kalorama Triangle, a neighborhood bordered by Connecticut Avenue, Calvert Street and Columbia Road.

The neighborhood's historic architecture and friendly residents attracted Mary Belcher, 57, an artist, in the early 1970s. The same characteristics persuaded her to stay for good, and she bought a co-op apartment on Mintwood Place in 1990.

"I think the age of the neighborhood gives it a certain quality," Belcher said. "You don't have these large apartment buildings that block the sky. Buildings here tend to be four, five or six stories, which breaks up the neighborhood to a more human scale."

In addition, the neighborhood boasts several public parks, most of which are maintained by residents. The Kalorama Citizens Association has set up a nonprofit corporation to plant new trees, install park benches and make other improvements at Kalorama Park, which includes a community garden where residents can tend individual plots.

Also, there's the Biltmore Triangle Garden at Biltmore and 20th streets, which is "just a triangle in the middle of the street, but it's a lovely little garden," Belcher said.

"Kalorama Triangle has great green space," Belcher said. "It has almost an Old World feeling to it."

Abad said the buildings on Kalorama Triangle's commercial strip also contribute to that Old World feeling, with the charm of the architecture echoing the character of the businesses themselves.

Belcher, an amateur historian, said being surrounded by historic architecture has inspired her to look into the area's past. She said she's working with Howard University to research the neighborhood's African American history, including the presence of a large slave-holding estate that once defined that section of the city.

"The research is really interesting when you're part of the place," Belcher said.

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