Where We Live: D.C.'s Foggy Bottom, immersed in culture

Real estate locator map of Foggy Bottom.
Gene Thorp/The Washington Post
By Amy Reinink
Friday, February 4, 2011; 10:16 AM

When Foggy Bottom residents walk down the street for some evening entertainment, there's a good chance they're not just stopping by the neighborhood coffee or ice cream shop.

With the Kennedy Center, George Washington University, several embassies, Georgetown, the Mall and other classic Washington destinations a short walk away, even a simple evening stroll around the neighborhood can be a cultural experience.

"The Kennedy Center has free concerts every night, and the embassies often host events," said longtime resident Susan Trinter, a consultant in her 50s and editor of Foggy Bottom News. "There's so much going on here. You feel close to the central pulse of the world." So close, indeed, that "Foggy Bottom" is often used as a synonym for the U.S. State Department, another neighborhood fixture.

Proximity to some of the city's most cherished amenities is only part of what draws residents to Foggy Bottom.

Trinter moved to the neighborhood seeking "access to both Virginia and Maryland, and the ability to get out of town without any hassles." Foggy Bottom, just across the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge from Virginia and Interstate 66, and a short drive away from Reagan National Airport or Bethesda, filled that need.

Trinter also liked that Foggy Bottom has the feel of a real city, not a bedroom community that happens to be in the District.

"It's a true urban environment," she said. "It feels much more urban and dense than even neighborhoods like Georgetown and Dupont."

But Trinter said George Washington University's repeated expansions and the relations between full-time residents and students are points of tension in Foggy Bottom.

"There seem to be many more students living off-campus now," Trinter said. "That, and the fact that it seems that GW is always pushing beyond its boundaries, has been a perennial issue for residents here."

The neighborhood's density allows for easy access to goods and services, said Gigi Winston, a real estate agent who has lived there for more than a decade. "The Watergate is a nice thing, because it's sort of a city within a city, with hair salons, groceries and pretty much everything else you could need," Winston said. "You've also got Georgetown waterfront, more restaurants than we've ever had here, two health clubs and the river within walking distance."

The neighborhood also boasts some open space, especially in the historic district and around the university.

"It's a contradiction, because it's very urban, and yet you've got a huge campus here, so you get open space and great views," Trinter said. "No matter which part of my building you live in, you don't feel like you're penned in."

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