August 17, 2017 at 7:00 AM
For Terra Blodnikar, living in the District's Adams Morgan neighborhood means walking to pick up groceries at the Harris Teeter near the corner of 17th Street NW and Kalorama Road NW or to nearby parks and playgrounds with her husband, Eric, and their daughters, ages 3½ and 5 months.
Walter Pierce Park, Kalorama Recreation Center and Meridian Hill Park are among the green spaces that dot the urban landscape of Adams Morgan, known for change and diversity throughout its history.
The Blodnikars both lived in Adams Morgan before they met and, ultimately, married. They bought a house that needed to be gutted about 10 years ago and have lived in the neighborhood ever since.
"It was a labor of love," said Terra Blodnikar, 38, of the renovation. She works for a real estate investment firm in Bethesda. Eric Blodnikar, 42, is an architect.
"There is just so much available within walking distance," she said. "Just to be able to park your car on Friday afternoon and not get back into it until Monday morning" is one of the appeals of the urban neighborhood, she said.
Entertainment destination: Adams Morgan is home to a range of people.
Within a half-mile of the intersection of 18th Street NW and Columbia Road NW, 44 percent of the residents are between ages 20 and 34, according to the District's Economic Partnership neighborhood profiles. Another 37 percent in the same area are between 35 and 64. Among the rest, 10 percent are younger than 20, and 9 percent are 65-plus.
"It attracts young families now, for the most part," said Kristen Barden, executive director of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District, founded in 2005.
Adams Morgan still flourishes as an entertainment destination. Restaurants specialize in everything from pizza to falafel. Seven dining spots that have garnered Michelin Guide status or made the Bib Gourmand list are among those that line its major artery, 18th Street NW; parts of Columbia Road NW and some adjacent streets. On weekend nights, private vehicles, Uber, Lyft and taxis flood the neighborhood.
A new hotel called The Line DC is scheduled to open in the fall. A $6.8 million streetscape project on 18th Street between Florida Avenue and Columbia Road was completed in 2012.
For Saied Azali, who said he has lived in Adams Morgan "on and off" since 1980, the neighborhood provides continuity and convenience. As the owner of two restaurants in the area, he said he enjoys interacting with his neighbors.
"It's a very comfortable neighborhood," said Azali, 58, who immigrated to the United States from his native Iran in 1976. "It's so central."
Uniting Adams and Morgan: Josh Gibson, co-author with Celestino Zapata of the book "Then and Now: Adams Morgan," describes the "interesting duality" of the neighborhood that "on the one hand is gentrifying" yet has "stayed diverse, funky and interesting." Gibson, 44, has lived in the neighborhood since the late 1990s. He and his wife, Sara, have a daughter, 7.
There is currently a moratorium on nightclub licenses in Adams Morgan, according to Ted Guthrie, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. He moved from Portland, Ore., with his partner to the area 19 years ago.
Business Improvement District events such as Porch Fest, in which three bands play on neighbors' porches, have become important. Adams Morgan Day, which has been in existence since 1978, still draws thousands but is more "neighborhoody" than in the past, said Guthrie, a retired lawyer and dance teacher.
Adams Morgan has had a long and varied history. According to the American Planning Association, which lists Adams Morgan in its "Great Places in America: Neighborhoods," a piece of land "known as 'Kalorama' was subdivided to create the residential neighborhood of Washington Heights, the first of several residential subdivisions created out of 'Kalorama' " in 1872.
Then, in the 1880s, landowner Mary Foote Henderson purchased the land that is now Meridian Hill Park, "evicting a large African American community." After the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court Brown v. Board of Education ruling that declared segregated schools unconstitutional, officials and residents formed the Adams Morgan Better Neighborhood Conference. It united four neighborhoods and two existing neighborhood schools, Thomas P. Morgan, an all-black school, and John Quincy Adams Elementary , an all-white school. Hence came the name Adams Morgan.
Early in the 20th century, the Knickerbocker Theatre stood at 18th Street and Columbia Road. Built in 1917, it was, according to Adams Morgan Vision Framework, a project of the D.C. Office of Planning, "emblematic of the 'white glove' era when prominent residents of the city lived, shopped and socialized in the neighborhood." The theater, though, would become a site of tragedy in 1922 when it collapsed after a blizzard, killing dozens.
Living there: Adams Morgan is bounded roughly by Calvert Street NW and Columbia Road NW to the north, 16th Street NW to the east, Florida Avenue NW to the south and Columbia Road and Connecticut Avenue NW to the west.
According to John T. Murray, an agent with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, 278 residential properties sold in the past 12 months in Adams Morgan, ranging from a studio in a 1927 building for $210,000 to an eight-bedroom, six-bathroom 1900 townhouse for $2.05 million.
There are 41 properties on the market, ranging from a studio in a 1911 building for $230,000 to a five-bedroom, five-bath semi-detached 1914 three-level townhouse for $2.395 million.
Schools: H.D. Cooke Elementary, Marie Reed Elementary, Oyster-Adams Bilingual (Grades pre-K to 3 in Woodley Park, 4 to 8 in Adams Morgan), Columbia Heights Middle, Cardozo High and Wilson High.
Transit: The neighborhood is roughly equidistant between two Metro stops — Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan on the Red Line and Columbia Heights on the Green and Yellow lines. Metro buses include the 96, L2, 42, 43 and H1.
Crime: According to the D.C. police Crime Map, in the past year, one homicide, 16 burglaries, 27 robberies and 16 aggravated assaults were reported.