Even before the city of Washington was built, the hill north of the White House was called Mount Pleasant. In the beginning, there was Ingle's farm, but the area was too good for corn and cows. The Mount Pleasant Hospital did service in the Civil War, and Columbian College -- now George Washington University -- began on the hill.

The masses couldn't be kept away for long. In the 1870s, its "exemption from the chills and autumnal fevers of the malarial districts" proved that Mount Pleasant was "the most healthy suburb of Washington."

Mount Pleasant is north of Irving Street and west of 16th Street, girding the cool northwest slope of the hill down to Rock Creek and Piney Branch. Lawns in this neighborhood usually begin at least four feet high behind walls of stone, and most lawns are severe slopes up to ponderous porches with white columns or to row houses of gray, brown or cream brick.

The people are the neighborhood. Most would rather sit on the stoop playing guitar than play mountain goat and trim the lawns; many like to spread flowers throughout. On the streets, stately Lincolns vie with snppy Toyotas that advocate on their bumpers peace, justice, equality and rights for animals.