To know Shepherd Park is to look at its tree-lined, sloping streets and stately, brick homes surrounded by meticulous landscapes.
To know the residents of Shepherd Park is to look at what is not in their Upper Northwest Washington neighborhood.
In the 7800 block of Georgia Avenue, an empty building sits where the Shepherd Park Bar used to feature nude dancers.
Across the street along Eastern Avenue, two buildings and a gasoline service station -- property where a developer had hoped to build apartments and offices -- are boarded and closed.
Several blocks south along Georgia Avenue, the newest neighborhood D.C. Public Library serves books where a fast-food franchisee had hoped to serve hamburgers.
Politicians and developers describe Shepherd Park residents as "feisty," a kindly way of saying that the people who live in Shepherd Park fight to keep their neighborhood quiet, relatively free of crime, with few multifamily dwellings.
"We rise to a crisis situation, or at least what we view as a crisis situation," said Ellie Anderson, president of the Shepherd Park Citizens Association, who has lived in the neighborhood since 1969. "We catch a lot of heat about it. Some people like to call us a bourgeois neighborhood."
Shepherd Park, with about 5,000 residents, is bounded generally by Eastern Avenue, Georgia Avenue, Walter Reed Hospital and 16th Street. With the exception of a few apartments in the 7400 block of Georgia Avenue, the homes in Shepherd Park are single-family, detached or semidetached houses. Most sell for between $115,000 and $270,000.
It is home to D.C. Councilwoman Hilda Mason and for years -- until the house on 16th Street was sold earlier this year -- served as the neighborhood for the official residence of Howard University's president.
The neighborhood is home to numerous doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals and business people such as Rosemary Reed Miller, who started Toast & Strawberries, a women's clothing boutique.
Miller, like many of her neighbors, said she was drawn to Shepherd Park 20 years because it was one of the few Washington neighborhoods that was integrated.
"I actually know white and black people who grew up in family homes here and now own their own houses here," said Miller, who lives in the 1300 block of Geranium Street. "People enjoy the pleasantries about not having to worry about race problems here."
The neighborhood now is about two-thirds black, one-third white. But like most Washington neighborhoods, its racial makeup changed over the years.
When Shepherd Park was developed in the 1920s and 1930s, nearly all of the houses built were bound by a covenant prohibiting blacks and Jews. The covenants were eventually ruled unenforceable by the U.S. Supreme Court.
The court's post-World War II ruling paved the way for an influx of Jews. Blacks followed. And many of the white residents -- as happened in other neighborhoods -- began to move out.
Out of that upheaval sprang Neighbors Inc., a racially mixed group of people who wanted to integrate Northwest Washington east of Rock Creek Park. That was in the early 1960s. The group still exists and publishes a monthly newsletter for Shepherd Park residents.
Another area publication focuses on a key concern -- crimes committed in the neighborhood. A member of the citizens association goes through the police logs at the 4th District Police Station and compiles the list. The neighborhood, which experiences relatively little crime, became anxious about criminal activity in June 1989 after two residents who lived in the 1400 block of Whittier Street NW in nearby Brightwood, just below Walter Reed Hospital, were killed in their home by burglars.
Most of the crimes listed in the newsletters are related to thefts from and vandalism of automobiles. But that's a minor problem in Shepherd Park, residents said, and it is far outweighed by the advantages.
The elementary school is one such advantage. Alexander Shepherd Elementary School, at 14th Street and Kalmia Road, is a D.C. school whose students score higher than other District schools on achievement tests. It is one of those schools where parents outside of the neighborhood try to find ways to enroll their children.
Another plus for Shepherd Park residents is transportation. Both 16th Street and Georgia Avenue, the neighborhood's western and eastern boundaries, have frequent Metrobus service.
Two Metro train stations -- in Silver Spring and Takoma Park -- are less than two miles away.
"An ambitious person can walk to either station," Anderson said.
And then there is the sense of community, a group of residents with enough energy and savvy to stop unwanted intrusions into their neighborhood.
Developer Jeffrey N. Cohen found Shepherd Park formidable when he proposed his Gateway project for the southeast corner of Eastern and Georgia avenues.
A group of neighborhood residents formed the Shepherd Park Legal Defense Fund to fight the development, which they feared would bring too much traffic to their neighborhood. Cohen recently sold the property.
The Upper Georgia Avenue Planning Committee, many of whose members are Shepherd Park residents, won a court decision when it successfully challenged the liquor license of a Shepherd Park bar on the grounds that it did not serve the amount of food required by law. The bar, which featured nude dancers, closed.
And residents balked when they learned of plans to build a Wendy's restaurant on Georgia Avenue.
Last July, the Shepherd Park Branch of the D.C. Public Library opened at the site.
"We fight to preserve the residential character of our neighborhood," said Ned Sloan, a leader of the Shepherd Park Legal Defense Fund, who has lived in the neighborhood for 21 years. "I don't think some people are aware of how strong a community we are."