“Capitol Hill is like a real small town in the capital of the free world,” she says. For Scheeder, the neighborhood’s quaint but central feel was a major draw, then and now. What strikes residents most about living on Capitol Hill is the camaraderie that comes with it.
“I love running into friends and neighbors wherever I go — the casual conversations we have in the dog park, at a restaurant, or just walking down the street,” says Barbara Wells, who has lived on Capitol Hill since 1985.
Though many residents have lived on Capitol Hill for decades, the demographic has been changing. It has become a desirable destination for young families, too. Nelson says that to get the best of what Capitol Hill has to offer, new residents should learn about the area’s long history. Capitol Hill has a reputation as a place where residents are extremely passionate about community activism.
“There is a long-standing quip that you don’t move to Capitol Hill, you join,” she said. “This has held true for decades. Capitol Hill seems to attract people who want more than just a pretty house. They’re folks who are looking for community and who are willing to put the effort into building that community.”
Such projects include the creation of new religious institutions such as Hill Havurah, an independent Jewish community, and the revitalization of the Old Naval Hospital into the Hill Center, a cultural and educational center. When Eastern Market was damaged by fire in 2007, residents raised money to support its vendors during rebuilding. Block parties are one way the neighborhood celebrates. Some blocks have had an annual party for 40 years straight.
Eastern Market, a public market that sells fresh produce, meats and flowers as well as handicrafts, is a long-established community gathering place. Smaller shops have come and gone, but developments along the H street corridor and Barracks Row have made Capitol Hill a destination.
Reservation 13, a 67-acre piece of land east of Eastern High School and RFK Stadium, is one of the bigger developments. Plans for its redevelopment, which were first drafted in 2002, envisioned new apartments, stores and parks connecting Capitol Hill to the Anacostia River. The lack of progress on Reservation 13 has led to frustration among some residents. According to ANC Commissioner Denise Krepp, what she and the community have talked about needing most is more mixed-use housing.
A spokesperson at the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development declined to comment on why the plans have taken so long to gain traction but said the office shares the community’s desire to move the plan forward. Ground has been broken on the first phase of the project, which includes two residential buildings. This fall, 362 residential units are planned to open with more than 20,000 square feet of retail space; 31 of the units in that building will be for low-income families. The other building will be 100 units for low-income families.
Once fully built, this new community will connect the surrounding Hill East neighborhood to the Anacostia waterfront via tree-lined streets, recreational trails and waterfront parklands.
Living there: Capitol Hill’s boundaries have changed over time and differ from group to group. Historically, the neighborhood has been bounded by the Capitol on the west, F Street NE on the north, 14th Street on the east, and the Southeast Freeway on the south. As the neighborhood has grown, the Capitol Hill Community Foundation considers the boundaries to stretch to RFK Stadium on the east and Florida Avenue to the north.
In the past six months, 316 homes have sold on Capitol Hill. A dilapidated building that sold for $703,500 has been renovated into a five-bedroom, five-bathroom house that will list for just under $1.5 million. There are 80 properties under contract, including a two-bedroom, one-bathroom rowhouse for $525,000 and a five-bedroom, four-bathroom house for just under $2 million.
Transportation: Four Metro stations serve the neighborhood: Union Station on the Red Line, and Eastern Market, Potomac Avenue and Stadium-Armory on the Blue, Silver and Orange lines. Several bus routes serve the area. Anyone can use the tram that travels along H Street free of charge. Major thoroughfares include Southwest Freeway, Pennsylvania Avenue and Maryland Avenue.
Schools: Miner, Tyler, Maury and Ludlow-Taylor elementary; Stuart-Hobson and Eliot-Hine middle and Eastern High.