Bob Mondello, who reviews movies and covers the arts for National Public Radio, has lived in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood of Northwest Washington since 1986. He wasn’t initially attracted to Mount Pleasant by the neighborhood. In fact, at the time he was looking to buy, his real estate agent was pushing him to live in more trendy Adams Morgan.
But one day, while driving down 16th Street on his way to a screening at the Motion Picture Association, Mondello spotted what he calls, “one of the dowager buildings on 16th Street” and decided that was where he was going to live.
“The place was spectacular,” he said. “Listen, I bought for the apartment [but] the attractive thing about this neighborhood at the time for me [was] . . . I was a hippy back in college. I had ideals about the kind of places I wanted to live. . . . [Mount Pleasant] was just very appealing in that sense to my idea of what society ought to be.”
Home, sweet home: Mount Pleasant is an overwhelming residential area with a mixture of apartment buildings, condominium buildings, 20th-century rowhouses, Victorians and colonial revival mansions. Several of the larger houses have been converted into condos. “The housing stock is just gorgeous,” Mondello said. “As you go down Park Road, those big houses are beautiful.”
Small-town feel: Many of the homes have porches. The tree-lined streets encourage strolling. The National Zoo is steps away. Cultural Tourism DC has put together a 90-minute self-guided walking tour, “Village in the City: Mount Pleasant Heritage Trail.” “Walking is one of the big attractions of the place,” he said. “To be able to walk down into [Rock Creek Park], it is literally a block and a half behind us. To be able to look at the park from our windows is incredibly appealing. To be able to just wander around [the neighborhood] and just sort of stroll is great. It rewards moseying.”
Bilingual: Mount Pleasant is one of the more diverse enclaves in Washington and has long been a haven for the District’s Latino community. It also has a large concentration of former Peace Corps workers. At the newly renovated Mount Pleasant branch of the D.C. public library, the only public library in Ward 1, 10 of the 14 staff members are bilingual.
History: Mount Pleasant’s history stretches back to the 1700s. The neighborhood evolved from a fashionable streetcar suburb and bedroom community for government workers to a working-class urban neighborhood that welcomed refugees. It is home to the first African American place of worship on 16th Street, Canaan Baptist Church. Mount Pleasant was designated a historic district in 1987.
Eating and drinking: There’s no lack of places to grab a cup of coffee. Heller’s Bakery has been around since 1928. Dos Gringos, a vegetarian coffeehouse, and Flying Fish are more recent additions to the neighborhood. Many restaurants cater to Central and South American cliental; Don Juan and Haydee’s are two of the more popular. Mondello and his husband, Carlos Schroder, a native Argentinian, frequent Corado’s, a Guatemalan restaurant. The Raven Grill, which has been around since the 1930s, Marx Cafe and Tonic are neighborhood hangouts.
Mom and pop stores: Mount Pleasant Street is the neighborhood’s commercial strip. The majority of businesses are not national chains. Logan’s Antique Shop, with its quirky selection, has been around since 1974. A farmers market is held Saturday mornings at Lamont Park. Bank of America is the only major bank in the neighborhood. “I actually changed my mortgage to Bank of American when it moved here because I thought, ‘Well, that’s nice that they’re supporting the neighborhood.’ There weren’t any other banks around here.”
Public transportation: Columbia Heights Metro station is just two blocks from Mount Pleasant Street. The neighborhood is served by the S, H and 42 buslines.
Crime: According to preliminary D.C. police data, there were 48 burglaries, 39 robberies and one homicide in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood in 2012.
Schools: Bancroft Elementary School, Deal Middle School, Wilson High School.
Boundaries: Piney Branch Parkway to the north, 16th Street NW to the east, Harvard Street to the south and Beach Drive to the west.
Living there: The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,915 as of February, according to Zillow. Rents in the neighborhood have increased 3.7 percent year over year. From March 2012 to March 2013, 54 single-family homes sold, ranging in price from $505,000 to $1.25 million; 57 condos sold, ranging from $218,000 to $624,000. There are two condos on the market, listed at $529,000 each, that have open houses Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m.