Where We Live | Palisades in Northwest Washington

The Palisades has a small-town feel that’s unusually quiet for a neighborhood only 10 minutes from downtown Washington. (Bonnie Jo Mount/The Washington Post)

Of the many friendly faces you’ll see while strolling around the Palisades neighborhood in Northwest Washington — dog walkers, mail carriers and cyclists — the most charming of them all will be the neighborhood itself.

Its woods, paths along the Potomac and houses neatly tucked into nature are pleasantly quiet and a delight to explore. It’s a great place to raise a family.

The community snakes along MacArthur Boulevard, which was known as Conduit Road before it was renamed in 1942. The neighborhood is so green that it’s refreshing just to walk around it. The Palisades has a small-town feel that’s unusual for a neighborhood only 10 minutes from downtown Washington. The only noise comes from the airplanes landing at Reagan National Airport.

In addition to its parklike setting, the neighborhood has Battery Kemble Park, a historic open space originally used as a Union Army fort during the Civil War. The community isn’t quite as old as Georgetown, but it started about 1890 when three families from Canada opened the first large subdivision and called it “Palisades of the Potomac.” According to a history on the Palisades Citizens’ Association website, they modeled the community after the ones sprouting along the Hudson River in New York and built several large Victorian houses.

The Palisades once was home to the oldest Safeway grocery store on the East Coast. That is, until the store shut its doors earlier this year after serving the neighborhood since 1942.


“The closures of Safeway and the Super Fresh clearly demonstrated the need by the community for a market to convene at, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get something to replace them soon,” said Connie Carter, a real estate agent with Washington Fine Properties.

According to the association, Safeway’s space is supposed to become a senior living facility.

“Nonetheless, there are opportunities to develop vibrant new retail along both MacArthur Boulevard and 48th Place, as well as pursue other community amenities,” said Avi Green, the association president.

The association takes pride in running its popular Fourth of July celebration since 1966. The event features a parade along MacArthur, local bands and food.


Rachel Levey, 32, is a real estate agent with Compass who lives in Palisades with her husband and two children.


“There are many families that I meet who grew up in the Palisades and have returned when they were ready to raise a family of their own.” she said. “It is a unique neighborhood where multi-generations of a family sometimes live within blocks of each other.”

Palisades has diverse dining options, including Bistro Aracosia’s Afghan cuisine, Jetties sandwich shop, a coffeehouse called Black Coffee and Lupo Verde Osteria’s Italian food. A renovated movie theater houses a drugstore, and the library was rebuilt last year.

Helen Ko and her husband, Thomas, have owned the Palisades Deli for 11 years. “A lot of people come here and be social.” Ko said. “We’re hopeful but still uncertain after seeing Safeway go.”


Although Safeway was the closest grocery store, the space next to it has a year-round farmers market on Sundays, which many rely on for a steady supply of fresh produce.


Living there: Palisades is the westernmost neighborhood in the District. Its boundaries are somewhat fluid. The Palisades Citizens’ Association considers the boundaries to be the river to the west, Foxhall Road to the east and the District Line to the north. The southern border is where MacArthur meets Foxhall.

In the past six months, 23 single-family houses and 12 condos have sold, according to Levey. Among them were a two-bedroom, two-bathroom condo for $672,000 and a six-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family house for $2.2 million.

There are 18 properties for sale, including a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $245,000, a four-bedroom, four-bathroom single-family house for $1.3 million, and a seven-bedroom, seven-bathroom house for $3.3 million.

Housing styles include classic farmhouse, bungalow, Craftsman, Colonial and contemporary, said Matt Cheney of Washington Fine Properties.


“As the market gets more and more competitive in a place like this, the buyer pool tends to shrink,” said Daniel Hynes, a vice president at Compass.

Schools: Key Elementary, Hardy Middle, Wilson High.

Transit: Most residents drive. Those who don’t take the D5 and D6 Metrobuses or ride bikes into downtown. The closest Metro station is Tenleytown-American University, which is three miles away. MacArthur and Chain Bridge Road are the major thoroughfares, providing easy access to Maryland, Virginia and the District.

Crime: According to crimemap.dc.gov, the area has recorded one homicide, three assaults with a dangerous weapon and 10 burglaries in the past year.