Several houses on Newark Street where the Idelsons live, evoke a similar suburban feel, with generous front yards and porches. It’s what attracted them to the neighborhood along with accessibility to other parts of the city.
“Cleveland Park has always been a place for people that wanted access to downtown but wanted more of a feeling of what we call a village in a city or a suburb in a city,” Evelyn Idelson said.
Another draw was the stability. Idelson says that in the more than 50 years that she’s lived in Cleveland Park, much remains the same.
“It’s why we love to live here,” she said. “A lot of it is due to the community spirit and the work the people that live here have put in to help keep it that way.”
The neighborhood boasts a large historic district. According to ANC Commissioner Nancy MacWood, who serves the historic portion of Cleveland Park, the existence of these grand homes is due to the location.
“Georgetown is just down the hill from Cleveland Park and used to be a hub for businesses,” MacWood said. “Many people would take their horse and carriages in the summer and go up the hill, which we think of as Wisconsin Avenue now, to a cooler climate. So, summer homes got built in this area because of the elevation. They were summer homes for the merchant class in Georgetown.”
MacWood says the community’s appreciation of its history has allowed these homes to stand the test of time in an ever-developing city.
“It’s been a combination of good luck,” she said. “People who bought those homes and raised their families in those homes [they] wanted to stay in the community for many years, generations. The history of most of the big historic homes is that they stayed in one family.”
MacWood says Cleveland Park’s historical charm, larger lots and convenient location are draws for residents.
“It’s a very friendly neighborhood,” she said. “It has a reputation of having a population that’s not only friendly, but curious and very generous in spirit. There’s a long history of people getting in involved in issues and caring about what’s going on in other parts of the city.”
Bob Ward is one of those neighborhood activists. He heads a group called Cleveland Park Smart Growth, which grew out of a grass-roots effort to increase the appeal of the Connecticut Avenue commercial district. Ward says Cleveland Park isn’t a destination neighborhood for new businesses, and the group is working to change that.
“Many residents leave our neighborhood for work and leave our neighborhood for going out for fun,” he said. “Good urban neighborhoods have a mix of live, work and play. Our group loves our neighborhood but knows there is a better, more urban version of itself waiting to emerge.”
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating impact on local businesses. The closure of the community’s beloved Uptown Theater at the beginning of the crisis was a huge blow, and many shop owners are struggling to stay open. Cleveland Park Main Street is working to support local business owners by helping them with grant applications and connecting them with resources to assist with federal loans and unemployment programs.
“Many Main Streets throughout the District are working to bring together tenants, landlords, and outside partners to assess the gravity of the situation and find solutions that will allow businesses — landlords and tenants alike — to survive through the crisis and hopefully come out on stronger footing,” says Zach Rybarczyk, president of Cleveland Park Main Street.
Cleveland Park’s amenities have always made it a great place to live. The Cleveland Park Library is the heart of the neighborhood, offering book clubs and computer classes. Neighbors often run into each other at the local farmers market near the Cleveland Park Metro station, and many residents belong to the Foundation Fitness gym. There is also an urgent-care clinic, schools, a post office, multiple grocery stores and popular restaurants within walking distance.
The Rosedale Conservancy and the Tregaron Conservancy provide ample green space for residents. Both parks are protected from development and open to the public. Rosedale offers annual events such as an Easter egg hunt, a pumpkin-decorating party, and volunteer planting and cleanup days.
Living there: Cleveland Park is bounded by Wisconsin Avenue and 37th Street to the west, Tilden Street to the north, Rock Creek Park and Connecticut Avenue to the east, and Cathedral Avenue and Woodley Road to the south.
Cleveland Park has a mix of housing types from condos and co-ops to attached rowhouses and fully detached single-family houses. According to David Shotwell at Compass Real Estate, 66 properties have sold in the past six months. They ranged from a studio condo for $195,000 to a six-bedroom, five-bathroom fully detached single-family house for $3.3 million. There are 15 homes for sale, ranging from a studio condo listed at $239,995 to a six-bedroom, three-bathroom fully detached single-family house listed at $5.5 million.
Schools: Eaton and Hearst Elementary, Alice Deal and Hardy Middle and Wilson High School.
Transportation: The Cleveland Park Metro station is on the Red Line. The area is also served by several bus lines. The main thoroughfare is Connecticut Avenue.