Christina McLain and her family moved to the Palisades three years ago from another Northwest Washington neighborhood, Chevy Chase, because it was close to work and she liked the nostalgic feeling it gave her.
Plus, it met her needs.
She was looking for a home big enough for a household of five, which also includes her husband, their children, ages 2 and 4, and their au pair, who takes night classes at nearby Georgetown University.
“We didn’t know the neighborhood existed,” said McLain, 34, a teacher. “We were looking for rentals that we could afford.”
On Craigslist, she spotted a four-bedroom house for rent, an easy drive to their jobs in Virginia.
They said they like the fact that the neighborhood has been around for a long time. The Palisades Citizens’ Association will mark its 100th anniversary in 2016. And they enjoy its long-standing traditions, such as the annual Fourth of July picnic.
“It’s just really small-town here,” McLain said. “It really feels like an old-fashioned kind of place. It’s like a little pocket in the corner of the city.”
Second-generation owners: The Palisades neighborhood is filled with a range of housing: from a low-rise apartments and one-bedroom condominiums on MacArthur Boulevard, the main artery, to multimillion-dollar Colonials. On Potomac Avenue NW, a Spanish-style four-bedroom house with a red tile roof has a view of Chain Bridge.
“It’s eclectic,” said Penny Pagano, 70, who has lived in the area since 1981 and is a past president of the Palisades Citizens’ Association. “We kind of hug the river here.”
In recent years, more families with young children have moved in, living side by side with longtime residents. Some of the newer residents have torn down the original summer cottages and built much larger homes on the lots.
Residents say the Palisades has something for everyone, welcoming people from all stages of life. Parents move there and raise kids, who are often drawn back when they start their families.
That cycle has played out for a long time.
“When families outgrow their homes in our community they can move from apartments to cottages, to large houses, and even to mansions and estates with swimming pools without ever leaving the Palisades,” according to the Palisades Citizens’ Association’s history, written by Harold Gray in 1956 for its 40th anniversary and updated by Ruth Hall in 1966 for the 50th.
“Many of our families have made just such moves in order to stay in the area,” the article says. “Here we have houses for all sizes of families, and pocketbooks. The young married children of some of our families are starting that cycle all over again — and staying in the Palisades. This makes for a stable community.”
But Les Samuel, who has lived in the area since 1974, mused that one important aspect of the neighborhood has changed: In the past, housing prices were “more reasonable.”
“It’s not inexpensive anymore,” said Samuel, while watching his $9 organic egg crepe being prepared at the Sunday-morning local farmers market next to the Safeway on MacArthur Boulevard at 48th Place NW.
Shopping and recreation: MacArthur Boulevard has two shopping areas. Between U and V streets NW are the Safeway, a CVS and BlackSalt Restaurant. Between Arizona Avenue NW and Dana Place are Mac Market, a Starbucks and a UPS Store. The neighborhood is also home to Et Voila, a well-regarded Belgian-French restaurant on MacArthur.
The Palisades is dotted with parks, including Battery Kemble Park. The Palisades Recreation Center has tennis courts, soccer and softball fields, basketball courts, and a children’s playground.
Battery Kemble Park, a Union Army artillery defense post during the Civil War, attracts sledders, runners, nature lovers and dog walkers to the National Park Service land. At Fletcher’s Boathouse, situated on the river and the C&O Canal Historic Park in a fishing area, you can rent a bike, rowboat, canoe or kayak.
The Palisades Citizens’ Association founded the Palisades Community Fund in 1995 to distribute grants to worthy causes, including local school projects, the Palisades Branch library, landscaping the recreation center and lockers for the local fire station.
Living there: The Palisades is bordered, roughly, by the Maryland line to the north; MacArthur Boulevard, Reservoir Road and Foxhall Road to the east; and the Potomac River to the south and west. That eastern line is fuzzy, with definitions varying on where the Palisades becomes Kent, Berkley and Foxhall.
In the past 12 months, 127 properties sold in or near those boundaries, at prices ranging from $220,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condominium unit to $6.833 million for a seven-bedroom, 12-bathroom house, according to Brian Smith, an agent with Previews International Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Washington.
Twenty-three properties are now listed, from a one-bedroom, one-bath condominium priced at $209,950 to a seven-bedroom, 11-bath house at $9.997 million. Fifteen homes are under contract, from a one-bedroom, one-bath condo listed at $249,000 to a six-bedroom, eight-bath house listed at $2.575 million.
Transit: The closest Metro station is Tenleytown on the Red Line, which can be reached Monday through Saturday on the M4 Metro bus via MacArthur Boulevard and Arizona Avenue. Without a car, Sundays mean limited transportation in the Palisades. The area also is served by the D5 and D6 buses.
The speed limit along MacArthur Boulevard is 25 mph to keep a neighborhood atmosphere.
Schools: Key Elementary, Hardy Middle and Wilson High.
Crime: In the past 12 months, there were three robberies and 21 burglaries in the area, according to D.C. police.
Harriet Edleson is a freelance writer.