Eckington in Northeast Washington is surrounded by neighborhoods that might be better-known, such as NoMa, Brentwood, Edgewood and Bloomingdale.
But now, with its proximity to downtown and walkablility, Eckington is starting to get noticed as an affordable alternative.
“We felt we got more value here than elsewhere in D.C.,” said James Bulmer. He and his wife, Leslie Barron, moved to Eckington from Chinatown in December 2012.
“You see how many young professionals are here when you walk to the Metro in the morning and back in the evening,” he said. “The streets and Metro escalators are packed.”
“I don’t ever want to move,” Barron said.
“When we started searching for a new home we realized how close to everything we were. We wanted a house in a quiet neighborhood, but we also wanted to stay urban,” she said.
“House of . . . ” houses: Eckington’s colorful rowhouses in a palette of pink, gray, yellow, green, slate and blue may be familiar to you: They appear in the time-lapse opening credit sequence of the Netflix series “House of Cards.”
Many people recognize that street as typical Washington but can’t name the community. “When I tell people I live in Eckington they ask, ‘Where is that?,’ which I love, because I feel it’s our own little secret,” said Barron.
The neighborhood is characterized by two-level houses with porches and tiny front yards. A mix of Victorian-style houses with steeply pitched roofs, Federal structures with flat roofs and taller apartment buildings adds visual diversity.
The architecture is a draw: On a recent Saturday morning, five-year resident Bill Harper was out on Quincy Street with his son, Jonas, 5. “The nicest thing about this block is the beautiful canopy of mature elms,” said Harper, who lives in Eckington with his son, wife Roberta and daughter, Lucia, 3, “and there’s a real economic, racial and age mix.”
The architecture of the neighborhood is what drew Randall Nolan and Michael Killoren in 2010. A lot of people who remodel keep the original features. “When we moved in, the houses on both sides of ours were empty,” Harper said. “Today they’re renovated.”
“We have terrific neighbors and a nice sense of community,” said Killoren.
“Everyone is friendly but private,” said Bulmer.
“A perfect mix of urban and residential,” said Barron.
Dining and recreation: Big Bear Cafe is a popular hangout; all its outdoor tables tend to fill up fast on weekends. The Washington Firehouse Restaurant recently obtained a liquor license, which made people “extremely happy,” said Killoren. And DCity Smokehouse makes “amazing barbecue sandwiches,” Bulmer said.
Grocery shopping is a mile away at Harris Teeter, Union Market is a mile and a half away, and Home Depot is at the Rhode Island Metro stop.
Community supporters are fighting to preserve McMillan Reservoir Historic Park as a recreation area, as evidenced by the “Save McMillan Park” signs dotting front yards.
The Metropolitan Branch Trail, an eight-mile stretch between Union Station and Silver Spring, is good for walking, biking and in-line skating.
Harry L. Thomas Recreation Center, which has grassy fields, a pool, playground and park, recently went through a $2 million renovation. The National Arboretum’s 412 acres of grass, flowers and trees are nearby, as is the Howard Theatre.
Living there: Eckington, Zip code 20002, is bordered by Rhode Island Avenue to the north, the Metropolitan Branch Trail to the east, Florida Avenue to the south and North Capitol Street to the west.
According to Nolan, who also is a real estate agent with Bethesda Gateway Sales/Long & Foster, rowhouses are prevalent; condominiums and detached houses are also available.
Right now, 13 properties are for sale, ranging in price from $171,000 for a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo to $735,000 for a four-bedroom, four-bathroom rowhouse.
Twenty-one properties are under contract, from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $82,000 to a five-bedroom, three-bathroom rowhouse for $750,000,
Ninety-five homes sold in the past year, from a one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo for $140,000 to a five-bedroom, four-bathroom rowhouse for $781,000.
Transit: Metro’s Rhode Island Avenue and NoMa-Gallaudet stations are just outside the neighborhood’s borders, although traversing the intersection of Florida and New York avenues to get to NoMa is challenging. “I’d love to see a catwalk or pedestrian walkway there,” Barron said.
There is a Capital Bikeshare station on Eckington Place near Q Street NE, plus three along Rhode Island Avenue. Eckington is served by Metrobus lines 80, D8, G8 and P6.
Schools: Miner, J.O. Wilson and Ludlow-Taylor elementary schools; Wheatley and Langley education campuses (elementary and middle); Eliot-Hine Middle School; and McKinley Technical, Spingarn, and Phelps Architecture, Construction & Engineering high schools.
Crime: The Metropolitan Police Department said two homicides, 30 robberies, 27 burglaries and 13 assaults with a deadly weapon occurred in the neighborhood over the past year.
Audrey Hoffer is a freelance writer.