Exploring the Stunning Upper 16th Corridor of Washington, D.C.

Beautiful upper 16th Street in northwest Washington, D.C., is home to tree-lined streets, comfortable residential areas and small restaurants and stores. The corridor lacks the hustle and bustle of 14th Street to its east and isn’t quite as green as the immense Rock Creek Park to the west, but the upper 16th corridor has managed to carve out a niche for itself as a zone that contains D.C.’s most desirable neighborhoods.

The Vintage on 16th

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The History of 16th Street NW

Running north-south through the heart of the District, 16th Street NW has long been an important street in the nation’s capital. When French engineer Pierre L’Enfant designed the grid that we know today in the District, he designated 16th as one of the most important numbered streets — and it has remained that way. 

Beginning at Lafayette Park just in front of the White House and moving all the way up to the border with Maryland, 16th crosses through the Scott Circle and into the Historic District, passing embassies and other landmarks. As it runs north, 16th goes through the up-and-coming Columbia Heights area and past Piney Branch Park and its popular trails.

But it’s not until Arkansas Avenue NW branches off and 16th weaves toward Rock Creek Park that the neighborhoods it passes, starting with Crestwood, become what’s known as the Upper 16th Corridor. This section of 16th was the 80-acre Maple Grove Farm in the mid-1850s, and today it retains some of the subdivision feel that the farmland was converted to during that time.

The Upper 16th area is a new hot spot in D.C., with home sales jumping and apartments in high demand

Which Neighborhoods are Part of the Upper 16th Corridor?

Neighborhood boundaries are fluid in Washington, D.C., and can evolve as local residents change their definitions and businesses move in and out. Established neighborhoods in the Upper 16th include Crestwood, Sixteenth Street Heights, Brightwood, Shepherd Park, Colonial Village, and North Portal Estates.

The Neighborhood of Crestwood, DC

Beautiful upper 16th Street in northwest Washington, D.C., is home to tree-lined streets, comfortable residential areas and small restaurants and stores. The corridor lacks the hustle and bustle of 14th Street to its east and isn’t quite as green as the immense Rock Creek Park to the west, but the upper 16th corridor has managed to carve out a niche for itself as a zone that contains D.C.’s most desirable neighborhoods.

Exploring the Stunning Upper 16th Corridor of Washington, D.C. 5

Sixteenth Street Heights, DC

Exploring the Stunning Upper 16th Corridor of Washington, D.C. 6

Bordering Crestwood, Sixteenth Street Heights is primarily residential with few commercial entities. It’s also considered a beautifully diverse neighborhood. The few businesses that do exist are mainly on Georgia Avenue and 14th Street.

It’s a perfect are for families who appreciate how close the area is to Rock Creek Park and downtown Washington, D.C. 

Brightwood, DC

Brightwood is bordered on the south by Missouri Avenue (which turns into Military Road as it enters Rock Creek Park) and on the north by Aspen Avenue. It’s mostly residential, like the other neighborhoods in the area. Residents in the north can walk to the Takoma Metro station on the Red Line while those in other areas can access the Fort Totten Metro, or take one of the numerous buses that run up and down 16th.

During the Civil War era, Brightwood was where the Union’s Fort Stevens was located. Confederate armies attacked in July 1864 and were turned back. Today, there’s a memorial plaque at the site and both a Drive and a recreation center named after the old fort. The recreation center includes a playground modeled after the fort, as well as basketball and tennis courts.

The commercial area of Brightwood, which runs along Georgia Avenue, is under continual redevelopment. The highly-rated Deset Ethiopian Restaurant offers classic northern Africa cuisine, and the Wapa Cafe is a quiet brick coffeehouse where you can get light fare like sandwiches in addition to your cup of joe.

Shepherd Park, DC

Once part of Montgomery Blair’s estate — he was the Postmaster-General in the Lincoln Administration — the Shepherd Park area is a lovely place to call home. It’s named after Alexander Robey Shepherd, governor of the D.C. Territory after the Civil War. Shepherd and his wife constructed a large country house named “Bleak House” after a Charles Dickens novel. To this day, you can still see parts of the carriage house on the original property. 

Shepherd Park is a neighborhood of D.C. professionals with a variety of backgrounds. Walter Reed Hospital is to the south of the neighborhood and is one reason why many residents work in the medical sector.

Colonial Village, DC

Because its first homes were not built until the 1930s, Colonial Village is a bit newer than the historic neighborhoods that lie to its south. The original 80 houses all were built to look like Colonial buildings, like the Moore House in Virginia where Cornwall surrendered.

Most of the homes in today’s Colonial Village neighborhood still boast large yards and Colonial Revival architecture. There are only about 1,500 residents and most cite the suburban feel and proximity to Rock Creek Park as the main reasons for living there.

North Portal Estates, DC

Tucked into the northwestern corner of the D.C. diamond, North Portal Estates is a relatively isolated suburb-like area with large lots, winding roads and plenty of open spaces. Traditionally, the area was Jewish, and there are still some influences today. 

These neighborhoods, especially as you move up to the Maryland border, have a suburban feel, even though they are within the boundaries of the District. While some stretches of 16th have businesses, most of the Upper 16th corridor is residential. Some of these neighborhoods, however, technically include 14th Street NW or Georgia Avenue NW to the east, which have plentiful shops and restaurants.

Where Should I Live in the Upper 16th Corridor?

Two apartment living options stand out just to the south of the Upper 16th. This location gives you the best of both worlds: A lovely residential location with close access to downtown D.C.

The Vintage on 16th is just a stone’s throw south of the Upper 16 neighborhoods, offering studio and 1-bedroom apartments with amenities including patios, state-of-the-art kitchens, and a 24-hour fitness center on-site.

The Crestwood Apartments, at the south tip of the Crestwood neighborhood, are richly appointed, nicely shaded with large trees, and feature tranquil 1- and 2-bedroom floor plans. Oversized balconies let you keep an eye on everything going on around you, while amenities like flexible leases, included utilities, and 24-hour on-site maintenance make life easier. Crestwood mixes historic elegance with all the modern features you want. 

Architecture Along Upper 16th Street

With its long history dating back roughly 150 years, developed 16th Street NW has an impressive array of different architectural styles. You’ll find anything from huge Colonials and Tudor-style mansions to row houses, bungalows, and apartments designed with art deco features. Most of the existing structures date to between the 1920s and the 1950s, though you’ll also find some newer construction, especially as you move away from 16th and toward Maryland.

One of the area’s most noted real estate developers, Henry Wardman, borrowed from numerous architectural styles as he worked to reflect the melting pot of cultures and ideas in the District. Wardman is well-known for his brick row houses, which dot the streets in areas of Sixteenth Street Heights and Brightwood. He also created many detached and semi-detached residential houses throughout northwest Washington, D.C., including in the Upper 16th neighborhoods.

The Importance of Rock Creek Park

Meridian Hill on summer day in Rock Creek Park in Washington, D.C. near Upper 16th Corridor
Meridian Hill

As the western border of many Upper 16th neighborhoods, Rock Creek Park figures prominently into the lifestyle of many residents. More than 1,700 acres were set aside in 1890 for preservation in the heart of the city, and the site became the nation’s third national park. 

People living and working in northwest D.C. only have to take a short drive to access more than 32 miles of hiking trails. Paved paths closed to vehicle traffic are available for those who enjoy biking. There are also 13 miles of trails for horseback riding. Don’t own a horse? Take a lesson or go on a trail ride with the Rock Creek Horse Center, accessible by turning from 16th on to Military Road.

Other recreational options include golf, tennis and boating. The Rock Creek Park Golf Course is a public, 18-hole course that you can get to by turning from 16th on to Rittenhouse. The Rock Creek Tennis Center is located at 16th and Kennedy with hourly court rentals; in addition, there are at least two public courts that can be played on for free. If you’d prefer to kayak or canoe, you can rent the boat you need at the Thompson Boat Center.

The Carter Barron Amphitheatre, just off of 16th, hosts concerts each summer that attract popular jazz, hip-hop, blues, and reggae musicians as headliners. There’s also a planetarium that hosts regular programs on astronomy and other ranger-led educational activities.

Whether it’s for a walk, a bike ride, a concert or some other form of recreation, Rock Creek Park is a gem that Washington residents, especially those right next door in the Upper 16th neighborhoods, can enjoy much of the year.

Wildlife Near the Upper 16th Corridor

You wouldn’t think that wildlife would be a part of your city experience, but with its proximity to the many undeveloped acres of Rock Creek Park, the Upper 16th has its share of furry visitors. Even residents of apartment buildings may see these creatures wandering the streets!

  • White-tailed deer. These beautiful animals are actually becoming something of a pest as they venture out of the park to nibble on backyard plants and sample from residents’ gardens. Many deer aren’t afraid of humans and will come quite close to you.
  • Owls. If you listen closely, you can often hear the hoot of an owl on a pleasant spring evening. 
  • Wild turkeys. These gobblers can be somewhat noisy as they congregate on residents’ lawns. 
  • Foxes. Both the red fox and the grey fox live in Rock Creek and may occasionally venture outside. They don’t pose a threat to pets and are mostly active at night.
  • Coyotes. It’s unusual to see a coyote, but you may sometimes hear their distinctive call. If you do spot one, make noise (from a safe distance!) to get them to move along. In some circumstances, when they are very hungry, coyotes may attack a pet so it’s best to keep them away from residences.
  • Squirrels. Eastern gray squirrels populate the park and many yards. You may observe a rare white squirrel, which may be either albino or a rare genetic variation.

In addition to these types of wildlife, you may find raccoons, opossums and bats in your living space. If you think any non-domestic animal you see is acting strangely, you can call the DC Health department and get more information. 

Finding the Best Place to Live on the Upper 16th Corridor

When it comes to the neighborhoods in the area east of Rock Creek Park along 16th Street NW, there’s something for everyone. With such a melting pot of diversity, almost anybody can feel welcome. Plus, there’s so much to do nearby — downtown D.C. is just minutes away, Rock Creek Park with all its recreational opportunities is within walking distance, and there’s shopping, dining and other excitement just south or east.

The right place for you to live just may be an upscale apartment building that draws on the history of the area and combines that with modern amenities and features. DARO’s The Vintage on 16th and The Crestwood Apartments are ideally located to let you take advantage of everything the Upper 16th Street Corridor has to offer. Contact us today to learn more about our properties and to schedule a tour.

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