From picking the right neighborhood to avoiding the pitfalls of leasing, The Hatchet has got the guide to help students find the perfect place for off-campus living.
The Good: Trendy and fashionable
The Bad: Crime still a concern
Just a few decades ago U Street was associated with urban decay, but in recent years has managed to become a culturally diverse and economically booming area. In fact, the U Street Corridor is now seen as one of the city’s most attractive areas that still maintains a sense of respectable authenticity.
Clubs and bars continue to dominate the scene here, in addition to the jazz clubs and music venues that have become institutions over the years. New apartment buildings are routinely going up amid fixtures of the past. All told, U Street is genuinely urban, appealing to all age groups, lifestyles and ethnicities.
But it’s not all about nightlife here on what is commonly dubbed Black Broadway – an ode to the area’s history as a center for African-American culture. During the day, students can shop at the numerous clothing boutiques and specialty shops that dot U Street from Vermont Avenue to 16th Street, and dine at ethnic restaurants along the stretch that offer everything from Ethiopian to Japanese cuisine.
But when the sun sets, the decidedly vibrant music scene takes over. The Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW) is a local favorite, but not to be outdone by the famous 9:30 Club (815 V St. NW). Both offer general admission live shows throughout the week, giving audiences the chance to hear their favorite alternative artists in intimate venues.
There’s also Bohemian Caverns (2001 11th St. NW), a renowned jazz club that has hosted everyone from Louis Armstrong to Ella Fitzgerald. And when the music ends, U Street has several late-night eateries to help satisfy a moonlight craving. Jumbo Slice (1344 U St. NW) and Ben’s Chili Bowl (1213 U St. NW) are just a two of many.
No trip here is complete without a visit to Busboys and Poets (2021 14th St. NW), which typifies the bohemian character of the neighborhood. Students should also be sure to check out Cr?me Café (1322 U St. NW) for its artful presentations and fresh Western European fare.
All of these elements make U Street the perfect late-night hotspot and provide for a fun, metropolitan atmosphere. Rents are pricey, especially in places like The Ellington (1301 U St. NW). At this relatively new building geared toward urban professional upstarts, a junior one-bedroom apartment starts at $1,805. If saving money is the goal, students can check out Washington House (2120 16th St. NW), where studios begin at $1,300.
The area is a bit of a trek from campus – it takes about 40 minutes to walk the two miles from U Street to Foggy Bottom. Students can take the Metro to campus, but it requires changing lines twice. And safety may also be a concern – even though the area has come a long way in recent years, it isn’t crime-free.
Overall, U Street continues to improve, as the nightlife and retail scenes pump more money into the area. Though the safety situation continues to be less than perfect, students exercising a reasonable amount of caution should not have cause to worry.
The U Street Corridor is a neighborhood in transition, but this should not dissuade potential residents from looking to move in. Vibrant, colorful and hip, the area is one of D.C.’s biggest attractions.
This article appeared in the February 25, 2010 issue of the Hatchet.