One of the hottest neighborhoods in DC at the moment is Bloomingdale. It is an area dotted with beautiful Victorian houses, great bars and restaurants, and some of the best half-smokes in the city (sorry Mr. Ali). However, not only is it a hip and trendy neighborhood, it is also a neighborhood with character and history. It is the neighborhood is featured in the introductory sequence of the hit TV series, House of Cards.
Like many neighborhoods in the District, Bloomingdale was originally located outside the City of Washington. It was not part of the original city laid out by Pierre L’Enfant. In fact, Florida Avenue was initially called Boundary Street because it marked the boundary of the City of Washington. Bloomingdale was made up of orchards, farms and estates in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
In 1823, George Beele and his wife, Emily Truxton Beele purchased a 10-acre parcel of land along the boundary of the City of Washington and named it Bloomingdale Estate. The Estate soon grew in size to 50 acres and until the 1870’s, Bloomingdale was outside the city limits. It continued to be made up of farms and country estates although today we see it as the heart of the City.
When Emily Truxton Beele died in 1885, the family began to sell off portions of the land to developers. These developers began to build houses, and soon the once pastoral area outside the City of Washington became a bustling populated area. Around this time, the City of Washington annexed it and added it to the city. By 1892, Bloomingdale had been fully transformed into a residential urban neighborhood. In fact the city began to improve its infrastructure and as they covered up Tiber Creek on what is now Flagler Place.
Soon thereafter, many famous and ordinary people moved into the neighborhood. For example, in 1900, Samuel Gompers the founder of American Federation of Labor (AFL) erected a house at 2122 First Street NW. By 1904 the neighborhood contained many of the houses we see today. The first Bloomingdale neighborhood school opened in 1904. By 1909, the farms were gone and the neighborhood had been fully converted to a residential area.
Bloomingdale does have its share of historical events. One of most famous occurred with the purchase of a house at 116 Bryant Street NW. The purchase led to an early civil rights case which was eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1948, Hurd v. Hodge. Mr. Hodge had purchased a house at 116 Bryant and the title contained restrictive racial and religious covenants. He challenged the legality of the racial and religious covenants and his case coupled with other similar cases, forced the Court to strike down racial and religious covenants in deeds. It was one of the early civil rights cases and would later form the basis of various civil rights cases and acts that have transformed our country.
Bloomingdale was once also home to one of the first privately owned African American art galleries in the United States. James V. Herring, who started the Howard University Department of Art, opened the gallery in 1943. The gallery housed art from artists of all races but focused on African-American artists. The gallery located on 127 Randolph Place NW was located on the first floor of a row house. At the time, the gallery was one of the few integrated places in segregated Washington. Upon the death of its founder, the collection was transferred to the Museum of African American Art in Tampa and eventually BET founder Robert L Johnson acquired the majority of the collection.
Fast forward to 2016. Bloomingdale is wonderful places to live, walk, play, eat, drink, and relax. It is great place to just hang out. It is home to two new DC must eat/drinking establishments. The first is my favorite new bar in DC, the Showtime Lounge which is located at 113 Rhode Island Avenue NW. This establishment is a typical dive bar. It has cheap beer and liquor and is a great place to hang out, meet new people, or just relax and enjoy yourself. Across the street is the famed Boundary Stone which is a craft beer haven.
There are also many eateries in Bloomingdale. Bloomingdale is home to the upscale Red Hen at 1822 1st Street NW. However if you are like me and prefer good BBQ then head down to DCity Smokehouse. It is cramped insides so you probably have to get the food to go. But, either way the food is amazing and yes they have great half smokes. It is located at its new haunt, 1540 North Capitol Street NW, just around the corner from its old location.
Want to exercise? District Yoga has a Bloomingdale location on R and First Streets NW. There is also a Farmer’s Market every Sunday from May 8 to Nov. 20. The market is located in front of the Windows Café at the corner of First and R Streets NW.
So if you are looking for food, fun, or even history Bloomingdale is a great place to live or visit. For more information contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Whether it is a rental or a purchase, I know I can help you find a place to live in one of my favorite neighborhoods.