We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.
Like language, D.C. neighborhood names evolve. Monikers that surfaced this century—NoMa, Capitol Riverfront, and Hill East—are now comfortably lodged in the minds of many residents. Older names like Swampoodle, Lily Ponds, and Civic Betterment have long had their own charms.
Yet some geographic neologisms may cause a person to ask, “Well, where’d that one come from?” While City Paper doesn’t deign to know who came up with which first, here are five local neighborhood names that have emerged in the past few years.
North End Shaw
As early as 2015, developer JBG Cos. (before a merger this year transformed it into JBG Smith) tried to get this name to stick. It describes the area around the Atlantic Plumbing project and the 9:30 Club, where new eateries and apartments have opened. No “South End Shaw” yet.
Otherwise known as parts of Truxton Circle and Bloomingdale—and not to be confused with Eckington—“North Capitol” refers to the area west of North Capitol Street between New York and Rhode Island avenues NW. The name appeared in a September Post real estate article.
Notice a pattern? This branded neighborhood lies in (Metro-accessible!) Crystal City. It is also largely being developed by JBG Smith, which plans on converting offices into residences. “We want to treat Crystal City more like a city, and cities have neighborhoods,” a Smith rep recently told the Washington Business Journal.
Ex-Mayor Vince Gray is on an explicit campaign to change the fact that many people call Wards 7 and 8 “east of the river”—meaning the Anacostia—because, he says, it’s “shorthand [for] the ‘Wrong Side of the Tracks.’” Gray and like-minded thinkers prefer this analogue of Northwest’s West End.
This one takes the cake, and not just because former City Paper staffer Aaron Wiener made up the name and has been peddling it since he left the paper in 2015. Twin Oaks even has a Twitter account now. It’s just north of Columbia Heights and west of Petworth in what some consider 16th Street Heights. The best landmark for this nabe is brunch spot Red Derby.