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On Monday, the Washington Post’s front page included one of the paper’s signature feature stories. Clarendon, that thriving community in Arlington, was becoming a destination for “middle-aged people looking to start over.” Baby boomers fresh off of big life changes, said the story, were huddling in Clarendon, lured by the neighborhood’s “close proximity to the District and jobs, Metro within walking distance, and more and more places to frequent: new restaurants, upscale shops, dance studios, coffee bars, bike trails, dog parks, gyms and live entertainment.”

If that description sounds familiar, perhaps it’s because the Post has used some version of it in the roughly 15 neighborhood culture stories that it has published on Clarendon in the past 10 years. The Post may have missed the boat on Iran-Contra and the NSA eavesdropping program, but it never fails to capture the latest trends in Clarendon. The area’s hipness, its chainification, its steep housing prices—at the Post, it’s all worth a splashy treatment on the front of some section, be it Real Estate, Metro, Style, or whatever.
Put them all together, and the Post becomes a leaflet for the Clarendon Chamber of Commerce. Because through all the interviews with residents, merchants, activists, and politicians, the local paper of record has cast Clarendon as an ideal place for, well, just about every demographic group.

DRINKERS:

“Residents of the popular area have long complained about such nuisances as public urination and littering. And fights sometimes break out about the precious few parking slots.”

—“The Price of Success in Clarendon,” by Jamie Stockwell, Feb. 9, 2006

REAL-ESTATE DEVELOPERS:

“ ‘This part of Arlington…operates more like a urban area than a suburb,’ Dan McCaffery, president of McCaffery Interests, said.…The company, headquartered in Chicago, only does business in urban areas, and plans to build at least two more nearby commercial and retail projects. ‘Clarendon is really perfect for the types of development we do,’ McCaffery said.”
—“Arlington’s Metro Metropolis,” by Chris L. Jenkins, July 7, 2002

PATRONS OF HIGH-END RETAIL:

“Clarendon is now a place where you can buy a $110 antique-style lamp at the Pottery Barn while sipping a $7 smoothie from Fresh Fields and then run back and pick up a $79 Windsor whistling teakettle at Williams-Sonoma, buy a $16 paperback at Barnes & Noble and finish off the night with a $4 soy skim decaf mocha at Starbucks.”
—“As Area Changes, Residents Hope It Stays the Same,” by Emily Wax, June 13, 2002

PEDESTRIANS:

“ ‘I can think of no nicer place to be than living in Clarendon,’ said Peter Owen, a government lawyer who lives in the Charleston, a high-rise at the corner of Barton and Clarendon streets, and who is president of the Clarendon-Courthouse Civic Association. ‘I walk half a block to Metro. I walk one block to the movies,’ he said. ‘Who wouldn’t want to live where I live?’ ”

—“Clarendon-Courthouse Is Happily Hemmed In,” by Karen Tanner Allen, Nov. 10, 2001

SINGLES:

“Mike Evans and his friends…had plenty of other activities to choose from—all within walking distance. There was open-mic night at Iota Club & Cafe, cooking lessons at Fresh Fields, a singles mixer at Whitlow’s on Wilson, movies, even shopping for used records and vintage clothes at shops open until 11 p.m.

All of that available on a Wednesday night in what Evans calls ‘the Research Triangle’ (read: great place to check out other singles), a five-block, fun-packed area around Wilson Boulevard.”

—“For Singles, Living It Up in the Suburbs,” by Emily Wax, June 28, 2001

PET LOVERS:

“A cool evening breeze carries the smell of grilled meats from nearby restaurants to a fenced-in grassy field where [resident Pat] Bell and several others regularly meet with their pets for an evening of socializing and canine companionship.

‘This is like cocktail hour for the dogs,’ Bell said, as her two-year-old Norwegian elkhound circled around her legs.”

—“A Mixed Menu of Homes and Stores Spices Up Arlington Neighborhood,” by Louie Estrada, Oct. 31, 1998

MUSIC SNOBS:

“Like U Street’s, Arlington’s hipness has been tied to its music. [Alice] Despard plays in a band, and her Galaxy Hut is a haven for alternative groups just starting out as well as more established indie rockers.

If Despard hears an audition tape and the music doesn’t fit in at the Hut, she’ll often refer the band to Iota, across the street. Iota is one of the area’s best showcases for ‘roots rock,’ a blend of country-folk and rock. A few doors up at Whitlow’s, frat rock is the specialty. Each bar offers a distinct style of music, and each is within 100 yards of the others. Three music scenes, three different visions of hip.”

—“On the Road to Hip,” by Frank Ahrens, Aug. 7, 1997