A Rich Historic Background

Location: Northwest D.C. between Georgia Avenue to the west and North Capital to the east.

Jurisdiction: Ward 1; ANC 4D

To some residents of Washington, D.C., the Petworth neighborhood may seem like another extension of Georgia Avenue. With its chain of small corner shops, mom and pop stores, and food carry-outs, Petworth may look familiar to a resident of Georgia Avenue. Inez Moor, a local resident of Washington, D.C. who resides near Georgia Avenue, says that the surrounding areas near her all look the same and would never guess that the neighborhoods are historic communities. But beyond the social streets of Petworth lies a community with a rich historic background.

HistoryThe wealthy Tayloe family of Washington purchased Petworth in 1887 for $1,100 per acre. The 203 acres of the Petworth estate was the last large property owned by the Tayloe family in the District, according to the neighborhood’s Web site at Petworthdc.net. The Tayloes were active in building the community of Petworth, but most of the development started in the 1900s. The U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home is also located in the community. The site was once the home of George a. Riggs, founder of Riggs National Bank. Duplexes and row houses emerged under the construction of Morris Cafritz, a prominent real estate builder in D.C. from the 1920s to the 1960s, increasing the population and economy of the budding community.

Culture and PopulationPetworth is home to a diverse family of residents. According to the D.C. Ward 1 profile, the percentage of African-Americans went up 8 percent in 2000 from 1990. And the population of Hispanics went up 7 percent during the same time frame while the percentage of white residents barely rose. And this recent influx of diverse residents in the District and Petworth shows. Many prominent establishments added Spanish subtitles under their English titles to accommodate the Hispanic residents like the Assembly of Christian Church whose name appears in both languages.

CommunityPetworth has five elementary schools, two charter schools and a library at the top of Georgia Avenue. Community groups lobbied for the Petworth Branch Library, which was built in 1939. The signed petition for the library still lies in the records. Active in the community, the residents of Petworth involve themselves in many outreach programs like the Saturday’s Child literacy program and the United Neighborhood Coalition group. The residents also have their own Yahoo group to stay in touch.The community is also home to several religious denominations. Petworth has Episcopal, Apostolic, Baptist, Catholic and Seventh-day Adventist churches for its residents.

Business Petworth has a cluster of shops, restaurants, and clothing boutiques that cater to its residents from Sweet Mango Café, which specializes in Caribbean dishes, to Goin’s carry-out. Petworth and surrounding neighborhoods will be seeing a rise of new condominium projects such as the Georgia Commons, Park Place and the Kennedy Flats. These new places are located near the Georgia Avenue-Petworth Metro station on the green line.