The sun was beginning to set on a very windy evening in Takoma. To avoid the cold winds, Metro train commuters, clad in heavy black and gray coats, charged forward to get from the Metro station exit to their cars. Also moving fast, were the golden brown leaves that rustled as they were being blown down Cedar Street, northwest. It was 4:25 p.m. and the sounds of horns, sirens, and the screeching Metro bus breaks were all indications that rush hour was upon this usually pleasant neighborhood; there was no trace of the peaceful serenity that usually welcomes its visitors.
But just three hours later, the winds calmed and the street traffic died, leaving the residents of Takoma alone to unwind in their tranquil neighborhood. Light melodies from wind chimes and dogs barking replaced the traffic noise, and a man walking his Dalmatian was the only person in sight. The sun had set, but the open shades and brightly lit living rooms from the colonial-style homes lit up the streets. The southern ambiance was reminiscent of simpler times and demonstrated the collective sense of pride in the quality of life that is enjoyed by Takoma residents.
The Takoma neighborhood is a part of a larger town called Takoma Park, which stretches from northwest DC to Montgomery County in Maryland. Mounted on the heels of spacious lawns, these historic homes were built in the late 1900s to bring the quality of suburban life to city residents. Today, over 100 years later, the neighborhood’s infrastructure still reflects those suburban values on which it was founded. The homes are surrounded by manicured lawns and gardens; the streets are clean and the road paving is smooth. Just on the corner of Aspen Street and Sandy Springs Road, a gray colonial-style home with red window trimmings is surrounded by a white picket fence – a symbol of the American dream of homeownership and wealth.
Although the infrastructure is old, residents and small business owners have maintained the neighborhood’s welcoming, fun and cultured atmosphere. The Takoma business district, which is comprised of shops, restaurants and a host of professional services, is a main attraction for Takoma residents and visitors. Takoma’s business district is also popular for its boutique shops that sale vintage clothing and antiques. Equally popular, are the artsy restaurants that offer a variety of international foods.
The efforts made by Takoma residents and business owners to preserve the neighborhood’s suburban elements, have made Takoma one of DC’s best around-the-corner getaways.