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The Right Mix: Mount Pleasant

Counterculture is alive and well in Mount Pleasant, bordering Adams Morgan in Northwest DC, where mom-and-pop shops, an organic farmers market, and a funky vibe thrive.

By Eugene L. Meyer

Who lives here: Mount Pleasant, which attracted New Englanders when developed in 1865, is now an ethnic stew of Latinos, African-Americans, and whites. The Northwest enclave has seen a recent influx of young families. Mayor Adrian Fenty and novelist George Pelecanos grew up here.

Homefront: Semidetached homes and rowhouses of early-20th-century vintage predominate, along with post–World War I rental apartments and condos and a few large Colonial Revival mansions.

For sale: In 2006, average prices for single-family homes dropped from $802,000 to $729,000, while the condo-price average fell to $345,000.

Chic but funky: Designation as a historic district prevents teardowns and outrageous makeovers. Gentrification is moving apace, but neither Starbucks nor CVS has found a beachhead here, and there are independently owned businesses such as Dos Gringos cafe and Mount Pleasant Pharmacy.

Biggest draw: Diversity. The neighborhood is one of the area’s most racially balanced—just over a third white, a third black, and nearly a third Hispanic.

Drawback: Memories of Latino rioting following a police shooting in 1991 have faded, but small-time crime remains a problem. Resident Jack McKay, who tracks monthly police statistics and helps run an online neighborhood forum, says robberies are relatively low but there’s been an increase in car break-ins.

Local favorites: Hangouts include the Raven Grill, a neighborhood bar; Heller’s Bakery & Café for doughnuts and gossip; and well-stocked Pfeiffer’s Hardware.

How it beats Takoma Park: Location. Mount Pleasant is close to Adams Morgan restaurants, it borders Rock Creek Park, and it’s a quick walk (via a path) to the National Zoo. Residents praise bus service to downtown DC.

On the Web: Mount Pleasant DC Forum (mtpleasantdc.org/forum); Historic Mount Pleasant (historicmountpleasant.org).

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