News & Politics

Bring the Family: American University Park

Where can you find parks, good schools, and a family-friendly feeling? AU Park, in DC just north of American University, has all that plus an easy commute to downtown and the buzz of city life.

Who lives here: A mix of architects, professors, lobbyists, lawyers, and government workers. Many are young families or couples who have aged out of Dupont Circle and Foggy Bottom apartments. Others are refugees from the suburbs who grew tired of too long a commute.

Homefront: The charming and sometimes good-size Colonials, ramblers, and Cape Cods—which date back to the 1950s and before—have well-shaded, compact yards. Kids ride bikes and scooters through the many connecting alleyways.

For sale: Colonials with three bedrooms and two baths start around $750,000. A 92-year-old, four-bedroom Colonial recently sold for $1,375,000. Values have climbed as the neighborhood’s popularity has grown. Houses sat on the market for an average 32 days in 2006, but demand is rising.

A park of their own: Ten years ago, after the neighborhood park with its playgrounds, trails, and sports fields fell into ill repair, residents took over the maintenance. Called Turtle Park after a beloved piece of playground equipment (though formally known as Friendship Park), it’s the place to be for festivals, fairs, sports leagues, and hanging out. John McCarthy, an AU Park native who played minor-league ball for the Orioles, runs a baseball camp there.

Local favorites: A strip of stores and restaurants on Wisconsin Avenue forms the western edge of the neighborhood. Friday nights, Guapo’s, a Mexican restaurant known for chicken quesadillas, turns into a Janney School families party. Teens from nearby Wilson High flock to Osman & Joe’s Steak ’n Egg Kitchen after dances and football games.

Biggest draw: Janney School has been the neighborhood anchor for 86 years, with a tight-knit community of parents. Says one resident, “People really take care of each other.”

Drawbacks: Janney School, in the words of one resident, is “packed to the gills.” The Tenley-Friendship library, which badly needs repairs, is closed.

Why it beats Country Club Hills: The nearby Tenleytown Metro. Lots of parents take their kids to Janney, then hop the Red line downtown.

On the Web: AU Park Coalition for the Common Good (; Turtle Park (; Janney School (