News & Politics

The Right Mix: Takoma Park

Takoma Park, in Maryland bordering Northwest DC, has a small-town look. But don’t be deceived: There are surprisingly urban elements.

By Eugene L. Meyer

Who lives here: Lots of self-employed artists, writers, environmental activists, and others who work on social-justice issues.

Homefront: Washington’s first railroad suburb, Takoma Park developed in the 1880s with large Victorian homes, followed by bungalows in the early 20th century. There are also brick colonials and Cape Cods. On the DC side, in the Takoma neighborhood, eco-condos are sprouting by the Metro station.

For sale: Homes used to be a bargain, but no more. Prices for single-family houses run from the high $300,000s to slightly more than $1 million. “We’re getting used to being an expensive and cool place to live,” says Michelle Harvey, who with her husband paid $290,000 for their 1886 Victorian 17 years ago. “Most of us couldn’t afford to move here now if we wanted to.”

Still, prices are generally lower than in Silver Spring’s Woodside Park and other neighborhoods east of Rock Creek.

From funky to chic: Takoma Park is proudly a nuclear-free city—and home to lots of Peace Corps alumni—and it looks like a 1940s movie set of a small town.

Local favorites: Takoma Park/Silver Spring Food Co-Op—which sells all things soy, organic, homeopathic, and “cruelty-free, environmentally friendly”—anchors the east end of the Carroll Avenue business district, known as Takoma Old Town. There’s also Mark’s Kitchen, which dishes up Asian and American cuisine for vegetarians and meat lovers, and Summer Delights ice-cream parlor and deli, whose friendly owner takes pride in his housemade confections. Video Americain has a wide selection of rentals you won’t find at large chains.

The District side markets itself as Old Takoma. The Big Bad Woof sells “essentials for the socially conscious pet” with “eco-friendly pet supplies.”

Biggest draws: Takoma Park jazz, folk, and street festivals draw crowds, as does the Fourth of July parade. The new city hall/community building has a pool room for teens. Two elementary schools and Takoma Park Middle School, with its math magnet, are well regarded. The year-round growers-only farmers market is a Sunday fixture.

Drawback: Nicknamed the People’s Republic of Takoma Park, the place is too diverse for some, not enough for others.

How it beats Mount Pleasant: Closeness to a Metro station. In Maryland, residents elect the town government.

On the Web: Takoma Voice (; Takoma Park Farmer’s Market (; City of Takoma Park (