Neighborhoods in Washington, DC

April 24, 2019

By Laurel Brooks and Michelle Morris

You'd never guess from its size that Washington, DC boasts roughly 131 neighborhoods and four distinctive quadrants. Each section of the District has a story to tell, and the history, culture, and community behind each neighborhood is rich and unique.

Let's break it down. While in Washington, DC for NAFSA 2019, you'll find there are distinct neighborhoods in each of the four quadrants of the city.

Northwest Quadrant

The Northwest quadrant (NW) is what most folks would think of as "Washington, DC." It's the largest quadrant covering nearly a third of the territory and includes four Wards, 12 institutions of higher learning, and 37 of the most notable neighborhood. If you're looking for action, you'll definitely want to spend some time exploring NW.

Ward 1 - Notable neighborhoods include: Adams Morgan, Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, Pleasant Plains, Le Droit Park, Meridian Hill, Strivers' Section, U Street and Park View.

Book your NAFSA 2019 hotel room in one of these excited neighborhoods.

Known as the "heart of D.C.," Ward 1 developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the city's residential growth moved north, giving it a rich and historic urban character. Also known as D.C's black social, cultural and economic hub, the area is home to the Howard University, one of America's premiere HBCUs (Historically Black College or University) and offers historic exploration of the African American Heritage Trail; an initiative funded by the DC Historic Preservation Office.

We recommend checking out:

  • Adams Morgan
  • Columbia Heights
  • Shaw/U Street Corridor

Ward 2 - Notable neighborhoods include: Chinatown, Downtown/Penn Quarter, Dupont Circle, Federal Triangle, Foggy Bottom, Georgetown, and Logan Circle.

Comprised of 21 historic districts and home to D.C.'s most prestigious zip codes, Ward 2 is action-packed. You'll find everything to satisfy your D.C. fix including the National Mall, the White House, monuments and museums, and everything in between. The area is an enchanting mix of businesses, historic residences, and a bustling nightlife. Three prominent universities lie in the boundaries of the Ward: Georgetown University, George Washington University, and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

We recommend checking out:

Ward 3 - Notable neighborhoods include: American University Park, Klingle, Cathedral Heights, Chevy Chase, Cleveland Park, Forest Hills, Foxhall, Friendship Heights, Glover Park, and Woodley Park.

Rock Creek West (RCW), as this Ward is also known as, comprises 13 miles of D.C.'s Northwestern quadrant. The area is one of the more affluent areas within the district and is predominantly residential. Distinctly attractive neighborhoods, tree-lined streets, locally-sourced shopping districts, well-used parks and public facilities give this area a real small town feel you're sure to love. In addition to half of Rock Creek Park, the area also encompasses American University and the University of the District of Columbia (D.C.'s other HBCU).

We recommend checking out:

Ward 4 - Notable neighborhoods include: Brightwood, Petworth, Chevy Chase, Sixteenth Street Heights, and Takoma

Located in the northernmost diamond of D.C., the area is largely residential. In recent years, the region has undergone much redevelopment lending it an "up and coming" reputation. Bordering much of southern Maryland, you may find yourself passing through or exploring many of the local cafes and food spots in the area.

We recommend checking out:

Northeast Quadrant

Some of the most diverse areas in D.C. can be found in this quadrant. NE D.C. is a hub of art, music and culture a la Brooklyn, New York. This area is a diverse mix of history and renaissance that you won't find anywhere else!

Ward 5 - Notable neighborhoods include: Brookland, Truxton Circle, Eckington, Ivy City, and Trinidad

From the original boundary stones delineating the District's boundaries to magnificent religious edifices to open green areas and parks, Ward 5 includes many sites that contribute to and convey the quality of life in the area. You'll find the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing: Gallaudet University as well as only institution of higher education founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops: Catholic University of America ,and D.C.'s only liberal arts women's college Trinity Washington University.

We recommend checking out:

Ward 6 - Notable neighborhoods include: Capitol Hill, Judiciary Square, Kingman Park, Mount Vernon Triangle, Navy Yard, and NoMa

Is the only Ward situated within the boundaries of the original Washington City designed by Pierre Charles L'Enfant. As home to the District's early federal city predating the Nation's relocation of the U.S. capital, Ward 6 is the largest residential historic district in the country! You will find more than 100 historic landmarks and a range of industrial and military installations, modern residential high rises, government office buildings, row houses and even houseboats. The area was famously the site of the 1968 riots whereby African American residents protested the death of Martin Luther King. Much of the region suffered a lack of redevelopment, until renewed investments brought new vitality to the region.

We recommend checking out:

Ward 7 - Notable neighborhoods: Kingman Park, and Hill East/Reservation 13

The Anacostia river separates much of Ward 7 from "central" D.C. and owes much of its historic significance to Native Americans that occupied the land prior to the 17th century and African Americans that have turned the area into much of what it is today throughout the 20th century. The area is mostly residential and is near the University of Maryland, College Park in southern Maryland.

We recommend checking out:

Southeast Quadrant

D.C.'s southernmost quadrant is rich with history. From its industrial and military origins, to the prevalent African American communities that have transformed theculture of the region to what it is today, SE DC has much to offer. If you like large bodies of water, you're sure to find some cooling aquatic activities here.

Ward 8 -Notable neighborhoods include: Historic Anacostia, Barry Farm, and Congress Heights

Widely known as "Anacostia," Ward 8 encompasses all of Southeast D.C. and covers more than 4,000 acres, and is rich in culture. During the civil war, this area served as part of the federal government's war defenses to protect the nation's capital. Home to several civil war sites and historic waterfront trails, you'll want to explore all Ward 8 has to offer.

We recommend checking out:

Southwest Quadrant

Ward 2 encapsulates much of the southwest quadrant. See Ward 2 above.

We recommend checking out:

Other Colleges/Universities in the Area


Laurel BrooksLaurel Brooks is the program coordinator for the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Program at Howard University and Local Arrangements Team (LAT) communications co-chair for the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo.

Michelle MorrisMichelle Morris is the program coordinator for the Ralph J. Bunche International Affairs Center at Howard University (@HUBuncheCenter) and Local Arrangements Team (LAT) communications co-chair for the NAFSA 2019 Annual Conference & Expo.


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