September 4, 2011, Washington, DC: Unlike Eastern Market, Adams Morgan is not a neighborhood that’s associated with mornings. Nightlife reigns in Adams Morgan, with a strip of bars and restaurants along 18th St. NW continuously drawing a rowdy weekend crowd of college students and 20-somethings. Until people are awake and ready for brunch, Adams Morgan is relatively quiet.
It’s not yet a bustling time of day in my old neighborhood. That’s clear because it’s never this easy here to find a seat in a coffee shop.
Adams Morgan was my first glimpse of life in Washington. I arrived here seven years ago this month and lived in two different apartments in Adams Morgan from 2004-2007. I spent one semester of graduate school living with friends on this street seen below, just off that noisy strip.
With the windows open at night that fall, it was hard not to wake up at closing time when the streets got loud. But oftentimes, we weren’t asleep anyways; we were part of the nightlife culture ourselves then and didn’t mind. One sure sign of Adams Morgan in the morning is the pizza remnants you see left over from the night before, from the two a.m. ritual at Jumbo Slice.
After graduate school, I returned to this neighborhood and lived on my own on Biltmore St., just a few blocks from my first place. This morning and always, Biltmore St. is a gorgeous street, with many large, colorful homes, often segmented into smaller apartments.
One of my favorite elements of Biltmore is this picturesque triangular garden near the edge of Rock Creek Park down the hill below.
This is a transient neighborhood of Washington. It’s a young area, not as popular with families as my new corner of town. Still, they’re not entirely absent from the neighborhood scene. My former landlord had lived on Biltmore, for a time raising children there, since 1968. Several young families here now are friends of mine who once moved to Adams Morgan on their own and have since married and had children.
I’ve seen the neighborhood evolve in other ways too. I’ve seen as many as three different bars or storefronts occupy one location. The corner of 18th and Columbia, in particular, has transformed from its days as a hotspot for Sunday football at Adams Mill Bar and Grill. Back then, the street was wider, the sidewalk narrow. Now not only has the bar closed its doors, but a far broader sidewalk is home to a Bikeshare station and a city garden. That green space is one of many throughout Washington that includes a sign documenting heritage trails that shares neighborhood history with pedestrians.
Other aspects of the neighborhood thankfully haven’t changed. To this day, So’s Your Mom is the only spot for a good bagel in Washington, D.C.
And the drag queen brunch at Perry’s still draws an unusually early line of bachelorette parties and groups of girls who meet up in their summer dresses. They’re entirely too energized to be the same folks who were eating pizza out here last night.