Door To Door: Woodley Park, D.C. And Mantua, Va. | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Door To Door: Woodley Park, D.C. And Mantua, Va.

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The National Zoo is in the Woodley Park neighborhood of northwest D.C.
Eva Harder
The National Zoo is in the Woodley Park neighborhood of northwest D.C.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we visit Mantua, Virginia, and D.C.'s Woodley Park neighborhood.

Woodley Park, D.C.

Woodley Park is best known for its location next to the National Zoo, so as local resident Bill Menczer puts it: "If you know where the National Zoo is, you know where we live."

But the zoo isn't the only famous feature of the neighborhood, which was built about a hundred years ago (with most of the housing stock built by D.C. developer Harry Wardman). In that time, Menczer says a slew of famous faces have called Woodley Park home, from journalists like Tim Russert, Dan Schorr, Tom Brokaw and Helen Thomas to Pulitzer, Nobel Peace Prize and Academy Award Winners.

"The deputy mayor of New York City, he lived here for a whole year while running the city," Menczer says. "[And] the director of the National Zoo lives right here in Woodley Park. He just walks to work. Isn't that convenient?"

According to Menczer, there's a reason so many people — famous or not — would want to live in Woodley Park. Over two-dozen restaurants line the streets of the neighborhood, from Chinese, Japanese and Lebanese cuisine to Indian, Mexican and Italian.

"We have a great business district in Woodley Park," Menczer says, adding that the National Cathedral is within walking distance and that he can see part of Rock Creek Park from his living room.

Despite its many attractions, however, some residents still find reason to escape. Menczer says that Rusty the Red Panda escaping from the National Zoo in June 2013 is one of the stranger things that's happened to the neighborhood.

But it spurred more of a social event than anything, as residents rallied around the idea of searching for the panda themselves. "Because that's all part of the fun of Woodley Park."

Another part of the fun is its combination of suburban safety and urban vibe. "We have the benefit of the quiet, the peace, and the beauty," Menczer says. "[But] we also have immediate access to downtown. We're only a few miles to the mall."

And for Menczer, Woodley Park has one of the best locations in the city.

"We can see the fireworks from the hill at the National Cathedral. We have immediate access to the subway. We have immediate access to buses," Menczer says. "I couldn't think of a better place to live than right here in Woodley Park, D.C.

Mantua, Va.

"If you look at a map, Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax are a diamond shape. If you connect the dots in that diamond, that's exactly where Mantua is," Bill Rakow says. "So it's close to 66, the metro, Vienna, Tyson's, not far from either of the airports. So it's a great location." Rakow says Mantua is an extremely large neighborhood, with about 1,550 homes and the intra-county connecter running through the neighborhood. "Which is great for jogging, walking, riding bikes, and then the many, many activities that go on in the neighborhood."

Many of the people moving into Mantua are young families, and Rakow says they're drawn to the neighborhood by its school system.

"That's the feature of the neighborhood. They want to be in a neighborhood that's very children and family friendly," he says. "The tops schools, Mantua, Frost and Woodson are some of the best schools in the country. And certainly all the schools in Fairfax County are good, but these happen to be among the crème de la crème."

But even though the neighborhood is bringing in new families, some have been around for years. "There's some folks that are 100 old that are still in the neighborhood. Couples that have lived well into their 90s," Rakow says.

"Mantua's a destination community, as I like to call it. People come here and they live here for a lifetime."

[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks]

Photos: Door to Door

Explore previously featured neighborhoods on our Door to Door map:

This map shows previous Door to Door segments, and includes links to photos and show audio. The yellow marker represents neighborhoods featured in Washington, D.C., the blue represents neighborhoods in Maryland, and the red represents neighborhoods in Virginia.

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