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Door To Door: Shepherd Park, D.C. and Northridge, Va.

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A call box in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrec/3162667282/
A call box in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

It's our weekly trip around the region. This week, we'll visit D.C's Shepherd Park and the Northridge neighborhood of Alexandria, Va.

Northridge in Alexandria, VA

The community of Northridge is tucked away, — a small community in the larger town of Alexandria, Va. Resident Rosalind Bovey says that because the area is so small, it's got an interesting history behind it.

"Since 1648, the neighborhood has been part of nine jurisdictions, but has been attached to the city of Alexandria since 1929," Bovey says. "The streetcar line that ran between Alexandria and Washington from 1892 and 1931 led to increased development along Russell Road, one of the boundaries of our neighborhood."

That unique history has given the community a developed-yet-historic atmosphere. And Bovey says it's created a loyalty in its residents, too.

"It's kind of like a small town," Bovey says. "To me, it's sort of like a home village. What I've always thought about living in Alexandria is that Alexandria is like, a real town. It has characteristics of its own. It's not just a suburb of Washington, and people feel a loyalty toward it just like they feel a loyalty toward this neighborhood, Northridge."

Bovey says you can see that neighborhood atmosphere throughout the year. There's an annual tree sale, a parade, even a beautification day to tidy up Beverly Park, one of the neighborhood's landmarks. Add up those activities, and Bovey says you've got a beautiful community.

"The azaleas and flowering trees in the Northridge neighborhood are really spectacular," Bovey says. "I am told that tour buses bring people over here to see the azaleas. It's like a garden district."

Shepherd Park, D.C.

Rosalyn Coates says her favorite part of living in the Shepherd Park neighborhood of Washington, D.C. is the diversity of its residents. And she says that you can see that diversity in the neighborhood's events and traditions. There are block parties, yard sales and garden tours every year, but Coates says that one of her favorite activities is an annual meal.

"One of the places that [diversity] really shows up is during our annual pot luck dinner, where we get foods from every racial and ethnic group imaginable," Coates says. "It makes for a wonderful, wonderful meal and a great time for fellowship among the members."

However, in the 1950s, the neighborhood wasn't as welcoming to new residents of different ethnic backgrounds. After World War II, African-American and Jewish residents began moving into the neighborhood, which led many homeowners to flee the neighborhood.

But Coates says the tension among residents eased when an organization called Neighbors, Inc. was founded in 1958.

"[It] was established to stem the tide of white flight when African-Americans began moving into the neighborhood and people of other ethnic groups," Coates says. "And there was a concerted effort to create and maintain diversity in the neighborhood. And that holds today. It's extraordinarily diverse. All racial and ethnic groups are respected."

That type of fellowship can be felt in the neighborhood throughout the year, Coates says.

"It's just an awesomely cohesive, and I think a caring community. And that's one of the things I really like about it," Coates says. "And you'll hear from some of the neighbors that a group of us are like shared parents. Our kids have grown up together, so they have Moms one, two, and three, Dads one, two, and three. It's just awesome."


[Music: "No, Girl" by John Davis from Title Tracks / "Feels Like the First Time (In the Style of Foreigner)" by Karaoke Planet from Foreigner Hits, Vol. 1]

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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