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Takoma Park

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Takoma Park (Maryland) is a city on the edge of Washington, D.C. in Montgomery County. It is bordered by the Takoma neighborhood of Washington, D.C., which share an elevated Metro (subway) station, Takoma on the Red line [1].

About[edit]

The city of Takoma Park is a planned commuter suburb to Washington, D.C. situated just northeast of the nation's capitol. Located within Montgomery County, Maryland, it sits right on Maryland-Washington, DC border and is included in the Washington Metropolitan Area. The city's population was 16,715 at the 2010 national census. It is governed by an elected mayor and six elected council members, who form the city council, and an appointed city manager, under a council-manager style of government. Residents of Takoma Park can vote in municipal elections when they turn sixteen - the first in the United States.

Densely forested and proud of its abundant flowering foliage, the city is sometimes informally nicknamed "Azalea City" and even hosts an annual azalea contest for its residents. It is a member of Tree City USA and, by law, a nuclear-free zone.

The city is bisected by numerous steep hills, narrow streets at odd angles, and the gorge-like Sligo Creek Park. Of principal interest to tourists, a network of bicycle trails follow Sligo Creek Park for twelve miles into neighboring areas.

The Old Town area of Takoma Park is composed of three historic districts which run along Carroll Avenue from 4th Street NW (in Washington, DC) to Takoma Junction in Maryland. Anchored by the Takoma Park Metro station and its close proxity to DC, the town is populated with eclectic boutiques, clothing and toy stores, gourmet restaurants, coffee shops, a food co-op, and other attractions. Takoma Park is increasingly becoming a destination location, not just a resting stop on the way to Washington, DC.

Takoma Park has a well-established reputation for being home to many with progressive political views and is therefore sometimes referred to as the "Berkeley of the East" or "The People's Republic of Takoma Park." It is home to many known authors, journalists, elected officials, political consultants, academicians, artists, and musicians. Notably, Takoma Park was home to guitarist John Fahey (1939-2001), who founded Takoma Records.

With its small-town ambiance and residents determined to preserve its charm, it is one of few areas to successfully discourage and even outright ban the presence of big-box chain stores and national franchises in its Old Town commercial district. Rather, Takoma Park encourages and attracts a growing number of privately owned, unique commercial establishments, drawing visitors from neighboring areas.

Takoma Park hosts several annual events - a jazz festival and folk festival in the summer, a street festival in the fall, a parade on July 4, a Halloween parade, and other fun events. Takoma Park is also known for its weekly Farmers Market, every Sunday in the heart of town where regional farmers sell locally grown produce, dairy products, meats, cheeses, and fresh eggs. Vegetable gardens have replaced lawns at many homes and the town boasts a strong environmental ethic that emphasizes recycling, clean energy, and the preservation of open spaces.

History[edit]

Takoma Park first grew and developed in the 1880s along the Metropolitan Branch near a station of the historic Baltimore and Ohio (B&O) Railroad, and was largely surrounded by farmland. Large Victorian homes were built, many of which still stand today. The community quickly became a central commercial hub for people commuting into Washington, D.C. by train and streetcar.

Founded by Benjamin Franklin Gilbert in 1883, Takoma Park was formally incorporated on April 3, 1890. It was one of the first planned Victorian commuter suburbs of Washington, DC and, in the early days, bore aspects of a spa and trolley park.

Gilbert purchased several tracts of farmland that would become Takoma Park. First, the Grammar farm, then known as "Robert's Choice," in the spring of 1884. The plot of land was located on both sides of the old B&O railroad station, straddling the DC-Maryland border and roughly bounded by today's Sixth Street on the west, Aspen Street on the south, Willow Avenue on the east, and Takoma Avenue on the north. He purchased another plot of land in 1886, roughly bounded by Caroll Avenue to the "Big Spring" (now Takoma Junction) and what is now Woodland Avenue. Gilbert named this land "New Takoma" and later purchased the Jones farm and the Naughton farm, which together he named "North Takoma."

A builder named Fred E. Dudley was hired by Gilbert to design and construct many of the homes in Takoma Park, one of which is the "Cady Lee" still standing today at the corner of Piney Branch Road and Eastern Avenue. Dudley and his wife had a son, Wentworth, who was the first child to be born in Takoma Park. By 1888, there were 75 houses built in the community, which quickly grew to 235 homes by 1889.

The town soon became a haven for Seventh-Day Adventists, who moved their World Headquarters to Takoma Park in 1904 from Battle Creek, Michigan when their main buildings burned to the ground. At the turn of the century, they built several downtown churches, a small Christian liberal arts college, a printing press, a vegetarian health food co-op, elementary schools, and a sanitarium. Since then, many of the area's group houses have been restored into lovely, single family home Victorian mansions. Influenced by the Adventists, the deed of each of the original houses prohibited alcohol from being made or sold on the property, a policy that continued in the city until 1983. The Seventh-Day Adventists moved their headquarters to Silver Spring in 1989.

In 1964, construction of a large freeway was proposed which would have bisected Dupont Circle as well as Takoma Park, and would have displaced nearly 500 houses and split the city in two. Takoma Park's legendary mayor, Sam Abbot (Sammie Abdullah Abbott, 1908-1990), led a campaign to halt freeway construction and replace it with a Washington Metrorail station at the site of the former train station, and worked with other neighborhood groups to halt plans for a wider system of freeways going into and out of DC.


In 1997, the Takoma Park city council voted to partially secede from Prince Georges County. After getting permission from the State of Maryland, the city voted to annex an area colloquially known as "hell's bottom" from Prince Georges County before the secession went into effect. Once a haven for rum-running during Prohibition and illegal drug traffickers, this little nook has undergone a major makeover and most of the little shotgun houses have been fully renovated or replaced by new homes.

Because of its proximity to the Silver Spring estate of noted abolitionist Montgomery Blair (after whom the local high school is named, and whose family continues to own part of downtown Silver Spring), Takoma Park is also home to two former Freedmen's Villages from the Civil War era. One of these is now a high-rise apartment district along Maple Avenue, while the other was built on the site of an old Civil War fort and amusement park located on Sligo Creek.

Getting Around[edit]

Public Transportation:

The City of Takoma Park is easily accessible by Washington DC's Metrorail system with a station located right in town. The older parts of Takoma Park and the Takoma Neighborhood of D.C. are bisected by the Red Line train tracks. The trains arrive and depart about every 3-5 minutes and it's a 15-20 minute ride into the heart of downtown D.C. Most of the "Old Town" is within a six-block walk of the Takoma metro station. There is also an extensive public bus system. In 2014, publicly available bike-rental racks were installed to encourage bicycle use.

By car:

Takoma Park is inside the Capitol Beltway (Route 495) is near several major arteries, most notably, New Hampshire Avenue, University Boulevard, Georgia Avenue, and North Capitol Street.

Culture[edit]

See[edit][add listing]

Walter Reed Army Medical Museum — Home of gruesome artifacts such as Abe Lincoln's teeth, conjoined skeletons and a corpse made of soap, this hidden gem is in the Walter Reed Army Medical Center on Georgia Avenue at Dahlia St. (Takoma, D.C.)

Fort Stevens Park and Battlefield National Cemetery — commemorate the battle between Union troops and Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, who snuck into the city in 1862 by driving straight down Georgia Avenue, stopping off at the Blair Mansion inn in Silver Spring (now a dinner theater) for a bite to eat. Abraham Lincoln's hat was allegedly shot off here as he observed the action. Oliver Wendell Holmes is alleged to have said, "get down, you fool!" Commemorate your visit with a "Gen. Jubal Earlyburger" at nearby Woodside Deli in Silver Spring, MD (9329 Georgia Ave., Forest Glen, MD, near I-495). The dead from the battle were buried in the tiny National Cemetery on Georgia Avenue at the end of Whittier St. (Takoma D.C.)

Takoma Old Town Shopping Center — on the Maryland side (near the big church) is a 1920's era collection of small shops featuring a clock tower and a gazebo in Takoma Urban Park. Home of the weekly Farmers' Market.

Statue of Roscoe — a free-range rooster who lived behind the small apartments in Old Town, along with several hens said to be kept in a chicken coop. Roscoe died in 1999 [2] and thirty people attended his funeral. Often confused with a separate rooster who lived on Flower Avenue, also run over by a hapless motorist. Roscoe woke up neighborhood residents for about 10 years.

Other interesting local memorials include the nearby Mayor Lane Memorial in Silver Spring, a bust (and alley) commissioned to honor a beloved local homeless person, "Mayor" Norman Lane, where he lived. Surrounding shops and restaurants in south Silver Spring, on Georgia Avenue near the railroad tracks, are of interest to window-shoppers. This area of Silver Spring, which includes many cheap ethnic restaurants and music stores, may be torn down in coming years to make way for Bethesda-style development. Located on Georgia Avenue near Bonifant St. and the Silver Spring metro station, about a mile up Rte. 410 from Takoma Park. For more information, see Silver Spring.

Do[edit][add listing]

Takoma Park Folk Festival — Possibly the area's premier folk music festival. Started by Sammie Abbott in 1977 to raise money for the community to reopen the Takoma Theater in Washington, D.C. The first festival featured Pete Seeger. Takoma Park Middle School, Grant Ave. & Piney Branch Road, Takoma Park MD.

(The huge Takoma Theater — on 4th St. NW, which is run by a nonprofit, is still closed. It was built in the 1920s by the developers of the Avalon Theater, a nonprofit art cinema in Chevy Chase.)

Takoma Park Street Festival — Also called the Old Town Festival, this is Takoma Park's annual street fair, attracting a diverse crowd of bohemians and locals. It usually coincides with Adams Morgan Day in D.C.

Liz Lerman Dance Exchange — Internationally renowned dance artist Liz Lerman opened this dance studio to benefit novice dancers and drummers. Regular programs and workshops. (Maple Ave. off Carroll St.)

Washington Opera Backstage Facility — located in a huge artists' co-op / warehouse, Placido Domingo and the Opera occasionally hold backstage tours and recitals. (Willow St. NW, Takoma D.C.)

Takoma Park Farmers Market — One of the D.C. area's premier outdoor farmers markets. Organic, free-range, Producer-only. Located on Laurel Avenue at the D.C. line, under the clock tower. Sundays from 10AM to 2PM.

Other Farmers Markets — The Farmers Market has also started not one but two spin-off markets: A mid-week market in Takoma Junction on Wednesdays (next to the Food Co-op) and in the immigrant community of Langley Park (focusing on regionally-grown international produce.)

Takoma Jazz Fest — Takoma Park's newest music festival. Currently held each spring in Jecquie Park. (Takoma Ave. & Fenton St.)

Takoma Park Film Festival — Sam Abbott Auditorium, Takoma Park Municipal Community Center (Maple Ave. at Rt. 410, Takoma Park MD). Co-sponsored by Video Americain, which also hosts regular film showings at its store on Carroll Avenue in downtown Takoma Park.

  • Roda Movements, 7003 Carroll Ave (Downtown/Old Takoma Park), (301) 920-0913, [3]. Roda Movements is the D.C. area's premiere studio dedicated to Brazilian-Latino Movements, offering classes in Capoeira, Zumba, Salsa, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Samba, Flamenco and more! Drop in, Sessioned classes & memberships available. Roda Movements also hosts RODAplayspace - and indoor playspace for children 4months- 3 1/2 years. [4]  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

Amano — Fabulous women's clothing! Also specializes in imported shoes and brand-name active wear from apparel companies more progressive than Birkenstock, such as Naot.

House of Musical Traditions (HMT) — Founded in 1969, this unique store features a wide variety of exotic instruments such as acoustic guitars, djembe drums, squeezeboxes, wooden flutes, erhus, ouds, and 16-string sitars. They also host music classes and repair instruments.

Now and Then — An updated variety store featuring candles, toys, handmade greeting cards, and unusual knick-knacks.

Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food Co-op — Located at the far end of Old Town in Takoma Junction, this supermarket is one of the area's most successful grocery store co-ops and features much locally grown produce and pastries from local bakeries.

S&A Beads — Beads galore! Tired of paying inflated prices for "hand made" jewelry? Make your own necklaces at this bead store, with thousands of different beads and clasps. Plus ready-to-wear jewelry, purses, funky clothing, and other eclectic items.

Takoma Bikes — One of the best bike stores in the region; good repair service.

The Big Bad Woof — Eco-friendly toys and food for pampered pets.

The Culture Shop — Located behind the Takoma Metro, this is one of Washington's only stores selling exclusively Fair Trade products.

The Magic Carpet — Turkish fabrics, pillows, and imported jewelry.

Eat[edit][add listing]

Capitol City Cheesecake — In addition to a cheesecake of various flavors, this little coffee shop also features full breakfast, lunch, and dinner -- and sometimes has open mic night! Outdoor seating is popular in warmer months.

Mark's Kitchen — Almost a historical landmark, Mark's Kitchen is a hometown diner that offers a variety of both ethnic and American foods and features fresh vegetable and fruit juices - mix and match!

Middle East Market — Serves a variety of good meat and vegetarian dishes

Republic — The newest restaurant in town, owned and operated by Jeffery Black featuring an oyster bar and an upbeat menu

Roscoes — Some of the best pizza in the entire DC area: freshly made dough and interesting toppings baked to perfection on a wood-fired stove. Full bar with some great beer and wine selections.

Takoma Bistro — the newest restaurant in town, right on the main strip, features sidewalk dining in good weather and a variety of good entres and of course, pastries.

Drink[edit][add listing]

Due to its history with the Seventh-Day Adventist church, Takoma Park has few watering holes. Most of these are in Takoma D.C. For more nightlife and movies, see Silver Spring.

Electric Maid Community Exchange — One of D.C.'s few all-ages spaces in the tradition of d.c. space and similar community arts institutions / hangouts. Never-ending plans to serve coffee and tea, and pastries. Collectively owned and volunteer run. Hosts straight-edge punk/hard core, progressive jazz/go go, art rock, and lesser known folk acts. Does not serve alcohol.

Takoma Station Tavern — This long-time jazz and "urban contemporary" club lends an urban, sophisticated air to 4th Street in Takoma, D.C. Proper attire required. Started in a former boxing club on 4th St. Traditionally one of D.C.'s better jazz clubs, although it is less oriented to classical jazz these days. Full bar. For a real boxing club in D.C. these days, you have to go 15 blocks south to Kennedy St. in Petworth.

S & S Liquors — on Blair Road under the Metro underpass in Takoma D.C., this ancient corner store (possibly the ugliest building in D.C.) is noted for its wide selection.

Formerly the home of a beloved folk open mic, Taliano's, Takoma Park's sole bar and sit-down pizzeria, sadly closed in 2006 and has now reopened as an Ames hardware store.

Olive Lounge — a local beer and wine bar behind the Mediterranean restaurant. The menu is different, but the food comes from the same kitchen. Four beers on tap, happy hour.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Econo Lodge [5] — The hotel's on-site restaurant is the International House of Pancakes.

Hilltop Hostel [6] — Formerly India House Too, a spin-off of the famous hostel in New Orleans, [7] this Victorian garret looms, Addams-like, over Takoma D.C. Inside, it continues to cultivate a bohemian atmosphere. Popular with European backpackers, it has a liberal policy towards backyard grilling. Located across the street from the Metro.

Motel 6 (Walter Reed) — Formerly the Walter Reed Motel, this is the cheapest motel in D.C. A national scandal erupted when it was discovered wounded soldiers were being billeted in a nearby fleabag apartment. The surrounding area of Takoma D.C. is lovely, however. Walter Reed Army Hospital and the historic Battlefield National Cemetery are adjacent. The Takoma Metro station is a 6 block walk on Aspen St.

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