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American University Park Community Guide A quiet family-friendly neighborhood close to all the excitement of DC

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Updated 2/27/2023

History and Flavor

American University Park, bounded by Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Western avenues, is an enclave of 13,000 homes in northwest Washington, DC. The area is home to many families with children. 

American University Park was once dotted with farmhouses and apple orchards. The Methodist Church owned part of the land. The church built several small cottages for its clergy. But by the 1930s, the church sold some of the grounds to land developers who built medium-sized brick homes. 

You’ll find that most homes have various additions, including enclosed porches, expansive backyards, and bay windows. The houses are sturdy, but most do not have garages. It’s a tight-knit community with block parties and plenty of children riding their bikes and having fun. 

Of course, the area is famed for housing a major university.  You’ll have all the perks of having a college nearby, but there is little noise or commotion from the students. Instead, the tree-lined streets and picket fences draw families looking for a safe, stable environment without being far from the excitement of DC. 


Music & Parks

  • Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society – Alice’s Jazz and Cultural Society is a not-for-profit jazz club in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington, DC. Unless otherwise noted, all shows are $5 at the door (cash only).
  • Black Cat – Multilevel spot serves as a bar & cafe with vegan options & an indie/rock/alternative live-music venue.
  • Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House – A coffeehouse/music shop with vinyl & java for sale, listening booths & a 1947 recording booth.
  • Flash – International tunes & American bites at a small dance club with a photo booth & edgy design.
  • Turtle Park – The new recreation center will house a new community room for 125 people, a lobby/gallery to display local art, a dedicated kids/craft room, and additional storage and administrative space. In addition, the exterior improvements include an updated tot lot and upper playground, a new basketball court, a new splash pad, site amenities, and landscaping.
  • Fort Bayard Park – This grassy park was the site of a Civil War fort that protected a significant route into the capital.
  • American University Arboretum and Gardens – Visit the #4 ranked US urban campus. The arboretum has over 385 species and varieties of wooded plants among the 4,000 trees on campus. Walking tours are available.
  • Palisades Recreation Center & Playground – One of DC’s best playground parks! Here you’ll find woodland trails with deer and wildlife, views of the Potomac River Valley, tennis courts, a skate park, batting cages, a golf practice tee area made with turf, a grass softball field, grassy tree-covered picnic tables, and more.


Popular Shopping and Eats

  • Spring Valley Shopping CenterSpring Valley Shopping Center is part of the local community. Its retailers and culture reflect the lifestyle needs of the center’s neighborhoods.
  • American University Campus Store – On-campus store selling school supplies, apparel, gifts, electronics & books.
  • DC USA- DC USA is an 890,000-square-foot retail development in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. A Washington City Paper poll named DC USA the “Best Designed Retail Space” of 2009. The development is adjacent to the Columbia Heights station on the Yellow and Green Lines of the Washington Metro.
  • Crate & Barrel – Retail chain offering a variety of stylish furniture, kitchenware & other home essentials.
  • Pizzeria Paradiso Spring Valley – Delicious pizza your way baked in a wood-burning, domed, stone oven. You’ll also find bar service, private and semi-private dining, and individual and party-size carry-out.
  • Millie’s Spring Valley – Nantucket seafood specialist offering New England classics & Baja-style eats such as fish tacos.
  • Pitmasters Back Alley BBQ – Amazing barbecue in a friendly, casual setting.
  • Al Dente – Modern Italian fare, pizza, pasta plates & brunch, presented in a breezy, contemporary setting.


Best Public High Schools

Best Public Elementary Schools

Public Transportation


Western Ave & Leroy Pl – Bus stop

Nebraska Ave & Van Ness St – Bus stop

Nebraska Ave & Ward Circle – Bus stop

Nebraska Ave NW & Nebraska Ave NW – Bus stop

Massachusetts Ave & 50th St – Bus stop

Massachusetts Ave & 45th St – Bus stop

Massachusetts Ave NW & Ward Cir NW – Bus stop

Tenleytown – AU – Train stop

Van Ness-UDC – Train stop

Median Home Value

$1,500,00 as of 2023

Renters: 5%

Owners: 96%


Population 7,031

Median household income –  $200,806

Median age: 38

Families with children – 38%

High school diploma or equivalent – 3%

College Degree: 90%

75% White

18% Hispanic

4% Asian

3% African American

4% Other