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Neighborhood Narratives: Chevy Chase

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Chevy Chase, D.C., not to be confused with Chevy Chase, MD with whom it shares a border, began in the 1880s when Senator Newlands of Nevada and his partners began to aggressively acquire farmland for the purpose of developing a residential streetcar suburb. The eventual holdings of the company are now known as this neighborhood as well as Chevy Chase, Maryland. The neighborhood was developed in the early 1900s after construction of the Chevy Chase Line, a streetcar line that stretches to and beyond the northwest boundary of the District of Columbia. This line connects the neighborhood directly to the D.C. downtown.

The formerly remote area grew over decades into a neighborhood of middle-class housing, the stock of which includes many Sears Catalog Homes. Unlike many urban neighborhoods, Chevy Chase has kept its small, generally locally owned businesses along Connecticut Avenue and they remain well patronized by the locals. These businesses include Magruder’s Supermarket (est. 1875) and the Avalon Theatre, which opened in 1923 and currently runs as a non-profit movie theater. In addition to its historic commercial buildings, the area has several well established parks including Rock Creek Park, Lafayette Park and Livingston Park.

Chevy Chase, known as the suburb in the city, has a reputation for a strong community connection, gorgeous houses and beautiful lawns. Its commercial area is large enough to make it feel relatively self-sufficient. The vast majority of residential options are single-family homes that are relatively large, and nearly all of them are fronted by well-groomed gardens and lawns of varying sizes. Bungalows, four squares, the odd Victorian, colonials, Tudors and Cape Cods lend to the grand variety of architecture throughout the neighborhood.

Chevy Chase is a pleasant, architecturally rich neighborhood where Washingtonians find peace and community while still remaining in touch with the rest of the city.