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Case Studies 

Adams Morgan




Contributed by 
Dan Malouff
Project for Public Spaces
December 3, 2004
December 14, 2017

Not the typical neighborhood that you would expect to find in Washington, DC.

What makes it Great?

Why it doesn't work?

Vivacious. Georgetown may be more famous, but city-dwellers know the real place to be is Adams Morgan. It's hip but not yuppified, diverse but not preachy, safe but still gritty, cool but not uppity, and fun but not taken over by Starbucks and Disney. Adams Morgan is, for many, the toast of the DC urban experience. Physically, Adams Morgan benefits - or suffers from (depending on your point of view) - a location just north of the original planned city, and is sandwiched between the Georgia Avenue corridor and Rock Creek Park. That all means two things: 1) Adams Morgan is off the proverbial beaten path, hidden from suburban gentrification; and 2) its street network is based on European design rather than the grid, which has created a more intimate, less predictable environment. Thus, Adams Morgan is in many ways an antithesis to Washington at large. It's not monumental nor is it high-profile. Rather, it caters to the resident and the sidewalk vendor. Adams Morgan represents not just a hip hang out; for many it represents an ideal. It's fantastically interesting, unmistakably urban, dense and busy, but still manages to pander to the person rather than the group.

Access & Linkages

There is no direct Metro access, but Woodley Park, Dupont Circle and Columbia Heights are all easy walks.

Comfort & Image

Adams Morgan is off the grid. It's not the kind of neighborhood one expects to find in DC.

Uses & Activities

Very mixed. There is a lot to do in this walkable neighborhood, great shops, restaurants, bars, and more.


Since it's somewhat off the beaten path, Adams Morgan isn't heavily visited by tourists. Even many "local" suburbanites don't seem aware it exists.

How Light?

How Quick?

How Cheap?

History & Background

Related Links & Sources

Adams Morgan
This and top image © JB Fields.
Adams Morgan
This and bottom image © Cris Pedregal Martin.
Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan is known as a great neighborhood for nightlife.
Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan
Adams Morgan

*Please note that these Hall of Shame nominations were written in a moment in time (most over a decade ago) and likely have since changed or even been transformed. If the above entry is now great, or still not so great, go ahead and comment below on how it has evolved or nominate it as a great place.


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