The DC Neighborhood With the BEST PUBLIC SCHOOLS – American University Park

AU Park & Tenleytown

Why is AU Park one of the most sought after neighborhoods for families? Is it the tree lined streets, friendly neighbors, easy walking for dogs or kids playing in the street? Yes! All of that and more. Welcome to AU Park! I am including Tenleytown in this video because it’s home to one of the main retail areas serving AU Park. While everything here is mostly sunshine and lollipops, there are three ridiculous things you need to know about living here, and one dishonorable mention.

AU Park & Tenleytown Location

AU Park, or American University Park and Tenleytown are adjacent neighborhoods in what the locals call “Upper Northwest.” AU Park is mostly residential but there is a restaurant/retail strip off Massachusetts Avenue. There is another restaurant/retail strip at the Tenleytown Metro right on Wisconsin Avenue. The borders of Tenleytown are Chesapeake to the north, Van Ness to the south and 39th/Nebraska on the eastern side. The western border is 43rd street which is where AU Park picks up. AU Park’s borders are River Road, Western, Massachusetts, and Nebraska Avenues.

AU Park was named for American University, which sits at the southern most point of AU Park. Tenleytown is known as the “Top of the Town,” because it’s a whopping 426 feet above sea level. Tenleytown was named for John Tennally a notable resident of the neighborhood who had a tavern here in the late 1700’s.

Red line metro is here – the Tenleytown/AU Park Metro stop.

AU Park & Tenleytown Real Estate

There are no condos within the borders of AU Park. This is a neighborhood of single family homes. There are a few homes that are “attached” or what we would call a rowhome. The neighborhood has around 3000 homes and include a variety of house types.

Homes in AU Park start over $1.2M. You will find the occasional home below that but it’s going to either be on a main road, or have just one bathroom or need a lot of work. Prices generally go well into $1M’s to $3M. The average price for the last year is $1.595M. Most of the homes here were built in the 1930’s to 1940’s. Square footage can sometimes be tight and rooms may be small, but you will have a yard. Yards aren’t typical in many other DC Neighborhoods. It’s still the city so when I say yard, don’t think it’s going to be your acre somewhere else in the country. Your entire lot is going to still be about 1/10th of an acre.

Tenleytown doesn’t have a lot of housing. There are some single family homes and some “twins” which is a rowhome attached to just one other rowhome so everyone has side windows. Most of Tenleytown is retail and then schools occupy most of the real estate. When there are homes for sale though, the prices will be lower than AU Park, especially if it’s a twin. Some of the single family homes though will sell over $2M.

Tenleytown does have a condo community on Wisconsin Avenue over Target and Best Buy. The one bedrooms are in the $400,000 to $500,000 range. Two bedrooms can be in the $900’s and go over $1M. While the location is highly convenient with the metro downstairs, Target, Container Store, Whole Foods and restaurants right across the street, this community is on a really congested corner. The elementary school is across the side street. When the high school lets out, this strip can become very rough to navigate. I’m going to talk a bit more about this when I get to schools.

I’m going to show you a house and you can guess who owned it. If you didn’t say Richard Nixon, you lose. Nixon owned 4801 Tilden Street when he was Senator in the 1950’s.

AU Park & Tenleytown Parks & Fun

There is a giant park in AU Park! Turtle Park is at 45th and Van Ness. Here you will find Friendship Recreation Center which is a new state of the art 4,500 square foot recreation facility. There’s a community room to hold up to 125 people, lobby/gallery to display local art, dedicated kids/craft room for the local coop, exterior updated tot lot and upper playground, a new basketball court, and a new splash pad.

There also tennis on the north end of Tenleytown. If you’re a swimmer, adjacent to Jackson Reed High School is an Aquatic Center with a competition sized indoor pool.

Do you need to go shopping? There’s a lot here. I’ve mentioned Target and Best Buy. There is also a Container Store next to Target. Over on Massachusetts Avenue you will find Crate and Barrel. This is the western edge of AU Park.

Tenleytown Library hosts story time and crafts at different times during week. A lot of your neighborhood fun will be associated with the schools as well, so let’s talk about schools next.

AU Park & Tenleytown Schools

You have three top-rated schools here which are very appealing for families. Janney Elementary is one of the most coveted elementary schools in DC. It is right across the street from the condo building, Cityline that is over Target and Best Buy. Lots of kids walk to school.

Alice Deal Middle School is right on the edge of Tenleytown. This school is also well rated. One thing to know – it is a very large middle school. Enrollment for 3 grades is around 1400 students.  Deal has an IB program as well.

Jackson Reed High School is within the Tenleytown boundaries. Much of Upper Northwest is zoned for this high school to include all of AU Park and Tenleytown. Jackson Reed has AP classes but not IB.

Remember the ridiculous things I wanted to tell you? First one is about schools. DCPS does something that’s totally stupid. These three schools are all within a few blocks of each other. They all start and end at the same time – 8:45 to 3:15. Guess what happens at 3:15?

The high school kids descend en masse, on Tenleytown. There’s police who man all these stores, and only let a few kids in at a time. Kids will be lined up to get into Target or Chick Fil-A because, well, sometimes we just can’t have nice things. There was of course a huge melee at Wawa, my home-away-from-home and they had to lock a lot down. There was a Starbucks here, and it closed. Everything else is still going strong though. I drive through here every day around 4:00 and it’s a total nightmare.

Kids are gonna do kid things but maybe the powers that be at DCPS could skew the start times for these schools so the streets surrounding metro don’t turn into pandemonium.

AU Park & Tenleytown Food & Restaurants

You have easy access to the strip on Wisconsin that’s on the border of Tenleytown, where you will find Guapos, Nando’s Peri-Peri, Masala Art, Panera and Chik-Fil-a. Surfside is a local favorite, just a few blocks south of the library on Wisconsin Avenue. Then off Massachusetts Avenue, there is a retail strip as well. You will find Wagshal’s Deli, Millies, De Carlos, Pizzeria Paradiso & Le Pain Quotidien. There are new restaurants in the Wegmans area as well. This new neighborhood is called City Ridge – Taco Bamba, King Street Oyster Bar, Rooftop Kitchen and Tatte – a Boston restaurant / bakery that has locations all over DC.

The closest grocery store is Whole Foods right in Tenleytown. You can walk there but there’s also a garage with free parking. There’s also a Wegmans that opened a couple years ago, just south ½ mile south of the Tenleytown metro on Wisconsin Avenue. Here’s my second ridiculous thing to know – Wegmans is a magnet for Instacart drives. It’s hilarious that people wanted, begged for this Wegmans. I never actually see anyone shopping in there though. It’s just Instacart drivers, pecking away on their phones and getting in the way of the other shoppers. I never thought I would say this, but Wegmans sucks and I don’t go there anymore.

A Word About the Dogs

This is a very dog friendly neighborhood. There are no DC Dog parks in AU Park or Tenleytown, but there are a couple nearby in Cathedral Heights and Friendship Heights. The streets here are great for dog walks and you will see many four legged friends out with their people. Also, many yards are fenced or can be.

If you were looking at a map, you may see that there is a vet hospital right in Tenleytown. People either have a love it or hate it feeling about this vet. Third ridiculous fact coming your way next. If you go here for an emergency, expect to refinance your house to pay for it because their estimates and subsequent bills are straight up robbery. Here’s how it happens. Your dog gets sick. You go to the emergency vet. They give you an ”estimate” for $10,000” that includes 849 line items and you panic and put your down down.

Needless to say, I will never bring an animal here. The overnight shift is all newbies and you get charged doctor’s rates for them bumbling around on your pet.

Dishonorable Mention

AU Park has a secret. It was developed in the 1920’s by WC and AN Miller, now a residential developer and real estate brokerage. This was a neighborhood which had racial covenants.

Then-president Edward Miller, signed the covenants into law for AU Park that banned rent or sale to “NEGRO PEOPLE OR ANY PERSON OR PERSON OF THE SEMITIC RACE, BLOOD, … TO INCLUDE ARMENIANS, JEWS, HEBREWS, PERSIANS, OR SYRIANS.”

Thankfully now, everyone is allowed here and people love it. It gives the best of residential living with great schools and easy access to the city.