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Old 04-29-2008, 10:50 PM
 
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just wondering. how "hip" is D.C? may be moving there soon with my husband and baby. I went there once for leisure but a bunch of times on school trips as a kid, so I associate it with just 'the mall' area with the museums. Are there lots of really good, up and coming restaurants? Are there good shows/ art exhibits etc?
How does it compare to other cities? pros and cons?

Thanks!
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Old 04-30-2008, 08:07 AM
 
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Brooklyn is way hipper than DC. If you want hip, go live in Brooklyn around Atlantic Ave. or the Gowanus Canal. You will be so hip your eyes will water. However, if you want happening places with decent schools where you're not stepping over junkies' needles and you street is never, ever blocked off because of a drive-by double-murder at the projects up the block, you're looking at the right places (Arlington, Bethesda/Chevy Chase, etc.)
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Old 04-30-2008, 08:37 AM
 
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Washington is not "hip" at all by generally accepted standards.

Fashion is just not a big deal here for the most part. Men are in dark suits, Anne Taylor Loft for the ladies. I hate to stereotype, but I'm a native and my New Yorker wife points this stuff out to me all the time.

Restaurants? I don't know how to define "up and coming" but there are GREAT restaurants in virtually every neighborhood. Of course, for more of the cheap ethnic cuisine many city-dwellers are accustomed to, you'll have to head outside of DC city limits. Places like Annandale for Korean, Falls Church for Vietnamese, Wheaton for Salvadoran, Bailey's crossroads for Afghan, etc.

Reason being DC is unique in that it doesn't have the old traditional "ethnic neighborhoods" we associate with large eastern cities (polish in Greenpoint, Italian in Baltimore/NYC/Philly/Boston), etc.) Plus our "chinatown" has very little China in it.

There is plenty going on in the art world but I'm not an expert on that.

DC doesn't really compare to Chicago or New York. It's just so different....it's part European/part southern, if there is such a thing.

Most people really like it or really dislike it. I guess it depends upon what you do for a living, how you handle traffic, and of course the relationships you forge with people you meet here.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:09 AM
 
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Jim,

I have to disagree! DC is a very hip city. DC is known for fashion. Versace, Gucci, Mark Jacobs. I think there is a disconnect because most of you really don't know the city. DC is very different because the culture is defined by the AA community. DC has its own food, music, style, lingo, etc.. Did you know that many of the dances in the 80s & early 90s were created in DC. (Cabbage Patch). DC was also known for creating hair styles. The Air Force One's that all the rappers talk about now. We use to wear them in junior high in the 80's. DC has always been a very materialistic place. I am from Brooklyn (Hoyt & Bergen right next to the Gowanus Housing Projects). When I moved here, I was surprised to find that DC had its own unique style and culture that most people will never get to see because they are insulated. DC does have a huge ethnic community. They are called African Americans. They define the pulse of the city. Not politics.

Eli,

I have been to Chicago many times and it is a great city but it is very segregated. I don't see it as a hip place like Brooklyn. Chicago is more of a bar capital. The vibe in DC is different. People are into what you drive, what you have on, who do you work for. The party scene is dominated by the hundreds of night clubs that are all over the city. Most people who post on these boards don't know DC like they think they know DC. Believe me, you will not get bored here. As for arts & museums, we have probably the best (Smithsonian) museum scene in the country. Check out the Spy Museum and the Newseum. DC has great restaurants but they are not on par with Chicago & NYC.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:30 AM
 
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This might be getting into touchy territory, but I think there are two distinct DC's: the African American culture that has been rooted there for generations and the transient professional culture that revolves around the federal government. There's not a lot of overlap between the two, unfortunately. One group is amongst the most educated in the country, the other has the highest illiteracy rate in the country (statistically speaking). Perhaps the most interesting place of overlap revolves around Howard University and all the world beaters that have emerged from it.

Most people looking to move to DC fall into the latter transient professional category, so I think that's why so many focus on that side of it.

From that perspective, the professional DC is not very fashionable at all. That's not a bad thing. People just focus on more pressing concerns or social issues than the latest fashion trends.

To say it's not hip is wrong, imo. It's not very hipster like Williamsburg or Greenwich is (was), but it is hip in a more professional sense. One could make a strong argument that it has an extraordinarily intriguing global culture of people from all over the world and a very vibrant nightlife that is on the pulse of society's thrust. The fact that its culture is transient and global makes it unique amongst American cities. I find it more interesting than New York, which is rather mired in ethnic neighborhoods, because professional DC kind of self-selects a certain well educated, highly motivated type of individual.

It's truly like nothing else in the U.S. - neither better nor worse than Chicago or New York. Simply different. It is very European in its sensibility with a tinge of the Northeast bustle and a morsel of the Southern / Appalachian culture. Bluegrass, for example, has always been very big there since it's the closest city to West Virginia.

That said, whenever I've left I've felt like I was entering the U.S. again.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:32 AM
 
Location: Washington DC area
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I've lived in both Chicago and New York and the short answer is DC is not anywhere near as hip; you'll find more "hipness" in Baltimore than you will in DC. Partly it's a function of real estate, partly history and the role the Federal Government has played, partly the transient nature of DC, partly size (far smaller than either Chicago or New York). There is plenty of culture here (great museums, the Kennedy Center, etc--a lot of it free), but if you define hipness as a place where music and art is created (and not just displayed 30 years later), DC is not it. Chicago and New York always have newly gentrified neighborhoods (in Chicago it was once Wicker Park, then Bucktown, then Logan Square; in New York it was the lower East Side, now it's Greenpoint or somewhere else in Brooklyn) where artists and the such move for cheap rent, and then come the interesting restaurants and bars and the like, then finally the expensive lofts and the cycle moves somewhere else. Although DC has some of this (I'm thinking the G St NE corridor), it's on a much smaller scale and the first part (the artists) is missing. Maybe part of it is that the suburbs here are so prominent and take so much of the development "energy", I don't know. DC has plenty to offer (good schools, good transit, good jobs, access to hiking/nature), but hipness really isn't part of it.
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Old 04-30-2008, 09:50 AM
 
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^^
I guess I see "hip" as far more than just artists. In DC, hip revolves around professionals who are involved in pushing new ideas that affect the world. So, in that sense, DC is very hip. It's just not an artist's city.
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Old 04-30-2008, 10:05 AM
 
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Ok, I've lived here off and on for my whole life...Glover Park, Capitol Hill, Mount Pleasant, and Brookland have been my hoods, and I know plenty about DC history.

What I meant by "ethnic neighborhoods" is that large groups of immigrants from Europe or Asia never settled in DC the way they did in Baltimore, Philly, New York, Boston, Chicago, Milwaukee, etc.

Of course DC has its local culture and style, and much of that is focused on the long-time black neighborhoods, but I don't think that's what the original poster meant by "hipness."

I call it Euro/Southern because it was designed by a Frenchman and looks physically like a European city, plus we have a lot of European citizens living here. I don't know what you mean by Versace and Marc Jacobs, but DC style is not exactly New York, LA, Paris or Milan.

Plenty of people wear high fashion here, frankly, because a lot of people here like to show how much wealth they have.

And I used the term Euro/Southern because in many ways it is a southern city, with the bad parts about segregation and certain social pathologies that still exist, but there are many good aspects of that as well.
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Old 04-30-2008, 10:06 AM
 
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DC has always held its own in the hip category. From Duke Ellington to Hot Tuna to GoGo to the best hardcore punk scene on the planet, cutting edge music has always thrived here. I will admit fashion used to be a dead end here, but that changed long ago.

Still, it does not compare to New York, but what does?
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Old 04-30-2008, 11:16 AM
 
Location: Washington DC area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluefly View Post
^^
I guess I see "hip" as far more than just artists. In DC, hip revolves around professionals who are involved in pushing new ideas that affect the world. So, in that sense, DC is very hip. It's just not an artist's city.
I agree hipness is more than artists and there is a lot to be said for your argument about the energy that comes from all the think tanks, policy groups and international embassies and organizations intersecting. Still their actual effect on the development of the city seems muted. The original poster specifically mentioned restaurants; DC still seems lacking given all of these cultures and its size. DC seems to have a few noted high end places amd a million chains: Austin Grill, CPK, Bertucci's, Chipoltle and Potbelly's (which BTW started in Chicago). For lunch, where I work (downtown) there are the chains, a half dozen food carts (all selling hot dogs) and a few interchangeable delis. There are some decent ethnic restaurants, but they are often too pricey, spread out and nowhere near as numerous as you would expect (except Ethiopian, our strong point). In Chicago, just in my neighborhood, I used to go this little Pakistani place (that had a mosque in the back) or this little unbelievably good (and ridiculously cheap) thai restaurant. In New York by where I worked I could grab a ban minh sandwich for lunch for like $3 or get a dosa from the Indian food cart in Washington Square. You never had to even leave your neighborhood--there were always new, interesting and independent restaurants opening at all price ranges. I always wondered why DC didn't have more good, diverse, independent (and affordable) restaurants. Too many transient professionals and not enough people who would open restaurants? Is it the spread out, suburban nature of DC? I don't know.

That said I like it here; yes it's way too pricey, seems like it lacks a sense of place and is overly suburban. Yes it could be better, and hopefully it will be. It is also unique, with its combination of Southern, international and policy wonk culture. It's not the best city in the world, nor is it anywhere near the worse. It's where I met my wife, and where my son was born. It's home--at least for the foreseeable future.
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