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Neighborhood Spotlight: Capitol Hill

MARIA FRAKER, CONTRIBUTOR: You know that huge fancy building at the end of the National Mall? It’s called the Capitol, and it resides on a hill. I also reside on that hill–Capitol Hill.

The neighborhood was created as a place to house all the Senators and Congressmen. Nowadays those guys only spend like three days a week working there, so other people took over the living space.

It has the feel of a small town within a big city since it is a very small neighborhood with just about anything you need within walking distance. The monuments and Smithsonian museums and all the political craziness are just a couple blocks away. And on the off-chance that something you need is not within walking distance, we have about five Metro stops you can choose from.

“I love the community. Everyone knows everyone,” said senior Elizabeth Harrison.

On the Hill, there is a group of schools, pre-school through middle, called the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools, which include Peapody, Watkins, and Stuart-Hobson. Pretty much every child on the Hill went to one of them, and generally if you went to one, you went to all. Even if you didn’t go to school at “the Cluster,” you somehow know the people living on Capitol Hill, whether through Soccer on the Hill or the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop (CHAW), which offers some of the best after school art programs.

In June of last year, a tragic fire completely destroyed Frager’s hardware, a neighborhood landmark. This was a great loss for us Hill folks. Thankfully, they are in the process of rebuilding, and a temporary outdoor Frager’s Hardware has been set up near the flea market.

Because it’s so close to the Capitol, the Library of Congress, and the Supreme Court, the area is a part of the Historic District, so the neighborhood’s architecture is protected under law. There are no huge apartment buildings going up, and the numerous parks are here to stay, so with the exception of the small businesses on the sides of Pennsylvania Avenue, almost nothing has changed in a while.

Eastern Market is the most iconic part of Capitol Hill. On any given weekend, you can go to Eastern Market on Seventh Street and buy any of the locally-grown and weekly-picked fresh fruits and vegetables. There are dozens of jewelry vendors there and people who sell homemade soap or their own artwork. Some of the most famous local artists first became popular at Eastern Market, such as Daniel Kessler and Jonathan Blum.

On the weekends, there is a flea market in the parking lot of the old Hine Junior High building, which has everything from clothing to vintage furniture to antique photos.

The National Mall is also very close and there’s always so much going on. “Walking to events like the National Book Fair and the Kite Festival is fun and easy,” Harrison said. “Obama’s [inauguration] in 2009 was incredible. And being able to walk to and from it was also nice even though it was really crowded.”

Every year to raise money for the Capitol Hill Cluster Schools, there is a race known as the Capitol Hill Classic which includes a 10k, a 3k and a “Fun Run” for the youngsters.

Another great Hill tradition is trick-or-treating. “On Halloween everyone from Second Street to the Anacostia [River] ends up trick-or-treating on East Capitol street,” said sophomore Cleo Krupa. “It’s something we’ve all been doing since we were babies.”

“Capitol Hill is awesome. It’s kind of a hassle to get to Northwest and all, but 17 years on the Hill and life is good,” said senior Andrew Arlotto.

Overall, I think that everyone who lives here really likes it. We always have loved it and always will love it.