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Tenleytown Lacks Excitement


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*This article appeared in the February edition of the print issue

There’s no way to sugarcoat it or beat around the bush – Tenleytown has become boring. For Deal sixth graders, Tenley represented the newfound freedom they got from finally becoming a middle schooler. No more walking to your friend’s house while your respective babysitters chitchatted behind you. No more waiting for your mom to pick you up and drive you to your piano lesson. Now you had the opportunity to go where you wanted to go, with people you wanted to be with, without any intervention. To these wide-eyed sixth graders, Tenley was limitless with opportunity.

As the years went on, and Tenley stayed the same, you couldn’t help but notice that things got repetitive. Going to the same places every day for three years isn’t the most fun thing to do, but as it got worse and worse, you clung to that little bit of wide-eyed hope left in you, reminiscing about the awe-inspiring Tenley hangouts from sixth grade.

For those of you who have been Tenley-ites since day one, this regression of allure and attraction has been coming on for quite a while now. There’s food, but there’s food everywhere, and besides that, Tenley doesn’t have much to offer. The most exciting thing to happen to Tenley recently was the implementation of electronic signs above the bus stops. And even this brought little excitement, as people have been and will continue checking the WMATA app anyway.

During the first of couple months of hanging out in Tenley, whether going to grab a quick bite to eat, or lingering for hours on end, there was never not something to do. But as more time was spent there, and the same restaurants were visited over and over again, things got boring. With the constantly going-out-of-business restaurant across the street from the library, the mob of people at Chipotle, and the deceptively expensive meals at Z-Burger, nothing changed. And as new, more attractive places opened up across the city, our after-school adventures spread likewise.

As these winter months drag on, and temperatures drop, a brisk walk into Tenley seems much more appealing than taking a train downtown or waiting outside 15 minutes for a bus in order to go some place with more excitement. But while wandering around Tenley looking for something to do, a pit of dread fills your stomach as you recognize the futility of your goal. There’s still nothing to do in Tenley.

For students living outside of AU Park and Chevy Chase, this has never been much of a problem. And lucky them. But for Tenley-ites, the general lack of non-edible attractions that Tenley has to offer is becoming increasingly boring. Years ago, right across the street from Hudson Trail Outfitters, there was a pool hall/cafe named Babe’s Billiards that ruled the scene. Not only did it serve breakfast until 3 a.m., but it had pool, darts, and foosball tables for all to enjoy. Something like this brings life into the commercial epicenter we call Tenley, but today, one has to travel to Dupont Circle to find something similar.

While there’s no easy fix to make the area more interesting, the issue can certainly be viewed as beneficial. Wilson students are branching out, no longer being satisfied with what gets put right in front of them. Your classic AU kids can be found all over the city these days, from getting Shake Shack on Capitol Hill to playing soccer in Georgetown.

Of course, not everything in Tenley is boring and old. The ever-appealing late night meal from Steak and Egg is always delicious, and the sprawling fields at Fort Reno are often host sporting events for all to see. Also, the Fort Reno summer concerts bring hundreds of spectators and great music.  While outdoor sports don’t last the whole year and the summer concerts only go for a couple of weeks, Tenley still has a few interesting places and events that make it unique.

As the development of commercial Tenleytown continues to grow, the needs and wants of high schoolers as well as adults should be kept in mind to ensure the welcoming of all into the neighborhood. •