It's lunchtime on a sunny summer Tuesday, and Friendship Heights is bustling. If you are picturing shoppers racing through Mazza Gallerie or hungry diners sitting down for a "Smitty Melt" (cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg) at Clyde's or a "Tuna Turner" at Booeymonger, think again. Though many in the Washington area consider the entire Wisconsin Avenue corridor that hugs both sides of the Maryland-District line Friendship Heights, technically, they are wrong.
At the Friendship Heights Village Center on South Park Avenue, Marianne Arden Cook is strolling through the lobby, greeting old friends. She's lived in Friendship Heights — a 32-acre pie-shaped enclave bound by Willard and Wisconsin avenues and Somerset Terrace - for the past 15 years, and it is in the Village of Friendship Heights where she still swims, plays the piano and socializes with her seemingly endless network of friends.
"I love it here," said Cook, who, by the way, is 97 years old. "It's a little village within a city. It has everything from what the soul needs to food and entertainment."
That most of that food and entertainment is technically not in the village is of little consequence to most of the roughly 4,500 residents. Everything the greater Washington area has to offer is easily accessible from all of the village's condo and apartment buildings, the primary form of housing.
"Right across the street between Willard and Western [avenues] is a bus terminal, with 100 buses that go throughout the area," said Leonard Grant, the town historian. "The [Metro's] Red Line station is actually half in the District and half in Friendship Heights. We have our own bus line that operates seven days a week."
That free shuttle service, paid for through residential taxes, is just one of the many amenities provided to residents. The village offers art and physical fitness classes, concerts, lectures, a Fourth of July picnic, and day trips, among other things. This summer' itinerary includes Shenandoah and Luray Caverns, Annapolis, a Joshua Bell concert at Wolf Trap and lunch in Wilmington, Del.
But it's not necessary for villagers to leave the friendly confines of home to find fun. In the wider Friendship Heights area more familiar to Washingtonians, they can catch a movie or do some world-class shopping at Mazza Gallerie, hit big-name chains like Pottery Barn and Borders at Chevy Chase Pavilion, or eat at a smattering of beloved local chains like Clyde's, Chadwicks and Booeymonger.
"We've had people that have been coming in here for the same thing every morning for the last 25 years," said Ron Vogel, owner of Booeymonger. Despite its location in the District, literally yards from the Friendship Heights Metro station, Vogel refers to the location as "Chevy Chase." When people say Friendship Heights to him, he thinks of the area north of Fessenden Street in the District, along both sides of Wisconsin Avenue.
But to quibble about boundaries is to miss the forest for the trees. Esther Chartove and her three friends, playing their weekly bridge game in the village center's reading room, know just how lucky they are to live here.
"I moved from Florida and I did research on all the surrounding areas," she said. "I picked this community, because it has everything I need to make life easier and interesting."
Cook certainly isn't going anywhere.
"People here are warm, loving and giving," she said. "Not just with money, but with their hearts."
At a glance
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 20815: $690,169
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 20815: $707,234
Average days on market for homes sold: 51
Average sold price for homes sold in ZIP code 20815: $696,354
Average list price for homes sold in ZIP code 20815: $749,914
Average days on market for homes sold: 95
Top Reasons to live in Friendship Heights Village
With a major bus depot, the Metro's Red Line and the village's own shuttle bus service to zip them around, residents certainly don't need a car.
While not technically in within the village, beloved local chains like Clyde's, Chadwicks, and Booeymonger are quite close as are national chains like the Cheesecake Factory and Maggiano's.
The village offers art and physical fitness classes, along with concerts and a nice slate of day trips. Boredom's not a problem here.