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Ode to Hobart Street

I am writing from Dulles Airport, on my way to Senegal, but stuck in the orbit of a Washington, DC neighborhood – specifically a street called Hobart. I lived on this street for two years. Since I’ve left, there have been semi-annual reunions. If I return to DC, I will find a way back onto this street, even if it means sleeping on someone’s porch.

That’s the thing. Hobart Street is a porch street (incidentally, hobart street residents are organizing a street wide party called porch fest in June). It is a real neighborhood. People know each other. And not in the superficial can-I-borrow-some-eggs way. People know each other in the let’s-play-dominos-until-3AM way. Food and drinks are shared, games are played, concerts are hosted:

We were known for our free lemonade stands (child and adult – spiked heavily with ketel one – lemonade on offer). And for screening movies on our porch while grilling eggplant and a pot of hard apple cider:

Other residents are known for hosting an annual Halloween drag show on their roof:

When it snowed…

… we built an igloo

that was actually quite roomy inside.

This is Hobart Street:

I will be back soon.

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{ 21 comments… add one }

  • Linda May 9, 2011, 5:22 am

    What an amazing place to live! When I saw your title I thought, “I’m so jealous that he’s going to Senegal,” but then I saw this and I’m not at all sure what makes me more jealous!!!!

    I have this theory that in “the West” community living has moved out of the countryside, where people seem to be getting more and more wary of “outsiders” and more intentionally isolated, and into the neighborhoods of cities.

    Enjoy Senegal. You don’t know how much I will looking forward to your next post!

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:07 pm

      Hey Linda,
      I hope your theory turns out to be true. In the states, there seems to be a lot of suburban living, which can also produce some intentional isolation. I am racking my brain trying to remember an essay I read on the backyard vs. the porch, the idea being that the porch is interactive with the neighborhood while the backyard is the opposite. I am definitely a fan of porch culture! Unfortunately, I’ve already left Senegal, but I will be back soon!!!
      Take care,

  • What a wonderful neighborhood. It’s almost like it’s trapped back in time when things were… well, were all about grilling eggplants and having porch time with your neighbors.

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:08 pm

      A time were things were all about grilling eggplants? I like it!!

  • Ekua May 9, 2011, 11:44 pm

    Every so often I think about moving to the East Coast, and I must say that those snow pictures are not encouraging 😛 But seriously, it looks like a fun street… kinda like college atmosphere, but for grownups! I know people here who’ve lived in small apartment buildings with great neighbors or even commune-like places that throw good parties, but I have yet to see something quite like this in SF with a whole street full of fun. I wish we had porches here!

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:18 pm

      I feel like this is SF style though, right? I mean, you guys race big wheels over there 🙂 Porches are definitely key though. If we are ever in DC at the same time, I am going to give you a tour of Hobart!

  • Erica May 10, 2011, 4:04 pm

    I am in love with neighborhoods like this. One day, when/if we decide we want to settle for a while, I want to be involved just like this.

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:21 pm

      Erica, glad to hear it, but I don’t think you are settling anytime soon … 🙂

  • Ben Gubits May 12, 2011, 5:10 pm

    MAKING ME HOME SICK FOR HOBART ST!! The two years we spent there were magical, and I’m thankful we ended up on O’l Hobey!! The post certainly represents some highlights but the true essance of hobart is one that can only be captured by going there, lemonade in hand, and love in heart!

    Hope you made it to Bamako OK Dude! Drop a line soon!

    One love,

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:23 pm

      hey brother, in bamako safe and sound. 40 hour bus ride from dakar, but now life is good. I will send you an email soon. Had a blast on hobey this past weekend and obviously all the other times before!
      See you in a few months!
      Take care,

  • Colehaber May 12, 2011, 8:28 pm

    Just found your blog. I live in DC and love travel blogs (and travel ofcourse). Great post!

    • phil May 15, 2011, 3:24 pm

      Hey thanks! Where in DC are you at?

  • Amy May 15, 2011, 4:44 pm

    I love neighborhoods like this! 🙂 It’s one reason why I really want to go back to Albania! I stayed in a small village in the north mountains, Theth, and (since there was no TV or internet) people actually conversed and were good friends with their neighbors and other villagers! 🙂

    • phil May 16, 2011, 3:11 pm

      sounds like my kind of town 🙂 How long were you in Albania for and when?

  • wayan November 8, 2011, 11:44 am

    Hobart Street has been rocking for years. I lived on the street from 1995-1997 and it was one of my best times ever:


    I was a bit father down the block at 1640, and by the looks of it, you lived in what was the old nunnery. Glad to see there are still group houses on the block. I thought the recent housing price run-up killed them all off. Ours was sold a while back and tastefully remodeled for a wealthy family.

  • wayan November 8, 2011, 12:35 pm

    Ah, now, looking at the Facebook page, I recognize the house you lived in. That was rented by a few hotties in my day – women who I flirted with constantly but would only laugh at my weak overtures.

    Oh and while there isn’t a 1640 Facebook group, we did have a reunion one night in Columbia Heights: http://www.bellybuttonwindow.com/2006/america/a_1640_hobart_redux.html

  • Tom November 12, 2011, 5:57 pm

    phil, lance told me about this blog. as you surely already know, the street (like life itself) not without its warts, but another beautiful day today. tried filming some of the young kids (i’m talking ariana and aidan and teddy and reed and elsa [so that means the eldest among them is 7 years, i think] doing their own spontaneous rock group thing. it was very hilarious and i’m sorry you missed it. unlike your steel band blast, they, alas, had an audience of only one–but it was a privilege to be witness to such random, witless, raw talent. thanks so much for holding us all in your huge heart…safe & exciting travels to you, friend.

    • phil November 12, 2011, 7:08 pm

      oh man! tell Lance to get some video! Loved the halloween show by the way. Although, I must say I missed the live vocals! That last show I had seen was the sound of music performance and hearing you belt out ‘how do you solve a problem like maria’ was a definite highlight. I’ll be back on Hobart in a few days, just for a day and a half, but I’ll be returning for a more substantial stay once the weather warms up 🙂 Thanks for the well wishes!

  • Rob W July 4, 2012, 1:45 pm

    I’m sitting at home on Hobart Street right now.

  • Katie Shellman July 29, 2013, 5:00 pm

    I lived on Hobart Street in 1969-1970 in a basement apartment on the 1700 block. It was a highly exciting time in Washington but many a night I sat out on the porch with my wonderful landlords Ernie and Lil and their dogs. I was a small town girl from upstate NY and my Dad came to visit me there and just about died – wanted me to get out right away! But I loved it and some friends talked me into moving to Georgetown – life went downhill from there and I always regretted not staying on Hobart in my $50.00 per month apartment. Lovely to read your blog. Keep it up.

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