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Washington DC Real Estate Resource Center: Chevy Chase (Washington DC): A Local History Lesson

Close your eyes and imagine yourself back to Chevy Chase, (Washington DC) in the early 1900's. Back then, Chevy Chase, DC was remote and far away. Most of the land in the early 1900's was farm land and woods. The Chevy Chase Land Company had a vision of a multi-neighborhood "street car suburb." The "street car suburb" went from Chevy Chase Lake (in MD) to Van Ness Street and from Rock Creek Park to Reno Road. There were 2 street car lines. One line went from downtown Connecticut Avenue all the way to Chevy Chase Lake. This was the direct route. There was also a scenic route on Reno Road.

Chevy Chase, DC began its development in 1908, after the Chevy Chase Street Car line was completed. The first Chevy Chase, DC house was built on Oliver Street, in 1908. Over the next several decades, the area was developed into middle class neighborhoods.

"Four Square" designs for homes were very popular at the time. Dutch Colonial and Bungalows were also popular designs. Many of Chevy Chase, DC houses were mail order from Sears and other home building catalogs. The house parts were delivered by freight. Homes on the main street had to cost at least $5000. Homes on the side streets had to cost at least $3000. Many of the lots the houses were built on were very large.

In 1910, land owner Fulton Gordon, opened a commercial area on downtown Connecticut Avenue. It was very successful. Due to this success, 3 more commercial areas on upper Connecticut Avenue were planned.

In 1925, the Chevy Chase Arcade opened. This arcade was designed to be similar to the upscale retail arcades and promenades of Europe. Europe had shops inside a 3 sided, covered promenade or atrium. During this time period, people loved to been seen, keep up with neighborhood news and fashion and just promenade. This time period also marks the beginning of the middle class and disposable income. The pace of life was much slower in 1925. Merchants knew all their regular customers and took the time to chat with them.

The Chevy Chase Arcade is a Beaux Arts Classic Revival structure. It is one of the oldest existing shopping malls in the country. In 2003, the Chevy Chase Arcade was added to the National Register of Historic Places.




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202-966-1400 (o) | 202-251-8400(c)
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Michelle Buckman Real Estate


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