April 22, 2010
By David Driver
For the Washington Examiner
Used with permission
Brightwood is home to single-family houses with well-kept lawns on tree-lined streets. Nestled between the major arteries of Georgia Avenue and 16th Street, the neighborhood has the green expanses of Rock Creek Park running all along its western border and, on its eastern edge, historic Fort Stevens -- a Civil War stronghold that helped fend off a Confederate attack.
A resident of Brightwood for about six years, D. Muhsinah Berry-Dawan gets to survey the neighborhood as she walks to work.
"I am a native Washingtonian," Berry-Dawan said, "and I am used to neighborhoods with trees."
Berry-Dawan teaches a computer class at Fort Stevens Senior Center -- one of the gems of the Brightwood neighborhood. Part of D.C. Parks and Recreation, the center draws senior citizens from all over the city for classes, activities such as yoga and day trips to locales such as Dover Downs in Delaware.
Eric Lewis, 44, who has lived his entire life in the area, said the neighborhood has been changing for the better over the last few years. He is particularly pleased with the renovation of the neighborhood's playgrounds and the redevelopment of a number of abandoned buildings along Georgia Avenue into new businesses.
"All of those properties were empty," Lewis said. "That is a good thing for the public."
Lewis, who chatted with the Washington Examiner while visiting the Brightwood post office, noted that the police were now openly patrolling on foot and on Segways as well as by car. They are not only monitoring major roads such as Georgia Avenue, he said, but checking on alleys along streets such as Farragut and Gallatin. "The police presence is more visible. It didn't use to be like that."
Lewis said the neighborhood was heavily African-American when he was growing up but is now more diverse. Immigrants are drawn to Brightwood, he said, in part because of the relative proximity to major commuter lines and easy access to downtown Silver Spring and Washington.
"It is a transit neighborhood," longtime resident Herb King said, "and with that you have a lot of features that bring young people to the neighborhood."