Takoma Park is a city of 18,000 people (2020) in Montgomery County, Maryland. It is a suburb of Washington D.C. Takoma Park is known for its Bohemian atmosphere and progressiveness, and has been called the "Berkeley of the East" and "The People's Republic of Takoma Park."
Takoma Park is bordered by, and often confused with the adjacent Takoma neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The Takoma Metrorail Station is in D.C., near the border of the 2 cities.
The area is populated with many Hispanic, African and Asian immigrants. Together with nearby Hyattsville, they form an area that is one of the most politically liberal districts in the U.S. and home to a sizable percentage of Maryland's immigrant population.
The Old Town area of Takoma Park is composed of three historic districts which run along Carroll Avenue from 4th Street NW (in Washington, D.C.) to Takoma Junction in Maryland. This is an artsy, counter-cultural area anchored by the Metro station, Takoma Theater, the Washington Opera warehouse and the House of Musical Traditions.
More densely forested than the surrounding city, with huge oak trees, Takoma Park is known as a "tree city" and is bisected by numerous steep hills, narrow streets at odd angles, and the gorge-like Sligo Creek Park.
With its small-town ambiance and residents determined to preserve its charm, it is one of few areas to successfully discourage chain stores and national franchises in its Old Town commercial district and instead encourages privately owned, unique commercial establishments.
A train station was located here on the B&O railroad in the 1880s, around which the Victorian community of Takoma Park and neighboring Takoma, D.C. developed, at a time when much of D.C. was still farmland. Takoma Park quickly became the central commercial area for farmers, commuters and gentry commuting into Washington, D.C. by train and streetcar. Now it is a vibrant satellite city with a "small town" ambiance and a reputation for post-1960s era counterculture political activism.
Founded by B.F. Gilbert in 1887, the hilly town became a haven for Seventh-Day Adventists, who moved their World Headquarters here from Battle Creek, Michigan (home of the Matthew Broderick cereal drama Road to Wellville). At the turn of the century, they built several downtown churches, a small Christian liberal arts college, a printing press, a vegetarian health food co-op, elementary schools, and a sanitarium. Since then, gentrification has brought in academics and political consultants who restored many of the area's group houses into Victorian mansions.
Takoma Park's legendary socialist mayor, Sammy Abdul Abbott, was widely known in the 1960s for fighting successfully (alongside future DC Mayor Marion Barry and other members of SNCC) to prevent Takoma Park and central D.C. from being torn apart by a 10-lane freeway, which was projected to bisect Dupont Circle and at one point, the Lincoln Memorial. His slogan was "No white men's roads through black men's homes." As a result, there are no continuous freeways running through D.C. today. Ironically, Sam Abbott was white, and the son of a banker who had disowned him when he became a card-carrying Communist in the 1930s; most of the residents of Takoma Park at the time were elderly white civil servants and Seventh-Day Adventists, and as a result of the numerous decaying Victorian buildings, the area was flippantly known as "Tacky Park" or "Glaucoma Park". Hippies fleeing Adams Morgan were attracted to Takoma Park in the 1970s by its reputation as a health-conscious, Victorian Village populated by eccentric artists such as John Fahey, the founder of Takoma Records.
In 1997, after a referendum, the portion of Takoma Park that was in Prince George's County was annexed to Montgomery County.
Because of its proximity to the Silver Spring estate of noted abolitionist Montgomery Blair (after whom the local high school is named, and whose family continues to own part of downtown Silver Spring), Takoma Park is also home to two former Freedmen's Villages from the Civil War era. One of these is now a high-rise apartment district along Maple Avenue, while the other was built on the site of an old Civil War fort and amusement park located on Sligo Creek. It is now populated by art houses in addition to the historically black community near Sligo Creek. A similar Freedmen's Village, much more preserved, is on Hawkins Lane in the affluent town of Bethesda.
Today, Takoma Park has a strong bohemian artistic culture, to complement its radical activist history. It is an eclectic blend of alternative and often offbeat culture with a surprisingly robust dining scene ranging from farm-to-table restaurants and cafes to independent bookstores and vintage stores on Carroll Avenue. Takoma Park melds seamlessly into the Takoma section of D.C., which shares its left leaning roots. You'll find a lively mix of old hippies, bikers, retirees, students, immigrants, skaters, yuppies and families in all living in harmonious co-existence.
Takoma Park is served by the Red Line of the Washington D.C. Metrorail. For more information on riding the Metrorail, see Washington DC#Get_In.
Most of the "Old Town" is within a 6-block walk of the Metrorail Station.
Route 410 (East-West Highway) tuns through Takoma Park. It connects Takoma Park with I-495 (Capital Beltway), the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, and Bethesda.
From Silver Spring or D.C., take Blair Road, (another 2-lane cow path and the former driveway for the Blair estate). From the East End, follow North Capitol Street which becomes Blair Road. After passing the Takoma Metrorail Station, Blair Road runs into Georgia Avenue at the D.C. line, just south of the railroad underpass in downtown Silver Spring. From Blair Road, turn under the Takoma Metro station on Cedar St. NW, which becomes Carroll Avenue.
Alternatively, take 13th St. NW all the way to Fort Stevens where it turns into Piney Branch Rd. Turn right on Cedar St. and go under the Metrorail Station. This is also the bike route.
By foot or bike
If biking from Washington D.C., follow the 13th Street (Takoma) signed bike lane north of Downtown D.C. to Piney Branch Road and turn left on Cedar.
For information on bike sharing programs in the Washington D.C. area, see Washington D.C.#Get_around.
The old town is best explored by walking. In general, Takoma Park is extremely hilly. Some side streets go up a 50-ft incline in the space of a block.
Langley Park / International Corridor and its ethnic restaurants are best explored by car. Parking is available both off-street and on-street.
The Takoma Park Historic District, near the Metrorail Station is full of houses from the early 1900s and is nice to walk around.
- 1 Fort Stevens Park and Battlefield National Cemetery. Commemorates the battle between Union troops and Confederate Gen. Jubal Early, who snuck into the city in 1862 by driving straight down Georgia Ave, stopping off at the Blair Mansion inn in Silver Spring (now a dinner theater) for a bite to eat. Abraham Lincoln's hat was allegedly shot off here as he observed the action. Oliver Wendell Holmes is alleged to have said, "get down, you fool!" A burger is named Jubal Early at the Woodside Deli in Silver Spring and Rockville. The dead from the battle were buried in the tiny National Cemetery on Georgia Ave at the end of Whittier St.
- 2 Statue of Roscoe the Rooster. A free-range rooster who lived behind the small apartments in Old Town, along with several hens said to be kept in a chicken coop. Roscoe died in 1999 and 30 people attended his funeral. Often confused with a separate rooster who lived on Flower Avenue, also run over by a hapless motorist. Roscoe woke up neighborhood residents for about 10 years.
Festivals and events
- 1 Takoma Park Folk Festival, Takoma Park Middle School, 7611 Piney Branch Rd, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Possibly the area's premier folk music festival. Started by Sammie Abbott in 1977 to raise money for theatrical causes. The first festival featured Pete Seeger.
- 2 Takoma Park Street Festival, Carroll Ave (Old Town), email@example.com. Annual street fair, attracting a diverse crowd of bohemians and locals. Three stages with 19 bands. Fire station open house.
- 3 [dead link] Takoma Park Jazz Fest, Carroll Ave (Old Town). A free all-day jazz festival with 2 stages.
- 4 Roda Movements, 7003 Carroll Ave (Downtown/Old Takoma Park), ☏ . Roda Movements is the D.C. area's premiere studio dedicated to Brazilian-Latino Movements, offering classes in Capoeira, Zumba, Salsa, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Samba, Flamenco and more! Drop in, Sessioned classes & memberships available. Roda Movements also hosts RODAplayspace - and indoor playspace for children 4 months- 3½ years.
- 5 Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, 7117 Maple Ave (off Carroll St), ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Internationally renowned dance artist Liz Lerman opened this dance studio to benefit novice dancers and drummers. Regular programs and workshops.
There are many small shops in Takoma Old Town, centered around the clock tower.
Farmer's markets and specialty grocers
- 1 Takoma Park Farmers Market, Laurel Ave, between Carrol Ave and Eastern Ave (Old Town). Su 10AM-2PM. One of the D.C. area's premier outdoor farmers markets. Organic, free-range, producer-only.
- 2 Crossroads Farmers Market, Anne St, between University Blvd & Hammond Ave, ☏ . Jun–Nov: W 11AM-3PM. Over 20 vendors and 1,200 visitors each week.
- 3 Takoma Park-Silver Spring Food Co-op, 201 Ethan Allen Ave, ☏ . 8AM–10PM. Features much locally grown produce and pastries from local bakeries.
- 4 Red Apple Farmers Market, 7645 New Hampshire Ave, ☏ . Not a farmers market - this is a grocery store focused on African and Caribbean food.
- 5 Amano, 7034 Carroll Ave, ☏ . Fabulous women's shoes and clothing.
- 6 The Big Bad Woof, 6960 Maple St NW, Washington, DC, ☏ . M-Sa 9AM-7PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Well-stocked pet supply store with quality items and helpful staff.
- 7 The Covered Market, 7000 Carroll Ave, ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 10AM-6PM. Turkish fabrics, pillows, and imported jewelry, plus some cool pendant lamps and hookahs.
- 8 Fair Day's Play, 7050 Carroll Ave. A unique toy store.
- 9 House of Musical Traditions, 7010 Westmoreland Ave, ☏ . Founded in 1969, this unique store features a wide variety of exotic instruments such as acoustic guitars, djembe drums, squeezeboxes, wooden flutes, erhus, ouds, and 16-string sitars. Also hosts music classes and repairs instruments.
- 10 India Sari Palace, 1337 University Blvd E, ☏ . 11AM-8PM. This is the place to buy traditional and unique Indian saris.
- 11 Magic Carpet, 6939 Laurel Ave, ☏ . Turkish fabrics, rugs, pillows, and imported jewelry.
- 12 PollySue's Vintage Shop, 6915 Laurel Ave, ☏ . M-F 11AM-7PM, Sa 11AM-6PM. There are plenty of very wearable items here, but there are also a good amount of clothes that would be more fun at a party than in public! Prices are reasonable.
- 13 S&A Beads Store, 6929 Laurel Ave, ☏ . Beads galore! Make your own necklaces at this bead store, with thousands of different beads and clasps. Also sells ready-to-wear jewelry, purses, funky clothing, and other eclectic items.
- 14 Takoma Bicycle, 7030 Carroll Ave, ☏ . M-F 10AM-8PM, Sa Su 10AM-4PM. One of the best bike stores in the region; good repair service. In a house.
- 15 The Tranquil Soul, 7014-B Westmoreland Ave (less than one block from Carroll Ave; diagonally across from the gazebo), ☏ . M-Sa 11AM-7PM, Su 11AM-6PM. Green and fair trade products for a sustainable future, including eco-clothing, Himalayan salt lamps, body care, soy and beeswax candles, and world music.
Takoma Park and Takoma are both an excellent, if highly underrated part of the D.C. area to dine in and if you search around enough, you'll find no need to go to nearby Silver Spring or Dupont Circle to cater to your tastes. As expected farm to table, organic and vegan options standout, however, it's easy to find unique flavors all in these two unique suburbs.
- 1 Beijing Delight, 8646 Flower Ave.
- 2 Donut Run, 6904 4th St NW, Washington, DC, ☏ . Daily 7AM-2PM. Great donuts served every day. Long lines on weekend mornings.
- 3 The Girl and the Vine, 7071 Carroll Ave, ☏ . M W-F 11AM-10PM, Sa Su 10AM-10PM, Tu closed. Cafe with tasty sandwiches, beer, wine, and outdoor patio.
- 4 [formerly dead link] Eastern Carry Out, 6900 New Hampshire Ave.
- 5 Kin Da, 6923 Laurel Ave.
- 6 [dead link] La Chiquita Restaurant, 940 East-West Hwy.
- 7 [dead link] Los Pollos Restaurant, 6842 New Hampshire Ave.
- 8 Mid Atlantic Seafood, 6500 New Hampshire Ave.
- 9 Middle Eastern Cuisine, 7006 Carroll Ave (next door to Mark's Kitchen), ☏ . Serves a variety of good meat and vegetarian dishes such as falafel and gyros.
- 10 Roscoe's Pizzeria, 7040 Carroll Ave, ☏ . Freshly made dough and interesting toppings baked to perfection on a wood-fired stove. Full bar with some great beer and wine selections.
- 11 Sardi's Pollo A La Brasa, 1159 University Blvd E.
- 12 Red Chillies, 1341 University Blvd E. Large menu of Indian food. Weekend buffet is very well-known and attracts many customers.
- 13 Tropicana Majahual Restaurant, 8638 Flower Ave. Peruvian food.
Takoma Park does not have many bars. For more nightlife options, go to Silver Spring.
- 1 Busboys and Poets, 235 Carroll St NW, Washington DC, ☏ . Good coffee and good food.
- 2 Lost Sock Roasters, 6833 4th St NW, Washington, DC, email@example.com. Tu-F 7AM-4PM, Sa Su 8AM-5PM, closed M. Locally roasted coffee.
- 3 Olive Lounge & Grill, 7006 Carroll Ave, ☏ . Four beers on tap, happy hour.
- 4 Takoma Station Tavern, 6914 4th St NW, Washington DC, ☏ . M-F 4PM-2AM, Sa 6PM-3AM, Su 6PM-2AM. W-Sa nights see nightly jazz/R&B/gogo performances (this is the best bar period to see a gogo performance), and Mondays are stand-up comedy. Music usually starts around 11PM.
- 1 Econo Lodge, 7411 New Hampshire Ave, ☏ . Next to an IHOP restaurant.
- 2 Hilltop Hostel, 300 Carroll St NW, Washington, DC, ☏ . Inexpensive and basic, but in a great location.
- 3 Quality Inn, 7411 New Hampshire Ave.
Across the border, in Washington D.C., are:
Most restaurants and cafes offer free WiFi.
Computer terminals are available for free use at the public libraries:
- Rock Creek Park, one of America's largest urban parks
- Hyattsville - accessible via the Sligo Creek Trail
- Wheaton - accessible via the Sligo Creek Trail
- Mount Rainer
- Silver Spring
|Routes through Takoma Park|
|East End ← Brookland ←||S N||→ Silver Spring → Wheaton|