Destination Brookland

Neighborhood provides students with new restaurants, stores, and cultural events 

Lizzie Sanford has a Saturday morning routine. She leaves her apartment and walks mere steps to a nearby Starbucks to get coffee. Then she heads down the block to the Monroe Street Farmers Market to check out the local produce. If the rising senior feels like doing a little shopping or browsing, she’ll head over to the Arts Walk and visit some of the 27 artist studios.

Brookland Farmers MarketA few years ago, when she arrived at Catholic University, Sanford would have had to travel to another part of the city to experience all these things. Now they’re all right outside her apartment door in Monroe Street Market, located in the Brookland neighborhood, which is home to Catholic University.

Formerly known as South Campus, Monroe Street Market was once home to Conaty, Spalding, and Spellman residence halls. Opened in 2014, the redeveloped area sits just across Michigan Avenue from campus and spans five blocks. It’s home to apartment buildings, the University’s official Barnes & Noble bookstore, restaurants, art venues, and events and performances.

With all it has to offer, Monroe Street Market has become a popular place to live for Catholic University upperclassmen.

”The proximity to campus is the best you can get,” says Madison Gibbs, a rising senior business major. “I can leave five minutes before class and be there on time. I also wanted to live [there] because I knew that it was safe, the amenities were great, and there were plenty of off-campus dining options just downstairs. I am proud to walk around here and call it my home.”

“I try to take advantage of everything Monroe Street has to offer,” adds Sanford. “I even persuaded one of the artists on the Arts Walk to let me sell my homemade jewelry in her studio.”

Trendy new restaurants have also opened up along Brookland’s 12th Street, a short walk from campus. For example, Menomale was named by Washingtonian as one of the city’s best pizza places. The Thrillist website listed Brookland’s Finest as one of the best lunch spots in Washington, D.C.

The restaurants, shops, and artist spaces have made Brookland hot. Travel + Leisure named it one of D.C.’s most exciting neighborhoods. Last year, The Washington Post wrote, “If you haven’t made the trip to Brookland in a while, or if you’ve never found a reason to explore it, there’s no time like the present … this is the place to go right now.”

“I think Catholic University students definitely have it better than any other college students in D.C.,” says Gibbs. “We have a beautiful green campus, a Metro stop on the corner of campus, and plenty of great food and culture a few steps away.”

While more people are coming to Brookland, that doesn’t mean it’s packed with the tourists that flock to other parts of the city. 

“Our community is getting bigger with all the new restaurants and shops, but it’s still maintaining a sort of small-town feel,” says Sanford. “It’s really the best of both worlds.”

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