Exploring the NoMa Neighborhood in Washington, DC

A Hip Enclave of Restaurants and Urban Recreation

NoMa DC
••• Photo © NoMa BID

NoMa, a growing neighborhood in Washington, DC, located just north of the U.S. Capitol and Union Station, takes its nickname from its location–North of Massachusetts Avenue. Bounded by Massachusetts Avenue to the south, New Jersey and North Capitol streets to the west, and Q and R streets to the north, the neighborhood also extends eastward just beyond the CSX/Metrorail tracks. 

NoMa by the Numbers

The opening of the New York Avenue Metro station in 2004 sparked improvement of this section of the city. Since 2005, private investors have spent more than $6 billion to develop office, residential, hotel, and retail space in a 35-block area.

Approximately 54,000 daytime workers commute to NoMa; 7,400 city residents call the neighborhood home. With extensive public transportation on AmtrakVRE, MARC, Greyhound, and the Metro Red Line; three area airports; and quick access to the Baltimore-Washington Parkway and the Capital Beltway, you can easily get to NoMa, an area with a walkability score of 94.

On the Ground in NoMa

Hailed as one of the city's most bike-friendly zones, NoMa boasts the East Coast’s only Bikestation, a secure parking garage for bikes; a protected cycletrack; a bike FIXIT Station; a portion of the 8-mile Metropolitan Branch Trail; and eight Capital Bikeshare stations. NoMa Business Improvement District (BID) organizes annual events to bring culture, music, artists, local farmers, and more to the neighborhood, while building community and enlivening the public realm. NoMa Summer Screen, a free outdoor film festival, attracts visitors from around the region.

Free summer concerts give employees a break during their lunch hour to relax and enjoy music ranging from blues to jazz to reggae.

With a reputation as the city's foodie hub, NoMa's restaurant scene radiates out from Union Market, a restored mid-century food hall. You can find all of the usual chain hotels here, or more eclectic accommodations through any of the online room-sharing marketplaces.

The area's history blends with the modern landscape in some of the neighborhood's most notable landmarks.

NoMa Parks and Greenspace

The DC government dedicated $50 million for the development of parks, playgrounds, and greenspace to enhance this rapidly growing area. Administered through the NoMA Parks Foundation, planned projects aim to make the area more appealing for pedestrians and bicyclists, and provide seating and picnic spaces, outdoor fitness facilities, gathering space for events, playgrounds, community dog parks, and art installations.

  • L Street Plaza, called "NoMa's town square," is envisioned as a gathering area for festivals, exhibits, and outdoor dining and set up as a pedestrian street that can be closed to traffic to support larger events. Construction should conclude on the park by mid-2018.
  • Construction began on NoMa Green, a 2.5-acre park being called "NoMa's backyard" and designed for outdoor recreation and community gatherings, in 2018. 
  • The community-named Swampoodle Park at the intersection of 3rd and L streets includes a dedicated dog park and a play structure for kids. 

    History Timeline in NoMa

    1850: Working-class Irish immigrants called this agrarian area “Swampoodle” because of the overflowing banks of Tiber Creek, which now runs beneath North Capitol Street.

    1862: The Government Printing Office printed 15,000 copies of the Emancipation Proclamation for the War Department, which were distributed to troops and diplomats worldwide.

    1864: President Lincoln signed the charter of Gallaudet University, the only university in the world where all classes, programs, and services are designed to accommodate deaf and hard-of-hearing students.

    1907: Before the grand opening of Union Station, hundreds of row houses were razed to make way for construction. Chicago architect Daniel Burnham modeled the front archway after the classical Arch of Constantine in Rome.

    1964: The Washington Coliseum (later known as the Uline Arena) hosted the first Beatles concert in North America; greats such as Bob Dylan and Chuck Brown later performed there.

    1998: DC officials recognized the untapped potential located just four blocks from the Capitol and coined the moniker "NoMa," for the area "North of Massachusetts Avenue."

    2004: NoMa-Gallaudet University (formerly NY-FL Ave) Red Line Metro Station opened. The station was funded through a ground-breaking public/private partnership that raised $120 million.

    2007: Redevelopment plans began to take shape for the area.