Located in northern DC, Takoma is located the District’s Fourth Ward, within the northwest quadrant, and borders the city of Takoma Park, Maryland. Takoma is a diverse neighborhood, populated mostly by middle-class families and has fewer apartments than adjoining areas in Maryland. Large buildings are confined to the small downtown, which is slowly being re-developed. Many of the houses in the area are historic, with some over 100 years old.
Takoma was originally developed in 1883 as a commuter suburb on the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line. The Seventh-day Adventist Church set up their world headquarters and publishing house in Takoma Park, DC with a hospital and college in neighboring Takoma Park, Maryland, and promoted the community’s reputation for vegetarianism and “clean living” away from the “malarial swamps” of the city. Prior to the development of Silver Spring, MD, Takoma, D.C. was originally regarded as the commercial hub for the entire surrounding area as it featured large shops and industrial buildings in the area now occupied by the Metro station.
Takoma was originally the name of Mount Rainier, or ‘snow-covered mountain’. In response to a wish of Gilbert to rename the train stop called “Brightwood,” the name Takoma was chosen in 1883 by DC resident Ida Summy, who believed it to mean ‘high up’ or ‘near heaven’.
The Takoma Theater, built in 1924, is located in the neighborhood. The Takoma Theatre Conservancy, a nonprofit preservation group, is raising money to buy and refurbish the theater. The District of Columbia awarded a grant to the group to study how the theater would affect the residential neighborhood and how it should operate the theater if it reopened.
Both Takoma, D.C., and Takoma Park, Maryland, were noted regionally and nationally for progressive politics dating back to the 1960s, when area residents rallied to prevent a 10-lane freeway from bisecting the community, and lobbied to build the Metrorail system near the site of the former B&O railroad station around which the community had been built.
However, much of the land adjacent to the station was demolished or neglected in the wake of the freeway controversy, creating division between downtown Takoma Park, MD and the center of the Takoma community, which roughly parallels the D.C. line. Both of the remaining areas, on either side of the D.C.-Maryland line, are now protected as U.S. Historic Districts.