American University Park (AU Park) is a large neighborhood in northwest Washington, DC. The neighborhood’s boundaries are four significant avenues – Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Western Avenues. The neighborhood was named for American University, although the main University is actually located across Massachusetts Avenue in Spring Valley, with only the university’s law college located in the neighborhood.
AU Park is almost entirely comprised of single-family homes. Its residents have organized as the AU Park Coalition for the Common Good to address traffic and safety issues.
Washingtonian Magazine, in an article called “Bring the Family: American University Park,” noted community characteristics including “young families or couples,” “well-shaded, compact yards,” Turtle Park’s “festivals, fairs, sports leagues, and hanging out,” that “Janey School has been the neighborhood anchor for 86 years, with a tightknit community of parents,” although “packed to the gills,” and the Tenleytown Metro. AU Park was also mentioned for “good-size Colonials, ramblers and Cape Cods.” Further, “families have flocked to the area, drawn by strong schools, proximity to DC and relative quiet.”
During World War I, the American University Experimental Station and Camp Leach, military defense installations conducting chemical warfare research, were located where the Spring Valley community, American University Park’s neighboring subdivision, is today. Since World War I munitions and arsenic-contaminated soil were found in the Spring Valley area in 1993, as well as in a smaller part of American University Park, a site-wide investigation and soil cleanup by the Army Corp of Engineers has been underway. Per Environmental Protection Agency January 2008 site information, some 145 properties have been found to have arsenic levels above cleanup criteria and 80 have been completed to date, with site work to be completed in 4 years.
AU Park is convenient to the commercial corridor along Massachusetts Avenue, with shops, banks, restaurants, a coffee-house, a pharmacy and a grocery store. AU Park is also within easy reach of Tenley Circle, with shops, restaurants, grocery stores and more. The Tenleytown Metro, on the western edge of the neighborhood, lies on the Red Line of the MetroRail System.
American University Park is served by a significant recreation point – Friendship Park, often called Turtle Park. The park offers a signature sandbox with turtles, slides, swingsets, tunnels and climbing structures, as well as benches, picnic tables, basket ball and tennis courts, softball/soccer fields and a recreation center. About.com named Turtle Park as one of its “Best Playgrounds in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia.”