DC's Living in a Youth Quake

Text and Photos for the Wall St. Journal's OWN Magazine

Start fanning yourselves, dowdy old Washington has burst into paradise found for the young and hip, a multiculti kaleidoscope of sound, color, food ...and cool. 

14TH AND U - Logan Circle

Studio Theater bustles, Whole Foods is packed, nouveau Audrey Tautous skirt by on candy colored Vespas, and black clad hipsters loll at the sidewalk cafes. Restaurants like Le Diplomate are nearly impossible to get into.

Meet DC's epicenter of cool.

At the exceedingly popular restaurant/bookstore/performance space Bus Boys and Poets, north of U Street, 20 and 30-somethings parallel play on laptops at communal tables, while others subtly browse the mating possibilities along with the books. The rest head straight for the bar and cushy sofas in the lounge.

The turf south of U is fast displacing Georgetown as design central for both the haute and hot, combining Mitchell Gold & Bob Williams gloss with treasure hunts like Miss Pixie's--for furnishing one's first loft.  The Washington Design Center will seal the deal when it slinks into its new space at the end of this year.

Poodles now prance about what was recently the purlieu of prostitutes; once seedy town homes and derelict mansions around Logan Circle are among the most coveted houses in the city. These mingle with pre-war and new condos sproinging terraces, with prices that range from around $200,000 for a studio in an older building, to the million range for a home that's, as they say, livable.  

Knocking on Heaven's Door in Islamorada

 for the duPont Registry

The curved teak gates swing open.

Follow a crushed coral drive, 800 feet winding through two acres of native plants and exotic animals, a deliberate wild.  Egrets pose, a white dove coos, an iguana scurries out of your path.  

Set amid impeccable gardens, the  great house looms. The front staircase splits to embrace a  massive royal palm stretching thirty feet, fronds feathering the roofline.  To one side is a salt water pond, your private aquarium. To the other is the conch house, an early dweller on this  six acre paradise,  just five feet from the water's edge. Grandfathered in, it's now your marina, leading to a dock that in turn leads to a 1000 foot deeded boat basin.

Tomorrow you can sail out for some tarpon fishing, or snorkeling at Hens and Chickens reef.  But now a hammock beckons from the island that forms and reforms with each tide.  An osprey flies by the lighthouse, its walls shot with red and gold by the setting sun.