This article was posted as an April Fool's joke.
Not long ago, the center of the action in DC was around Dupont Circle and Georgetown. Over the past 15 years, neighborhoods throughout the District are seeing a resurgence of new residents and new investment, from Brightwood to Ivy City to Deanwood to the Southwest waterfront.
However, if you’re looking for the area that all the cool kids are flocking to, you'll have to look farther afield, and we’re not talking about East of the Anacostia or even Virginia. That’s right: DC’s hottest neighborhood is at the bottom of the sea!
Previously known for its coral reefs and high water pressure, the bottom of the sea is winning over young professionals with its historic architecture, dating back thousands or even millions of years, and the unique culture of its current residents, who are sometimes called “sea creatures.”
Those affluent residents have attracted a new wave of cool, quirky businesses, like sushi restaurants, artisanal fishmongers, and The Brig, an ocean dive-themed dive bar.
“We’re glad we took the risk to open at the bottom of the sea,” says Anchors Aweigh, the heavily-tattooed bartender at The Brig, where a saltwater martini (gin, sherry, and actual seawater) is $18. “This community has such an interesting culture and history, and we’re proud to be a part of it.”
Fish and Chip Estuary previously lived in Columbia Heights, and considered fleeing to the suburbs like their friends. Instead, they settled at the bottom of the sea, where they’ll raise their daughter Baby Shark. “The local school of fish is way better than people told us,” Fish says. “We really appreciate exposing our daughter to so much diversity, as everyone on our old block were mammals.”
“We’ve barely noticed the difference in commute,” says Chip, who works near Union Station. “When I leave work, all I have to do is hop on the MARC train to Baltimore, sneak on a freightliner or a cruise ship if one’s docked that day, stow away while we travel down Chesapeake Bay, and once we’re out in the Atlantic, I just strap on my scuba suit and hop off. If the currents are running right, I’ll just sink to somewhere within a few miles of our house.”
Another feature attracting new residents to the bottom of the sea is that homes are way more affordable than in other parts of DC, and bigger as well.
“Not only can you buy a house with a yard here, but you can have your own swimming pool, because everything is underwater,” says local real estate agent Marina Seas, affiliated with Compass. “Buyers should expect that homes at the bottom of the sea will need work, as wet basements are really common here.”
She added that while the home values in the neighborhood dipped during the Great Recession, the rate of underwater mortgages has dipped significantly.
But as the bottom of the sea becomes a popular destination, not everyone has benefitted. Remora Echeneidae has lived at the bottom of the sea for their entire life, between 10 and 15 years, much of which in a symbiotic relationship with a manta ray. “If I need food, or I need to get somewhere, or I’m in the mood for some parasites, I’m taken care of here,” she says.
Like many current residents, she worries she’ll be priced out. Already, Remora has moved three times this year, as the turtle and manatee she previously clung to each left for an even deeper part of the sea. Meanwhile, new residents haven’t always made her feel welcome.
“Used to be you’d call the police and they wouldn’t come because they ‘didn’t go to the bottom of the sea’,” she says. “Now they’re down here every day, but all they do is hassle me for hitchhiking. Like, what do they expect?”
Time will tell whether the bottom of the sea can find a way for new and old residents to coexist, or if it’ll just be another, more watery chapter in DC’s gentrification saga. Anchors Aweigh, the bartender, say they’re using all-local ingredients and hiring local workers, as a way to help the community and strengthen the local economy. “I love this area and want to give back to it because it’s so authentic about being in the ocean,” he says. “Not like those other neighborhoods in DC, that just pretend to be in the ocean.”