Well, it happened again, that sympathetic aside that you get when someone hears that you don’t live in Montgomery County or Northern Virginia. They don’t actually say it – most of the time – but you can see it in their expressions: Faces set grimly, with a glint of pity in the eye. You live THERE?!
Why, yes, I do! I live in Hyattsville, Maryland, a charming small town, just a mile from the D.C. line. I live in Prince George’s County. I am a professional, I am educated, and I want excellence for my family, no less than anyone else. The uninitiated have no idea how magical it is here. Instead of feeding stereotypes, I want you to know why I love this area.
Hyattsville is a community. A strong, fun, opinionated, wonderful community and it is only getting better. Magruder Park is a stroller ride away from my home. It has playgrounds, a nature walk, and water. My daughters and I look at turtles on the Northwest Branch trail by the Anacostia River. The canopy of old trees protects us, and the Hamilton Splash Park is amazing this time of year. The City of Hyattsville and the park run many programs and camps for children. When I was a stay-at-home mom, the Parent/Tot program at Magruder Park saved my sanity, providing toys, companionship and potlucks.
I live in a beautiful Arts and Crafts bungalow in our historic district, rich in local history. A woman who lived here in the 1960s has contacted us, reminiscing about how wonderful her time here was. She told us that she birthed her first child in this house and now sends both of my daughters birthday presents. She also sent me photos that greatly assisted me in reconstructing the upper level of our home.
As an architectural designer, I am humbled by the rich diversity of architectural styles here. From ornate mansions to charming bungalows and colonial cottages, Hyattsville has a large stock of historic homes, some of which are on the National Register of Historic Places. The Hyattsville Preservation Association is an active group that spotlights some of them each May with the annual house tour. I am proud to say our home has participated in the past.
Then there is the wonderful mom’s group and listserv called HNMoms. Not only does this group host social activities such as the seasonal Vine Crawl and Hops Hop, but also sets up a system of meals when a new child is born in the community. When many people don’t have the local support of their biological families, the support is in the families around us. There are so many children being born here in Hyattsville, smaller groups are created so that the children born the same year can better get to know each other.
I could go on and on: Prince George’s Pool, the Hyattsville Library, Bladensburg Waterfront Park, Prince George’s County Parks and Recreation, St. Jerome Academy and Hyattsville Elementary. I appreciate the dedicated parents and community members fighting for excellent schools that are walkable and diverse and safe.
We have problems for sure, and there are many things that can be improved. Sometimes, when I get frustrated, I wish for a calmer, cleaner and newer environment. Home, though, is none of these things.
Hyattsville has taught me the value of a strong community and what kind of place I will want for my family for the rest of my life, wherever or whenever (or if ever) we end up moving. I am going to own it. I know what I want now. Hyattsville taught me.
Loire Przygrodzki and her husband Jozef moved to Hyattsville in 20??. This article first appeared on her blog, The Polish Chicken.