Brookland, in the Northeast quadrant of Washington, D.C., had its beginning in the early 1870s, evolving when the railroad ran a branch line through the area. In the late 1880s, Catholic University was established and drew developers quickly. The development was named after Colonel Jehiel Brooks whose beautiful farmhouse, the Brooks Mansion, sat alongside the rail line.
The presence of The Catholic University of America (CUA) drew a large number of Catholic institutions — over sixty in total — and gave Brookland the nickname “Little Rome.” In addition to CUA, Little Rome also includes the Franciscan monastery of the Holy Center, the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center.
Between the beautiful institutional grounds, Turkey Thicket Recreational Center, large backyards and nearby woods, Brookland has a surprising amount of green space and park-like areas for the diverse population to enjoy. The neighborhood is well integrated, reasonably affordable and rich with history and architectural appeal from Queen Anne to Craftsman. It boasts a real sense of cohesion, having been racially integrated since the 1930s and active in civic associations and other neighborhood groups as a community both now and historically.
Recently, several multi-use developments have begun in Brookland, sparking both debate about the future of the community and potential for growth and improvement. These new developments promise to bring restaurants, new stores and residential units to the quiet neighborhood.