But is it Really in Hyattsville?

Map of Hyattsville city boundaries from OpenStreetMap.org. http://bit.ly/1feVORB

Map of Hyattsville city boundaries from OpenStreetMap.org. http://bit.ly/1feVORB

A lot of things that are supposedly in Hyattsville actually aren’t.

The Hyattsville Wire was excited to read earlier this week that a ZIP code in Hyattsville is among the best in the country for “hipster flipping” — a sadly nonviolent practice that involves fixing up a house and selling it to a hipster.

That ZIP code happened to be 20784, which as you can see from the map below might be more accurately described as Landover or New Carrollton.

This bothered the urban-planner-wonk readers of Greater Greater Washington, but in defense of WTOP, the U.S. Postal Service itself encourages this confusion by noting that the preferred city when using that ZIP code is Hyattsville.

It’s not just that ZIP code, either. In fact, the USPS encourages people to use Hyattsville for 20783, 20784 and 20785, even though those areas are not all within the city limits. (Hyattsville proper is mostly 20781 and 20782.)

Now, this isn’t much of a problem when it’s a story about how Hyattsville is a great investment (we’ve done it too!), but they also hurt the city too when the news isn’t so positive.

Below is a Google map of all of the Hyattsville ZIP codes which shows the scope of the problem.

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2 Responses to But is it Really in Hyattsville?

  1. Jim Groves says:

    A little before your time, but there was a group (2 people I think) called ORCHID (The Organization to ReClaim Hyattsville’s Identity) whose mission was to correct unfair and inaccurate characterizations of the City in the media. There were probably a few dozen residents involved, and they had a listserv and Web site. They generated a lot email and phone calls whenever a bad reference appeared in the paper or on TV. However, the group’s founder moved away from the City and the effort went dormant thereafter.

    The above was mostly lifted from the HOPE listserve. If you are a member, you can search ORCHID and find a whole bunch of emails about them and about the boundaries debate. Basically, we could petition the state to give us our own zip code if we really wanted. I’ve always like the idea of becoming Hyattsville Park and then we would be know as the “Quad Park” area (Hyattsville, Riverdale, University and College).

  2. Mark Graham says:

    A similar situation exists in Montgomery County with Silver Spring, where the Silver Spring ZIP Codes stretch from the DC line all the way to Olney.
    It is hard to say who is well served by this sort of place name confusion. As with Hyattsville, there is a fairly distinct “city” of Silver Spring with a downtown , historic buildings etc. The other areas with SS ZIP Codes have well-known names (Wheaton, WhiteOak, Springbrook, Colesville, Aspen Hill etc) just as with the places with Hyattsville Zip Codes. New Carrollton is an incorporated city and Chillum, Adelphi, Landover, Landover Hills etc are similarly well known.
    It seems to me these naming converntions were developed by some US Post Office functionaries for thier convenience but they really defy not only place name geography but simple common sense.

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