Adams Morgan is a culturally diverse neighborhood with a major night life area, particularly along 18th Street and Columbia Road. Over 90 establishments possess liquor licenses. The Alcohol Beverage Control Board established a moratorium on new liquor licenses in 2000 after successful lobbying by resident groups. The moratorium was renewed in 2004, but it now allows restaurant licenses.The neighborhood’s name is derived from two formerly segregated elementary schools in the area — the all-black Thomas P. Morgan Elementary School (now defunct) and all-white John Quincy Adams Elementary School. The schools were desegregated in 1955 in response to the 1954 Bolling v. Sharpe Supreme Court ruling. Adams Morgan was formed from four pre-existing neighborhoods – Washington Heights, Lanier Heights, Kalorama-Triangle Historic District and Meridian Hill.
Along with its adjacent sister communities, Adams Morgan long has been a gateway community for immigrants. The predominant international presence has been Latino, with the majority of immigrants coming from El Salvador, Guatemala and other Central American countries. Since the early 1970s, Adams Morgan had seen a growing influx of immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, as well.
American University Park, named for the American University, was developed in the 1920s by the WC and AN Miller Company. The neighborhood consists almost entirely of single-family homes with a wide variety of architectural styles. However, most homes have been modified or expanded since the 1930s. In addition, real estate values have nearly doubled since affordable housing drew young families to American University Park in the early nineties.
American University Park’s approximately 2700 homes are closely spaced, feature porches or stoops, and often lack driveways, which residents say boost community spirit. Friendship Park, also known as Turtle Park, is a center for community activity. Other neighborhood landmarks include American University’s Katzen Arts Center, the chancery of the diplomatic mission of Japan, and the former embassy of Sweden.
Brookland has been nicknamed “Little Rome” by some for the many Catholic institutions clustered around The Catholic University of America (CUA) which lives atop what was Fort Slemmer, constructed to protect the city during the Civil War.
In addition to the nearby President Lincoln and Soldiers’ Home National Monument, the Lincoln cottage resides in Brookland. The cottage was once the rural place where President Abraham Lincoln spent the summers of 1862-1864. It is here were he escapes the heat and political pressures of Washington.
The area was farmland for most of the 19th century and owned by the prominent Middleton and Queen families. The Baltimore and Ohio Railroad later connected this portion of Washington County to downtown. Bellair, the 1840 brick Greek Revival mansion built by Colonel Jehiel Brooks who married Ann Margaret Queen, still stands and now referred to as Brooks Mansion. Today it is the site of offices and production facilities for the city’s Government-access television (GAVT) channel, DCTV.
Like many other neighborhoods in Washington, D.C., Brookland has seen significant revitalization in the past decade. The large-scale development known as Monroe Street Market has served as a catalyst for many other development projects and has attracted many new residents and businesses to the area.
Brookland Hardware has anchored the 12th Street business corridor for many years and other local businesses, art galleries, auto mechanics, salons, and florists flourish nearby. In 2010, Abdo Development broke ground on Monroe Street Market, a large mixed-use development spread over five blocks in the neighborhood. Many new businesses have opened or plan to open, including Meridian Pint, Filter Coffee House, the Bike Rack, and Busboys and Poets, along with a Barnes and Noble.
Capitol Hill’s name comes straight from the hill it sits on. This hill, which was referred to as Jenkins Hill or Jenkins Heights in 1790, was the site chosen by Pierre L’Enfant for the placement of the “Congress House.” In accordance with this plan, the US Capitol Building was situated upon the crest of the hill facing the city. Residential areas stretch behind it on long avenues known as Capitol Hill.
Today it is one of the oldest residential communities in Washington. The neighborhood has grown from a small boarding house community for members of Congress to an area of more than 150 squares, and it has embraced a number of separate neighborhoods. The street pattern has also remained faithful to the original 1791 L’Enfant Plan, which called for grand diagonals superimposed over a standard grid pattern.
East Capitol Street, a monumental avenue running east from the Capitol to the banks of the Anacostia River, still provides a major focus for the area and serves as the division between the northeast and southeast sectors of the city. Pennsylvania Avenue is home to a lively commercial corridor with shops, banks and restaurants. Eastern Market continues to provide delicious food like meat, fish and produce in a nice, unpretentious ambiance.
Chevy Chase is a neighborhood in northwest Washington, D.C. It borders Chevy Chase, Maryland, a collection of similarly affluent neighborhoods.
In the late 1880s, Senator Francis G. Newlands of Nevada and his partners began the aggressive acquisition of farmland in northwest Washington, D.C. and southern Montgomery County, Maryland, for the purpose of developing a residential streetcar suburb. They founded the Chevy Chase Land Company in 1890, and its eventual holdings are now known as this neighborhood and Chevy Chase, Maryland. Chevy Chase D.C. was developed beginning in the early 1900s after construction was completed on the Chevy Chase Line, a streetcar line stretching to and beyond the northwestern boundary of the District of Columbia, thereby linking the area to downtown.
Over the next few decades, the formerly remote area was transformed from farmland and woods to middle-class housing. The housing stock in Chevy Chase D.C. includes many “Sears Catalog Homes”, a popular housing option in the early twentieth century that allowed individuals of modest means to order by mail the materials and instructions for a home and build it themselves.
The neighborhood’s major commercial road is Connecticut Avenue NW, which, in addition to commercial establishments, is home to apartments, a community center, and a regional branch of the D.C. Public Library. Generally, in contrast to many other areas that have lost their retail to commercial chains, locally owned businesses along Connecticut Avenue remain strong, and are well supported by the local population. These businesses include Magruder’s Supermarket, established in 1875, and the Avalon Theatre, which opened in 1923 as a silent film house and ran until the theater underwent renovations in 2003. The Avalon thereafter reopened as a non-profit movie theater. In addition to historical commercial buildings the area has multiple parks including Rock Creek Park, Lafayette Park and Livingston Park.
Chinatown/Penn Quarter is a neighborhood in the east end of Downtown D.C. Penn Quarter is southeast of the Metro Center shopping district and has been rejuvenated over the past several decades, stimulated first by the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Corporation (PADC) and later, by the Verizon Center, a sports, concert and event arena that opened nearby in 1997 as the MCI Center. Penn Quarter now boasts a variety of entertainment and commercial establishments including museums, theaters, restaurants, bars, and contemporary art galleries.
The area is also home to a popular farmers market and several food, wine, art, and culture focused festivals. Penn Quarter’s initial growth occurred under the PADC whose Pennsylvania Avenue Plan called for a mixed-use neighborhood. The plan was to include residences, offices, theaters and other cultural venues, retail, hotels, and restaurants in both new and renovated buildings framing new parks and plazas. Revitalization started with a number of developments west of the FBI Building to 15th Street, most significantly the renovation of what today is the Willard Intercontinental Hotel, and the creation of new parks and plazas, including Pershing Park, Freedom Plaza, and the Navy Memorial.
The nearby Verizon Center, which opened in 1997, also helped stimulate the revitalization of adjacent blocks to the north and east and the Penn Quarter neighborhood to the south. On Thursday afternoons in spring, summer, and fall, the FRESHFARM Penn Quarter farmers market is open on 8th Street, just south of E Street. A local favorite, the Newseum is located at the intersection of 6th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW. The building also includes offices and television studio space, The Source, a restaurant by Wolfgang Puck , and the Newseum Residences, an apartment rental community.
Several exercise clubs as well as various entertainment facilities and the Lucky Strike bowling alley serve the neighborhood. Other neighborhood amenities include several coffee shops and a teahouse/restaurant on 8th Street, three salons with day spas, the Penn Quarter Sports Tavern, the nearby Landmark E Street Cinema, Regal Theater, and a variety of shops selling clothing, jewelry, ice cream, and books. Over the past thirty years the neighborhood has transformed from a sleepy, nondescript part of downtown into a vibrant 24-hour residential and commercial community.
Cleveland Park is a residential neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. The main commercial corridor lies along Connecticut Avenue NW. This is also the location of the Cleveland Park station on the Metro’s Red Line. Another commercial corridor lies conveniently nearby along Wisconsin Avenue. The neighborhood is known for its many late 19th century homes and the historic Art Deco Uptown Theater. It is also home to the William L. Slayton House and the Park and Shop, built in 1930 and one of the earliest strip malls. Originally home to the first American settler, General Uriah Forrest, the area later housed the Youth For Understanding, an international student exchange organization. In 2002, the Rosedale grounds were placed in a public conservancy, and the farmhouse, said to be the oldest house in Washington, returned to residential use. Other estates followed. Gardiner Greene Hubbard, first president of the National Geographic Society, built his estate, Twin Oaks, on 50 acres in 1888.
The neighborhood acquired its name after 1886, when President Grover Cleveland purchased a stone farmhouse directly opposite the Rosedale estate and remodeled it into a Queen Anne style summer estate called Oak View or Oak Hill (by other accounts, Red Top). After losing the his bid for re-election in 1888, Cleveland’s property was sold and the Oak View subdivision was conceived in 1890. The Cleveland Heights subdivision was also planned around the same time with the Cleveland Park subdivision to come soon after. Early large-scale development was spurred by the neighborhood’s prime topography, which provided a breezy relief from the hot swampy air in the lowlands that then comprised much of the built-up area of Washington. Most of the houses built during this period show their intended use as summer houses in the era before air conditioning, having such features as wide porches, large windows, and overhanging eaves. While the first subdivisions were made in response to the extension of the Georgetown and Tennallytown electric streetcar line along Wisconsin Avenue, the success of the neighborhood was the result of the Rock Creek Railway, built on Connecticut Avenue in 1892. Once Cleveland Park was connected to downtown Washington, the neighborhood’s second phase of development, as a “streetcar suburb” began. Most houses were designed by individual architects and builders, including Waddy B. Wood, resulting in a mix of the popular housing styles of the time, notably the Queen Anne style, Georgian Revival, and the Mission Revival.
Once farmland on the estate of the Holmead family (called “Pleasant Plains”), Columbia Heights was part of Washington County, District of Columbia (within the District but outside the borders of the city of Washington). In 1815 an engraver from England, William J. Stone, purchased a 121-acre estate — east of Seventh Street Road (present-day Georgia Avenue), and north of Boundary Street — and established his own estate known as the Stone Farm. Nearby, construction of the first building for Columbian College, now The George Washington University, was completed in 1822. The area began developing as a suburb of Washington soon after the Civil War when horse-drawn streetcars delivered residents of the neighborhood to downtown.
The northern portion of modern-day Columbia Heights was, until the 1880s, a part of the village of Mount Pleasant. The southern portion still kept the name of the original Pleasant Plains estate, though it was also known as “Cowtown. In 1871, Congress passed the D.C. Organic Act, which eliminated Washington County by extending the boundaries of Washington City to be contiguous with those of the District of Columbia. Shortly afterward, in 1881–82, Senator John Sherman, author of the Sherman Antitrust Act, purchased the land including Stone Farm, developing it as a subdivision of the city and calling it Columbia Heights in honor of Columbian College.
The federal government also purchased some of the college’s land and built Meridian Hill Park in the early 20th century. The park, also known as “Malcolm X Park”, contains many statues including those of Joan of Arc, Dante and James Buchanan. In 1999, the city announced a revitalization initiative for the neighborhood focused around the Columbia Heights Metro station that opened that year. The opening of the Metro station served as a catalyst for the return of economic development and residents. Within five years, it had gentrified considerably, with a number of businesses (including a Giant Food supermarket and Tivoli Square, a commercial and entertainment complex) and middle-class residents settling in the neighborhood. However, unlike some gentrified neighborhoods in the city, it had not become homogeneous: as of 2006, Columbia Heights is arguably Washington’s most ethnically and economically diverse neighborhood, composed of high-priced condominiums and townhouses as well as public and middle-income housing. On March 5, 2008, DC USA, a 546,000 square-foot retail complex across the street from the Columbia Heights Metro station opened. The space is anchored by retailers Target and Best Buy. The shopping center also includes 390,000 square feet of underground parking. A number of bars and restaurants have since opened in the neighborhood, including Pho 14, which was voted best pho in Washington City Paper’s Best of DC 2010 poll.
The development of Dupont Circle was spearheaded by the leadership of Alexander Sheperd at the Board of Public Works. Nevada Senator William Morris Stewart led the “California Syndicate,” which bought up tracts of undeveloped land. The style of the neighborhood was established when Stewart erected his (now demolished) mansion in the 1870s. Just ten years later, the Dupont neighborhood was an affluent and vibrant neighborhood. The Corps of Engineers began construction of the circle in 1871, but at the time it was called Pacific Circle. In 1882, Congress authorized a memorial statue of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis duPont in recognition of his Civil War service. The bronze statue was erected in 1884. In 1921, the statue of Dupont was replaced by a double-tiered white marble fountain. It was designed by sculptor Daniel Chester French and architect Henry Bacon. Three classical figures, symbolizing the Sea, the Stars and the Wind are carved on the fountain’s central shaft.
Today, many of the great mansions found on the avenues serve as embassies, clubs, cultural institutions, and museums. They include the Phillips Collection, the first museum of modern art in the country, and the Heurich mansion, built by beer baron Christian Heurich, which houses the Historical Society of Washington, DC and its exhibitions. More modest row houses along the area’s side streets, many of them still residential, give the neighborhood a pleasing sight and make Dupont Circle a delightful place to visit.
The West End is a neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., so named because it was the westernmost part of the original L’Enfant Plan for the city of Washington (before Georgetown). It is home to the embassies, the George Washington University and the George Washington University Hospital. It also houses luxury hotels, upscale condominiums, and fine dining restaurants. The neighborhood exists due in large part to a 1972 urban renewal plan prepared by the city’s Office of Planning and Management, designed “to bring life to a declining part of the city.” Foggy Bottom is one of the oldest late 18th and 19th-century neighborhoods in Washington, D.C. The area is thought to have received the name because its riverside location made it susceptible to concentrations of fog and industrial smoke, an atmospheric trait that did not prevent the neighborhood from becoming the original location of the United States Naval Observatory. Much of Foggy Bottom is occupied by the main campus of George Washington University (GW), but the United States Department of State, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the infamous Watergate complex also exist there. The southern edge of Foggy Bottom is home to many federal government offices. The Main Interior Building (headquarters of the Department of the Interior), the Bureau of Indian Affairs headquarters, and the Federal Reserve Board buildings all lie on or around Virginia Avenue. To the east lies the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, home to the Executive Office of the President of the United States and the Office of the Vice President of the United States. On the other side of the office is the White House, which is not in the neighborhood.
Foggy Bottom is also home to numerous international and American organizations. The World Bank buildings, the International Finance Corporation, the International Monetary Fund, the Office of Personnel Management, DAR Constitution Hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the American Pharmacists Association, the American Red Cross National Headquarters, the Pan American Health Organization, and the Organization of American States are all located in the neighborhood. In addition, the Mexican and Spanish Embassies are located in Foggy Bottom, both on Pennsylvania Avenue.
Georgetown was formally established in 1751 when the Maryland Assembly authorized a town on the Potomac River on 60 acres of land belonging to George Beall and George Gordon. George Town was named in honor of King George II and soon flourished as a shipping center. Tobacco was the lifeblood of the community, and Georgetown soon prospered as a shipping center with a profitable European and West Indian trade. Commerce and industry developed along the waterfront, where wharves and flourmills were constructed. During the Revolution, Georgetown served as a great depot for the collection and shipment of military supplies. When the town was finally incorporated in 1789, a textile mill, paper factory and more flourmills were established. Georgetown’s character was profoundly affected by the establishment of the nation’s capital to the east in 1791. Although it was included in the new Federal District, it retained its own character.
Georgetown rapidly gained a reputation as the fashionable quarter of the capital and drew eminent visitors from this country and others. Congress incorporated Georgetown as part of Washington City in 1871. After the Civil War, large numbers of freed slaves migrated to Georgetown. The African American community flourished, becoming increasingly self-reliant. In the 1880s the waterfront prospered. But in the 1890s the C & O Canal was severely damaged by a Potomac River flood, and the Canal Company was bankrupted. The area went into an economic decline and in the period after World War I, Georgetown gained a reputation as one of Washington’s worst slums; its homes were neglected and the area deteriorated badly. This trend began to reverse itself in the 1930s with the New Deal and reached a high point when Senator John F. Kennedy resided in the neighborhood in the 1950s.
Glover Park is a neighborhood in northwest Washington, D.C., about a half mile north of Georgetown and just west of the United States Naval Observatory and Number One Observatory Circle (the Vice President’s mansion). Every morning and evening, Glover Park residents can hear the Naval Observatory play the sounding of colors synchronized to the nation’s Master Clock.
Local claims to fame include several embassies, including the sprawling Embassy of Russia in Washington (with its legendary tunnels beneath) and the Visa Office of the Chinese embassy. Wisconsin Avenue in Glover Park is home to a variety of restaurants and other businesses. Guy Mason Park is between Wisconsin Avenue and the Naval Observatory just south of Calvert Street, and is the location of a softball diamond, a playground for small children, and an unofficial enclosed dog park. Guy Mason Park is also the location of the annual Glover Park Day festival, held in early June.
Housing in Glover Park is a mix of apartment buildings and porch-front rowhouses built in the 1920s and 1930s. The neighborhood’s elementary school, Benjamin Stoddert Elementary, is one of the most highly rated schools in the District. Neighborhood Cluster 14 (Glover Park, Cathedral Heights, and McLean Gardens) has one of the lowest crime rates in the District. Glover Park residents harvest crops from small, individual garden plots in the two Victory gardens leased from the National Park Service. On the field adjacent to Stoddert Elementary, Glover Park has hosted the Glover Park Co-ed Softball League, one of the Washington Metropolitan Area’s most well-known co-ed slow pitch softball leagues, since 1982. DC Stoddert Soccer, a nonprofit league with over 5,000 players, was founded on this field and takes its name from it.
The neighborhood is named for Washingtonian Charles Carroll Glover, an influential late 19th and early 20th century banker and philanthropist. He is credited with the creation of the city’s Rock Creek Park system and with an influential role in the creation of Embassy Row through generous land donations.
The Kalorama area was primarily rural until the close of the 19th century, lying northwest of the original limits of Washington City from L’Enfant’s original plan. In 1795, Gustavus Scott, a commissioner for the District of Columbia purchased the property, which had been a portion of Anthony Holmead’s “Widows Mite” holdings. He constructed a large, classically styled house at 23rd and S Streets, which he named Belair. In 1807, the noted poet Joel Barlow bought the property and renamed it “Kalorama,” which translates from Greek as “fine view.” Barlow lived in the home until shortly before his death in 1812. Barlow commissioned Capitol architect Benjamin Latrobe to enlarge the house and elevate its design. Kalorama (the residence) was destroyed by a fire during the American Civil War while it was used as a Union hospital. The residence was rebuilt and returned to a single-family home until 1887, when it was leveled by the District of Columbia government for the extension of S Street NW.
In the early 1880s, the Kalorama area, being located beyond Boundary Street (now Florida Avenue) and thus outside the city limits, which had hitherto remained primarily undeveloped, began to be subdivided for urban development. In 1893 Congress ordered L’Enfant’s design of the city of Washington extended outward to include the rest of the District. Existing developments were exempted, which is why Kalorama is one of the few portions of D.C. that does not comply with the city’s grid system for streets. Two high bridges over the deep gorge of Rock Creek became important to the development of both sides of Kalorama in this period, the Calvert Street bridge (since replaced by the Duke Ellington Bridge), built in 1891, and the Taft Bridge (on Connecticut Avenue), built in 1907.
Bloomingdale is a neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., less than two miles north of the United States Capitol building. It is a primarily residential neighborhood, with a small commercial center near the intersection of Rhode Island Avenue and First Street, NW featuring bars, restaurants, and food markets. Most of Bloomingdale’s houses are Victorian-style rowhouses built around 1900 as single-family homes. Today, these houses remain primarily single-family residences, with some recently converted to two-unit condominiums.
Like many D.C. neighborhoods since the early 2000s, Bloomingdale has undergone substantial gentrification, with the neighborhood’s once-numerous vacant properties being repurposed, sharp rises in property values, and rapidly shifting demographics. The population is primarily African American, which has maintained deep roots in the community for many years. There is also a growing Hispanic and White population. According to the 2010 census, the diverse population of Bloomingdale was 59% African American and 30% White with the last 11% split between Hispanic residents, Asian residents, and residents of other origins.
During this period of rapid change, numerous new businesses have opened in the neighborhood, primarily restaurants, bars, and food markets. These include Windows Market, Big Bear Cafe, Yoga District, Bacio Pizzeria, FieldToCity, Rustik Tavern, Boundary Stone, Aroi Thai Sushi Bar, Grassroots Gourmet, Red Hen, and Showtime Lounge. Every summer, the Bloomingdale Farmers’ Market operates on Sundays on R St between Florida Ave and 1st Street, N.W.
LeDroit Park is a neighborhood in Washington, D.C. located immediately southeast of Howard University. Its borders include W Street to the north, Rhode Island Avenue and Florida Avenue to the south, Second Street NW to the east, and Howard University to the west.
The neighborhood was founded in 1873 by Amzi Barber, a businessman who served on the board of trustees of neighboring Howard University. Barber named the neighborhood after his father-in-law, LeDroict Langdon, but dropped the ‘c’.
As one of the first suburbs of Washington, LeDroit Park was developed and marketed as a “romantic” neighborhood with narrow tree-lined streets that bore the same names as the trees that shaded them, differing from the street names used in the rest of the city. Extensive focus was placed on the landscaping of this neighborhood, as developers spent a large sum of money to plant flower beds and trees to attract high profile professionals from the city. Originally a whites-only neighborhood, LeDroit Park was even gated with guards to promote security for its residents. Efforts by many, especially multiple actions by students from Howard University, led to the integration of the area. In July 1888 students tore down the fences that separated the neighborhood in protest of its discriminating policies.
By the 1940s LeDroit Park became a major focal point for the African-American elite as many prominent figures resided there. Griffith Stadium was also located here until 1965, when the Howard University Hospital was built where it used to stand. Le Droit Park includes Anna J. Cooper Circle, named for the education pioneer.
Today, LeDroit Park residents represent a wide variety of ethnic groups. The diversity entices new residents to the community, as well as its close proximity to the Shaw–Howard University Metro station and many dining options.
Logan Circle is an approximately eight-block area that is both unique and virtually unchanged from the prosperous, residential neighborhood it was in the late-19th-century. This neighborhood was an important element of the 1791-92 L’Enfant Plan and Ellicott Plans for the Federal City. Impressive three-and-four-story townhouses, closely grouped, surround the circle and some of the radial streets. Nearly all were constructed during the 25-year period between 1875-1900. Today they remain an almost solid street façade of Late Victorian and Richardsonian architecture.
The center of Logan Circle boasts a bronze equestrian statue of Major General John A. Logan on a pink marble base designed by Franklin Simmons. Logan was Commander of the Army of the Tennessee during the Civil War and later the Commander of the Grand Army of the Republic. Logan also served as Representative and Senator from Illinois. President McKinley attended the dedication ceremonies in 1901.
In its heyday, the circle was a fashionable address and home of prominent businessmen and statesmen. By the mid-1890s, the wealthy began to build their mansions closer to Dupont Circle in the west, but presently Logan Circle is the focus of renewed restoration and preservation activity.
In 1727, Charles Calvert, 5th Lord Baltimore awarded a land grant for present day Mount Pleasant to James Holmead. This estate also included the present-day Adams Morgan, Columbia Heights, and Pleasant Plains neighborhoods. James’s son, Anthony, inherited the estate in 1750 and named it Pleasant Plains. After the United States Congress created the District of Columbia in 1791, Pleasant Plains estate became part of Washington County, a section of the District lying between what now is Florida Avenue and the Maryland border.
During the Civil War, New England native Samuel P. Brown purchased 73 acres of land between 14th and 17th Streets, NW. Brown built a house and allowed a wartime hospital to be constructed on his land. After the War, he began selling his land in parcels. He named the area, Mount Pleasant Village, because it contained the land having the highest elevation of the original Pleasant Plains estate.
Most of the original settlers built wooden frame houses and farmed their tracts, growing their own food. Stores and other businesses opened around what today is the intersection of Fourteenth Street and Park Road, NW. Settlers laid out early roads in the area, such as Adams Mill Road, Mount Pleasant Street, Newton Street, and Park Road to follow local custom and to accommodate local needs and land ownership. Although Mount Pleasant was within the District of Columbia, it was separated from the city of Washington by vacant land and was rural by comparison. Because of this separate development, the Mount Pleasant street grid is distinct from Washington’s rectilinear grid and now that the two are part of a single urban fabric, some of its streets appear to have been laid out haphazardly, with several intersecting city streets at odd or severe angles to the greater design.
The streets were lined with tall trees that created a continuous canopy of shade. Gardens of ivy, shrubs, and flowering plants were created in the successive terraces from the streets to the base of the stairs of the typical front porches. Landings in the staircases through the terraces were marked with fountains and sculpture. Houses were built adjacent to each other, as row houses. Alleys between all streets provided access for servants and services. Fences separated properties into back yards with vegetable gardens, fruit trees, barns and garages. Many houses were constructed with two levels of cellars below the entry level from the main street, but all having disguised access for landscape equipment through the cellars under the house. Rear sleeping porches extended from the floors with bedrooms.
Affluent professionals began returning to the neighborhood in the early 1980s. According to the Washingtonian magazine, housing prices rose nearly as fast as any area of metropolitan Washington. Many homes were renovated and some projects were featured in local and national magazines. A one million dollar “green” renovation was featured in a National Public Radio story.
The western four-fifths of the Mount Pleasant area is a largely wooded residential enclave bounded on two sides by Rock Creek Park. Structures in this area are primarily row houses, with some subdivided into one or two apartments. A few of the original nineteenth century wood-frame houses remain, mostly north of Park Road. The eastern border of Mount Pleasant, along Sixteenth and Mount Pleasant Streets, is marked by mid-rise apartment buildings. These buildings offer rental apartments, condominium and cooperatives. There is a four-block commercial corridor with convenience shopping in the neighborhood along Mount Pleasant Street.
Historically, the Anacostia River was once a deep water channel with natural resources and home to the Nacotchtank Indians. In 1791 Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed the plan for Washington, D.C., and located the city’s new commercial center and wharfs in this neighborhood after recognizing the assets of the Anacostia River. The Washington Navy Yard was nation’s largest naval shipbuilding facility in 1799, and today it is the U.S. Navy’s longest continuously operated federal facility.
Navy Yard was Washington’s earliest industrial neighborhood. One of the earliest industrial buildings was the eight-story brick Sugar House, built in Square 744 at the foot of New Jersey Avenue, SE as a sugar refinery in 1797-98. In 1805, it became the Washington Brewery, which produced beer until it closed in 1836. The are continues as a bustling nautical center during the 19th century and played an integral role in the development of the area. The wharf provided jobs, serving ships with lumber and raw materials for the growing city. It also played a key role in defending the city from the British during the War of 1812. As the city and nation evolved, the Navy Yard changed from shipbuilding to production of finished ship products and weapons ammunition. By the mid‑1940s the Navy Yard and the expanded Annex area reached peak production with 26,000 employees in 132 buildings on 127 acres of land.
However, during the 20th century the river deteriorated due to pollution. After World War II, the Navy Yard consolidated its operations to a smaller campus, which slowed the economic and neighborhood activity of the area. Furthermore, around this same time, the elevated portion of Interstate 395 was completed, creating a physical barrier for access to the river. The confluence of these factors led the riverfront neighborhoods to become neglected and overrun with crime.
For many years, the neighborhood was home to eight LGBT bars and nightclubs that have since been displaced. Velvet Nation was a weekly dance event that took place at the nightclub Nation. The club, formerly known as The Capitol Ballroom, hosted musical acts such as The Ramones, Björk, David Bowie, Eminem, and Prince.
NoMa, a moniker for the area North of Massachusetts Avenue, is located just four blocks from Capitol Hill and directly to the east of Union Station. NoMa is Washington’s fastest growing neighborhood. In just 5 years, NoMa has developed 11 million square feet of office, residential, hotel and retail space totaling $6 billion in private investment.
The neighborhoods of Truxton Circle, Sursum Corda, Eckington, the Near Northeast and a section historically known as Swampoodle make up NoMa. The neighborhood is home to several important historic structures including the Woodward & Lothrop Service Warehouse, the Uline Arena, St. Aloysius Church, Gonzaga College High School, Gallaudet University and the Government Printing Office. In fact, The Beatles played their first North American concert at the Washington Coliseum (formerly Uline Arena) in NoMa in 1964.
Although much of the planning for the area took place during the late-1990s, the 2004 opening of the New York Ave-Florida Ave Metro, now NoMa-Gallaudet U station sparked development in the neighborhood. From 2007-2008, private developers invested over $1 billion to begin the development of office, residential, hotel, and retail space in a 35-block area over the next 10 years. A number of prominent commercial businesses, government organizations, and retail establishments have been ushered in as a result of this development. Companies include NPR, CNN, Sirius XM, Harris Teeter, Roti, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and others.
The area is served by 13 methods of transportation including rail (via the Red Line of the Washington Metro), bus (via intercity carriers and Metrobus), bicycle (via the Capital Bikeshare, Metropolitan Branch Trail), car, (zipcar, Uber), taxi, or walking via the sidewalks of an area that received a walkscore of 92. Eighteen schools serve the NoMa neighborhood, from pre-K to university. Educational centers include Gallaudet University, Community College of DC and Gonzaga.
The heart of the neighborhood is Massachusetts Avenue, which in the area of Observatory Circle is mostly lined with embassies. Therefore most of the area is commonly regarded as Embassy Row.
The only residential section of Massachusetts Heights is a small triangular wedge between Massachusetts Avenue and Garfield Street, just adjacent to Observatory Circle and the grounds of the Vice President’s Residence. The remainder of the neighborhood is entirely occupied by the Cathedral and its affiliated properties, including St. Albans School.
Considered Washington’s premier residential address in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Massachusetts Avenue became known for its numerous mansions housing the city’s social and political elites. The segment between Scott Circle and Sheridan Circle gained the nickname “Millionaires’ Row”.
The Great Depression caused many to sell their homes. The expansive old estates proved well-suited for use as embassies, and also as lodges of social clubs, giving Embassy Row its present name and identity. Some of the avenue’s newer buildings were purpose-designed as embassies, starting with the British Embassy, designed in 1928 by Sir Edwin Lutyens, and the Japanese Embassy, built in 1931.On the southeastern section of the row, between Scott Circle and Dupont Circle, many mansions were replaced by larger office or apartment buildings between the 1930s and the 1970s. More recently, several prominent think tanks have clustered in that area.
Embassy Row is protected as the Massachusetts Avenue Historic District, created in 1974 following controversy about the demolition of historic townhouses on 1722-28 Massachusetts Ave NW. Many of Embassy Row’s diplomatic buildings open to the public once a year in May, an initiative nicknamed Passport DC. This event was started in 2007 by the embassies of member states of the European Union, and extended in 2008 to other countries around the world under coordination by Cultural Tourism DC. Within this program, the EU embassies still open on a separate day, labelled EU Open House. A separate program, the Embassy Series, started in 1994 and coordinates concerts organized in the embassy buildings.
In 1893, this subdivision was laid out by the Palisades Improvement Company. The Palisades had the Great Falls Electric Railway that ran from 36th and Prospect streets out to Glen Echo. The International Athletic Park and Amusement Company secured a large block of the Palisades and constructed a Bicycle Track and General Amusement Park, which opened on Decoration Day in 1896. Also encompassed within the Palisades is the neighborhood of Potomac Heights.
In June 1909, the Potomac Heights Land Co. (based in North Carolina) acquired 75 acres (300,000 m2) previously known as the Athletic Park tract at the reported cost of $1000 an acre. The tract extends parallel with and between Conduit Road and the Potomac. It is divided by the Washington Railway and Electric Company, which ran from Georgetown to Glen Echo for a 5 cent fare. There were 800 lots at $450–$500 per lot and no home was to be erected at less than $2500.
The Palisades is part of Advisory Neighborhood Commission 3D in Ward 3, the far northwest corner of the Northwest Quadrant just north of Georgetown. The current Palisades Citizens Association (PCA) was started as the Conduit Road Citizens Association in 1916. The Palisades is one of the lesser-known neighborhoods in Washington, with a mixture of detached houses, townhouses and apartments. The homes along the bluff on Potomac Avenue offer a broad view of the Potomac River and the Virginia riverfront, with often impressive sunset views.
Since 1928, the Palisades has been served by the Francis Scott Key Elementary School, which is part of the DC Public Schools. Extensive capital improvement of Key Elementary was completed in fall 2003. The renovated and expanded school currently enrolls 285 students and will gradually increase to approximately 300.
Fletcher’s Cove is on the Potomac River and the C & O Canal National Historical Park, between Chain and Key Bridges. Fletcher’s has been in this location since the 1850s and is renowned as a superb fishing and recreational area. The nearby Abner Cloud House is the oldest building on the canal, dating back to 1802. After 145 years of business, the fourth generation of Fletchers retired in 2004 and Guest Services Incorporated, a National Park Service concessionaire, assumed responsibility for the operation of the concessions. The area surrounding the boat house was then officially named Fletcher’s Cove, though most people still call it Fletcher’s Boat House.
Other notable landmarks making the Palisades unique are the old Conduit Road Schoolhouse on MacArthur Boulevard, Palisades Community Church (1923), The Lab School of Washington (1967) (formerly the Florence Crittenton Home for Unwed Mothers), the German Embassy, St. David’s Episcopal Church (1940), Sibley Hospital (1961) and Gen. Montgomery C. Meig’s Washington Aqueduct/ Delcarlia Filtration/ Water Treatment Plant (1853)
The Palisades neighborhood is the home for a variety of popular restaurants such as Figs, Makoto, Bambu, Listrani’s, BlackSalt, Chen’s Gourmet, Palisades Pizzeria and Clam Bar, Kotobuki, DC Boathouse, Et Voila’ and the new Salt and Pepper Restaurant, and its very own pet supply store, Profeed of DC.
Petworth is a residential neighborhood in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C. Petworth and the rest of Ward 4 are represented in the Council of the District of Columbia by Muriel Bowser.
The neighborhood was originally the site of two separate country estates in Washington County, D.C., a then-unincorporated part of the District of Columbia: Petworth, the 204-acre estate of Col. John Tayloe III, and the 183-acre Marshall Brown estate, which eventually also became the property of the Tayloe family. In the late 1880s, after the estates had become part of the city, two real-estate investment partnerships purchased the estates for development. The neighborhood bloomed with the expansion of the streetcar line up Georgia Avenue (then known as Seventh Street Extended or Brightwood Avenue) from Florida Avenue (Boundary Street) to the Washington DC line at Silver Spring, Md.
Today, the neighborhood is primarily residential with a mix of townhouses and single-family homes. It is served by the Georgia Ave-Petworth station on the Washington Metro’s Green Line and Yellow Line. Petworth borders to two expanses of historic greenspace, Rock Creek Cemetery and the US Soldiers’ and Airmens’ Home (now known as the Armed Forces Retirement Home).
Shaw is a neighborhood located in the Northwest quadrant of Washington, D.C.
Shaw grew out of freed slave encampments in the rural outskirts of Washington City. Originally called “Uptown,” in an era when the city’s boundary ended at “Boundary Street” (now Florida Avenue), in the Urban Renewal Era the neighborhood began to be referred to as Shaw because of the neighborhood Junior High School named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, the commander of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
Shaw thrived in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as the pre-Harlem center of African American intellectual and cultural life. Howard Theological Seminary welcomed its first students in 1866. Prominent figures, such as Professor Alain LeRoy Locke, were advancing the ideas like “The New Negro,” but the most famous Shaw native to emerge from this period was Duke Ellington.
After the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, riots erupted in many D.C. neighborhoods, including Shaw. The 1968 Washington, D.C. riots marked the beginning of a decline in population and development to much of the inner city. In recent years, however, development efforts have picked up once again with many new residents moving into Shaw.
Mount Vernon Square is also a Washington neighborhood and historic district, named for the adjacent city square. Originally, Victorian-style townhomes occupied this area.
In 1977, the city purchased the area southwest of Mount Vernon Square itself. Over the next few years, the homes and businesses on these blocks were razed. One of the last businesses to exist on was a Chinese restaurant named Nan King (which was one of the first restaurants in the city to serve dim sum).
The Washington Convention Center was constructed in Mount Vernon in the early 1980s and at the time was the fourth largest facility in the United States at the time.
After being replaced by the new Walter E. Washington Convention Center, the old convention center was demolished on December 18, 2004. Until 2011, the 10-acre site was a parking lot that was also used as the bus terminal for Megabus and BoltBus. The site was also used for special events such as Cirque Du Soleil and the home of the Washington Kastles Stadium. However, the land has since been replaced with a $950 million complex called CityCenterDC.
Southwest Waterfront is a residential neighborhood in Southwest Washington, D.C., and one of the only two reisdential neighborhoods in the Southwest quadrant. This neighborhood was a part of Pierre L’Enfant’s original city plans and includes some of the oldest buildings in the city, including the Wheat Row block of townhouses, built in 1793, and Fort McNair, which was established in 1791 as “the U.S. Arsenal at Greenleaf Point.”
After the Civil War, the Southwest Waterfront became a neighborhood for the poorer classes of Washingtonians. The neighborhood was divided in half by Fourth Street SW, then known as 41⁄2 Street; Scottish, Irish, German, and eastern European immigrants lived west of 41⁄2 Street, while freed blacks lived to the east. Each half was centered on religious establishments: St. Dominic’s Catholic Church and Temple Beth Israel on the west, and Friendship Baptist Church on the east. Interestingly, each half of the neighborhood was the childhood residence of a future American musical star — Al Jolson lived on 41⁄2 Street for a time, and Marvin Gaye was born in a tenement on First Street.
The Waterfront developed into a quite contradictory area: it had a thriving commercial district with grocery stores, shops, a movie theater, as well as a few large and elaborate houses. However, most of the neighborhood was a very poor shantytown of tenements, shacks, and even tents. These places, some of them in the shadow of the Capitol, were frequent subjects of photographs that were published with captions like, “The Washington that tourists never see.”
The heart of the urban renewal of the Southwest Waterfront was Waterside Mall, a small shopping center/office complex mostly occupied by a Safeway grocery store and satellite offices for the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The Arena Stage was built a block west of the Mall, and a number of hotels and restaurants were built on the riverfront to attract tourists. The now closed Southeastern University, a very small college that had been chartered in 1937, also established itself as an important institution in the area.
Starting around 2003, the Southwest Waterfront began gentrifying. A number of the neighborhood’s apartment buildings began extensive renovations and condominium conversions. Residential and commercial developers began to take a more serious interest in Southwest with the announcement in 2004 that the city would build the new Washington Nationals baseball stadium just across South Capitol Street from Southwest. The Southwest Waterfront has now been earmarked as the site of the next wave of DC redevelopment. Large development projects currently underway or in the planning stage include Waterfront Station, a mixed retail-commercial-residential development at Fourth & M Streets SW; the expansion and redesign of Arena Stage; and the radical redesign and overhaul of the waterfront itself, to include residences, office space, hotels, and retail establishments.
Current residents include House Representative John Conyers and former Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, Hubert Humphrey lived there while serving as U.S. Vice President, and Thurgood Marshall, Lewis Powell, and David Souter all had homes in Southwest during their tenures on the United States Supreme Court.
Located in northern DC, Takoma is located the District’s Fourth Ward, within the northwest quadrant, and borders the city of Takoma Park, Maryland. Takoma is a diverse neighborhood, populated mostly by middle-class families and has fewer apartments than adjoining areas in Maryland. Large buildings are confined to the small downtown, which is slowly being re-developed. Many of the houses in the area are historic, with some over 100 years old.
Takoma was originally developed in 1883 as a commuter suburb on the Metropolitan Branch of the Baltimore and Ohio railroad line. The Seventh-day Adventist Church set up their world headquarters and publishing house in Takoma Park, DC with a hospital and college in neighboring Takoma Park, Maryland, and promoted the community’s reputation for vegetarianism and “clean living” away from the “malarial swamps” of the city. Prior to the development of Silver Spring, MD, Takoma, D.C. was originally regarded as the commercial hub for the entire surrounding area as it featured large shops and industrial buildings in the area now occupied by the Metro station.
Takoma was originally the name of Mount Rainier, or ‘snow-covered mountain’. In response to a wish of Gilbert to rename the train stop called “Brightwood,” the name Takoma was chosen in 1883 by DC resident Ida Summy, who believed it to mean ‘high up’ or ‘near heaven’.
The Takoma Theater, built in 1924, is located in the neighborhood. The Takoma Theatre Conservancy, a nonprofit preservation group, is raising money to buy and refurbish the theater. The District of Columbia awarded a grant to the group to study how the theater would affect the residential neighborhood and how it should operate the theater if it reopened.
Both Takoma, D.C., and Takoma Park, Maryland, were noted regionally and nationally for progressive politics dating back to the 1960s, when area residents rallied to prevent a 10-lane freeway from bisecting the community, and lobbied to build the Metrorail system near the site of the former B&O railroad station around which the community had been built.
However, much of the land adjacent to the station was demolished or neglected in the wake of the freeway controversy, creating division between downtown Takoma Park, MD and the center of the Takoma community, which roughly parallels the D.C. line. Both of the remaining areas, on either side of the D.C.-Maryland line, are now protected as U.S. Historic Districts.
In 1790, Washington locals began calling the neighborhood “Tennally’s Town” after area tavern owner John Tennally. Over time, the spelling has evolved and by the 19th century the area was commonly known by its current name, although the spelling Tennallytown continued to be used for some time in certain capacities, including streetcars through the 1920s.
Fort Reno, one of the forts that formed a ring around Washington D.C. during the American Civil War to protect the capital against invasions, was situated in the area that is now Tenleytown. It proved to be the crucial lookout point for preventing a siege of Washington (indeed, it is the highest natural point in the District of Columbia).
In the post-Civil War era, Fort Reno was a free black community that was almost entirely wiped out when the federal government decided to condemn most of its housing to build Deal Middle School, Wilson High School, a park, and a water tower. The Jesse Lee Reno school building, which housed an African-American school during the Jim Crow era, is one of the few remaining traces of this history.
Within the park boundaries lies the highest natural point in the District of Columbia, 429 feet above sea level. Fort Reno also hosts community gardens, free rock concerts in the summer, sledding in the winter, and tennis courts, playing fields, and dog-walkers year round. Wilson HS baseball now uses the ball field for its home games.
Tenleytown was transformed on October 2, 1941 when Sears Roebuck opened its department store on Wisconsin Avenue at Albemarle Street. At the time the store was notable for its size and for its 300 car rooftop parking lot. In the 1990s, Sears abandoned its retail operation at the location and the building was used by Hechinger hardware until its decline in the late 1990s. In the 2000s, the building was converted to a development complex called Cityline at Tenley, with luxury condos (The Cityline) on the top levels, a Best Buy and a Container Store at street level, and an Ace Hardware underground, located within the parking garage that serves the building’s stores.
In 2010, the Top of the Town: Tenleytown Heritage Trail opened. The path starts from the metro station and passes by neighborhood landmarks such as American University, the Civil War’s Fort Reno, and the studios of WRC-TV, Washington’s NBC station.
The U Street Corridor is a commercial and residential neighborhood in Northwest Washington, D.C, U.S.A., with many shops, restaurants, nightclubs, art galleries, and music venues along a nine-block stretch of U Street. It is a largely Victorian-era neighborhood, developed between 1862 and 1900, the majority of which has been designated a historic district.
The are rose up in response to the city’s high demand for housing following the Civil War and the growth of the federal government in the late 19th century. The corridor became commercially significant when a streetcar line operated there in the early 20th century. This gave government employees a convenient commute downtown to work and shop.
Until the 1920s, when it was overtaken by Harlem, the U Street Corridor was home to the nation’s largest urban African American community. Duke Ellington’s former childhood home was located on 13th street between T and S Streets. The Lincoln Theatre opened in 1921, and Howard Theatre in 1926.
While the area remained a cultural center for the African American community through the 1960s, the neighborhood began to decline following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. The intersection of 14th Street and U Street was the epicenter of violence and destruction during the 1968 Washington, D.C. riots. Following the riots, and the subsequent flight of affluent residents and businesses from the area, the corridor became blighted. In the 1990s, revitalization of Adams Morgan and later Logan Circle began. More than 2,000 luxury condominiums and apartments were constructed between 1997 and 2007.
Woodley Park is a neighborhood in Northwest, Washington, DC that straddles Connecticut Avenue south of the National Zoo. The area was named after Woodley House, built by Phillip Barton Key (the Uncle of Francis Scott Key) in 1801. It is a neighborhood of fine early 20th-century row houses, built in the hope that this boulevard would be lined with elegant homes. Modern-day Connecticut Avenue, north of the small Woodley Park historic district, however, is now mostly filled with high rise apartment houses. The city’s height limitation restricts these buildings to no more than eight stories, but they are high-rise by Washington standards.
The eastern part of the neighborhood overhangs Rock Creek Park, and the western part leads to the site of Washington National Cathedral. The rows of beautifully designed homes have been carefully preserved and have shown little change in nearly a century. The bustle of Connecticut Avenue is always just around the corner, but the residential streets remain serene and green.
Former row houses on Connecticut Avenue have been converted into commercial properties, such as restaurants, offices and retail shops. There are many chains, like Chipotle, McDonald’s and CVS, but many fine local restaurants and shops have taken up there too. Two large hotels are located on Calvert Street (the Omni Shoreham Hotel) and Woodley Road (the Marriott Wardman Park hotel). At night, the place is a hive of activity. Catching a shuttle bus (The Circulator) from the Metro stop (Woodley Park/Adams Morgan) takes you straight to the heart of Adams Morgan and the U Street Corridor.