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.