From the 1999 Annual Meeting column in the December 1998 Perspectives
Washington off the Mall: An Introduction to D.C. Neighborhoods
Kathryn S. Smith, December 1998
Washington, D.C., is known around the world as a city of monuments. Beyond them, however, is a vibrant city of varied neighborhoods that tourists seldom see. Each has its own distinct history and character, and more than 20 of them have been officially designated as historic districts by the D.C. Office of Historic Preservation.
Just two years ago the Historical Society of Washington, D.C., and the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C., organized the D.C. Heritage Tourism Coalition, a consortium of more than 70 off-the-Mall heritage, cultural, and neighborhood organizations. Its purpose is to bring more of the city's 21 million annual visitors out of the federal enclave and into the city to build a greater appreciation for the richness and complexity of its history and culture as a great American city as well as the federal capital. What follows is offered as a glimpse of the most interesting and accessible Washington neighborhoods, with just a sampling of the hidden treasures they hold.
Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant
The Adams Morgan and Mt. Pleasant neighborhoods—located a little more than a mile north of the White House and west of 16th Street, NW—are the city's most culturally diverse. Since the 1960s, this has been a place that white, black, and Latino Washingtonians have shared, and since the 1970s growing number of newcomers from South and Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia have settled there as well. Eighteenth Street south of Columbia Road has become a visual and gastronomic treat with its array of ethnic restaurants and its colorful signage and mural art. It comes alive at night as visitors crowd its restaurants and nightclubs. Just around the corner on Columbia Road (from 18th to 16th streets) the small shops, street vendors, restaurants, and music from open windows provide a predominantly Latino neighborhood experience. Mt. Pleasant Street—the main street of the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood—angles off to the north from 16th Street and Columbia Road; here you will find a variety of small restaurants and shops with a mostly local clientele.
This area is within an easy 15-minute walk from the Marriott Hotel, taking Calvert Street east across the Duke Ellington Bridge to the center of activity at 18th Street and Columbia Road. (Check the announcements on the kiosk in the traffic island to get a feel for the diversity of the neighborhood.)
You can stroll a few blocks west (right) on Columbia Road to see some of the city's grandest turn-of-the-century apartments, a few blocks east (left) to experience the Latin ambiance, and then south on 18th Street to savor the scene and choose a restaurant (see the restaurant guide on page 35). Urban adventurers might want to walk Mt. Pleasant Street, but it is best to do that in the daytime. Here are a few places of special interest.
Botanica Yemaya-Chango, 2441 18th St., NW. A Cuban-Salvadorian herbal boutique.
GALA Hispanic Theater, 1625 Park Rd., NW. Founded in 1977 as an outlet for Latino thespians, the theater offers plays in Spanish and English. Call (202) 234-7174.
D.C. Arts Center (ACDC), 2438 18th St., NW. A small theater and art gallery that provides a venue for emerging art and artists.
Habana Village, 1834 Columbia Rd., NW. A restaurant/nightclub where locals of all ages gather to eat, socialize, and dance.
Manolo Grocery, 1813 Columbia Rd., NW. One of many small bodegas (Latino grocery stores) that provide a variety of goods and services to the community.
This Northeast residential neighborhood of modest wooden houses, from Queen Anne to early 20th-century bungalows, was laid out in a series of suburban developments in the 1880s. It was adjacent to the new Catholic University and on a B&O Railroad line to downtown Washington. Many Catholic institutions have clustered here over the years, attracting European immigrants of that faith and making the neighborhood one of the city's most ethnically diverse. A new restaurant named Ellis Island, at 3908 12th Street, NE, celebrates this history. In the 1930s, African Americans began to move into the neighborhood, including such notables as Pearl Bailey, poet Sterling Brown, and Nobel laureate Ralph J. Bunche. The following are within walking distance of the Brookland Metro station.
Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 4th St. and Michigan Ave., NE. The largest Catholic church in the United States, this lavish cathedral combines Byzantine, Romanesque, and Renaissance elements with more modern mosaics and sculpture. Small chapels and shrines in the crypt level are devoted to various cultures around the world, signifying the changing face of the Catholic Church. Open daily 7:00 a.m.–6:00 p.m.
Franciscan Monastery, 1400 Quincy St., NE (a bit of a hike from the Metro). The Byzantine-style Memorial Church of the Holy Land is surrounded by 44 landscaped acres that include facsimiles of many important shrines, including the Grotto of Lourdes and the Garden of Gethsemane. Mon.–Sat. 9 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Catholic University of America, 620 Michigan Ave., NE. Established in 1888, this university is the only college in the United States under the direct patronage of the Vatican. Many Catholic orders maintain houses of study on the campus. The campus architecture is Gothic, with the exception of the John K. Mullen Memorial Library, a Romanesque structure with a capacious reading room.
Located just east of the Capitol, this 19th-century residential neighborhood is almost completely intact. Its tree-shaded streets and small front gardens provide the setting for a scattering of wooden pre-Civil War federal houses and two- and three-story Victorian brick rows with turrets, bays, and elaborate pressed-brick decorations. Pennsylvania Avenue, SE, the neighborhood's main commercial thoroughfare, is lined with shops and restaurants from 2nd to 7th streets. In addition to the ambiance of the neighborhood, there are other special attractions.
Capital Children's Museum, 800 3rd St., NE. A hands-on museum for children of all ages. About three blocks east of Union Station. 10 a.m.–6 p.m. daily (Union Station Metro).
Eastern Market, 7th and C Sts., SE. The only 19th-century public market still functioning in the city. On Saturdays farm trucks line the street. The tiny Market Lunch inside the market is known for its crabcakes. Shops, galleries, and restaurants abound nearby (Eastern Market Metro).
Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 E. Capitol St., SE. The world's largest collection of Shakespeareana is housed in an art deco building with an intimate Elizabethan theater and an elegant exhibition gallery that provides glimpses of the library's riches. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m. (Capital South or Union Station Metro).
Frederick Douglass Residence, 316–318 A St., NE. If you are taking a stroll through the neighborhood, plan to pass by this house, the home of Frederick Douglass from 1870 to 1878, now in private hands.
Lincoln Park, E. Capitol St. between 11th and 13th Sts. An urban oasis surrounded by fine Victorian houses that was designated in the original L'Enfant Plan for the federal city. It is the site of two major sculptures related to African American history: the "Emancipation Monument" showing Abraham Lincoln and a rising slave and a memorial to educator Mary McLeod Bethune. (A 15-minute walk from the Eastern Market Metro.)
National Postal Museum, 1st St. and Massachusetts Ave., NW. A relatively new Smithsonian museum that uses creative exhibits and interactive technology to engage the visitor in postal history. 10 a.m.–5:50 p.m. daily (Union Station Metro).
Sewall-Belmont House, 144 Constitution Ave., NE. The headquarters of the National Woman's Party since 1929 and home of women's equal rights campaigner Alice Paul, now operated as a historic house-museum that focuses on the women's suffrage movement. Tours on the hour Tues.–Fri. 11 a.m–1 p.m.; Sat. noon–3 p.m. (Union Station Metro).
Union Station. This grand 1908 Beaux-Arts structure designed by Daniel Burnham as part of the City Beautiful movement in the capital has been restored to its former glory as a train station and shopping mecca, with scores of specialty shops, an international food court, and nine movie theaters (Union Station Metro).
Washington Navy Yard, 9th and M Sts, SE. Created in 1799 on a site chosen by George Washington himself, this military installation on the edge of Capitol Hill welcomes visitors to its Navy Museum, Navy Art Gallery, and Marine Corps Museum. Hours vary, but most are open 10 a.m.–4 p.m. daily (Navy Yard Metro).
Dupont Circle is a vibrant, cosmopolitan neighborhood with appealing streetscapes that are a mixture of offices, homes, shops, coffee shops, restaurants, and Beaux-Arts mansions now the homes of embassies and national associations. Dupont Circle itself, where five major streets converge, is graced by a fine fountain and lawns and benches that attract a cross section of the city—streetpeople, office workers, bicycle messengers, chess players, and people with a cause. This is the place to come for specialty bookstores, more than 21 private art galleries, and restaurants of almost every ethnic persuasion. A walk along Massachusetts Avenue from Dupont to Sheridan circles will take you past some of the city's most remarkable turn-of-the-century mansions. Side streets north of the circle are rich in grand Victorian row houses. All of the following special attractions are accessible from the Dupont Circle Metro.
Anderson House, 2118 Massachusetts Ave., NW. This palace-like Beaux-Arts mansion, complete with 60-foot ballroom and grand marble staircase, completed in 1905 for Ambassador Larz Anderson, is now a house museum and the headquarters of the Society of the Cincinnati. Tues.–Sat. 1–4 p.m.
Kramerbooks and Afterwords, 1517 Connecticut Ave., NW. A favorite bookstore and gathering place with a cafe in the rear that is usually alive with activity—one of many specialty bookstores on Connecticut just north of Dupont Circle.
St. Matthew's Cathedral, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW. This exceptionally beautiful Catholic cathedral is embellished with fine mosaics and other works of art. It is most widely known as the site of John F. Kennedy's funeral. It is open to visitors and a call to (202) 347-3215 may yield a personal tour guide.
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C., at the Christian Heurich Mansion, 1307 New Hampshire Ave., NW. German immigrant brewer Christian Heurich hired German craftsmen to carve the elaborate woodwork and many of the furnishings of his grand home, which stands today almost as it was built and decorated in 1894. Today it is a house museum and the headquarters of the city's active historical society. The building also houses the society's library and changing exhibitions. Wed.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Phillips Collection, 1600 21st St., NW. The Phillips is the oldest museum of modern art in the nation, housed in the home of its creators, Duncan and Marjorie Phillips. The house and a modern addition provide intimate spaces to enjoy this exceptional collection, especially rich in French impressionists, postimpressionists, and cubists. Mon.–Sat. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun. noon–7 p.m.
Large government offices, international agencies, a major university, and apartment buildings now dominate this neighborhood on the Potomac River (just west of the White House) that once housed some of the city's few industries and many of its German, Irish, and African American workers. Evidence of this past can be found in the charming streetscapes and small row houses of a tiny historic district bounded roughly by the 24th and 26th streets, NW, and H and K streets, NW (immediately west of the Foggy Bottom Metro at 23rd Street). Just outside the district at 23rd and G streets is St. Mary's Episcopal Church, designed by James Renwick for an African American congregation immediately after the Civil War.
Today the leading tourist attractions are the Kennedy Center and the adjacent Watergate apartment building, where the Nixon-era scandals began. One can enjoy the grand public spaces of the Kennedy Center and its terrace overlooking the Potomac River even without tickets to events in its five theaters. Just enter from New Hampshire Avenue, NW, off Virginia Avenue, 10 a.m.–9 p.m., or call (202) 416-8341 for tour information.
The Foggy Bottom Metro stop also puts you on the George Washington University campus, which can be best explored by walking east on H Street. The Marvin Center at 21st and H streets, NW, is the center of student activity and Lisner Auditorium just across the street is home to a popular theater and the Dimock Art Gallery. Walking west on I Street will take you into the historic district and beyond that to the banks of the Potomac River where you can stop in at Thompson's Boat House and stroll along the riverside path that leads to the Lincoln Memorial and the Mall.
Georgia Avenue is one of the historic routes north out of the old Washington City. A drive along its length from Florida Avenue to the District's boundary illustrates the changing demographics of the city's neighborhoods. At one point many of the businesses served a Jewish community. Today the avenue is multicultural with a strong African American presence and a growing Caribbean flavor. Major stops along the way might include the following.
Howard University, entrance to the campus at Howard Pl. and Georgia Ave., NW. Howard University, founded in 1867, has made Washington, D.C., a world capital of black life and culture. By 1960, it had trained more than 50 percent of the nation's African American doctors and dentists and about 95 percent of its black lawyers. A visit to the campus might include the Howard University Museum and Moorland-Spingarn Research Center in Founders Library, and the James V. Herring Gallery of Art in the School of Fine Arts.
Fort Stevens, 13th and Quackenbos Sts., NW. Preserved here are some of the earthworks of the only fort in Washington to see military action during the Civil War. President Lincoln himself came to watch the successful defeat of a Confederate attack by General Jubal T. Early in July 1864.
The National Museum of Health and Medicine, in Walter Reed Army Medical Center, 6825 16th St., NW, Building 54. The museum offers changing educational exhibits on a variety of issues in health and medicine and a permanent collection of medical specimens dating back to the Civil War.
Georgetown predates the District of Columbia, having been first laid out in 1751 as a port for Maryland tobacco growers. Included in the District when it was created in 1790, Georgetown nevertheless retained its political autonomy and much of its economic independence until the 1870s. Today its quaint, tree-shaded streets lined with fine Federal and Victorian row houses, many occupied by famous and powerful residents past and present, make it the city's best known neighborhood. Wisconsin Avenue and M Street are still premier destinations for shopping, dining, and night life, although Adams Morgan, Old Downtown, and, for the younger set, Shaw, are giving Georgetown a run for its money.
Here are some places of historical interest often missed by visitors to the city. Georgetown can be reached from the Foggy Bottom Metro at 23rd and I streets, a 15-minute walk, or the Rosslyn Metro, a 10-minute walk across the Key Bridge.
The Chesapeake and Ohio Canal runs parallel to the Potomac River south of M Street, NW. The goal for this canal, begun in 1828, was to connect the new federal capital with the Ohio River Valley and make the capital a center of commerce as well as government. Funds ran out, however, and the canal stopped at Cumberland, Maryland, in 1850. Today the entire length of the canal is a national park and the towpath through Georgetown and on to Cumberland is a popular hiking and biking trail.
Dumbarton House, 2715 Q St., NW. Completed in 1804 by Joseph Nourse, the first registrar of the U.S. Treasury, this house is a showcase for 18th- and 19th-century furnishings and fine arts. It is also the headquarters of the Colonial Dames of America. Guided tours Tues.. 10 a.m.–12:15 p.m.
Dumbarton Oaks, 1703 32nd St., NW. A 16-acre estate owned by Harvard University. The circa 1800 house and the striking modern addition designed by Philip Johnson now house the university's collections of Byzantine and pre-Columbian art. Adjoining the house are 10 acres of gardens landscaped by Beatrix Farrand. Meetings leading to the creation of the United Nations were held here. Tues.–Sat. 2–5 p.m.
Old Stone House, 3051 M St., NW. One of the oldest structures in the District, this 1760s house is operated by the National Park Service as a historic house-museum, the only such museum in the city from the colonial period. Mon.–Tues. 9 a.m.–2 p.m; Wed.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
Tudor Place, 1644 31st St., NW. This 1816, Federal-era mansion was the home of Martha Parke Custis (granddaughter of Martha Washington) and her husband Thomas Peter. Members of this family lived here for six generations until 1984, leaving their marks in the art, furnishings, and memorabilia in the house. Designed by the first architect of the U.S. Capitol, Tudor Place is considered one of the foremost Federal-style mansions in America. Tues.–Fri. 10–11:30 a.m.; 1–2:30 p.m.
Washington Harbour, on the Potomac River at 30th St., NW. For a very different Washington experience, take a walk on the Potomac River boardwalk of this dramatic, mixed-use postmodern building designed by Arthur Cotton Moore. Restaurants surround a fountain court just off the boardwalk—one of the few dining places in the city with a water view.
Lost in the shadow of their illustrious neighbor, the White House, the following fine historical and cultural attractions are too often missed by visitors to the city. While Georgetown across Rock Creek is older, this is one of the earliest neighborhoods in the city designed by Pierre L'Enfant, known as Washington City, and some of its original fabric remains. The places listed below can all be reached from the Farragut North Metro on the Red Line.
The DAR Museum, 1776 D St., NW. This Beaux-Arts style memorial hall of the Daughters of the American Revolution houses an exceptional collection of American decorative and fine arts, displayed in 33 period rooms and in changing and permanent exhibits. Mon.–Fri. 8:30 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sun. 1–5 p.m.
Decatur House Museum, 748 Jackson Pl., NW. From naval war hero Stephen Decatur, the house's first owner, to preservationist and socialite Marie Beale, Decatur House has witnessed more than 170 years of Washington society and politics from its prominent corner of Lafayette Square. It was the first house on the square, completed in 1818, and with the Octagon and St. John's Church, it stands in remembrance of the earliest days of the capital. Tues.–Fri. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.; Sat.–Sun. noon–4 p.m.
Lafayette Square, immediately north of the White House. Also informally known as the "president's park," Lafayette Square was included in the L'Enfant plan for the city in 1791. The park is a beautifully designed public space, with statuary enhanced by lawns and walkways.
The Octagon, 1799 New York Ave., NW. John Tayloe hired the first architect of the capitol, William Thornton, to design this home for him just steps from the White House. It was completed in 1802. President and Mrs. Madison lived here briefly; the Treaty of Ghent was signed in the upstairs parlor. The tour of this house emphasizes architecture, augmented by architectural exhibits on the second floor. Tues.–Sun. 10 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art, 500 17th St., NW. Washington's own private art gallery, the Corcoran was founded in 1869 by local philanthropist William Wilson Corcoran and today has one of the most comprehensive collections of American art anywhere. This is its second home, completed in 1897. Wed.–Mon. 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs. 10 a.m.–9 p.m.; closed Tues.
The Renwick Gallery, 17th and Constitution Ave., NW. This fanciful structure, the first major French-inspired building in America, was created by architect James Renwick to house the first Corcoran Gallery of Art. Today it is owned by the Smithsonian Institution and displays the creative achievements of American designers and craftspeople. Open daily 10 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
The U.S. Department of Interior Museum, 1849 C St., NW. This museum highlights the great variety of activities carried out by the department, from its former responsibility for land grants for railroads to its current production of satellite image maps. Mon.–Fri. 8 a.m.–5 p.m.
The Treasury Building, 15th and Pennsylvania Ave., NW. Guided tours of the restored historic rooms of one of Washington's earliest federal buildings (built 1836–69) are offered Saturday mornings.
St. John's Church, Lafayette Square, 16th and H Sts., NW. Located across the square from the White House, every president since James Madison has worshipped here. It was designed by the second architect of the U.S. Capitol, Benjamin Latrobe. The doors are open 9 a.m.–3 p.m. daily; tours are available after the 11 a.m. Sunday service.
Old Anacostia, laid out in 1854, just across the Anacostia River at the end of the 11th Street Bridge, is the oldest suburban development in the District of Columbia. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, parts of the neighborhood retain a 19th-century streetscape of small wooden houses built for working people, many of them employed at the Navy Yard just across the river. It began as a whites-only development, but by 1878 Frederick Douglass was its most famous resident, having purchased the grandest home in the neighborhood, that of the developer John Van Hook, who had gone bankrupt. Today the neighborhood is central to the history of African Americans in the District of Columbia, along with an adjoining neighborhood, Barry's Farm, created for African Americans just after the Civil War by the Freedmen's Bureau. The following sites are best visited by car because distances are great and some areas of these neighborhoods are not suited for pedestrians.
Cedar Hill, 14th and W Sts., SE. This imposing Gothic Revival house on a hilltop in Old Anacostia was the home of abolitionist, orator, and author Frederick Douglass from 1878 to his death in 1895. Almost all of the objects and decorations in the house are original and carry his strong presence. This site is owned and interpreted by the National Park Service, which also operates a tourist center where a short orientation film on the life of Douglass may be seen. There is a large parking lot. Open daily 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Anacostia Museum, 1901 Fort Pl., SE. One of the first community-based museums in the nation, this branch of the Smithsonian Institution now exhibits the African American history and culture of the Upper South (Georgia to Maryland). Topics for exhibits range from contemporary art to community history. Open daily 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Site of Fort Stanton and Washington overlook, in the parking lot of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, 1600 Morris Rd., NE (on the way to the Anacostia Museum). The panoramic view from this site, one of the highest in the District, illustrates why this ridge overlooking the Anacostia River was the site of a series of Civil War forts. While the remains of Fort Stanton are overgrown in an adjacent woods, a National Park Service sign illustrates the importance of this site to the circle of forts that surrounded the city.
Washington's 19th-century downtown is emerging as a center for the arts, sports, and dining. The new MCI Center at 7th and F streets is home to the Washington Capitals hockey team, the Washington Wizards basketball team, an interactive sports museum, and a new flagship store of the Discovery Channel that offers unique merchandise in a museum-like setting. The store offers a 90-minute tour of historic sites in downtown on weekends at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Seventh Street south from the center to Pennsylvania Avenue is lined with fine 19th-century commercial buildings finding new uses as art galleries, book stores, and fine restaurants. (Look up to the third floor windows at 437 7th Street, and you will see a small picture of Clara Barton—a surprise discovery of papers and memorabilia has just identified this as her office and home while she searched for lost soldiers after the Civil War.) Downtown is full of historical and architectural treasures often missed by Washington visitors, even though it is just a few blocks from the Mall.
Chinatown, centered on 7th and H Sts., NW. The largest single-span Chinese arch in the world at 7th and H marks the entrance to Washington's Chinatown with its array of colorful restaurants (Gallery Place Metro).
Ford's Theatre and the Lincoln Museum, 511 10th St., NW, and the Peterson House, 516 10th St., NW. The site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination still functions as a theater, with a museum in the basement dedicated to the fallen president. The full experience includes a visit to the Peterson House across the street where the room in which he died is preserved (Metro Center).
National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, between E and F and 4th and 5th Sts, NW. The names of America's federal, state, and local law enforcers are engraved on the walls of this striking new memorial just south of the Building Museum, dedicated in 1991. Associated exhibits are located at a visitors center at 605 E Street (Judiciary Square Metro).
Shakespeare Theatre, 450 7th St., NW. This nationally acclaimed theater dedicated to the bard began life at the Folger Library and has recently moved to this larger new theater in the former Landsburgh's department store in the growing downtown arts district (Gallery Place Metro).
The Canadian Embassy, 501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. The dramatic courtyard fronting on the avenue features hanging gardens, sculpture, and the mysterious sounds of its Rotunda of the Provinces (Judiciary Square Metro).
The Lillian and Albert Small Museum, 701 3rd St., NW. The museum of the Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington is housed in the original Adas Israel Synagogue, the oldest Jewish house of worship in the city (Judiciary Square Metro).
The National Building Museum, 401 F St., NW. This is the only museum in the world dedicated to the who, what, and why of American building. It is housed in the dramatic spaces of the historic Pension Building, whose soaring central atrium has been the scene of many inaugural balls (Judiciary Square Metro).
The National Portrait Gallery, 8th and F Sts., NW, and the National Museum of American Art, 8th and G Sts, NW. These two exceptional Smithsonian museums are too often missed because of their off-the-Mall location. They share the extraordinary pre-Civil War Patent Office building, whose grand hallways and galleries enhance the experience of their fine permanent collections and changing exhibits (Gallery Place Metro).
U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center, 701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW. This grand plaza at Pennsylvania Avenue and 8th Street, surrounded by fountains, is often the site for concerts and celebrations. Exhibits, a film, Navy log, and gift shop are located in the adjacent visitors center (Archives or Gallery Place Metro).
Shaw is a modern name for a neighborhood just north of downtown in Northwest Washington that was the heart of the city's African American community from about 1900 to the 1950s. U Street was its boulevard, lined with black businesses, professional offices, restaurants, and billiard parlors. It was also Washington's Black Broadway, with three first-run movie theaters and nightclubs that featured all of the great African American entertainers, including Duke Ellington who grew up and got his start in the neighborhood, native Washingtonian Billy Eckstine, Pearl Bailey, Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway, Jelly Roll Morton, and many others. It is unique in its close relationship to Howard University located on its northern edge; national leaders in medicine, law, education, science, and the arts both lived and worked in the area. The end of legal segregation and then riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. in April 1968 brought physical and social decline.
Today the neighborhood is experiencing a renaissance. Its fine Victorian brick row houses and major historic buildings—many financed, built, and designed by African Americans—are being restored. New nightclubs and restaurants are making this an entertainment mecca once again, this time for young people, black and white. One can experience this revitalizing neighborhood by taking the Metro to the U Street-Cardozo stop (exit at 13th Street), and walking several blocks on U Street in either direction. Notice the community-based exhibit of Shaw history on the sidewalk in the 1300 block, and the new Duke Ellington mural by G. Byron Peck at the subway stop. In addition to the restaurants noted in your restaurant guide, here are a few places of special interest.
African American Civil War Memorial, 10th and U Sts. and Vermont Ave., NW (at the Vermont Avenue exit of the U Street-Cardozo Metro). The only national memorial to African American soldiers in the Civil War, this new National Park Service monument features the Spirit of Freedom, a sculpture by African American sculptor Ed Hamilton, and the inscribed names of more than 208,000 black soldiers and their white officers.
The Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U St., NW. A first-run movie theater built in 1922 for African Americans that has been restored to its pristine gilt-edged glory. Access is limited to attendance at theater performances.
Ben's Chili Bowl, 1213 U St., NW. A 40-year-old neighborhood gathering place where one goes to find out what is happening. It hasn't changed since Bill Cosby courted his wife here; he still returns for the ambience and the chili dogs.