The residential and commercial center of Washington’s African-American community between 1900 and 1950, this “city within a city” shows how African-Americans responded to intense racial segregation and discrimination by creating their own neighborhood with hundreds of businesses, schools, churches, institutions, and entertainment facilities. The area served as the home to many prominent intellectuals, educators, and entertainers, as well as civic, civil rights, and religious leaders; it also contains a number of institutional buildings constructed by African-American architects and builders who have made significant contributions to the architectural heritage of the District of Columbia.
The buildings in the district record the full development of a Victorian-era streetcar neighborhood from the opening of the first streetcar line in 1862, through its mature development during the last decades of the 19th century and into the early 20th century. The district serves as an excellent illustration of the forces affecting the city’s development in this period, including the introduction of building codes, mass production of building elements, and the rise of a local industry of builders and real estate developers.
These entrepreneurs constructed groups of speculative row houses for a growing middle-class market, most typically in brick with projecting bays and picturesque roof lines. The resulting cohesive building stock reflects a rich variety of stylistic invention applied to the rowhouse form; interpretations of Italianate, Queen Anne, and Romanesque Revival styles prevail.
Contains approximately 1580 primary contributing buildings ca. 1862-1948.
DC designation: December 17, 1998 (effective January 11, 1999)