Riding the 70?

Metrobus Route 70 travels through some of DC’s oldest neighborhoods and passes by many buildings associated with Black history in the city. Sites highlighted along the route range from monumental federal buildings to local historic fire stations and theaters. As you move along the route, notice the varying architectural styles which date the expanding DC boundaries over time. For example, firehouses became a welcome addition to existing communities as distinctive landmarks, or even predicted future neighborhood development near the boundaries of the District.

Buses on Route 70 also travel through the campus of Howard University, one of the most prestigious Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in the United States. One of the four earliest campus buildings is visible from Georgia Avenue, as is Minor Hall (formerly Minor Normal School), which trained generations of Black educators for eighty years. Some of the oldest Black life insurance companies and other offices, apartments, and stores are also found along this stretch of the route. As Route 70 moves south towards the downtown area, historic buildings such as the O Street Market serve as reminders of the diverse community of Black and European immigrants who lived in neighborhoods along Georgia Avenue and Seventh Street.

Larger federal buildings and monuments dot the landscape as Route 70 traverses the part of the city closest to the National Mall. Namely, the Old Patent Office and the National Bank of Washington demonstrate the nation’s commitment to scientific and economic development throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Additionally landmarked features such as the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial and the idiosyncratic Temperance Fountain reflect some of the civic priorities of the Progressive Era, from Civil War veterans’ affairs to temperance.

This tour hopes to draw your attention to the hidden gems along this route. Start at the historic site that’s closest to you! If you're traveling south on Route 70, click “Next” to follow along. If you’re traveling north, click “Previous.”

Battleground National Cemetery

In July 1864, the Battle of Fort Stevens marked the defeat of Confederate General Jubal Anderson Early’s campaign to launch an offensive attack on the national capital. During the battle, fifty-nine Union soldiers perished, while there were…

Sheridan Theater

The Sheridan complex includes the Sheridan Theatre and eight associated brick storefronts. The complex is an intact, highly stylized Art Deco design by master architect John Eberson (1875-1964). Eberson designed fourteen theaters in the DC area. The…

Emory United Methodist Church

The Brightwood area was originally part of a rural, sparsely populated county when DC was established. Built in 1832, Emory United Methodist Church demonstrates the growth of the Brightwood community spanning over 180 years. Emory was the only…

Engine Company No. 22

Originally constructed in 1892 to house Chemical Company No. 2, the site of Engine Company No. 22 had ideal access to serve the emerging neighborhoods of Brightwood and Takoma Park. Established in developing areas that lacked public water service,…

MacFarland Junior High School

The rapid development of Petworth in the three decades after 1900 meant that it needed new schools. Until the early 1920s, there was only a single elementary school in the neighborhood. Addressing what has been characterized as a crisis in school…

Theodore Roosevelt High School

Roosevelt High School was founded in 1890 as Business High School, then DC’s only institution devoted to instruction in business. The co-educational and segregated school had an itinerant early history until it moved into its first purpose-built home…

Petworth Neighborhood Library

Construction of the Petworth Library (historically known as Petworth Branch Library) was long in the making. The first expressed desire for a library in the community came in 1927 when the Petworth Women’s Club library committee, with support from…

Engine Company No. 24

As the first fully motorized fire company in Washington, DC, Engine Company No. 24 demonstrates the technological advancements of firehouses in the early-twentieth century. Built originally to house horses and horse-drawn equipment in 1911, the…

Miner Normal School

Myrtilla Miner (1815-1864), a pioneer for Black female education, established the “Normal School for Colored Girls,” also known as the “Miner School for Girls” in 1851; its eventual large, three-story, symmetrically-massed Colonial Revival brick…

General Oliver Otis Howard House

The General Oliver Otis Howard House (1830-1909), today known as Howard Hall, was one of four early campus buildings at Howard University and the only one to survive to the present. Built in 1867, it was the home of General Oliver Otis Howard, the…

Banneker Recreation Center

Named for Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806), the Black surveyor who worked with Andrew Ellicott (1754-1820) in surveying DC, the Banneker Recreation Center was the premier Black recreation center in a period when DC municipal facilities were segregated.…

Southern Aid Society Building-Dunbar Theater Building

While Black architect Isaiah T. Hatton (1883-1921) designed the building in the Italian Renaissance Revival style, Reginald W. Geare (1889-1927) designed the movie theater on the first floor of the 1921 building. Similar to other establishments in…

The Lafayette

Constructed in 1898, this four-story, twelve-unit apartment building is one of 105 purpose-built multiple-family dwellings constructed in DC between 1880 and 1900. Today, only thirteen such buildings remain. The Lafayette illustrates late-nineteenth…

Barker Company Warehouse

Built in 1906 by George M. Barker Company, this warehouse accommodated the millwork and lumber firm established just after the Civil War. As DC experienced rapid population growth, construction projects proliferated across the city, and the Barker…

O Street Market

The O Street Market exemplifies the large, functional, well-designed market buildings erected in DC under the massive public works campaign headed by Alexander “Boss” Shepherd. After the Civil War, DC sought to revamp its small-town image. To do so,…

Seventh Street Savings Bank

Formed in 1912, the Seventh Street Savings Bank is an example of a small, independent bank—a type of financial institution that, prior to the Federal Reserve Act of 1914, specifically catered to the various DC neighborhoods; it served the financial…

Seventh Street NW, East Side of 1000 Block

The 1000 block of Seventh Street was built, for the most part, shortly after the Civil War, reflecting the growth that the entire city of DC experienced at that time. While the earliest building on the block may date from the 1860s, most were built…

The Bulletin Building

Erected in 1928, the Bulletin Building housed the offices and printing press of the United Publishing Company, publisher of The Bulletin. The Bulletin, founded in 1894 by Thomas C. Noyes (1868-1912), was a large, single-sheet tabloid posted at…

Old Patent Office

While it’s currently the National Portrait Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Old Patent Office reflects an era when scientific invention propelled the American economy and began to mold the national character. Although more than a…

National Bank of Washington

The National Bank of Washington was organized under the name “Bank of Washington” in 1809. It was the first Washington bank of purely local origin and interest, being preceded only by a branch bank of the First Bank of the United States. Throughout…

Temperance Fountain

Having made his fortune in dentistry and San Francisco real estate, Dr. Henry D. Cogswell (1820-1900) used his fortunes to advance the temperance cause, or the movement to curb alcohol consumption throughout the United States. Cogswell in particular…

Major General Winfield Scott Hancock Statue

This bronze equestrian statue honors Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), a career US Army officer who served during the Mexican-American War and Civil War. He is remembered in particular for his leadership at the Battle of Gettysburg, where he…

Central National Bank (Apex Building)

The Central National Bank, also known as the Dorothy I. Height Building or Apex Building, is now the national headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women. The twin-turreted, former bank was one of a cluster of financial buildings that…

National Archives

Throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, US government agencies and branches were responsible for maintaining their own documents, often resulting in the loss and destruction of records. In 1934, Congress created the National Archives…