Riding the X2?

The X2 is one of the oldest bus lines in DC, based on what was originally a streetcar line known as Route 10. Created in 1871, Route 10 was first run with horse trolleys, then electric cars. In 1949, the line was converted into a bus route and continued to serve this important thoroughfare in the city.

The historic sites along this route show the diversity of experiences across the DC. For instance, on the east end of the route, the Langston Golf Course is a testament to efforts by the federal government to provide equal access to recreational facilities for DC’s Black residents. The Langston Terrace Dwellings demonstrates further federal intervention, as the city’s first federally-funded public housing project.

Further west, the H Street Corridor represents an important commercial corridor for Black communities in NE, DC. Many buildings sustained damages from the 1968 riots and took years to rebuild. In recent years, gentrification threatens the neighborhood’s fabric as long-time residents become displaced with rising prices and redevelopment.

Metrobus X2 crosses through DC’s present-day Chinatown area. In the early 1930s, DC’s first Chinatown at Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street NW was demolished to make way for government buildings. One of the featured sites, On Leong Tong, headquarters of the city’s preeminent Chinese benevolent association, played a pivotal role in the relocation of the community to its present location in the vicinity of 600 H Street NW.

The X2 bus route also has strong connections to DC’s executive core. The bus passes Lafayette Square near First Lady Dolley Madison’s house, Ashburton House )where the Webster Ashburton Treaty of 1842 was signed), and Saint John’s Church. Due to its position near the White House, Lafayette Square is the site of many public demonstrations, giving it greater symbolic importance as a site of political and social expression. Notably, in 2020 DC Mayor Muriel Bowser renamed a section of Sixteenth Street NW just north of Lafayette Square as Black Lives Matter Plaza, following protests that summer over racial equality.

This tour hopes to draw your attention to the hidden gems along your daily commute or your trip from one historic site to the next. Start at the historic site that’s closest to you! If you’re traveling west on the X2, click “Next” to follow along. If you’re traveling east, click “Previous.”

Langston Golf Course Historic District

Opened in June 1939, the eighteen-hole golf course was named for John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), who was the first dean of the Howard University School of Law, the first president of Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute (now Virginia State…

Langston Terrace Dwellings

Named for John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), the Langston Terrace Dwellings was the first of eight housing projects designed by Hilyard R. Robinson (1899-1986), a noted Black Bauhaus-trained architect and pioneer in government housing for the poor.…

Kingman Park Historic District

The Kingman Park Historic District, located at the northeastern end of today’s Capitol Hill, was principally developed during the late 1920s through 1940s as a residential neighborhood for African Americans. The district was part of a larger area…

Mott Motors (Plymouth Theater)

Built in 1928, the one-story commercial Mott Motors building typifies the small automobile dealerships that fostered the transformation of traditional retail streets into automobile-oriented shopping strips. Designed by the noted local firm Upman…

Union Station and Plaza

One of the first great union terminals, this imperial station with its vast interior spaces was the cornerstone of the McMillan Commission’s efforts to revive Pierre L’Enfant’s original plan of the city. Following the 1901 McMillan Commission, its…

Jefferson Apartment Building

Constructed in 1899, The Jefferson apartment building is one of 105 multiple-family dwellings built in DC between 1880 and 1900, of which only thirteen remain. This four-story structure contains eight apartments, two units on each floor; it also has…

General Accountability Office

The General Accountability Office (GAO) provides auditing, evaluation, and investigation for the United States Congress. Its headquarters occupies nearly all of Square 518, bounded by G, H, Fourth, and Fifth Streets. The exterior of the seven-story…

Mary Surratt House

The Mary Elizabeth Surratt Boarding House is an 1843 vernacular Greek Revival dwelling that Mary Surratt operated as a boarding house from September 1864 through April 1865. During this period, John Wilkes Booth visited the boarding house both…

On Leong Chinese Merchants Association

The Chinese Merchants Association Building is significant as the long-time home of On Leong Tong, the City’s preeminent Chinese benevolent association. In the early 1930s, when DC’s first Chinatown at Pennsylvania Avenue and Fourth Street NW was…

Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company

Founded in 1883, Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone Company provided telephone service to Washington, DC and eventually Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia. The construction of this building in 1928 allowed the Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone…

Masonic Temple (Museum of Women in the Arts)

Designed by Wood, Donn and Deming between 1903 to 1907, the grand Masonic Temple served throughout most of the twentieth century as the headquarters of DC’s Grand Lodge, which counted many important national figures among its members. Situated on a…

United Mine Workers of America (The University Club)

Built in 1912 as the University Club, this building is now more closely associated with the legendary union leader John L. Lewis (1880-1969). A self-made man, Lewis was president of the United Mine Workers of America for more than forty years. In…

Cutts-Madison House

Also known as the Dolley Madison House, the Cutts-Madison house was constructed on Lafayette Square by Richard Cutts, who built the American-colonial style house for himself and his wife, Anna Payne Cutts (the sister of Dolley Payne Madison). The…

General Thaddeus Kosciuszko Statue

As a young Polish-Lithuanian military engineer, Kościuszko offered his service in the American Revolution. This memorial to Polish Brigadier General Kościuszko was presented by the Polish Alliance and the Polish American people of the United States.…

Ashburton House

Built in 1836, Ashburton House served as a home for British diplomats. For instance, the residence hosted the ten month American-British negotiations that eventually led to the Webster-Ashburton Treaty of 1842, which resolved the long-standing…

Saint John’s Church

Due to its close proximity to the White House, Saint John’s Church is known as the “Church of the Presidents”; accordingly, every President since James Madison has attended at least one service there. A prayer book in one of the pews contains the…

Lafayette Square Historic District

Lafayette Square is the formal public park opposite the White House, and with its surrounding frame of buildings constitutes the Lafayette Square Historic District. The Historic District includes government buildings, residences, and other structures…