Riding the 30s?

Routes 30N and 30S are some of the most popular and oldest Metrobus routes. The 30N/30S incorporates paths along old streetcar lines as well as Washington and Georgetown Railroad lines. Buses originally began running along Wisconsin and Pennsylvania Avenues in 1936; over time, lines and stops changed to better transport Washingtonians and visitors across the city.

Looking out the bus window, historic sites along this route provide a glimpse into the development of DC’s financial district, the federal sector, and the city’s expanding neighborhoods from the late-nineteenth through the twentieth centuries.

In the downtown portion of the route, many of the landmarks that can be seen along Pennsylvania and Independence Avenues are federal structures built in the early to mid-twentieth century during a major expansion of the Federal government’s powers and size. On Pennsylvania Avenue between Eleventh and Twelfth Streets NW, riders can see the Old Post Office. Designed in the Romanesque Revival style, it served as DC’s general post office from its completion in 1899 to 1914. In the early 1970s, plans to demolish the iconic structure led to protests and the foundation of Don’t Tear It Down, the predecessor of the DC Preservation League.

The bus also travels through part of the Fifteenth Street Financial Historic District. Several landmarks along the street are banks or trust companies established in the early-twentieth century, such as the Hibbs Building. The prevalent Beaux Arts architecture among these landmarks was greatly inspired by the City Beautiful Movement, which emphasized beautification and monumental grandeur in city planning.

Northwestern landmarks along Wisconsin Avenue represent the innovations and growth which developed the suburban outer neighborhoods of Washington, such as Tenleytown. One of the sites related to this history is the Sears, Roebuck, and Company Department Store, which stands as a reminder of mid-twentieth century innovations in department store design for the increasing mobile and suburban population.

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 going north, click “Next” to follow along. If you’re going south, click “Previous” to follow along.

Engine Company No. 19

In hopes of attracting buyers to his new neighborhood, developer Arthur E. Randle (1859-1929) donated the land upon which to build a firehouse after successfully lobbying Congress to appropriate the funds for its construction. Designed by…

Old Naval Hospital (Temporary Home for Veterans of All Wars)

Three years into the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln petitioned Congress to build DC’s first Naval hospital. Built by July 1866, the Old Naval Hospital provided medical services to American veterans in the US Navy. The hospital served sick and wounded…

House Office Building (Cannon House Office Building)

The House Chamber in the Capitol opened in 1857, but the number of representatives quickly grew from 193 to 391, as more states joined the Union with westward expansion. As more constituents and growing workloads put increasing amounts of pressure on…

Social Security Administration (Wilbur J. Cohen Building)

The Wilbur J. Cohen Building, formerly the Social Security Administration Building, is a monumental presence amongst significant public buildings on the National Mall. The building is part of the modern architectural movement of the first half of the…

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…

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…

Old Post Office

Designed by architect Henry Hobson Richardson (1838-1886), the Old Post Office is one of Washington’s significant Romanesque Revival buildings on a monumental scale. It was the first Federal building erected on Pennsylvania Avenue in the area now…

Evening Star Building

Constructed between 1898 and 1900, the Evening Star Building is notable for its association with the Evening Star Newspaper Company, which occupied the building from 1900 to 1959. The paper’s tenancy in this building largely coincided with its…

General William Tecumseh Sherman Monument

This bronze equestrian statue of General William Tecumseh Sherman memorializes his service in the Civil War for the Union Army. At the corners of the granite pedestal stand bronze soldiers representing four branches of the army: infantry on the…

Hotel Washington

Designed by the architectural firm Carrère and Hastings, the ten-story, Beaux-Arts hotel is the only commercial building designed by the New York firm in Washington, DC. Completed in 1918, Hotel Washington’s facade features cream colored sgraffito…

Riggs Building (Keith-Albee Building)

Erected in 1912, the Riggs or Albee Building and the adjoining theater were built on a site formerly occupied by the Riggs House, a large hotel demolished in 1911. Originally, the building was known as the Riggs Building, and the adjoining theater as…

National Metropolitan Bank

The distinctive Beaux Arts facade of the National Metropolitan Bank Building forms a strong architectural unit with the adjacent Riggs Building, balancing Robert Mills’ east side of the Treasury Department and complementing it in scale, style, and…

American Security and Trust Company

The American Security Bank was founded in 1889 in Alexandria, Virginia, as a banking and trust firm, with an additional branch in DC. It was the second trust company established in DC and the first to offer a woman’s department. By 1903, business had…

National Savings and Trust Company

The National Savings and Trust Company is a historic banking building, known also as the National Safe Deposit Company and the National Safe Deposit Savings and Trust Company. The National Safe Deposit Company was chartered in 1867 through an act of…

Hibbs Building (Folger Building)

Established in 1889, the stock brokerage firm W. B. Hibbs & Co. was the only member of the New York Stock Exchange headquartered in DC at the time. By 1908, W. B. Hibbs & Co. moved into this new office space. Architects Jules Henri de Sibour…

Union Trust Company

Organized in 1899, the Union Trust and Storage Company is one of DC’s earliest trust organizations. Operating both as a storage concern and a trust company, the organization served as a depository for both material and fiduciary resources held by…

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…

Army and Navy Club

The Army and Navy Club was founded in 1885 as the United Service Club. Initially, membership was limited to war veterans, but later extended its membership eligibility to all officers and ex-officers of the Army, Navy, and Marines. By 1891, the club…

Hill Building

At the time of the Hill Building’s construction in 1925, commercial real estate development in downtown DC started replacing pre-Victorian and Victorian residential buildings. These former residences, many of which then housed private and…

Alibi Club

The Alibi Club was a private social club consisting of prominent political and social figures; its name derived from the club practice of providing an alibi when the whereabouts of a member was questioned by the member’s family. The club was…

The Luzon (The Westover)

Built in 1896, The Luzon is one of the 105 multiple-family dwellings built in DC between 1880 and 1900, of which, only thirteen remain. The building has five stories, the ground floor being used for commercial or institutional purposes, and…

Mullett Rowhouses

Designed in 1889 by architect Alfred B. Mullett (1834-1890), the Mullett Rowhouses can be found in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. This row of Queen Anne style residences were built of red brick with sandstone trim. Each building features large…

West Heating Plant

The West Heating Plant, originally known as the West Central Heating Plant, was designed by consulting architect William Dewey Foster (1890-1958), working under successive Supervising Architects of the Public Buildings Administration, Louis A. Simon…

Old Stone House

Built in 1765 in the then British colony of Maryland, the Old Stone House was already fifty-nine years old when the British invaded Washington in 1814. Although it is preserved for its architecture today, it was originally preserved through a case of…

City Tavern

From 1796 through the mid-nineteenth century, the City Tavern provided a focus for community activity in Georgetown as a site of community meetings, business functions, and transportation. The building was at the crossroads of the early capital and…

Alban Towers

Situated diagonally across from Washington National Cathedral on one of the highest points in the city, the Alban Towers apartment complex is notable for its distinctive architecture. In 1925, a proposed zoning regulation allowing for the…

Washington National Cathedral

A Protestant Episcopal church, the Washington National Cathedral has a distinct ecumenical character, as it functions as the national church called for in the 1792 Plan of the Federal City. Beginning construction in 1907, the stone, English…

The Highlands (Sidwell Friends School)

Erected between 1817 and 1827 by the first United States Register of the Treasury, Joseph Nourse (1754-1841), The Highlands is a late-Georgian styled home. The Nourse family, who owned and lived in the house for a century, were prominent…

Equitable Life Insurance Company (Fannie Mae Headquarters)

The Equitable Life Insurance Company was founded in Washington in 1885. Following World War II, the industry entered an age of major expansion and significant profit as it invested life insurance funds in housing mortgages. During the 1950s,…

Engine Company No. 20

Engine Company No. 20 was the first major public structure built in Tenleytown in 1900. At the time, Tenleytown was at the edge of the Washington, DC border. Soon after, the nearby residential subdivisions of Armsleigh Park (1892) and American…

Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store

The Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store is the largest structure in Tenleytown’s commercial area, which includes churches, schools, and public buildings. Built between 1940 and 1941, the store was designed by the Sears company’s chief…

PEPCO Harrison Street Substation

Founded in 1891, the Potomac Electric Company merged with the Washington Railway and Electric Company to become the Potomac Electric Power Company (PEPCO) in 1902. In 1907, PEPCO established a new central generating power plant along Benning Road,…

Western Union Telegraph Company (Washington Radio Terminal)

The Western Union Telegraph Company Tenley Radio Terminal is a landmark in engineering history. Built between 1945 and 1947, it served as a transmission and receiving station in an experimental radio relay triangle connecting New York, Philadelphia,…

Western Bus Garage

Built in the first decade of the twentieth century, the car barn on Wisconsin Avenue sits on the eastern side of the square. This site of transportation contributed significantly to the development of DC, particularly the city’s expansion of…