Riding the 96? (From Capitol Heights to Tenleytown)

Stretching across the District from Capitol Heights to Tenleytown, the 96 Metrobus route provides public transit to Washingtonians throughout numerous neighborhoods, as it travels several miles along major commercial thoroughfares past many historic landmarks and districts.


The 96 starts its journey at the Maryland stateline, near the far eastern corner of the District. The bus travels west along East Capitol Street, just north of Woodlawn Cemetery, the final resting place for many important Washingtonians, including Senator Blanche K. Bruce, the US Senate's second African American senator (1875-81), and Representative John Mercer Langston (1889-91), one of the first African American congressmen. After traveling over the Anacostia River and Kingman Island, the 96 makes two turns before moving northwest along Massachusetts Avenue.


As the 96 drives along Massachusetts Avenue, it passes through the Capitol Hill Historic District, DC's largest historic district. The bus also passes historic green spaces, including Lincoln Park —with its memorial to Mary McLeod Bethune — and Stanton Park, before arriving at the grand, Beaux-Arts style Union Station, which has served rail passengers since 1907. Shortly thereafter, the bus turns onto New Jersey Avenue NW and passes near the historic M Street High School. At one time, this was one of the premier institutions of African American education. The school included many well-known and influential faculty members and students in the years prior to Dunbar High School's opening in 1916 (just across New York Avenue).


At Florida Avenue NW, the 96's route joins up with the 90's route — the latter of which travels between the Anacostia Historic District and Adams Morgan neighborhood. As Florida Avenue turns into U Street, the two bus routes continue past important landmarks connected to "Black Broadway," the name given to U Street when this was the heart of Washington's Black culture and entertainment. These landmarks include the Howard and Lincoln theaters, amongst many others. Native Washingtonian Duke Ellington is just one artist who performed at venues in this neighborhood.

The bus then passes through the Strivers' Section Historic District, a small neighborhood of row homes and apartment buildings that was once the center of Washington's African American middle class and the home of many important leaders in the city's African American community.


The 96 then travels through Adams Morgan, where the 18th Street NW commercial strip is a popular, late night and weekend spot for locals, who congregate at the many restaurants and bars — and enjoy a slice (or two!) of jumbo slice pizza. The 90 ends its journey at the Duke Ellington Bridge, while the 96 continues across Rock Creek Park and through Woodley Park past three historic mansions: Woodley, Tregaron, which includes publicly-accessible grounds, and Twin Oaks.


After passing by the monumental Gothic architecture of the Washington National Cathedral, the 96 turns onto the last major thoroughfare of its cross-city route, Wisconsin Avenue. The bus passes by various landmarks, including the Williamsburg-inspired City Ridge development — the former home of the Equitable Life Insurance Company and Fannie Mae — the Grant Road Historic District, which is a remnant of rural Washington, and the one-time Sears, Roebuck, & Company in Tenleytown. This neighborhood is also the home of Fort Reno Park, the highest point in the District, and the former site of a Civil War era defense. The green space is adjacent to the Jesse Reno School, a physical reminder of Reno City, a once thriving African American community that was demolished, leading to the displacement of its residents.


This tour hopes to draw your attention to the historic and architecturally-significant gems along the 96 Metrobus route. Start at the historic site that’s closest to you! If you’re traveling northwest on the 96, click “Next” to follow along. If you’re traveling southeast, click “Previous.”

Woodlawn Cemetery

Woodlawn Cemetery is situated on a gently sloping plateau and is defined by hills, winding avenues, and diverse vegetation, as well as the panoramic views it offers of the District of Columbia's metropolitan area. Douglass Avenue, the main roadway,…

John Philip Sousa Junior High School

John Philip Sousa Junior High (now Middle) School, built in 1950, stands as a symbol of the lengthy conflict over the desegregation of public schools and the beginning of the modern civil rights movement. The school is nationally significant for its…

Anne Archbold Hall (Gallinger Hospital Nurses’ Residence)

Anne Archbold Hall was built in 1931-32 as the Nurses’ Residence of the Gallinger Municipal Hospital (later, Gallinger Memorial and ultimately D.C. General Hospital), which was a major teaching institution for the instruction of nurses.As home of the…

Nathanael Greene Statue

Dedicated in 1877, this bronze equestrian memorial honors Major General Nathanael Greene, a Revolutionary War general and commander of the Southern Department of the Continental Army. Greene sits erect upon his horse, holding the reins in his left…

Columbus Fountain

A grand fountain and sculpture combination, the Columbus Fountain at Union Station and Plaza tells the story of the explorer’s journey from Europe to the Americas in 1492. With multiple symbolic figures throughout its design, the fountain takes…

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…

City Post Office

The grand, Beaux Arts-style Washington City Post Office, built between 1911 and 1914, is notable both for its individual design as a monumental public  service building and for its important complementary visual and functional relationship to Union…

Joseph Gales School

Named after Washington, DC’s 8th mayor and owner of the National Intelligencer newspaper, the Joseph Gales School has served many purposes throughout its lifetime. Originally built in 1881, the Romanesque Revival building is one of the only…

Augusta Apartment Building

Built in 1900, the Augusta was a part of D.C.'s first wave of construction for apartment buildings, with Arthur B. Heaton as its main architect. Its mansion-like appearance allowed it to conceal its true purpose as an apartment building, and was…

M Street High School (Perry School)

Founded in 1870 as the Preparatory High School for Colored Youth, M Street High School navigated multiple makeshift locations until 1890 when Congress earmarked $112,000 for the construction of a dedicated building. The school ultimately found its…

Morse School

Located in the Shaw neighborhood of Washington, DC, the Morse School served many purposes after its opening in 1883 as an elementary school that exclusively served white children. Designed by an unidentified architect in the District’s Office of the…

LeDroit Park Historic District

Established in 1873, LeDroit Park represents an important aspect of the development of Washington. It is an early example of a planned, architecturally unified subdivision. This development of substantial detached and semi-detached homes, designed by…

Howard Theatre

Built in 1910, the Howard Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in the country that not only served Black audiences but provided a space for Black performers. For more than five decades of the twentieth century, the Howard Theatre stood at the…

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…

Prince Hall Masonic Temple

Founded in 1825 by both enslaved people and free Black people, Prince Hall Masonic Temple became the headquarters to the nation’s earliest and largest Black fraternity. When the Prince Hall Masonic Temple decided to move its original headquarters,…

True Reformer Building

The United Order of True Reformers served as a bank and insurance company that catered to the Black community and was the first major commission of prominent Black architect John A. Lankford. The building is considered one of the first in the United…

Ben's Chili Bowl

The Greater U Street Historic District is a Victorian-era neighborhood, developed largely between 1862 and 1900. The area consists of a coherent group of row houses constructed overwhelmingly by speculative builders and real estate developers along…

Lincoln Theatre

A major element of the historic U Street commercial corridor, the Lincoln Theatre is a rare early movie theater. The Lincoln was completed in 1921 in the sumptuous style of the grand movie palaces of the day. The neoclassical theater retains a high…

Greater U Street Historic District

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…

The Oswego and The Exeter

The Oswego and the Exeter, built respectively in 1900 and 1904, exemplified early low-rise apartment buildings in the city, as well as an early building commission for their architect, B. Stanley Simmons, who worked with developer Lester A. Barr on…

Congressional Club

The Congressional Club is a distinctive classical building with a prominent domed rotunda at the corner of Sixteenth Street and New Hampshire Avenue. Designed by architect George Oakley Totten Jr. (1866-1939), the 1914 building exemplifies the vision…

Strivers’ Section Historic District

Strivers' Section is a predominantly residential area with longstanding associations with leading individuals and institutions in Washington's African American community. It is characterized by late 19th and early-20th century row houses from the…

Washington Heights Historic District

The Washington Heights Historic District contains one of the most eclectic, yet cohesive collections of historic buildings in the Adams Morgan area. Platted in 1888, the neighborhood features intact groups of late 19th-century row houses along its…

Kalorama Triangle Historic District

The development of the Kalorama Triangle neighborhood illustrates the transition from a rural to an urban environment that marked Washington's growth into a 20th century city. Kalorama Triangle maintains the integrity of its original visual…

Duke Ellington Bridge (Calvert Street Bridge)

Built in 1935, this bridge replaced the 1891 iron trestle bridge that had been constructed in the same location. The Commission of Fine Arts considered bridge designs for this site for years before finally settling on Paul Philippe Cret’s…

Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Historic District

The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway Historic District’s 180-acres runs along the gorge and rim of the lower Rock Creek Valley (south of the National Zoo), and includes a swath of land along the Potomac River. The Rock Creek and Potomac Parkway forms…

Woodley Park Historic District

Platted in the mid-1870s, Woodley Park was originally conceived as a residential suburb which its promoters described as the finest country seats ever offered for sale near the urban center, a mere 20 minute walk from Dupont Circle. Construction in…

Woodley Mansion (Maret School)

Built in 1801 by Philip Barton Key, the Federal-style Woodley Mansion is notable for its many brushes with figures instrumental in American history. Key, himself the uncle of "Star-Spangled Banner" author Francis Scott Key and a member of Congress,…

Tregaron (The Causeway)

The Causeway (Tregaron), a country house estate designed in 1912 by Charles Adams Platt and located within the Cleveland Park Historic District, is notable not only as the work of Platt, who was at the peak of career when he designed his only country…

Twin Oaks

Twin Oaks, built in 1888 by Francis Allen, is one of the earliest extant examples of Georgian Revival architecture in this country, and is an excellent and notable example of this style. It is is the only remaining example of a New England frame…

Washington Cathedral Close Historic District

The Washington National Cathedral has been a landmark of religious significance for over a century, and its surrounding structures date back to the early twentieth century. The Cathedral Close (an enclosed area surrounding the designated spot 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 (Tenleytown Firehouse)

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

Immaculata Seminary Historic District

In the early 20th century, the Sisters of Providence of St. Mary of the Woods, a Catholic order, purchased the property to establish the Immaculata Seminary school for girls, and constructed an imposing building (Capital Hall) facing Tenley Circle in…

Grant Road Historic District

The Grant Road Historic District consists of a two-block remnant of a major east-west connector road that historically led from Tenleytown (formerly Tenallytown), on the important Frederick Road (Wisconsin Avenue), east to the rural Broad Branch Road…

Sears, Roebuck & Company Department Store

In the 1880s, Richard Sears and Alvah Roebuck began a mail-order business for watches. The mail-order business brought products to people that did not have the financial means or time to travel to urban commercial centers that dominated the retail…

Jackson-Reed High School (Woodrow Wilson High School)

Tenleytown's Jackson-Reed High School (originally called Woodrow Wilson High School) exemplifies the high standard of architectural quality that characterized Washington's public school design and construction until the mid-twentieth century. The…

Jesse Reno School

The Jesse Reno School was built in 1903 for African American children. Designed by municipal architect Snowden Ashford, the school had four rooms on the first floor and four on the basement level. Its formal Renaissance-style design acknowledges the…