Washington, DC – H Street NE

Main Streets 2017 – DC

Lively and fast-paced, H Street NE is a happening community. In recent years, this 1.5-mile corridor in northeastern D.C. has seen a strong resurgence, as the neighborhood’s shops, restaurants, nightlife and cultural offerings have grown so strongly that it’s now one of the city’s most attractive areas to live, work and play.

This was among D.C.’s hotspots for commercial, art and dining activity up through the first half of the 20th century. But the 1968 riots that followed the killing of Martin Luther King left burned-out buildings and led to years of decline. In the 1990s, as young professionals began seeking city neighborhoods with potential, H Street NE, just a short walk from the city’s central Union Station, began to come back — and today, you can experience much of the same vibrancy of its earlier years.

In fact, Forbes magazine has named the H Street corridor one of America’s Hippest Hipster Neighborhoods, noting that “the enclave is known for nightlife that includes dance clubs, rock venues, burlesque shows and restaurants…The H Street Festival also adds to the hipness.”

The festival is a 10-block-long September extravaganza, when thousands enjoy live music, performances from cultures around the world, arts and crafts and an amazing diversity of food and beverages. Many nights of the year, the community comes together at The Atlas Performing Arts Center, a signature stop for live theater, music and dance in a handsome venue that dates to 1938 and sports four performance spaces.

You can also join the locals at the H Street Farmers’ Market, where on Saturday mornings from April to December, you’ll find the area’s best cheeses, fruits, vegetables, pastries and flowers. Speaking of food, this is a mecca for foodies. Be sure to sample D.C.’s beloved half-smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl, or pop into Copycat Co., a dumpling shop and cocktail bar that stays until the wee hours.

There’s a wealth of live music in H Street’s nightclubs. Try Rock and Roll Hotel to catch the latest indie rock, or stop in at Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar, where you never know what you’ll hear. The next morning, grab a coffee at the communal marketplace Maketto, sample the finest coffee at Sidamo, or enjoy genuine New York-style bagels at Bullfrog Bagels.

Expect to wait in line, though. Like its neighborhood, the Bullfrog is a happening spot.

Photo Credits (L-R): Ted Eylan, Intangible Arts, SPakhrin, Jamelle Bouie, Elvert Barnes
Washington DC is home to many LifeChangers – check them out: 2017-18, 2016-17

Read More  

Washington, D.C.

Washington, DC – 11th Street NW

Main Streets 2016: Washington DC

The nation’s capital is famed for a work-intensive lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a fun place to play. If you’re ready for a night out in Washington, D.C., and you’d also enjoy discovering a very interesting neighborhood, you can’t do better than 11th Street Northwest.

“Washington’s hip strip” is what the New York Times called Columbia Heights, the central D.C. neighborhood for which 11th St. NW is the main street. Once a thriving, culturally rich African-American neighborhood, this area was ravaged by the riots that followed the 1968 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. A decade ago, noted the paper’s Travel section, the area was still “best known for vacant homes and empty storefronts” — but a new Metro station that opened in 1999 sparked a surge of activity and commercial development.

A few blocks from the station in the 11th Street area, the Times says the nearby “big box stores and chain restaurants give way to indie rock dance parties and guerrilla theater peformances.” 11th Street NW offers cozy wine and beer spots — even Bloombars, a nonprofit art center that doesn’t actually serve alcohol. Instead it offers children and adults a wide diversity of programs, from music jams and family drum circles to indie film nights, folkloric dance classes and kids’ art sessions.

The nightlife options on 11th St. NW are even more diverse than this neighborhood’s population. For dinner you might choose a European-style café, a Neapolitan-style pizza place, a Mexican cantina or a barbecue joint. The Coupe is a spacious bar and coffee house that’s open pretty much all the time, and the Wonderland Ballroom, over on Kenyon Street NW, calls itself a “neighborhood hangout, meeting place and dating service” for D.C.’s droves of young professionals.

One of Columbia Heights’s most spectacular destinations, nearby on 14th Street, is the GALA Hispanic Theatre, a National Center for Latino Performing Arts. The nonprofit dates back to 1976, and in 2005, it achieved a dream of opening a permanent home when it moved into the renovated Tivoli Theatre, a landmark 1924 venue that had been vacant for three decades.

The pride you can see, feel and taste in Columbia Heights reaches a high point with October’s Columbia Heights Day Festival. Celebrating the neighborhood’s diversity and community, the big event involves churches, community clubs and organizations, art centers, businesses and neighbors from all backgrounds. It’s the culmination of what has made this part of the nation’s capital a community all its own.

Street photo courtesy of Mark Welborn – Urban Turf
Columbia Heights Day photo courtesy of Andrew Weisman – New Columbia Heights Blog

Read More