The birthplace of Duke Ellington and the center of Washington’s African American nightlife for much of the 20th century is once again thriving. On weekend nights, U Street rivals Adams Morgan for crowds, though with a slightly older vibe. “The cutting edge of what this city is and can be,” U Street is also equally intriguing by day, home to the African American Civil War Memorial, Lincoln Theatre and Howard University. Designer home-furnishings stores, boutiques and music clubs abound near the junction of 14th and U streets.
Singer Pearl Bailey coined the term “Black Broadway” for U Street back in its cultural heyday when it hosted many famous African American singers and performers. Shaw was named after Civil War Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, who famously commanded the all-black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry featured in the movie “Glory.”
Pay a late-night visit to Ben’s Chili Bowl, home of DC’s signature dish, the chili half-smoke. Order some doro wat and tibi to share in Little Ethiopia. Groove to a live show at the newly restored Howard Theatre or Bohemian Caverns or see for yourself why the 9:30 Club is considered the best live music venue in the country. Shop for vintage clothing at Nana or funky home furnishings at Go Mama Go! Take in an edgy production at The Studio Theatre.
The U Street Corridor of Washington DC is one of the city’s most vibrant historical areas with many things to see and do. Dating back to the 1870s, the U Street neighborhood was the center of Washington’s African American community with many black owned businesses, entertainment venues, and social institutions. In the early 20th century, the area became known as “Black Broadway” as Duke Ellington was one of many national figures who called the neighborhood home. Today, the U Street Corridor is in transition and rapidly developing with the opening of many new nightclubs, restaurants, shops and residential buildings.
U Street is one of Washington, DC’s nightlife hot spots and is home to some of the city’s best jazz clubs and dance halls. Enjoy live entertainment in the historic neighborhood that launched the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and The Supremes. Dance the night away at a nightclub with a state-of-the-art sound and lighting system.
A Washington DC landmark since 1958, Ben’s Chili Bowl has won many awards and is recognized as a “must go” place to eat when visiting the nation’s capital. Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Redd Foxx, Martin Luther King Jr., Bill Cosby and even President Barack Obama have been seen eating at Ben’s.
Among one of the top things to do in the U Street Corridor, is to explore the area by following Cultural Tourism DC’s Heritage Trail. Follow the self-guided walking trail, locating 14 illustrated signs that highlight the important historical sites in the neighborhood. You can also pick up a map at the the Greater U Street Neighborhood Visitor Center at 1211 U Street NW.
The African American Civil War Memorial and Museum commemorates the more than 200,000 soldiers of the U.S. Colored Troops who served during the Civil War (1861-1865). Their names are inscribed on the Wall of Honor alongside the Spirit of Freedom sculpture. The museum offers exhibits, videos, and programs that highlight the contributions of African Americans during the Civil War.
With the recent renovations of several historic theaters, the U Street Corridor is becoming a popular destination for live entertainment. The Howard Theatre offers a wide range of performances and a Sunday Gospel Brunch by the Harlem Gospel Choir. The Lincoln Theatre offers a variety of multi-cultural experiences and programming. The Source is a 12-seat black box theatre, home to the annual Source Festival and regular performances by Washington Improv Theatre.
The U Street Corridor is growing in popularity as one of Washington DC’s top neighborhoods for dining and nightlife. You will find a wide selection of restaurants, ranging from casual eateries to fine dining. Be sure to enjoy some happy hour specials or late night dining options.