The U Street / Shaw neighborhood was named after Civil War hero Robert Gould Shaw, who commanded one of the first all black units. This neighborhood was the birthplace of jazz great Duke Ellington and has long been a center of African American culture. Both Ella Fitzgerald and Dizzy Gillespie played in this neighborhood in the 1920s and 1930s.
This neighborhood was also the center of much rioting and violence in 1968 after Martin Luther King was killed. Four days of rioting killed 12, injuring over 1,000, and destroying 1,200 buildings. the destruction was so bad in some neighborhoods they really did not begin to recover until the 1990s.
Ben's Chili Bowl is one of the landmark restaurants of the neighborhood. The 9:30 club is the area's most famous live music spot today. Here you can also find Howard University, the African American Civil War Memorial, and the Lincoln theater.
Capitol Hill is home to the United States Capitol, Senate and House office buildings, the Supreme Court, the Library of Congress, the U.S. Marine Barracks, the Washington Navy Yard, and Congressional Cemetery, but it is also a thriving and historic residential community. This neighborhood is a national historic district and is comprised mainly of row houses with a few mansions, churches, and squares interspersed.
Historic sites on Capitol Hill include the the Sewell-Belmont House (1800), Christ Church (1807), St Mark's (1894), East Capitol Street Car Barn (1896) and Eastern Market (1873). John Phillip Souza was born and raised in Capitol Hill, and the Marine Barracks in the oldest continually operated US Marine Post in the nation. The National Parks System maintains the 59 squares and triangles that make up the green space in the neighborhood.
The area is greatly gentrified and generally safe day or night. There are concentrations of restaurants on Barracks Row, near Eastern Market, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Maryland Avenue near Union Station, but the only real nightlife is along Barracks Row. After dark the rest of the neighborhood is almost eerily quiet considering there are 30,000 people living here.
These are some of the townhouses lining the residential streets in the city. They are nice for city living. The drawbacks are that there is no grounds for gardening and that you are in close proximity to hundreds of other people on each block. Parking is very crowded, also. They are charming however, and make for a memorable stroll in the city.
The best are in Georgetown, near Dupont Cirlce, Logan Circle and there are some wonderful areas around Capitol Hill. Be careful aroun=d Capitol Hill though. You can suddenly find yourself in exactly the wrong neighborhood if you're not familiar with the area.
Favorite thing: Houses around Cleveland Park. The National Zoo is in this neighborhood, along Connecticut Avenue, and the National Cathedral is also within walking distance to the west along Wisconsin Avenue. Wisconsin Avenue runs south into Georgetown, about two miles (3-1/2km) distant.