THE DAYS OF "BLACK BROADWAY"
In the early 20th century, U Street was the nexus of African-American culture in Washington, DC. Built over open fields after the Civil War, the neighborhood grew with the arrival of streetcar lines that carried residents along its streets and helped African-American owned businesses grow and thrive.
For a while, U Street was referred to as “Black Broadway.” This name is obvious given some of the many cultural luminaries who lived in the neighborhood or who played at venues including Howard Theatre and the Lincoln Theatre. Among them: Billie Holiday, Miles Davis, and Louis Armstrong.
As with other surrounding neighborhoods, U Street was hit particularly hard by the 1968 Riots. Subsequent decades were devoted to strengthening the community’s resolve, improving infrastructure, preserving history, and sparking redevelopment projects that have since breathed exiting new life into the area.
GROWTH CONTINUES, HISTORY REMAINS
While U Street is much more populated than it was decades earlier, that vibrant cultural energy that’s an important part of its character and charm still remains.
U Street itself is a music-lover’s paradise, home to places like The Black Cat, U Street Music Hall, and the 9:30 Club. Both Lincoln Theatre and Howard Theatre are still around and playing host to exciting musical performances, as well.
Recent years have seen the growth of sleek, ultra-modern condominium and apartment buildings adding more density and excitement to the area. Still, U Street remains very much a place of single-family rowhomes with their own unique touches.
And even with all the changes that have come to U Street in recent decades, the neighborhood still hasn’t lost its cultural link with the past. History remains an integral part of the U Street experience—and mostly likely always will.