The U Street/H Street Neighborhood Guide
Two corridors steeped in history and renowned as premier live music and nightlife destinations are U and H streets, the former a bastion of bars and D.C.’s hottest concert venues, the latter boasting a burgeoning entertainment and restaurant scene.
An influx of affluent young workers to the areas inspired development of high-end apartments and stores, which are interspersed among long-standing ethnic food spots, mom-and-pops and D.C. institutions like The Atlas Performing Arts Center, the Howard Theatre and Ben's Chili Bowl.
Famous jazz musician Duke Ellington grew up between T and S streets along the U Street corridor, which, in its heyday, was frequented by legendary performers Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, among others.
Transit and convenience fueled H Street’s growth, as many of its iconic structures were erected around the streetcar lines that permeated it in the 19th century, and its proximity to Capitol Hill and Union Station were seen as a boon to local workers.
Some fear that new development will lead to skyrocketing rents, triggering a major demographic shift that will rob these corridors of their identity and strip away decades of rich black culture.
The H and U Street corridors, and indeed most of the predominantly black parts of D.C., were leveled by the riots that ensued after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Now fully recovered, the two are top contenders for D.C.’s coolest, most desirable, most diverse neighborhood.