Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trails Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trails

Follow the signs on this self-guided Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail to learn more about Shaw, the crossroads neighborhood at the edge of downtown Washington.

Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail's 17 poster-sized, illustrated signs combine storytelling with historic images. The Shaw neighborhood you will discover is one of the city's oldest, where traces can be found of nearly every group that has called Washington home.

The first sign is located at Seventh Street and Mt. Vernon Place, NW, at the front of the Washington Convention Center. The two-hour self-guided tour proceeds north up Ninth Street, down Seventh Street, and east along M Street, before returning to end a block from where it started.

Walkers are encouraged to follow the trail at their own pace, sampling neighborhood character, businesses, and restaurants along the way.

For more information, email us at info@CulturalTourismDC.org or call 202-355-4280.



Shaw has always been "a place between places," where races and classes bumped and mingled as they got a foothold on the city. It has been home to the powerful seeking a convenient location, immigrants and migrants just starting out, laborers in need of affordable housing, men and women of God – and people living on luck, both good and bad.

The riots following the assassination of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968 partly disfigured Shaw. Yet much of its rich past remains for you to see. The Shaw Heritage Trail points you to the legacies of daily life in this Midcity neighborhood between downtown and uptown.

Along the way you'll see:

  • Carnegie Library, one of the few public spaces in Washington never to have been segregated
  • The home of Carter G. Woodson, the celebrated scholar who originated Black History Month
  • The church where Arena Stage got started
  • One of the city's earliest roads and commercial arteries, Seventh Street
  • The origins of DC's Jewish Community Centers

MC: History of Shaw


Download the trail map pdf.

Download the trail booklet pdf.

Download the Spanish trail booklet pdf.


Cultural Tourism DC initiated the District of Columbia Neighborhood Heritage Trails program with two goals in mind: helping visitors find their way around Washington's historic neighborhoods and promoting community pride.

Each trail was conceived with the active involvement of neighborhood organizations and residents. For Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail, the Shaw Heritage Trail Working Group served as a local partner. Paul K. Williams, Kelsey & Associates, Inc., served as working group historian.

Midcity at the Crossroads: Shaw Heritage Trail is a project of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the Shaw Heritage Trail Working Group, Denise Johnson, Chair.

Funding provided by the District Department of Transportation, Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development, and U.S. Department of Transportation. Support provided by Washington Convention Center Authority's Historic Preservation Fund, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Shaw Main Streets.


This template controls the elements:

TOP: Top Links (Home, Donate, Events, Contact), Social Network Buttons, Tagline, Tagline Image

FOOTER: Footer Links (Privacy Policy, Contact, Donate), Footer Descriptions

* This message is only visible in administrative mode