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Herring Hill was the nucleus of the black community in Georgetown, although African American families could be found on nearly every street well into the 1930s.

Tradition has it that the name came from the fish that neighborhood families caught in nearby Rock Creek. According to historian Mary Mitchell, by 1860 Herring Hill was a self-sustaining, even village-like community with a population of 951. Interspersed among the residences by the 1920s were candy stores, "mom and pop groceries," coal and ice sellers, barbershops and beauty shops, cleaners, movers, feed stores, and everything else necessary to life. Most were black-owned businesses. Laborers lived alongside physicians, lawyers, and other professionals.

Herring Hill's simple frame dwellings survived the gentrification of the 1930s to become prized, well-located townhouses in the 1960s and beyond.

The hills spans a 15-block area south of P Street between Rock Creek and 29th Street.

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