Check out the City Within a City audio tour hosted by NPR’s Korva Coleman!
Learn about the history of U Street, find fun places to shop, and great places to eat at the Greater U Street Visitor Center!
Follow the signs on this self-guided Cultural Tourism DC Neighborhood Heritage Trail to learn more about Washington's Greater U Street neighborhood, where a nationally significant, self-sufficient African American community flourished in the early 20th century.
City Within a City: Greater U Street Heritage Trail's 14 poster-sized, illustrated signs combine storytelling with historic images. Discover the history of this neighborhood celebrated for nurturing national and international leaders in civil rights, law, science, and the arts.
The first sign is located at 13th and U Streets, NW, near the U Street/Cardozo/African American Civil War Memorial Metro stop. The 90-minute, self-guided tour loops through the Greater U Street Historic District and ends at 14th and U streets, NW.
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 Trail@CulturalTourismDC.org or call 202-661-7581.
For the first half of the 20th century, this neighborhood inspired and sustained the rich social, civic, and cultural life of Washington's African American community. During the years of segregation, U Street was Washington's "Black Broadway" and the heart of African American business and culture.
Here people of color responded with strength to the injustices of segregation, engaging in some of the nation's first civil rights protests while simultaneously building a vibrant urban center of their own – "a city within a city."
Located near the famed Howard University, the neighborhood was home to Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington. Its theaters and clubs hosted the brightest lights in American jazz — Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn, and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few.
African American leaders in science, law, education, and the arts also walked these streets: Thurgood Marshall, Dr. Charles Drew, Langston Hughes, and the opera star Madame Evanti.
Along the way you will see many of the places they knew and loved, including:
In addition, the trail features a wide variety of Victorian architecture, much of which was designed by black architects, and Meridian Hill/Malcolm X Park with its dramatic water cascade.
This neighborhood is alive today with great jazz, dining, and shops.
Trail booklets providing additional information are available for free at the following local merchants and organizations:
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 is conceived with the active involvement of neighborhood organizations and residents. The Historical Society of Washington, D.C. served as a local partner for City Within a City: Greater U Street Heritage Trail. Paul K. Williams, Kelsey & Associates, Inc., served as project director, and Kathryn S. Smith served as trail historian.
City Within a City: Greater U Street Heritage Trail is a project of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the Historical Society of Washington, D.C.and the Downtown DC Business Improvement District. Funding was provided by the Department of Housing and Community Development and the District Department of Transportation.
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