A Self-Reliant People: Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail A Self-Reliant People: Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail

Discover - or see with new eyes - this traditionally African American enclave in Far Northeast when you follow A Self-Reliant People: Greater Deanwood Heritage Trail. Fifteen poster-sized street signs combine storytelling with historic photographs and maps to transport you back to the days before Deanwood was Deanwood.

To find Sign 1 on the trail, ride Metro's Orange Line to the Minnesota Avenue station and then hop on the U8 Metrobus to Nannie Helen Burroughs and Division Avenues, NE. Walk one block south to Foote Street, at the edge of Marvin Gaye Park.

The 90-minute, self-guided tour will bring you along Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, up 49th Street, and along Sheriff Road back to Minnesota Avenue and the Metro station.

Walk the trail at your own pace and take time to enjoy this small town in the city. 

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

Please note: When planning your visit please note that Sign 6 (Jay and 49th Streets, NE) is temporarily down.

From Sign 5 continue north on 49th Street to Sherriff Road. Turn left on Sherriff Road and proceed west two blocks to 48th Street to reach Sign 8.


With its signature, small, wood-frame houses on large lots, Deanwood looks like a country town. The community sits on a former tobacco plantation. It began to develop in the 1890s, when the city's big real estate interests, and government, focused on areas closer to downtown.

Early on, this area was a destination for horse-racing fans, who thronged to nearby Benning Racetrack. Later it drew African American families from all over DC, dressed in their finest, for an outing at Suburban Gardens Amusement Park.

Signs along the trail will help you relive those days, and will introduce you to the civic leaders, architects, craftsmen, and others who helped create this unique community.

In addition, you will explore neighborhood highlights such as:

  • Marvin Gaye Park, along Watts Branch, a tributary to the Anacostia River
  • The National Training School for Women and Girls, founded by prominent activist Nannie Helen Burroughs in 1909
  • The Deanwood Chess House, a branch of the Big Chair Chess Club
  • A house that once belonged to the Sheriff family, original owners of the plantation land that is now Deanwood
  • A spot where the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., rallied citizens for home rule for the District of Columbia



Download the trail map PDF.
Download the trail guidebook PDF.
Download the Spanish trail guidebook PDF.


Cultural Tourism DC, Inc., 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.

A Self-Reliant People: Deanwood Heritage Trail is a project of Cultural Tourism DC in collaboration with the Deanwood Heritage Trail Working Group, Kia Chatmon, Chair; and the Deanwood History Committee. Korey Bowers Brown served as community historian. Signs designed by sideview/Hannah Smotrich.


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