African Americans made the U Street area (now a historic district) one of the city's most vibrant cultural, residential, and business districts. First settling here during the Civil War, they capitalized on new streetcar lines, inexpensive land, and the absence of residential segregation. By the 1920s, African Americans had created institutions, businesses, and services that met the needs of area residents. By the 1940s, it was the place to hear Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, and many more. By the 1960s U Street was a center of activism against legal segregation and racism.