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Shaw in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
 

You Had to Wear a Tie

City within a City

 

—Greater U Street Heritage Trail —

 
"You Had to Wear a Tie." Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 26, 2008
1. "You Had to Wear a Tie." Marker
Inscription. You are standing on Washington’s historic Black Broadway–the heart of African American life in Washington, D.C. from about 1900 to the 1950s. Duke Ellington, its most famous native son, grew up, was inspired, trained, and played his first music here. He is but one example of the leaders in law, medicine, the military, science and the arts who were shaped by a community that valued education and supported achievement against great odds in a segregated society. Nearby Howard University was its guiding star.

The Lincoln Theater at mid-block across U Street, now restored to its 1922 grandeur, was one of three first run movie theaters clustered on U Street. The Lincoln Colonnade behind the theater, since demolished, was a popular setting for balls, parties and performances. All the great entertainers played clubs on or near this boulevard–Cab Calloway, Pearl Bailey, Sarah Vaughn, Louis Armstrong, Billy Eckstine, and Jelly Roll Morton, to name a few.

Black-owned businesses, the offices of Black lawyers, doctors and dentists; and the headquarters of Black social institutions clustered along U Street. Many of them occupied buildings that were financed, designed and built by and for African Americans–unusual at the time.

All night and on weekends, U Street was a parade ground–a place to
"You Had to Wear a Tie." Marker image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 26, 2008
2. "You Had to Wear a Tie." Marker
Close up of photo by Robert H. McNeil on reverse side of marker: "The Lincoln Theater anchors a busy U Street about 1940. Photographer Robert H. McNeil was looking east from where you stand toward the lights of since demolished Griffiths Stadium."
meet friends and share what many describe as a close, small-time atmosphere. And at its core was an elegance epitomized by Duke Ellington himself. The old-timers say that U Street was so grand that to come here you had to wear a tie.

[Photo captions:]

Ushers welcome patrons, above, to the Lincoln Theater about 1940. Duke Ellington, left, frequently returned home from New York to play at the Howard Theater at 7th and T.

The Republic Theater in the 1300 block of U Street, demolished in the 1980s, was one of three first run movie houses on the street Noted photographer Robert H. McNeill captured this lively night-time scene about 1940.

Louis Armstrong playing the Lincoln Colonnade, a popular dance hall that once operated behind the Lincoln Theater.

Capital Classic parade headed for U Street in the 1950s.
 
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number 1 of 14.)
 
Location. 38° 55.014′ N, 77° 1.764′ W. Marker is in Shaw, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is at the intersection of U Street, NW and 13th Street, NW, on the right when traveling east on U Street, NW. Click for map. Marker is in this post office area: Washington DC 20009, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking
You Had to Wear a Tie Marker reverse image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 24, 2016
3. You Had to Wear a Tie Marker reverse
distance of this marker. Marlon Francisco Morales (a few steps from this marker); Lincoln Theatre and Lincoln Colonnade (within shouting distance of this marker); Ben's Chili Bowl / Minnehaha Theater (within shouting distance of this marker); The True Reformer Building (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Whitelaw Hotel and “the Duke” (about 500 feet away); Industrial Bank of Washington (about 500 feet away); Louise Burrell Miller Residence (about 600 feet away); We had everything we needed right here (about 700 feet away). Click for a list of all markers in Shaw.
 
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker. A walking tour of the U Street neighborhood (note, only 6 of 14 markers are currently entered in the database).
 
Categories. 20th CenturyAfrican AmericansArts, Letters, MusicEntertainmentNotable PlacesRoads & Vehicles
 
You Had to Wear a Tie Marker image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 24, 2016
4. You Had to Wear a Tie Marker
This view is looking east along U Street, with the Lincoln Theatre in the background.
You Had to Wear a Tie Marker reverse, looking west along U Street. image. Click for full size.
By J. Makali Bruton, July 24, 2016
5. You Had to Wear a Tie Marker reverse, looking west along U Street.
You Had to Wear a Tie Marker (reverse) - U Street Heritage Trail image. Click for full size.
By Richard E. Miller, April 26, 2008
6. You Had to Wear a Tie Marker (reverse) - U Street Heritage Trail
"For the first half of the twentieth century, this U Street neighborhood inspired and sustained the rich social, civic, and cultural life of Washington's African American communty. Here in the shadow of the renowned Howard University, neighbors responded to the injustices of a segregated city by creating their own self-reliant culture as well as generating leaders for the city and the nation in science, medicine, law, the military, education, literature, and the arts. Edward Kennedy 'Duke' Ellington, though only one of many celebrated residents, personified their achievements. Follow this trail to the places that tell the story of this exceptional community in the heart of the nation's capitol. ..." [Map of the Greater U Street Heritage Trail.]
Duke Ellington<br>and the Finest Band He has Ever Assembled. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
7. Duke Ellington
and the Finest Band He has Ever Assembled.
Duke Ellington frequently returned home from New York to play the Howard Theatre at 7th and T.
Close-up of photo on marker
Ushers and Patrons image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
8. Ushers and Patrons
Ushers and Patrons to the Lincoln Theatre about 1940.
Close-up of photo on marker
Louis Armstrong image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
9. Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong playing the Lincoln Colonnade a popular dance hall that once operated behind the Lincoln theatre.
Close-up of photo on marker
The Republic Theatre image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
10. The Republic Theatre
The Republic Theatre in the 1300 block of U street, demolished in the 1980s, was one of three first-run movie houses on the street. Noted Photographer Robert H. McNeill captured this lively night-time scene about 1940.
Close-up of photo on marker
Capital Classic parade heading for<br>U Street in the 1950s. image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
11. Capital Classic parade heading for
U Street in the 1950s.
Close-up of photo on marker
Hi De Hi / Hi De Ho image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
12. Hi De Hi / Hi De Ho
Cab Calloway and his Cotton Club Orchestra at the Lincoln Colonnade. Armistice Night, 1940.
Lincoln Theatre image. Click for full size.
By Allen C. Browne, December 29, 2014
13. Lincoln Theatre
 
 
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 1,684 times since then and 140 times this year. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1, 2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3, 4, 5. submitted on , by J. Makali Bruton of Querétaro, Mexico.   6. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. submitted on , by Allen C. Browne of Silver Spring, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on July 24, 2016.
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